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The Shady Lady From Jericho

James 2:24 You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

How can we know that we have a true saving faith? The answer can be found in the life of a most unlikely candidate: Rahab – Jericho’s notorious prostitute.

Genealogy: A Canaanite descendant.

Family History: Unknown.

Occupation: Harlot.

Religion: A fledgling faith in the Israelite’s God.

Pastimes: Hiding Israelite spies in the roof.

A fledgling faith in the God of Israel. That was Rahab’s primary credential. If Rahab was questioned today as to why she hid the spies in her roof and deceived the King of Jericho as to their whereabouts, what might she say?

Well, it just seemed to me that a person who believes in the living God would act in this way. It just seems to me that someone who believes, even one with a small faith, would do the right thing that ought to be done.”

Rahab wove her faith, albeit small, with an action. Rahab did not say to the spies, “Go I wish you well; keep warm and well fed.” That, as James teaches, is a dead faith (James 2:14-17). Instead, Rahab did something significant (and as it turned out, momentous) when she could, as she could. She put her home, her resources, her ingenuity, and her personal safety on the line because hers was a saving faith.

Joshua 2:8 And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof. And she said unto the men, ‘I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For the LORD your God, he is God in the Heaven above and the earth beneath.’

From the lips of a shady Canaanite lady comes a great declaration of the significance of the mighty God of Israel. Somehow, in the goodness of God, Rahab got a hold of God’s sovereignty and power. She believed and in faith, she acted.

What kind of a wonderful God reaches down into the lives of people who are the most unlikely candidates for salvation and gives them the urge and urgency to act upon this faith? Rahab’s past is no barrier to God’s grace and neither is it an obstacle for those who don’t know Him yet. In confidence we can declare with the prophet Isaiah,

Isaiah 59:1 Behold the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear.

After considering the life of Rahab, we can clearly offer a response to the question posed earlier. We know that we have a true saving faith when our works are trusting, costly, and obedient to God and His Word. When we are prepared to put all on the line, as Rahab did, and trust in the goodness of God and His sovereignty, then our faith is genuine. This is a faith that will not fall away, but last until the day when Christ presents us pure and blameless before the Father.

Our faith, that is much more precious than gold, must have evidence in practical good works. Any other faith is no faith, but a sham. We are justified by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. It must be accompanied by works that point others to Christ. A simple profession is a dead faith comparable only to a corpse from whom the breath of life has vanished. True faith gives and breathes life, so that others may live.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

‘Father, You acted upon Your love for all people, by giving the greatest sacrifice of all – Jesus. Help me to show genuine love for others, by giving my time, my resources, and myself. Thank You that there is no greater way to show Jesus to those who are lost than by putting saving faith into action. Amen.’

About Jennifer Woodley

Jennifer is an Australian freelance writer who lives in a small rural town in sunny Queensland. She is passionate about encouraging others on their journey with Christ through writing and mentoring. Jennifer is a school chaplain, wife, mother of three adult sons and loving grandma of one adorable grandson. More of her writing can be found at www.inhisname6.com and www.faithwriters.com.

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  1. Nicely done Jennifer, good message with a lot of specific details to pull it all together. Great article.
    God Bless~

  2. Great job on applying the wonderful truths about Rahab, faith, and works. Thanks.

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