Have you ever seen a corpse? It's kind of spooky. The dead person just lays there with hair and face perfectly groomed, all dressed up in a fancy suit and tie or a fancy dress. The person can't say a word to you, smile or even move. Totally lifeless, just laying there. You are probably wondering, What does this have to do with faith? Well, that is how the Bible describes someone whose faith is not made perfect - DEAD!!!
Shocking isn't it? Are you walking around like a dead corpse without even knowing it? Let's look at some examples of people who could have had dead faith but didn't.
God told Abraham, "Leave your country, your relatives, and your father's family, and go to the land I will show you" (Gen. 12:1, CEV). Abraham could have said, Yes, God told me to leave, without actually moving away from his country. Even though he believed God told him to leave, he could have stayed. But, had he done so, his faith would not have been made perfect.
God told Abraham, "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you" (Gen. 22:2 NKJV). Abraham could have said, Yes, God told me to offer up Isaac as a burnt offering, without ever doing it. Even though he believed God told him to offer Isaac, he could have kept Isaac to himself. But, had he done so, his faith would not have been made perfect.
The harlot (yes, harlot), Rahab, heard of how God helped the Children of Israel. She said to the Israelite spies that came to spy out her land,
I know the LORD has given this land to your people. You frighten us very much. Everyone living in this land is terribly afraid of you because we have heard how the LORD dried up the Red Sea when you came out of Egypt. We have heard how you destroyed Sihon and Og, two Amorite kings who lived east of the Jordan. When we heard this, we were very frightened. Now our men are afraid to fight you because the LORD your God rules the heavens above and the earth below! (Joshua 2:9-10, NCV).
Yes, Rahab, the harlot believed that the Children of Israel were terrifying and knew the Lord had given them her land. But, Rahab could have said, I know this to be true, but I will not hide these Israelite spies. But, had she done so, her faith would not have been made perfect.
What is the point? In all of these examples, the person believed what God told them or, in Rahab's case, what she heard about God, but our faith is only made perfect when we act upon what we know. Abraham moved. Abraham offered up his son. Rahab hid the spies. Notice that all three bold words are action words. Abraham and Rahab had to put their human effort into it. James says, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (2:24).
Many times we meet people who tell us, Oh, I believe in God. Maybe you are one of them. Then in the next breath, we will learn that they do not do what the Bible teaches them to do. They break God's commands by living in fornication, drinking alcohol, using profanity, and you know the list. Some may not engage in such outward, blatant sins but instead attend church regularly and just sit there. Even though these people say they believe in God, their faith is dead because they don't do anything with that belief. As a result, their faith dies. When you say, I believe in God, your life must have works, or as James once again says,
"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (2:26).