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Faith Without Works is Dead

24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works in receiving the messengers and sending them out by a different route? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (James 2:24-26)


Closing the chapter with these three verses, James concludes the previous example of Abraham with verse 24, stating that Abraham showed his genuine faith through his act of obedience of God’s command, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” I would like to give a reminder that James is not talking about justification by works as a means of salvation. The Bible is very clear that it is through faith in Jesus Christ, found in John 3:16, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” As Max Anders writes, “Faith alone will bring salvation to anyone, but saving faith does not come alone. It is accompanied by works which show the genuineness of faith.”


In verse 25, James gives the example of Rahab, a prostitute who displayed a saving faith. In Joshua 2, Joshua sent two spies into the city of Jericho. Unfortunately, the king learned of the spies, and sent soldiers throughout the city to find them. Rahab took the two spies in and hid them, stating her belief in the Lord after what He had done in Egypt and His power to help the Israelites take the city of Jericho, as seen in Joshua 2:11-13,


“When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.”


The spies promised that her family residing in her home on the day of the attack would be spared, to which Rahab then sent them out a different direction to help them not be captured. She heard of God’s power, and believed in Him and what He could do. In turn, it led to the spies being saved, which led to her family being saved. Her actions born out of her faith would have cascading effects, leading to her being included in the genealogy of Jesus Christ (see. Matthew 1:5).


Finally, in verse 26, we have this imagery of a lifeless body without a spirit compared to that of a faith without works. The Lord formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed life into it, the spirit. Without the spirit, the body is a corpse. In the same way, an individual claiming to have faith but does not have works is spiritually “as lifeless as a corpse” (Anders). If we claim to be believers in Christ, it should be evident in our faithful obedience and in our actions, especially in the day to day.


Blessings,

Isaac De Guzman


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