What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or a sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well”, but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. You believe God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe and tremble. Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the alter? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness”, and he was called “the friend of God.” See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by a different route? For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. James 2:14-26
Last week we heard James command us, “So speak and so act…” which is a great lead in to the Holy Spirit’s teaching on faith and works.
He compares faith without works to expressions of sympathy without giving any help, which is totally useless. In the same way, a faith that exists without works has absolutely no value. In verse 18, James warns us not to you the excuse, “You have faith and I have works.” This is not the way it works (no pun intended). Just as works alone cannot save us, neither can faith alone (verse 24).