How many times has your faith been snuffed out by these words, “faith without works is dead?” This statement has been wrongfully applied one too many times due to lack of understanding of context and a strong foundation in the truth of justification by faith which is the gospel. Now James writing to the Jews in dispersion when he made that statement was not talking about your standing and righteousness in Christ by faith just like Abraham in Romans 4, but your justification before men. You can be born again, yet lack of wisdom and a strong foundation in your identity in Christ as the righteousness of God can cause you not to show forth the fruits of salvation that Christ Himself wants to produce in you for you’re simply the branch holding the blessings, and He is the Vine—source of the blessings. You don’t produce the fruits and blessings, you simply advertise them to the glory of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, if you’re not strong in your salvation in Christ you won’t show forth the effects and therefore men reproach you for being a “hypocrite.” But you’re saved. Your justification before God by faith is forever by the once and for all sacrifice at the cross, and can’t be affected by you. But before men, according to your level of wisdom of grace in Christ Jesus(1 Cor 1:30) you’re not justified and people consider your faith void. As Pastor Prince always says, “right believing will always produce right living.” That’s why James gave the example of the man with resources not giving to the poor, but instead gives empty words not combined with a tangible action(James 2:15-16). If you’re believing the right thing, you have a burning zeal of the Lord Jesus in you and you’re so full to overflowing with His love and wisdom that you bless those around you, and are therefore justified before man who see the works you produce. Therefore as James says in verse 18, I’ll show you my faith by my works. Until I stopped listening to messages that made me feel like salvation, and walking with God was a monumental impossibility in which it was all up to me, I never changed. I had the Holy Spirit in me, but I thought I was lost. I believed I had lost my salvation and was unredeemable. Therefore I produced wrong results by my wrong believing hence before men my faith is dead. I was not justified before men, whether I like it or not because I was not grounded in true faith, that Paul in the book of Hebrews says, “without faith it’s impossible to please God.” And that is justification by faith in what Jesus has already done. So until you realize that the above verse is not about your salvation in Christ or your standing before God, you’ll never be secure in your faith walk. Now what were the next set of Holy Spirit inspired illustrations that James gave?
Abraham putting Isaac on the alter and Rahab protecting the spies by lying to the soldiers in Jericho. Now in both cases, if works and not faith alone justified us before God then these people are guilty because remember James is written to the Jews dispersed and many of them need to be called out of Judaism into Christ the new identity of the believer. Abraham almost committed murder and Rahab lied, which is wrong by the standard of the Torah. Yet James gives these as examples of works of true faith. So it’s not about the morality issue here, because in the first place your morality and self righteousness is nothing before God that’s why true faith believes God justifies the ungodly after they have believed on His Son; Jesus Christ, and received His righteousness by faith as a gift of His grace. That’s why wisdom is so important. Jesus came to be for us first wisdom from God, then righteousness by faith and then sanctification by faith and redemption by faith all because of His grace. Sanctification or holiness which is the “works” that justify you before man come only after knowing you’re righteous by faith. Abraham was declared righteous by faith long before Isaac came. And Rahab believing in the able power of the God of Israel who 40 years prior rescued the Jews from the land of Egypt making the people of Jericho fearful of the Israelites. Which means she chose to stand on the Lord’s side, and was now justified in the eyes of men. Therefore don’t allow anyone make your salvation vague or your eternity bleak and uncertain. Jesus said in John 10, “I give them eternal life, and they shall not perish; neither shall anyone (including yourself) snatch them out of my hand.” Be strong in your salvation in Christ and you’ll show forth His glory. Cast away your sense of righteousness, because any righteousness apart from the righteousness of the cross is born of the flesh and you have fallen from grace. Forsaking the one sacrifice of Jesus and trusting your ability to catch and confess your sins. Leaving out some and justifying yourself. You’re not the justifier—God is. And if you have believed on Jesus you have been SURELY justified, for God Himself justifies the ungodly. BE STRONG IN THE GRACE OF GOD!
Resting on the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ at the cross, and the faithfulness of God our Abba.