There is a disease in this nation (spreading around the globe) that is far worse than Ebola. This disease doesn’t typically ravage you physical health quite as directly as Ebola or other viral diseases, yet it most certainly leads to death.
This disease is Dead Faith.
This is the disease that James wrote of in James 2 that is a faith without works. Now, let me be clear on something, I in absolutely NO way believe, follow, or endorse ANY form of works-based salvation. Scripture is clear that Salvation is by Grace, through Faith ALONE (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Jesus Himself said that a tree is known by its fruits (Matthew 7:16, Luke 6:44). It is the life we live in this world that demonstrates if we are “in the faith”. In fact, one way of “test your faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5) is by examining our works, our behavior, our lives. Whether it be our stewardship of all that God entrusts us with (finances, life, time, faith), or how we treat others we encounter in our walk (James 2:1-8). Do we genuinely hate sin? Are we grieved when we commit sin? Are we anxious to repent when we sin? Does this sin exercised in the world around us also cause us to grieve? If the answer to any of these is no – then there is no genuine fruit produced by the Spirit in you, as the Spirit of repentance is one of the first and biggest of fruits produced when we genuinely belong to the Lord.
So where am I going with this? Today’s world, and particularly in this nation, we see many so-called “churches” proclaiming what is, in essence and practical application, a centuries (millennia even) old heresy known from several centuries back as Antinomianism (From the Greek words anti meaning “against”, and nomos, which means “law” or “against the law”. This is the theology/doctrine that if you have “been saved” (by calling on the name of Jesus), then you are no longer bound to, or beholden in any way to “The Law”. Quite literally, it is a belief (expressed in several forms), that you have a free pass to do whatever you want, that all is “ok” once you have “asked Jesus into your heart”. Some might call this explanation seriously over-simplified, but the end result is the same. Sin-filled lives that show no sign of repentance (or grieving of your spirit by sin).
This is the type of people that Jude 4 mentions within the local church that have “crept in” (have become members of that local church – fully enjoying the “privilege”, without any chastisement or discipline from said local church for their unrepentant sin.
This is much like the condemnation Paul had for the Corinthian church who was turning a blind eye to the sin that was so vile, even the pagans didn’t practice it (1 Corinthians 5) (for those that may not be aware – it was an incestuous relationship). By turning a blind eye, they were endorsing the sin behavior.
It is through this blind-eye, soft-sell Gospel (ask Jesus into your heart, but you do not have to submit to Him as your Lord or do as He says in His Word) that has led to ineffective witness in the world. It is why Christians and Christianity is no longer the “salt” – preserving and influencing the World with the Truth.
Jesus said, so very clearly – if you love me, KEEP MY COMMANDS! (John 14:15) In the next chapter (John 15:10), He said that if we keep His commands, we will abide in His love.
This does not imply that we must “work” to keep our salvation or to continue receiving Christ’s love. It quite simply means that if our lives reflect His commands, if we are living according to His Word, it is a sign – a “fruit” that demonstrates we are of His vine. Saving faith is a permanent faith that always produces fruit. Why else did Jesus use the illustration of the vinedresser who cuts away the unproductive branches?
And ultimately, James’ words that strike the point home – faith without works is a dead, worthless, useless faith… (James 2:14-20).
What kind of “fruit” is being produced when so many “churches” (including mainline denominations) turn a blind eye to a veritable laundry-list of popular sins?
– Rampant Divorce
– Alcoholism and Drug Abuse
– and so very much more!
What kind of “faith” do you have? What kind of church do you choose to associate with? Would Jesus even recognize either?