Faith Alone will not Save us (Part 2)
By Archbishop Nikiforos Theotokis
Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed;
blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed
Dear Christian: you pride yourself on your faith. But what good is it when you carry out evil deeds? The demons also believe and tremble; however, it is of no benefit to them. You believe that God gave the Ten Commandments, and that the person who rejects one of them will undoubtedly be condemned, but you then proceed almost every day to reject all the commandments without fear or shame. What benefit is your faith? You believe that God ordered you to love Him with all your heart, your soul, and your mind, and to love your fellow man as yourself (Mt. 22:37-39), but you proceed to reject God by transgressing His law, and you wrong and hurt your fellow man in a variety of different ways. What is the benefit of your faith? You believe that if you do not forgive the faults of others it is impossible for God to forgive your own sins (Mt. 6:14-15); however, you demand retribution and seek revenge every time another person makes even the slightest error?
You believe that God commands you to love your enemies (Mt. 5:44); however, you hate them and persecute them unto death. What good is your faith? You believe that God instructs, “Learn from Me that I am meek and humble in heart” (Mt. 11:29), but you are arrogant and hot-tempered. What do you benefit from your faith? Every poor person represents an image of Christ. Whatever you do to a poor person you do to God Himself: “Whatever you have done to these least of my brothers, you have done to Me” (Mt. 25:40). Do you believe this? “Yes,” you will reply. And yet, when you see a poor person, you look the other way and walk right by him. You see a beggar, and instead of handing him alms, you shower him with scornful comments. How does your faith help you?You believe that there is an eternal life in store for you (Mt. 25:46), and yet you live as an epicurean and as if there is no soul. What good is your faith? You believe that there will come a day during which God will sit upon His throne of glory to judge the earth and to serve justice to all (Mt. 25:31), and that they who have done good works will ascend to a blessed eternal life, whereas they who lived in sin will proceed to eternal hell. Nevertheless, you totally neglect virtuous conduct and instead eagerly indulge in all kinds of sin. What good is your faith to you? Such faith does not save man: “Can faith,” asks St. James, “save him?” (Jam. 2:14). Such faith is dead and imperfect because faith receives its strength and perfection from good works. “Do you see,” says the Apostle concerning Abraham, “how his faith was working with his works, and how his faith was perfected through his works?” (Jam. 2:22). What a God-inspired and clear-cut lesson indeed! Faith helps us to perform good works, and good works, in turn, impart perfection to our faith.