So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:17, ESV)
Faith is important to the life of anyone who chooses to follow Christ. It is by our faith in Christ that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8). In order to follow Christ, we must walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). We need to have faith if we want to truly please God (Hebrews 11:6). And anything that we do in life that does not come as a result of our faith, that doesn’t line up with our faith, is sin (Romans 14:23). But faith that saves, faith that enables us to walk with Christ, faith that pleases God, needs to be a genuine faith, a faith that is alive. The true test of a genuine faith, of a faith that is alive, is in the fruit it produces in the believer. A genuine faith will be accompanied by works.
Some may say, “But wait! Doesn’t Scripture teach that we cannot be saved by works, but by faith alone?” Yes! Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that it is by our faith that we receive God’s gracious gift of salvation and not by works. This is so that we can walk in humility and not boast about how the good things we have done have saved us. But the faith that saves is a genuine faith and a genuine faith produces works as the believer seeks to follow Christ and do God’s will.
Let’s say that you decide you would like some plants around your home. You go to the nursery and buy the plants, the pots and some soil. Using the soil and your gardening tools, you pot the plants and put them around your house. A month later, the plants are dead. Why? You neglected to water them! Without water, the plants could not live. A plant without water is a dead plant, just as faith without works is a dead faith (James 2:17). A dead faith is a faith that is not genuine, it is a counterfeit faith.
The fruit of a genuine faith, a faith that is alive, is a life that pleases God. It is a life that has Jesus at its center. Without Jesus, we do not truly live (1 John 5:12). But when we have that genuine faith in Christ, when Jesus lives in us, we have a faith that gives and produces life. This kind of faith will create a desire in us to do works that please God, doing good for others in His name (Hebrews 13:16).