Commentary by: Gordon King
Good works and deeds are essential for a fulfilling Christian life. The presence of these acts represent our faith and love for God.
Without our good works our faith is dead. Through our faith we demonstrate our good works. We are found righteous or justified by God through our faith in Him. By having faith in God we perform good works as a sign that we are justified.
Faith Without Works Is Dead
14 “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
The preceding bible passage by James tells us that “faith without works is dead”. I take this to mean that by having faith in God, we will do good works. This passage is a little confusing and some of it sounds as if we are also justified by our works. However, what I believe him to be saying is not that we are justified by our works, but that are works show our faith. That without our good works we are not showing that we have faith in God. For it is by God that we are justified, not by our works. Just as we are not saved by our works, but by the blood and grace of Jesus Christ. It is the only way. If this were not true then we could boast that our works have justified us and not Jesus Christ.
2 ‘For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”’
16 “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”
38 “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; 39 and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.”
24 “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”
9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved and have eternal life. By the shedding of his precious blood and atoning for our sins. Likewise, we are justified through the blood of Jesus and by his loving mercy and grace bestowed upon us. Not by our works. Our works are merely the result of our justification and salvation through the gift of God. He has done all of the work. We only need to receive it, accept it and have faith in it. By His blood and grace we are found righteous in the eyes of God.
Many people including Christians confuse “Justification” (righteousness) with “Sanctification” (holiness). They are two entirely different things. We are justified (found righteous in the eyes of God) upon accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior. Sanctification is a process which we develop over time through the help of God and the Holy Spirit (to become more “Christ like” and holy).
God Bless Everyone!