READ : James 2:14
What good is it . . . if you say you have faith, but do not have works? (v. 14)
Remember how Paul thunders in Romans and Galatians that we are saved by faith in Jesus alone, not by any works that we have done? He wants all to see that salvation is God’s gift and not our achievement. He’s opposing the evil of self-righteousness and lifting up the wonder of God’s grace in Christ.
James is contending against a different error, another evil. He can’t stand it when people say they have faith, but show no evidence of it in their daily living. He’s opposing all counterfeit faith, all hypocrisy.
James insists that faith, when it is real, will always reveal itself in a changed life. Here’s a brother or sister in desperate need, and a professing Christian speaks lovely words to them but gives them no help whatever. This kind of “faith” that brings no fruits of love is “dead,” according to James.
Are Paul and James at odds? Not really. They would agree that we are saved through faith in Jesus. But while Paul would argue that good works cannot be the root of faith, James would insist that they will surely be its fruit. Our works of love and service do not cause our salvation, but they will always be its result.
Lord, by your Spirit’s power, give me a faith that really works!