A woman at the Refining Truth website wrote in and asked me to explain the “works’ aspect of “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). She stated, “In so many “religions” today, they throw down the hammer on that “works” have nothing to do with our salvation. I agree with that in a way.”
What is faith without works (deeds)? But then again, can you earn your way into heaven by doing good deeds?
James makes it very clear, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (James 2:15-17)
It is impossible for faith to be static. Faith always propels a person forward towards God. Faith is our unyielding conviction that God is Lord. It is an absolute belief in his word. It is a relationship best described by God when he said, “I am married to you” (Jeremiah 3:14) and “I was a husband unto them” (Jeremiah 31:32) and when John said, “God is love” (1 John 4:8 and 16). Because of this loving relationship, belief and conviction-This faith that we do “works”, not because God says to but because we want to. Sin is the only thing that can separate us from God so we do (works) whatever it takes to keep sin out of our life. Our works of righteousness are a result of our relationship with God.
“Faith unites the weak believer to Christ, as really as it does the strong one, and purifies the heart of one as truly as of another; and every sincere believer is by his faith justified in the sight of God. Faith worketh godliness, and produces effects which no other grace in the soul can do.” Matthew Henry from his commentary on 2 Peter 1:1-11
“Faith is the cause of victory, the means, the instrument, the spiritual armour by which we overcome. In and by faith we cleave to Christ, in contempt of, and in opposition to the world. Faith sanctifies the heart, and purifies it from those sensual lusts by which the world obtains sway and dominion over souls. It has the indwelling Spirit of grace, which is greater than he who dwells in the world. The real Christian overcomes the world by faith; he sees, in and by the life and conduct of the Lord Jesus on earth, that this world is to be renounced and overcome.” Matthew Henry from his commentary on 1 John 5:1-5
As I said earlier, It is impossible for faith to be static.
Faith, Works and Jesus
Probably the best example of faith made manifest (works) is when Jesus said the following in Mark 12.
“And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31.
In this passage from Jesus our faith is manifested (works) by love. It is demonstrated with all of our heart, all of our soul, all of our mind and all of our strength. Our faith gives our works our all.
I can’t think of a greater demonstration of faith and works than that.