There is another section of Scripture that is widely misunderstood and misused to instill fear in people. It is found in the Book of James regarding Faith and Deeds. Before I get to that, please read the above verse. You can see that any good works we do are done through Jesus, and God prepared them in advance for us to do them.
It is clear in Ephesians 2:8-10 that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, and that any good works we do are done through Him:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
There is no boasting about good works. The work we do for Jesus is done for His glory and it was prepared for us by God to complete. We are not working for our salvation. That was paid for in full by Jesus when He died on the cross for our sins. If we could earn salvation, then He died for nothing. He said, “It is finished,” for a reason!
With all of that in mind, let’s turn to the misunderstood and misused Scripture in James:
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
That sounds odd doesn’t it? I thought Ephesians says salvation is by grace through faith and not by works. Yes, that’s right, James is not talking about salvation. He is talking about putting your faith into action, and explaining to the new believers scattered everywhere that there is work to be done.
The New Testament was written in Greek, so let’s look at that word “dead.” The Greek root of that word is nekrós. In this context it means “unable, ineffective, powerless, or corpse-like.” James is telling them to not be ineffective in their faith. He is asking what good is your faith if you don’t act on it?
If you see a homeless man in need, but do nothing about it, what good is your faith? That is what he is saying. He is really saying, get up off the bench and get in the game! He is not talking about working for your salvation! Any good works we do are done through Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit and all the glory goes to God for preparing it!
Yes, of course we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, but don’t just sit there. Our faith is like a muscle that needs to be worked. James is telling us to not let that muscle wear out! God gave you gifts in the Spirit–go use them!
I pray we all complete the work the Lord has for us to do! If God is for us, who can be against us?! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!
Grace and peace to you all!