Still, the apostle James says faith without actions is dead. Therefore, James implicitly says that faith is alive. But how is faith alive? We can answer this question by seeing how faith can be dead. Dead faith, James says, is faith without actions. Therefore, actions are necessary for faith to be alive. Now, we could focus on what such actions are. But for the moment, focusing on faith as action-producing is enough.
Thus, a lack of faith puts us in a terrible predicament. A lack of faith makes us unacceptable to God. Our unacceptableness arises from our sinful life. This sinful past is present with everyone, and it makes us guilty before God. For instance, David, fearing judgment from God, says, “Don’t put your servant on trial, for no one is innocent before you” (Psalm 143:2). David emphasizes not only his fear of the judgment of God, but why everyone should be fearful. We should be fearful because we have all been unfaithful toward God.
Unbelief means disbelief or faithlessness. Specifically, it means disbelief in Jesus Christ. Jesus, answering his disciples who wondered why they couldn’t cast out a demon in a man, said, “Because of your unbelief, for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move: and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20). Jesus emphasizes the extreme power of faith in contrast to unbelief. Furthermore, unbelief does not have to be matched by an extreme amount of faith to be overcome. Such a requirement of little faith shows 1) faith is way more powerful than unbelief and 2) God honors faith by empowering His followers.