Friday, March 9, 2012

40 Days with James ~ Day 17 ~ Living Faith

Day 17 ~ Living Faith
James 2:25-26 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
These last few days James has made it abundantly clear that, when it comes to how the Christian lives their life, faith is not an excuse to abandon love.  Faith without works is dead.  In a shocking illustration, he compares a loveless faith to a dead body.  It just isn’t doing anything.  Quite frankly, if you let it stay around too long it becomes disgusting.

So, are you getting the picture of how our Lord feels about loveless faith?  I hope so.  James is good to us today, then, by giving us a beautiful example of what an active faith looks like in the person of Rahab the prostitute.  You may not be familiar with her story so I suggest reading Joshua 2:1-24.  The Israelites are about to enter the Promised Land, but many of God’s enemies stand in their way.  Amongst those enemies are the inhabitants of Jericho.  When the Israelite spies go to scope out the city, they are taken in by Rahab, a prostitute who protects them from those who seek to kill them.

To be a prostitute in those days was not quite like one thinks about prostitutes today.  These weren’t ladies standing on seedy street corners.  Rather, they worked in the temples of pagan gods.  It was believed that if you slept with the temple prostitute, it would entice the gods to cause the crops to grow.  Not exactly what you learned in earth science club, I suppose.  Suffice it to say, Rahab was an awfully sinful woman according to God’s law.  She made a living of committing adultery in worship of a false god.

But she had heard about the saving work of the God of Israel.  She had heard and believed that He had conquered the Egyptians and rescued the Israelites.  Such news had born in her a healthy, faithful fear of God.  So that, when she encountered the people of this saving God, she was ready to help and support them in their time of need.  She believed in God and her faith prompted her to act.  Rahab’s was a lively faith!

Let us not, however, miss the amazing grace of God in this story.  Look at who it is that James says was considered righteous: a pagan-temple prostitute!  God had mercy upon her, He forgave her, and He used her to accomplish His purposes for His people.  She was graciously included in God’s work.  As we close this section on the relationship between faith and works, let us be encouraged by the example of Rahab.  She was a poor sinner saved by a gracious God.  Knowing God’s gracious power drove her to work.  So it is with us.  A living faith comes not from trying to work harder, but by the work of the Holy Spirit, who through the Word grants us Christ and all of His benefits.  It is from the gracious work of Christ on the cross that we are given a living faith.

Confession:  Heavenly Father, forgive me for I am a poor sinner like Rahab.  But like Rahab, I have received life and salvation from your gracious hand.  Jesus has taken my impurities and washed them in His blood, making me clean, and renewing my life.  I pray that your daily forgiveness for my daily sins would empower me to daily walk in newness of life.  AMEN.

Challenge:  After a heavy number of days in our study, today is an easy challenge.  Just as Rahab opened the door for the Israelite spies, open the door for someone you don’t know.

Pastor Bob

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