What does it profit, my brothers, though a man say he has faith, and have not works? can faith save him?…
1. A dead faith is that which dwells only on the tongue, not in the heart; which produces no good works, but is alone, and without holy fruits. It does not work by love, and. so resembles the faith of the devils; it leads to no self-denying sacrifice; it produces no esteem for the people of God, and no willingness to cast in one's lot with them. Such are some of the marks of a dead faith, which the apostle compares to a body without the spirit. What a striking comparison this! The body may be perfectly formed, but if there be no spirit within, no breath to animate the form, it is but a lump of clay; it wants its best part. So with faith, if without energy, love, and holiness; it may be perfect in its outward form, correct in all its lineaments, yet it evidently has no breath of the Spirit of God within; it is a dull, cold, heavy, lifeless thing.
2. Again, the body without the spirit is incapable of performing its proper functions. Speak to it, it hears you not; touch it, it feels not; weep over it, it sheds no tear of sympathy in return; rejoice over it, but its eyes sparkle not, its tongue makes no respond of joy. Then you have work to do, the work of the Christians life; it works not with you, it is motionless, insensible, dead. So with the faith which is not quickened and penetrated by the Holy Spirit: it is incapable of performing the proper functions of faith; it hears not aright the Word of God; it feels not the love of Christ; it weeps not with them that weep for sin; it cannot rejoice in spiritual joys; it works not for God; it moves not towards Him in grateful love; it is insensible as to His grace; it is a dead thing.
3. Yet, again, the body without the spirit is an offensive object. So it is with the faith, which has no spiritual life within it; it is an offensive object with God; it arrogates so high a name, it pretends to so much, it takes the place of such a better thing; and then it produces nothing but dead works and corrupt fruits, and is a loathsome thing in the sight of a holy living God.
4. And yet, once more, the body without the spirit is dead, and none but God can give it life. So with the man whose faith is a dead faith; he must be quickened by God, raised from the death of sin, experience the power and grace of a risen Saviour, or he will never see life.
(J. H. Hambleton.)
Parallel VersesKJV: What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?