Fulfilling the Law
24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead (James 2:24-26).
This section of scripture is a bit hard to understand because it seems to say that opposite of what we are all taught as Christians. We are taught to believe that we are made right with God (justified) by his sheer grace and mercy alone. Our works don’t do anything to contribute to our justification. So what is the meaning of verse 24? James says that we are justified by works?
The key is in the words “faith alone” in verse 24. In other parts of the Bible that speak of Christians being saved by faith and nothing else, assume that the faith of a Christian is a living and active faith. It is a faith that loves God. It is a faith that is willing to suffer for God. It is a faith that rejoices in the truth.
But in the book of James, he is talking to a different audience. James‘ audience might not agree with these things that other parts of the Bible assume when they speak of faith. When James writes the word “faith” he is referring to those people that just talk and talk and talk about God but never display in their lives that they really love God. They say they have faith in God but it’s not real. It’s just a verbal show. James is saying that the faith that God loves is way more than just a verbal show. It’s a life lived.
To sum up, we are initially made right by God through no good works of our own. God gets all the credit for our salvation. But if we have been saved it will be proved to be true in the way we live. There is no other way to think of our salvation. It’s all of God. In addition, our works, show that this salvation that is completely from God is something that we truly believe. Our works show God’s grace to be living, active, and true.
Read Ephesians 2:8-10
• How are believers made right with God? Do our works make us saved?
• According to verse 10, if are saved completely by God through faith alone, will our lives look any different?
• Can we take pride in our good works? If not, why not?
Our Father, thank you that you saved us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. You have drawn us to yourself by your sheer grace alone. May this truly humble us and make us so thankful that good deeds spill out of our lives in ways that are mind-blowing to the world around us. We want to make your name famous. We repent of our failure to live this way. We stand forgiven because of Jesus alone. May this truth truly change our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.