A flurry of research recently has found that in spite of the secularism of popular culture, many people believe in God and identify themselves as being strongly religious. This is not only true of adults, but also of teenagers. However, analysts said that this so-called spirituality may be only skin deep. I think there are many people who believe they are Christians, but they really are not.
The apostle James, the brother of Jesus, identified for us what true religion really is, what it means to be a real Christian, what it means to be a truly spiritual person, and what real faith is. He said we have a tendency to deceive ourselves (see James 1:22) or to deceive our hearts (see verse 26). We can be deceived and think we are automatically Christians because we are in church or because we have gone through religious rituals. But James showed us the balance between faith and works and how they work together.
Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven" (Matthew 7:21). The key is not only saying certain things, but also living a certain way as a result of our beliefs. James 2:26 says, "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (see also verses 17, 20).
Let's understand what James was saying. He was not teaching that we are justified by works alone. Rather, he was saying that having genuine faith, true spirituality, will impact a Christian's lifestyle. If someone's so-called faith does not produce this change, then it is not real faith at all.