What does it profit, my brothers, though a man say he has faith, and have not works? can faith save him?…
1. From that "Wilt thou know?" Presumers are either ignorant or inconsiderate. False and mistaken faith is usually a brat of darkness: either men do not understand what faith is, or do not consider what they do.
2. From that "O vain or empty man." Temporaries are but vain men; like empty vessels, full of wind, and make the greatest sound; they are full of windy presumptions and boasting professions.
(1) Full of wind, they have a little airy knowledge, such as puffeth up (2 Peter 1:8).
(2) Of a great sound and noise; can talk of grace, boast of knowledge, glory in their faith. A vain faith and a vain man are oft suited and matched.
3. Hypocrites must be roused with some asperity and sharpness. So the apostle, "O vain man"; so Christ, "O ye foolish and blind"; so John the Baptist, "O ye generation of vipers." Hypocrites are usually inconsiderate, and of a sleepy conscience, so that we must not whisper, but cry aloud.
4. An empty barren faith is a dead faith.
(1) Because it may stand with a natural state, in which we are "dead in trespasses and sins."(2) Because it receiveth not the quickening influences of the Spirit.
(3) Because it wanteth the effect of life, which is operation; all life is the beginning of operation, tendeth to operation, and is increased by operation; so faith is dead, like a root of a tree in the ground, when it cannot produce the ordinary effects and fruits of faith.
(4) Because unavailable to eternal life, of no more use and service to you than a dead thing. Oh! pluck it off; who would suffer a dead plant in his garden? "Why cumbereth it the ground?" (Luke 13:7).
Parallel VersesKJV: What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?