What Does it Mean That Faith Without Works Is Dead?

Published: Jan 17, 2022
What Does it Mean That Faith Without Works Is Dead?

"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead." James 2:26

I’m a visionary by nature – I love to dream. If you ask me what things I dream about the church, for my marriage, my daughters, and myself, I wouldn't hesitate for a split second to tell you! I have faith in so many things, even things possibly deemed crazy and impossible by other people. I believe Scripture with my whole heart, so I believe that the way God says things should be can actually happen, regardless of what I see around me.

But if I'm being honest, walking by faith and not by sight is downright difficult at times. What I see can be very different from God’s way. I have to be the one to bring myself into alignment with God, not the other way around. I find myself in a daily war (like every true believer does) between my flesh and my spirit! But I try to give myself grace because I know that I'm still growing and still learning. I'm still running my race, and I don't plan to stop striving in my pursuit of Christ (Philippians 3:14).

We must hold strong to our faith because it is the very thing that leads us towards the things we hope for. It's the thing that keeps us moving forward, even if that movement seems slow and uneventful. Why? Because "faith without works is dead," (James 2:26). It's as dead as dead can get. Faith is designed to always spur us on to obedience in Christ and to be like he was. It is the "evidence of things that we do not see," (Hebrews 11:1).

Discover why James 2:17 tells us that "Faith Without Works Is Dead" from this video and our list of important reasons below!

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"Pleasing God happens when we have faith and apply it with action."

"Pleasing God happens when we have faith and apply it with action."

I used to have a difficult time understanding what Hebrews 11:1 was speaking of. Over the years, I've learned that the Holy Spirit helps us to understand the mysteries of God for our lives. Things that are a reality in heaven, we can see by the Spirit. And it is our faith that presses us to walk out, here on earth, what is shown to us in the Spirit. Faith is the starting point—it beckons us to move in obedience. And obedience always requires action on our part.

The word tells us that it’s impossible for us to please God without faith. Pleasing God happens when we have faith and apply it with action. Our walk of faith is a lifelong journey, and there are two things that I know about it without a shadow of a doubt. The first is that no one else can run our personal race of faith. The second is that truly walking by faith and not by sight produces present and eternal fruit, all of which pleases God and brings him glory.

"And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful." Titus 3:14

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No One Else Can Run for You.

No One Else Can Run for You.

In high school, I ran in the 4x4 relay event. I was the second leg, and I remember practicing with my dad on the track field on the weekends that I didn't have practice. He taught me that my leg on the relay team was important in every race. I had to catch the baton being handed to me, run with all my heart, and then hand it off to the next leg in front of me. The first leg on my team could not do my part, and neither could the third leg. For a stretch of 100 meters, that baton was in my hands only.

This is how faith operates. All of us who are chosen by God are called to a relay race of faith. Whatever leg you are assigned, that is what you must run. God gives all of us assignments here on this earth, and it takes faith in Christ Jesus to accomplish it! What you have been called to do, I could never do.

This is why no one should ever be jealous of anyone else's talents, gifts, anointings, and assignments. We all have a part in the grand picture of faith. We are each a part of the one body. By faithfully running my 100 meters, someone else will be able to catch their baton and run their 100 meters. We all advance the kingdom of God when we do our part.

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"Whatever the Spirit is leading you to do by faith, you are the one to do it."

"Whatever the Spirit is leading you to do by faith, you are the one to do it."

Your faith cannot be revealed by someone else’s good deeds. It is our own deeds that make our faith whole and complete. Paul says this in the Book of 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 see that a person is justified by Works and not by faith alone,James 3:18, 24.

Whatever the Spirit is leading you to do by faith, you are the one to do it. Your parents, siblings, spouse, friends, and children cannot do those things for you. When we pass away, I am sure that God is going to ask what we’ve done with the talents, gifts, anointing, and assignments that he gave us.

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Faith Bears Fruit.

Faith Bears Fruit.

You were created to bear much fruit in your life. Walking by faith isn't easy, but the fruit that comes as a result is beautiful! It makes everything you've endured worth it.

This is what Jesus said to his disciples:

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.” John 15:7-8.

Jesus is the one who gives us everything we need to walk by faith. He is the one that enables us to bear fruit that pleases and glorifies God. Jesus died for every believer and when we accepted him into our hearts as a savior, we were given everything we could ever need to run our race.

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"We don't have to do this in our own strength."

"We don't have to do this in our own strength."

I love that we don't have to do this in our own strength. (None of us would be able to do it!) Because Jesus successfully finished his race as our forerunner, we can successfully finish our races. Whatever you may be facing today that seems insurmountable, know that you can and will overcome it, because all things are possible with Jesus. He will lead you in your faith from the beginning to the end, and he will put you in a position to bear good fruit before the Father.

The fruit produced in your walk of faith will satisfy and bless you as well as those around you. God wants us to be known as his disciples, then to go out and make disciples. Others will know and believe God based on the faith that we walk out every day.

Our faith yields dividends. There will never be a time in your life where your faith does not produce righteous and eternal rewards. There is always a reward in choosing to trust God, despite what you see!

"Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son." 2 John 1:9

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"Keep running your race...Keep your eyes on Jesus."

"Keep running your race...Keep your eyes on Jesus."

As your sister in Christ, I encourage you to keep running your race. Keep moving forward. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Stay focused on him, and he will lead and guide you. You do not have to live a life of faith without works!

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted." Hebrews 12:1-3

I am standing with you, and I ask that you stand with me. When we don't know how something will happen, Jesus knows, so choose to place your faith in him. When all hope seems to be lost and all options are off the table, we will believe by faith that God will make a way where there is no way. We won't be people of ineffective faith. Rather, we will match our actions to what we believe, no matter how small our faith starts out. All we need is a mustard seed, and God will grow our faith from that place as we take the first steps forward. Amen!

Britnee Bradshaw is a free-spirited, Old Navy-wearin', coffee-shop lovin', wife and momma. She serves in the worship ministry with her husband at their home church in Glendale, AZ, and writes with the sole purpose of pointing others to Christ. You can catch up with her on her blog, On The Way Up, or via social media @b_brdshw!

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This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy-to-read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within the Scripture context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.

"Pray Without Ceasing" 
"Fearfully and Wonderfully Made"
"Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart"
"All Things Work Together for Good"
"God is Love"

"Be Strong and Courageous" 
"Train Up a Child in the Way He Should Go"
"Love Your Neighbor as Yourself"
"Take Every Thought Captive"
"Do Not Fear"

"Eye for an Eye"
"Wolf in Sheep's Clothing"
"I Can Do All Things Through Christ"
"The Lord is my Shepherd"
"Be Still and Know that I Am God"

LISTEN: Being Complete in Jesus (Understanding Matthew 5:21-48)

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Originally published Monday, 17 January 2022.