James 2:14-26 – Faith Without Works

James is dealing with faith that is not followed by works. He’s not saying we are saved by works, but that works should follow faith. Many have claimed Paul and James contradicted one another because of Paul’s emphasis on faith and James’ on works. On the contrary, they stood back to back fighting opposite foes.

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Martin Luther wanted to throw the book of James out because he thought it contradicted justification by faith. Our last study proved this untrue. James clearly taught the contrary. He makes it abundantly clear the utter impossibility of justification by the works of the law.

James 2:10 – “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”

Faith Without Works

  1. Partial Faith

    James 2:1 – “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.”

    Faith that shows respect or partiality is not true faith. It’s a false faith. Not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus never shows respect of persons.

    Romans 2:11 – “For there is no respect of persons with God.”

    As we saw in our study of James 2:1-9, there should never be a display of partiality in our midst, whether it be partiality in judgment (Leviticus 19:15), religious partiality (Acts 10:34), racial partiality (Numbers 12:1-11), cliques in church (1 Corinthians 11:20-22), or a blatant show of partiality in regard to the affluent and influential (James 2:2-4). Partiality of persons must never be tolerated.

  2. Merciless Faith

    James 2:13 – “For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.”

    True faith will always be displayed in mercy for and toward our fellowman.

    Matthew 5:7 – “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”

    Matthew 9:13 – “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

    Luke 6:36-38 – “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”

    Galatians 6:7 – “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

  3. Faith that Saves

    James 2:14 – “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”

    True saving faith will always be displayed in works. Works is the fruit of real faith. Faith that does not have with it works is not true saving faith. John Calvin said, “It is faith alone that saves but faith that saves is not be alone.”

    Matthew 7:20-21 – “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”

    1 Corinthians 15:10 – “I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

    Hebrews 4:10 – “For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His.”

    It’s God’s grace working in our life that produces works in the believer’s life. This is not a works salvation but rather a fruit salvation. It’s not anything we can boast of because we have ceased from our on works and it is now God working through us.

    Galatians 2:20 – “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”

    Galatians 5:6 – “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.”

    1 Thessalonians 1:3-4 – “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.”

    Titus 3:8 – “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.”

  4. Need Faith

    James 2:15-16 – “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?”

    True faith, when it sees a legitimate need, will do what it can to meet the need. What good is a faith if it doesn’t show compassion a brother or sister in need.

    1 John 3:17 – “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”

    In the judgment of the nations, our Lord and King will divide the sheep from the goats and judge them on the basis of how they showed mercy and compassion toward those in need (Matthew 25:32-46).

    James 2:13 – “For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.”

    James 2:17 – “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”

  5. Show Me Faith

    James 2:18 – “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”

    James is talking of how our faith is manifest before men. Many boast of having great faith but how can anyone know we have faith unless they see something. “Yea, a man may say” indicates a false profession.

    John deals with this throughout 1 John using the phrase “he that saith” or “if a man say.” It’s easy to proclaim something and mouth the words but it’s an entirely different thing to display our profession by what we do.

    Matthew 7:20 – “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

    Matthew 5:16 – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

    Matthew 6:1 – “Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.”

    Our faith must be manifest for Man to see. God may know we have faith but man does not unless we either tell them or they see our faith in deeds. In our display of good works we must do them in such a way so as to glorify God and not draw attention to ourselves, “otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.”

  6. Demon Faith

    James 2:19 – “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”

    “One God” probably refers to the unity of the Godhead. I’m convinced we are in need of doctrinally purity in the church today like never before. Sound doctrine is sorely lacking in the body of Christ. We need solid doctrine being taught in the church by our pastors and not just good self-help, motivational sermons. People can get that from the world.

    Though we have our doctrine down pat and can boast of our faith in the one true God, it alone isn’t sufficient. James is basically saying, congratulations, you’ve brought yourself up to the level of a demon. “The devils also believe, and tremble.” Demons believe in the one true God and know who He is but tremble. Just a generic belief in God is of no credit to us if that’s all we have.

  7. Sacrificial Faith

    James 2:20-22 – “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?”

    True faith is manifest in sacrifice. This is a reference to Abraham’s willing sacrifice of his promised son.

    Genesis 22:2 – “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”

    Faith will alway manifest itself in sacrifice. Jesus demanded sacrifice of His followers if they were to be His disciples (Luke 14:25-33). We cannot be His disciples unless we unreservedly put Him first above family members and even our own life. We cannot be His disciples unless we take up our cross and follow Him, putting a death to all personal ambition, and live for Him alone. We cannot be His disciple unless we forsake all we have and follow Him.

    Romans 12:1 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

    Philippians 2:17 – “Yea, and if I be offered (poured out as a drink offering) upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.”

    2 Timothy 4:6-8 – “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.”

    This kind of sacrificial faith completes our faith, brings it to maturity, perfection, and completion. We are saved by faith alone, but our faith will never be brought to full maturity in Christ without it being expressed by means of sacrifice. Sacrifice causes our faith to be brought to full stature.

  8. Friendship Faith

    James 2:23-24 – “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

    True friendship is manifest by one’s actions. Abraham proved he was God’s friend by his sacrificial obedience. God further proved His friendship to him and us all by the sacrifice of His own son. It’s very likely Mount Moriah was the very same Golgotha’s hill upon Jesus was sacrifices for our sins.

    Romans 8:32 – “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”

    Let’s draw our attention to some scripture dealing with friendship which will shed light on our friendship with God, how we can be His friend, how He manifests His friendship to us, and how we too can show friendship to others.

    Proverbs 17:9 – “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.”

    Proverbs 27:6 – “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

    John 15:13 – “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

    John 15:14 – “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”

    John 15:15 – “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”

    John 15:16 – “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

  9. Delivering Faith

    James 2:25 – “Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?”

    We read about the story of Rahab in Joshua 2. She was moved by fear, hid the spies that Joshua had sent, and let them down in the middle of the night by a cord outside her window. For her kindnes to them they promised she and her household who would remain in her home would be spared when they came to conquer Jericho.

    Joshua 2:18-19 – “Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee. And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him.”

    The scarlet thread in her window was a type of the blood of Christ. Like the blood sprinkled on the door posts from the Passover lamb (Exodus 12), all who were in the house would be spared. If we will apply the blood of Christ, in faith, to our lives, our sins will be forgiven, and we will be spared form the wrath of God. Praise His wonderful name!

    Romans 3:25 – “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.”

    Romans 5:9-10 – “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”

  10. Corpse Faith

    James 2:26 – “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

    Spirit here is “pneuma.” It can also be translated “breath.” The body without its breath within it is dead and lifeless. Faith without works is like the body without breath – DEAD!

    1. In a State of Corruption

      The body once the breath has departed will begin to decay. Regardless of being embalmed the body will still sooner or later decay. “For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19).

    2. Useless

      Once one’s breath has departed and they have died they are really of no good any longer. They may have been of great use and value in life but once their spirit has departed they are of no use in this world any more. So having faith without works is. It is of not value or use whatsoever.

    3. Lifeless

      When attending a funeral and you pass by the coffin there is no evidence of any life at all. The spirit of the person has departed and therefore there’s no indication of life. So it is with fruitless faith, there’s simply no sign of spiritual life.

    4. Void of Expression

      A body lying there with no spirit is void of expression. All you see is in them is how the mortician has made them look. So it is with a faith that is not accompanied by works, there’s no sign of life. There’s no praise, no witnessing, no prayer, no expression of faith at all. Its expressionless.

With over 43 years of teaching and ministry experience, Dr. Linton’s passion is to equip, encourage, and strengthen pastors and ministry leaders. Check out his latest video messages and sermons.