Faith and Works

Passage for Today

James 2:14-26

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 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? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 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. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 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.


  1. What is James' purpose for writing this section?
  2. What do you learn about faith and works?
  3. How does this relate to James 1:19-27 about hearing and doing the word?


By Lifeway

James introduced the idea of hearing and doing at the end of chapter 1, along with a definition of pure and undefiled religion. Chapter 2 then put a spotlight on a specific example of worldly behavior in the church that contradicted that definition and the biblical standard of loving God and loving our neighbors. Our actions and beliefs must line up with each other. This is the crux of James’s message. Faith works.

Faith and works aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, James tells us that faith apart from works is dead. Works don’t save us, but good works should follow true faith.

James said even demons know the truth about God. They could give all the right Sunday School answers. But they don’t faithfully live for Him as Savior and Lord. They don’t submit to His authority in their lives. Theirs is empty, dead faith. It’s mere belief. Head knowledge doesn’t save you. It doesn’t make you a Christian. Doing this Bible study doesn’t make you a Christian. Real faith is demonstrated in real action. Faith works.

The Book of James is like a commentary on the ministry of Jesus, applied to our lives as Christians. Remember the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Jesus told a story of three men encountering another man who had been beaten, robbed, and left bleeding on the side of the road. The first two men were a priest and a Levite, highly respected religious figures in the Jewish community. But they failed to live out the essence of the law they taught others: love your neighbor as yourself. Their religion was worthless because what they claimed to believe in their minds didn’t result in changed hearts and behaviors.

*  This devotion was found at titled “James: Faith/Works” by Lifeway.

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