Faith without works is dead

Photo of Robin Harris Kimbrough

Dr. Robin Harris Kimbrough

Many of us have looked around at the progress of others and wondered about God’s activity in our lives. How many of us have watched people progress in ways in which we want God to bless us? As we watched the progress, we began to question God’s activity in our lives.

The truth is that God’s activity is not the issue. A great deal of the time, the blame lies with us. We have to be active in our own lives. Most of our blessings need some activity on our part. We need to take steps toward our goals and prayer requests.

This is why James gave us this important information about faith: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also,” James 2:26. James is not saying that our works save us. But we work, act, do because we are saved. We can believe all we want to that God can do the impossible, restore our situations, and fix what is broken. But we have to be an active participant in our blessings. Faith without works is dead. When I was in law school, I believed that I could win this free bar review course. I had faith that my name would be chosen.

Then days later, another person won. I never entered the contest. I forgot to submit my entry.

A person can believe that they can be a lawyer, a doctor, or another type of professional—but it requires work. Ask any medical or law student. They will tell you that it takes effort, discipline, and accountability to make things happen. Otherwise, the faith is dead. All of our work should interact with our faith. Everything that we do should be a response to our faith in God and not ourselves. See, works without faith is dead.

Read the verses before this, and James describes two examples of how faith and works go together. He references Abraham putting his son Isaac on a chopping block, and Rahab’s demonstration of courage by warning the Israelites of an attack.

What is the use of having a work and no faith to support it or back it up? It’s useless. If we do not believe in what we are doing, how can we get anything out of it? Our work should reflect our belief in God, and it should glorify God.

We can only give God the glory in all we do if we have faith. Yes, our faith will weaken at times. We may believe in certain blessings for others, and that God can do the impossible—but only for certain people.

Thoughts like this can kill our faith and put to death works. When we are in this state of mind, we need to rely on God’s grace, and pray to the Lord to help us believe. Then, faith and works can experience the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. Faith without works is dead.