Vain Faith :: By Nathele Graham

How do we honor God? When you really think about it, God could get along just fine without us. He can create anything He wants, but chooses to have a relationship with us. Why? The answer is easy…He loves us. He created everything in order to provide for us. We live on this planet that is the perfect distance from the sun in order that plants grow, animals thrive, water is plentiful. It’s neither too hot, nor is it too cold, gravity is just right, and so much more that is evidence of design. This is known as the Anthropic Principle. Secular scientists will have us believe that it all happened by accident, but Christians know that Jesus is the Creator and He holds everything together.

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17). 

The word “consist” means “held together.” Every living thing on this earth benefits from God’s creation, but not everyone acknowledges Him. Still, Jesus continues to hold things together and give everyone a chance to place their faith in Him. We owe Him everything, but again I ask, how do we honor Him? We honor Him by not taking His love for granted…we don’t have vain faith.

When Adam chose to sin, separation between God and humans was created. Not because God wanted it that way, but because that’s what sin does. God warned Adam what would happen if he chose to disobey, but Adam chose sin. Today we still have a choice. We can either accept God and follow Him, or we can reject Him and follow Satan. God loves everyone, but not everyone loves God. Jesus Christ, God incarnate, entered His creation as one of us…He was born of a virgin so His blood wasn’t tainted by sin, lived life on earth as an example for us to follow, then allowed Himself to be crucified in order to provide for our redemption. He will not force anyone to accept His free gift of salvation, but that gift is offered to everyone. He doesn’t want anyone to reject His gift of eternal life.

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Today His gift of salvation is offered to everyone, but like any gift, it’s up to each individual to accept it. My faith might influence my children, but if they don’t accept the gift for themselves, they will be lost forever. Infant baptism does not bring salvation to that child because the child cannot understand sin and repent. You must acknowledge that you are a sinner and understand that sin separates you from God. Then you repent and ask Jesus to forgive your sin. Until you take your last breath on earth, you can choose to accept Christ’s shed blood for salvation, but don’t wait. You never know when that last breath will be drawn.

When we claim to be a Christian, we declare that we have accepted His sacrifice. That’s when that person’s life should begin to show a change. Choices should reflect God and honor Him. How do we honor God?

Jesus said “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

Too many people say they’ve accepted Him but don’t honor Him. They like the salvation part, but they don’t like the living for Him part.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). 

We can’t do anything to earn our salvation, but we need to understand that the price Jesus paid to purchase salvation for us cost Him everything. He left Heaven to enter into this fallen world of sin, hatred, and chaos. He chose to live among sinners, but never sinned. The crucifixion was the most horrific torture imaginable, but He chose to go through it because there was no other way to forgive the sin that separates us from God. He loves His creation. He made the choice to sacrifice all for us, so doesn’t it seem selfish for a person to say “I accept Christ for salvation” then continue to choose to live as a sinner? We will always sin, but if we love Him, the sin in our life will be repulsive to us and we will desire to honor Him by living for Him. If we love Him, we need to keep His commandments, which are simple.

When asked which is the great commandment, Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy. “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:37-39).

If you love God with your entire being, you’ll choose not to sin. If you love other people like you love yourself, you’ll be understanding of them and show love and forgiveness rather than anger and hate. When you honor Him, your actions will reflect His love rather than show the ways of the world.

It’s been said that grace is getting what you don’t deserve, while mercy is not getting what you do deserve. Because of God’s mercy, Christians aren’t condemned to eternal death, which is what sinners deserve. We are sinners and deserving of punishment, but because Christians have repented of sin and accepted His sacrifice, we have received His grace. Our faith in Him brings salvation, but if you meant the words you said when you accepted His sacrifice, then you need to show His love in your life. Don’t let His sacrifice for you be in vain.

Many of us know those famous Ten Commandments. One of them says “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Deuteronomy 5:11).

Children are taught that this means that when you stub your toe you don’t use the Lord’s name as a cuss word. The Hebrew word “shav’” is translated “vain” and means “emptiness, vanity, falsehood.” So, what that actually means is that when you say you follow the Lord, your life should reflect Him. When Paul wrote to the very worldly congregation in Corinth, he made a point that Christ died for them (and us), and that fact should have made a difference in how they live.

“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain” (2 Corinthians 5:22-6:1). 

The Greek word “kenos” is translated “vain” and has the same meaning as the Hebrew word “shav.” Profession of faith in Jesus Christ shouldn’t be empty, vain, or devoid of truth. It’s our faith that saves us, not works, but if our faith doesn’t result in a changed life, then it’s just empty words…vain faith.

It’s important for a Christian, especially a new Christian, to remove the yoke of the ways of the world. Too often a person will profess faith, then step right back into the world. Strong Christians grounded in Scripture need to mentor weaker brothers and sisters. Scripture is always our guide, and the truth found there never changes. It’s sad when a person professes faith, but then is thrown right back to the wolves of the world because no older Christian takes the time to mentor them. Many new Christians aren’t taught Scriptural truth or they get involved with a group that teaches false doctrine,

“But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9).

This time the Greek word “maten” is translated “vain,” and it means “fruitless and to no purpose.” False doctrine leads away from God’s truth. If the teaching is worldly, then the new Christian won’t be taught that they need to change their ways…leave the worldly teachings and cling to God’s truth. That means having a change of mind as well as a change of heart.

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).

If a Christian, whether new to the faith or a longtime believer, chooses to be yoked to worldly people and worldly ways, their faith is vain. Marriage is usually what is thought of when we think of being unequally yoked. It’s true that if a Christian chooses life with a non-Christian there is no common ground for raising children or living life, and the non-believing spouse is a terrible influence on the children. If marriage happened prior to one spouse accepting Christ, that’s not a reason for divorce but problems can arise. Marriage isn’t the only yoke to be considered. Business partnerships and friendships also yoke a Christian to another person. When Christ dwells in you, you need to come away from the world.

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18).

Christians are in the world and cannot avoid all contact with non-believers. Our contact should be as a witness for the Lord, but we must not be a part of the world. Our faith needs to be solid and true…not in vain.

Don’t live with vain faith. Let the love of Christ shine through you as a light to the fallen world around you. Come away from worldly ways and live for Christ who gives you eternal life.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at

All original scripture is “theopneustos” – God breathed.

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