Faith and Works

Today we’ll continue with some of your favorites (or the passages you have questions about). Email ( or message me with any passages you’d like added or that you have a question about!

Today we are looking at James 2: 17-19

17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.  18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from works, and I by my works will show you faith. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder.

There is a quote that I’ve seen attributed to John Wesley that I don’t know if it is something he actually said or not, but it does sound like him. Wesley is one of those people who didn’t say a lot of the things he said.  The quote was this, “You can be as orthodox as the devil and just as righteous.”  I love that quote.  What it means is this.  

It is not our correct beliefs that save us.  Know why? The devil believes right. Right belief is called orthodoxy. Now, I’m going to bold what I’m going to say next because I do not want you to misunderstand me.  Orthodoxy is so incredibly important.  It is so very, very, very important for us to know and believe correct Christian doctrine, as laid out to us in Scripture and distilled in the Nicene and Apostles’ Creed.  So, we all good on the importance of orthodoxy and correct belief?  Good. 

But here is the point that Wesley is making and that James is making as well.  If all it took to be a Christian was to agree with a certain set of beliefs, then the devil is a Christian. He has correct doctrine.  You believe that God is one?  You do well.  Even the demons believe.  

It isn’t just enough for us to have intellectual agreement with the truth of Christianity. We must submit our lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  That is what James is impressing upon the people. They are to believe, yes, but that belief must transform their life. It starts with belief, yes, but that belief shows itself with our works. 

So, faith without works is dead. Because something that is alive will show evidence of life, i.e., works.  Your works do not save you.  But your works show that you are alive. So, if we say that we have faith and intellectual agreement to a set of doctrines, but have not given over our lives to the Lordship of Jesus, do we really have faith?  

Have we allowed that faith to transform our lives? That is what James is telling us that we must do.  Our faith, when truly alive, will transform our lives. And will be the shaping factor behind our lives. 

Faith, without works, is dead.  May we have a truly alive faith! 

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