Faith Without Works is Useless
18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one. Good! Even the demons believe—and they shudder. 20 Senseless person! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless? (James 2:18-20)
Closing this section on the warnings of faith without works, James starts off by giving a hypothetical dialog with another individual. The person says, “You have faith, and I have works.” James responds, “Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith by my works.” In this dialogue, we can see that James emphasizes that real faith will be displayed through your actions. As Max Anders states, “We have no room for some people to emphasize faith while others stress deeds. You must have both.” Jesus stated in John 8:31 to the believers, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples.” To follow Christ is to be obedient to His Word, which will naturally spur you to action; as Christ served others and displayed His love for the people not just merely by word, but in deed as well.
Then, in verse 19, the same hypothetical individual then tries to justify their claim to faith through intellectual claim, stating that they have knowledge, believing “that God is one.” James counters by stating that “even the demons believe—and they shudder.” We can see an example of the demons shuddering, when Christ was approached by two demon-possessed men, in which they said in Matthew 8:29, ““What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” Within this interaction, we can see that the demons have this knowledge of God, and yet, display the evil character within themselves. In the same manner, someone can claim to “know God,” but not have a transformed life, as evident in their lives.
Finally, in verse 20, James does not mince his words in describing the person who does such claims to faith “Senseless person! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless?” James doesn’t just want the reader to be aware of the issue, but to learn and change from it. True faith shows itself in visible deeds. But, to claim to believe in God, but to not have any fruit to show of it, displays a faith that seems useless to change people. Jesus emphasized obedience in His great commission, as seen in Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Isaac De Guzman