Chapter 2 Dead Faith

Many people proclaim faith in God, but their actions say otherwise. They speak of God’s word, but lack the wisdom in living holy. Their lives don’t imitate Christ and in times of distress, they are troubled by God’s silence.

It’s easy to speak God’s word, but to live it means making sacrifices pleasing to God and unpopular with the world. In our human existence, we don’t have the strength to overcome evil. This takes courage beyond our own. But God made Christ our conqueror over sin (John 3:17).

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What is dead faith?

Dead faith doesn’t have the Holy Spirit. The Pharisees had faith in God, but lacked His Spirit. They leaned on their interpretation of God’s law, unaware of the danger it brings to one’s eternal resting place. Their spiritual arrogance prevented them from entering God’s kingdom, and Christ exposed their disbelief (Matthew 23:1-36).

Jesus didn’t stop there and went further by identifying a real believer’s righteousness must exceed the Pharisees. “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20 NIV).

God used Disciple Paul to explain real faith (Ephesians 2:1-10). Here we see God’s Spirit working through Paul’s faith. In those ten verses, God anointed Christ as the redeemer. Then, as the result of placing our faith in Christ, God promises us the gift of salvation. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and not that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

Spiritual intelligence can’t resist the evil one. We don’t have the wisdom, smart enough to fight Satan. No one has the consistent knowledge crucial in turning away from sin and live in harmony with God. This must come from Christ.

Don’t be mistaken, Christ is the key to living with God and without Him salvation is out of reach. The good news is a living faith places you in the body of Christ. It brings you into God’s kingdom and makes you worthy to receive His grace.

Christ has defeated God’s enemy and cleared a path for you to receive the Holy Spirit. Nothing matches being anointed by God’s Spirit. God’s presence is the most profound and gratifying experience known to humanity and makes your salvation secure.

Jesus’s explanation of His Parable of the Sower identifies dead faith. (Matthew 13: 18-23). Here Christ distinguished between real faith and the ones unfavorable with God. Our Messiah pointed out four types of believers. Three of them are unacceptable to God, since they are self-serving. Those beliefs are short lived and centered on corruption. But the faith worthy of God’s grace is rich in understanding.

In James Epistle, he reaffirmed Christ’s message and labeled dead faith as one lacking Christian works. But did you know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?  (James 2:20).”

It’s easy to misinterpret James message. Paul (as noted earlier) points out that faith is from God leading to His grace and the gift of salvation. James is adding to Paul’s truth by showing us the way of keeping faith alive is through doing God’s will.

James emphasized being a doer of God’s word. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). Christian action is the key to unlocking the fruits of God’s words. Without action, we can’t grow faith and live holy in a defective world.

Our faithfulness to God’s sovereignty secures our salvation. God’s gift of heaven inspires us to glorify Christ. It’s in Christ we find the strength to live righteous in a wicked world and prepare ourselves for heaven.  We can’t afford not to work for God and miss out on eternal life.

Think of it this way. God was active in creating the heavens and the earth. He made sure we had everything needed to survive and live righteous. If God was energetic in His creations, then shouldn’t we give Him our best efforts? Isn’t receiving God’s mercy enough to improve our faith? Shouldn’t God’s love convince us to become better followers?

Salvation isn’t a free pass.

One way dead faith enters a believer’s life is through concealed sin. Un-confessed sin is damaging to our spiritual growth since it keeps us separated from God. Nothing good comes from hiding sin. God knows we sin, but this doesn’t abolish our responsibility in confessing our trespasses. We can’t afford to take the position that God has forgiven us, but fail in confessing our sins.

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Remember Christ is helping us prepare our place in God’s kingdom, so it’s imperative in owning up to our disobedience. A Spirit-filled life knows sin and wants to please God by confessing them to Christ. Sin is Satan’s opportunity to keep us in disobedience and to leave an opening for him is dangerous.

How can we repent unless we know our transgressions?

We must be diligent in our walk with Christ or face eternal consequences. A Christian’s life is an example of God’s living Spirit manifested through adhering to His commands. Hidden sin blocks us from being obedient to God. Even though confession is painful, it outweighs God’s wrath. Noah’s generation came up close to God’s fiery. Their outcome was fatal.

Unbelievers watch the way Christians behave and this makes it imperative for us to back up our words in action.  A Spirit-filled life radiates a loving, forgiving and compassionate response to life’s difficult terms. Every time we overcome adversity through Christ, then those around us see God’s hand at work. We never know when God uses us to help convert others to His truth.

It’s unwise to hold onto inequity since this block God’s mercy (Proverbs 28:13). And a life without God’s mercy is full of unnecessary pain. Most of our struggles can be traced back to a hidden sin. It shouldn’t surprise us that concealed sin causes us trouble.

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We are commanded to confess our particular sins. “Or if a person swears, speaking thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or good, whatever it is that a man may pronounce by an oath, and he is unaware of it—when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty in any of these matters. And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing.” (Leviticus 5:4-5).

Yes, God has forgiven us, and Christ’s death has taken away sin, but we must be an active participant in our salvation. Remember, God will judge us according to the way we live. “For God will bring every work into judgment. Including every secret thing. Whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

Christ pointed out the need to look at our sins. “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own.” (Matthew 7:3). Our sins are the specks Jesus’s talks of and will stay there until we express them with God.

James reaffirmed Christ’s command for confession by showing us the fruits of sharing them with each other. He put this way. “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”  (James 5:16)

God is pleased when we are truthful with our fellows and own up to our iniquities. Being honest with others through confessing our trangression places us in the best position to become useful servants to Christ. Sin isolates us from others, causes spiritual conflicts, damages our relations with each other and keeps us distant from God. By praying for each other, God notices our compassion and heals our spiritual wounds. God is delighted when our prayers are sincere and includes others.

When God saved me, I didn’t understand the value of confessing sins. Salvation was a great revelation and in my spiritual infancy, the overwhelming experience of the Holy Spirit was astonishing. God’s grace was extraordinary and consumed my heart. This spiritual awareness was an incredible experience.

Then one day I had trouble living holy. I couldn’t stop myself from disobeying. My constant prayers and humble approach weren’t paying off, but God was listening. The Lord answered and showed me the way to confess sins. It involved confessing them to Christ.

The way this works is simple. One of my biggest stumbling blocks is pride. So when I realize my prideful ways I pause and pray to Christ: “I confess to you Christ, my sin of pride. Forgive me for my trespass. Guide me in my repentance. Show me how to live. Your will always not mine. Amen.” This works for any sin and brings me in line with God’s will. Sometimes I have to wait and listen for the answers. But Christ never leaves me guessing on what I need to do in making amends for my wrongs.

A vibrant faith welcomes self-examination (Haggai 1:5). Concealed sin thrives in darkness blocking Christ’s light. It’s painful to look at our sinful nature but to grow in God’s Spirit, we need to know our misconduct. Nothing strengthens our bond with Christ more than owning up to our sins.

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Our willingness to give God our best effort is crucial to our eternal lives. Christ doesn’t expect us to be perfect, but wants us to strive for spiritual growth. Our admission to wrongful behavior opens the door to Christ’s abundant peace. Then God will give us the freedom from the bondage of sin.

Another sign of dead faith is the lack of repentance. John the Baptist message prepared the way for Christ. And John preached repentance (Matthew 3:2). He made it known the hand of heaven begins with repentance. Christ reaffirmed this message. “… Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17).  

What good is confession without repentance?

Confession is acknowledging sin, but repentance is a change in behavior. Our ancient ancestors the Israelites had trouble repenting. They were in and out of God’s grace. Their inability to turn away from iniquity placed them at odds with God. Confession is useless without repentance, and the Old Testament is full of examples attesting to the penalties of a hardened heart.

Without repentance God’s mercy is unavailable. God is watching how we respond to His gift of salvation and through repentance, He takes notice of our faith. The Lord rewards repentance to salvation. ‘The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Once we confess our infractions, then we need to show God action to amend our wrong. This isn’t an overnight matter, nor can we do this alone.  To make things right with God, we need Christ’s righteousness. Remember, we are now a part of Christ’s body, and this means we must rely on Him to teach us how to live holy.

Perseverance is an essential ingredient to repentance. Part of salvation understands we sin. God made Christ our intercessor and through Him, we find the courage to turn away from sin. Repentance brings us in line with God’s commands and changes our hearts. Christ is our greatest strength in staying on the narrow way.

We have touched on a few signs of dead faith. Bitterness, anger, and selfish motives are other red flags of a faith unfavorable with God. The Bible is full of unacceptable behaviors in direct conflict with a living faith.

A Spirit-filled life is your insurance of a faith anchored in Christ. God lets you know your salvation is real. It’s the Holy Spirit, He uses to get your attention. Once Christ takes your hand, then your life changes forever. Here is where you find your inheritance in heaven.

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