James now asks a question that is extremely important to the perfect unity of the Christian faith:
“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 sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (Jam 2:14-17).
The Greek word for “works” is ergon. It means “that which one normally does – ‘work, task.’” (Louw & Nida 42.42). So James is saying that, when you go to work to support your family, you go to work and perform certain tasks. So when you have faith in Christ as Savior and Lord, you go to church and care for the needy there. If not, there is no faith, according to James
“But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well, Even the demons believe – and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him a righteousness” – and he was called a friend of God” (Jam 2:18-23).
What does it mean to be “justified?” It means to be judged “morally right,” not just physically right. To be in perfect unity with God, his church must have its whole heart into what it does in caring for members of God’s family. James is saying that faith with no beating heart is dead:
“You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (Jam 2:24).
We are not told whether Rahab the prostitute had faith in God (Joshua Chapter 2), but she did a major work for God:
“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” (Jam 2:25).
So even a woman of sin was justified before God by her works, faith or not. James concludes:
“For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” (Jam 2:26).
There is no perfect unity with Jesus or God without both faith and works, according to James.
Believe and work for the good of the Lord and your family in Christ!