Justification By Works
Justification Before Men††††††††† James 2:14-26
There is a sense in which we are justified by works, not before God, but before men. We justify our profession of faith in Christ by our works. Believers do not show their faith by creeds, confessions, and catechisms, but by their conduct. This is what James teaches us in James 2.
James and Paul are not opposed to each other. In Romans Paul shows us the accomplishment of justification. James show us the evidence of justification. If a man is a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, he will justify his faith and prove its reality by works of righteous obedience to God, even as Abraham did. Any faith which does not produce obedience to God is a false faith, a demonic delusion. It is not the faith of Godís elect.
Free grace is not opposed to good works. Free grace promotes good works! The Holy Spirit does not leave us to guess what kind of works they are which demonstrate the reality of faith. Religion makes good works to be acts of asceticism by which men and women show off before one another. The Word of God always makes good works, works of godliness to be works of kindness and brotherly love.
Those good works by which believers justify their professed faith in Christ before men are works ofÖ
Patient submission to the will of God (Jams 1:2-3). Believers rejoice to submit all things to the will of God and the rule of his providence. Faith simply trusts God. Trials make manifest what we are. If we believe God, our trials will make that obvious. If we do not believe God, our trials will make that obvious as well.
Love toward the people of God (James 1:26-27; 2:15-16). If we love each other, we bear one anotherís burdens, weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. We provide for, care for, protect, and forgive those who are the objects of our love. That faith which God gives always works by love; and love causes men and women to bridle their tongues. Faith harnesses its energies to do good for people, not to hurt and destroy them.
Faithful obedience to the Word of God (James 2:21-23). Believers bow to the will of God in providence and obey the revealed will of God in Scripture. Justified sinners, loving Christ, surrender to his dominion. We bow to his doctrine, obey his precepts, submit to his ordinances, and seek to worship him in the manner prescribed by him.
Self-denial and sacrifice for the glory of God (James 2:23-25). True faith is much more than a profession of Christianity, or the acknowledgement of a creed. Faith in Christ causes people to be truly gracious. Believers willingly hazard their lives for one another, as did Rahab.
That faith which knows nothing about submission to the will of God, love for the saints of God, obedience to the Word of God, self-denial and self-sacrifice for the glory of God is nothing but an empty, meaningless show of hypocrisy.