Faith Without Works Is Dead
“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” John 14:21
This is the only true test of character. In doing the will of God we give the best evidence that we love God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. The oft-repeated words of love for God are of no value unless that love is made manifest in the life practice. Love for God is not a mere sentiment; it is a living, working power. The man who does the will of his father who is in heaven shows to the world that he loves God. The fruit of his love is seen in good works…
The apostle James saw that dangers would arise in presenting the subject of justification by faith, and he labored to show that genuine faith cannot exist without corresponding works. The experience of Abraham is presented. “Seest thou, he says, “how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?” This genuine faith does a genuine work in the believer. Faith and obedience bring a solid, valuable experience.
There is a belief that is not a saving faith. The Word declares that the devils believe and tremble. The so-called faith that does not work by love and purify the soul will not justify any man. “Ye see,” says the apostle, “how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” Abraham believed God. How do we know that he believed? His works testified to the character of his faith, and his faith was accounted to him for righteousness.
We need the faith of Abraham in our day, to lighten the darkness that gathers around us, shutting out the sweet sunlight of God’s love, and dwarfing spiritual growth. Our faith should be prolific of good works; for faith without works is dead. Every duty performed, every sacrifice made in the name of Jesus, brings an exceeding great reward. In the very act of duty, God speaks and gives His blessing.
E. G. White, Signs Of The Times, May 19, 1898
The apostle James writes of Abraham and says, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” James 2:21-24 In order for man to be justified by faith, faith must reach a point where it will control the affections and impulses of the heart; and it is by obedience that faith itself is made perfect.
The principles that should govern our actions are plainly marked out in the divine word. Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, are the conditions of salvation. In James’ day there were men arising who were doing just as many are doing in our day—preaching that faith in Christ releases men from obedience to the law of God. James declares that “faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works; show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well; the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” He presents before them the case of Abraham, who was justified by living faith, his works proving, or corresponding to, his faith. “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God.” It is by the constant exercise of faith and love that believers are made to shine as lights in the world.
E. G. White, Signs Of The Times, January 7, 1897
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 2:14-26
Of every soul the Lord demands service. Those to whom the living oracles have been opened, who see the truth, and yield themselves body, soul, and spirit to God will understand the words of the Saviour, “Go work to day in my vineyard” Matthew 21:28, to be a requirement, but not a compulsory one. God’s will is made known in His word, and those who believe in Christ will act out their belief. They will be doers of the word. “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves”. James 1:22
The test of sincerity is not in words, but in deeds. Christ does not say to any man, “What say ye more than others?” but, “What do ye more than others?” Full of deep meaning are His words. “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” John 13:17 Words are of no value unless they are spoken in sincerity and in truth. The talent of words is made effective and of value when they are accompanied by appropriate deeds. It is of vital consequence to every soul to hear the word and be a doer of it.
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.” Matthew 7:13
We have evidence that there are many deceivers in the world, men who say, “I go sir,” but go not. They may speak smooth words, and make fair speeches; but they deceive; they reveal in their lives that their words are not wrought in God. The practical life is a genuine index of the character. By our words and works we reveal to the world, to angels, and to men whether we believe in Christ as a personal Saviour.
Good works do not purchase the love of God, but they reveal that we possess that love. If we surrender our will and way to God, we will not work for God’s love; we will obey the commandments of God because it is right to do thus. The disciple John wrote, “We love him, because he first loved us.” I John 4:19 The true spiritual life will be revealed in every soul who is doing service for Christ. Those who are alive to Christ are imbued with His spirit, and they cannot help working in His vineyard. They work the work of God. Let every soul think prayerfully, that he may act consistently.
E. G. White, This Day With God, p. 244
“He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his work, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.” I John 2:4, 5
The sanctification now gaining prominence in the religious world carries with it a spirit of self-exaltation and a disregard for the law of God that mark it as foreign to the religion of the Bible. Its advocates teach that sanctification is an instantaneous work, by which, through faith alone, they attain to perfect holiness. “Only believe,” say they, “and the blessing is your.” No further effort on the part of the receiver is supposed to be required. At the same time they deny the authority of the law of God, urging that they are released from obligation to keep the commandments. But is it possible for men to be holy, in accord with the will and character of God, without coming into harmony with the principles which are an expression of His nature and will…?
The desire for an easy religion that requires no striving, no self-denial, no divorce from the follies of the world, has made the doctrine of faith, and faith only, a popular doctrine; but what saith the word of God? Says the apostle James: “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?… Wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?…”
The testimony of the word of God is against this ensnaring doctrine of faith without works. It is not faith that claims the favor of Heaven without complying with the conditions upon which mercy is to be granted, it is presumption; for genuine faith has its foundation in the promises and provisions of the Scriptures.
Let none deceive themselves with the belief that they can become holy while willfully violating one of God’s requirements. The commission of a known sin silences the witnessing voice of the Spirit and separates the soul from God… “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected.” I John 2:4, 5
E. G. White, Maranatha (The Lord Is Coming), p. 232
Do you believe that the end of all things is at hand, that the scenes of this earth’s history are fast closing? If so, show your faith by your works. A man will show all the faith he has. Some think they have a good degree of faith, when if they have any, it is dead, for it is not sustained by works. “Faith if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” Few have that genuine faith which works by love and purifies the soul. But all who are accounted worthy of everlasting life must obtain a moral fitness for the same. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” I John 3:2, 3 This is the work before you, and you have none too much time if you engage in the work with all your soul.
You must experience a death to self, and must live unto God. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” Colossians 3:1 Self is not to be consulted. Pride, self-love, selfishness, avarice, covetousness, love of the world, hatred, suspicion, jealousy, evil surmisings, must all be subdued and sacrificed forever. When Christ shall appear, it will not be to correct these evils and then give a moral fitness for His coming. This preparation must all be made before He comes. It should be a subject of thought, of study, and earnest inquiry. What shall we do to be Saved? What shall be our conduct that we may show ourselves approved unto God?
When tempted to murmur, censure, and indulge in fretfulness, wounding those around you, and in so doing wounding your own soul, Oh! let the deep, earnest, anxious inquiry come from your soul, Shall I stand without fault before the throne of God? Only the faultless will be there. None will be translated to heaven while their hearts are filled with the rubbish of earth. Every defect in the moral character must first be remedied, every stain removed by the cleansing blood of Christ, and all the unlovely, unlovable traits of character overcome.
E. G. White, Testimonies For The Church, vol. 1, pp. 704-705