James 2:14, 17-18 What do it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? Even so faith, if it had not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou has faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.
This statement refers to those who say that they have faith and the works are not necessary for Christian living. It does not say they have a real and active faith, but they say they have. Can faith alone save? The Word is not referring to initial justifying faith but to the demonstration of Christian faith before men. Christianity demands of its followers’ good works to all men (Mat. 5:16; 16:27; 1Tim. 6:18; 2Tim. 3:17). One is not justified by works (Rom. 3:25-31; 4:1-6; 9:11; 11:6), but justified ones must do them – the works that follow obedience – to prove their Christian consecration (Jas. 2:14-18, 20-26).
Faith without works is dead; works without faith is dead (Jas. 2:17, 20, 26). Neither is complete in itself. It is like fire-burning without fuel and fuel-burning without fire. One can say that this is possible, but it is not; it is contrary to the creative makeup and the laws that govern fire and fuel.