Faith without works is Dead

Mar 31, 2024

James 2:17-18 - “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 

[18] Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

James, also known as James the Just, is believed to have been the brother of Jesus Christ and the author of this Epistle. He initially did not believe in his brother's teachings but became a believer after the resurrection. Subsequently, he took on the role of Pastor at the church in Jerusalem.

The Book of James is regarded as one of the earliest writings in the New Testament, believed to have been written around A.D. 45, before the first council of Jerusalem in A.D. 50. According to the historian Josephus, James was martyred around A.D. 62.

This letter was penned as a response to a distorted interpretation of Paul's teachings on faith. This particular interpretation, known as "antinomianism," argued that through faith in Christ, individuals were completely liberated from the obligations of the Old Testament law, secular law, and moral standards. The letter was explicitly addressed to Jewish Christians who were dispersed across different regions.

Martin Luther, a prominent figure in the Reformation, expressed strong disapproval of the letter of James, referring to it as “the epistle of straw.” Luther's criticism stemmed from his failure to reconcile James's emphasis on works with Paul's emphasis on faith. While Paul's teachings center on our justification with God through faith, James's teachings highlight the works that demonstrate and accompany that justification.

James wrote to inspire the Jewish believers to thrive in their newfound Christian faith. He stressed that genuine faith is revealed through good deeds, echoing Paul's teachings in Galatians 5:22-23 about the fruits of the Spirit. James emphasized that a true saving faith is evidenced by the visible manifestation of the Spirit's fruits in one's life.

James offers a profound explanation of the connection between faith and works. The Jewish Christians he addressed were deeply rooted in the Mosaic Law and its emphasis on works. James dedicated significant effort to clarifying the challenging concept that adherence to the law does not justify anyone.

Even if we strive to uphold all the laws and rituals to the best of our ability, it is impossible to do so perfectly. According to James 2:16, transgressing even a tiny part of the law makes us guilty of breaking the entire law. This highlights the interconnected nature of the law, where violating one part constitutes a violation of the whole.

Followers of Jesus Christ are challenged to do more than speak about their faith - they are called to put their beliefs into action. This challenge requires a deep understanding of the teachings of Jesus and a commitment to living out those teachings. James' letter focuses on the profound truths found in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, compelling believers to take tangible steps based on His words.

The Epistle also emphasizes that for a Christian, it's important to show good deeds and not just claim faith. James points out that even demons believe in God and shudder, so mere belief is not enough. It's emphasized that genuine faith is consistently demonstrated through actions. Good works are not what saves a person, but they are a natural outcome of authentic faith.

Having faith in Christ is an essential part of salvation, but it's also important to demonstrate that faith through good works. As James points out, faith without works is not genuine. What kind of faith do you have? Does it inspire you to do good in the world?

Our Prayer For today:

Heavenly Father, we are grateful for the faith You have given us through Jesus Christ. We acknowledge that, at times, we may fall short of living according to this faith, failing to bring glory to You. We ask for Your help in manifesting Your goodness through our actions and service so that others may also come to experience the transformative power of the faith that not only saves but also empowers us to carry out the works of Jesus Christ. In His name, Amen!