“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?” (James 2:21-25).
The faith that justifies is like a healthy tree laden with luscious fruit. It has three essential components.
Like a tree’s roots, genuine faith has strong and deep convictions. Rahab had an unwavering conviction that Jehovah is the God of heaven and earth (Joshua 2:11). Abraham had the unshakable conviction that Jehovah is utterly trustworthy. The taproot of their genuine faith was the convictions that God is and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Like a tree’s trunk and branches, genuine faith trusts God. Like Abraham, faith takes Jehovah—who cannot lie (Titus 1:2)—at His word (James 2:23; Genesis 15:6). Every fact stated, every command given, every promise made, and every warning sounded is viewed as absolutely trustworthy. Therefore, all of your life can and must be lived in strict harmony with God’s perfect word.
Like a tree’s abundant fruit, genuine faith culminates in obedience. Faith’s ultimate aim is not agreeing with God; it is obeying Him. Abraham was not justified until his faith was obedient (James 2:21). Rahab was not justified until her faith prompted her to receive the messengers and send them out another way (James 2:25). Faith is not complete until it produces the fruit of joyful obedience.
The difference between the genuine faith which God justifies and the counterfeits which Satan offers can be visualized easily. It is the difference between a thriving, vibrant tree laden with ripe fruit and trees which are barren year-round, or which have nothing but leaves.