James 2:14-26

James 2:14 (KJV)
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
Now James begins a section on the age old debate of works and faith. As we study this verse, 2 parts of this verse must be brought to light:
1.) "say he hath faith" = The verse is not saying he has it but that he says he has
it. It is very important to know the difference between the two.
2.) The second part which must be examined is "can faith save him?" In the Greek the word "the" is present which allows this part of the verse to be translated "Can that faith save him?" This is a definite article resulting in asking the question, "Can a faith without substance (not producing works) save a person? In other words, if there is no evidence of your faith, you don't have any, which means you are still unsaved.
James 2:15 (KJV)
If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
James now sets up a scenario. Being naked and destitute of daily food constitutes the worst situation anybody can be in. Notice he is not speaking of a situation where they may need just a little money to get by. He is speaking of a brother or sister being in the most grievous poverty possible.
James 2:16 (KJV)
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?
Let us examine the last phrase, "what doth it profit?" The principle of verse 14 is being reiterated here. If a person comes to you for anything, food and clothing represent the principle, and you refuse them, what does it profit you? It profits nothing because their faith is non-existent. Faith is the foundation we build our works on. Out of a true faith comes true works, this is how faith is demonstrated. James is speaking of the basic physical essentials and nothing concerning salvation. Basically, he is saying that if you cannot even have compassion on a person for the physical things, then you will not even be able to give them the Gospel. (Luke 16:11 KJV) If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? How we handle our earthly goods is a good indicator of where we are spiritually.
James 2:17 (KJV)
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Here is the pivotal verse in this section. Faith is dead without works because works is the proof of your faith. (Eph 2:10 KJV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. God has already ordained our good works and if there are no good works, then we are unsaved. What is the only good work a Christian can do? It is putting themselves on the line sending forth the gospel which is the primary calling of all true believers.
Notice the verse speaks that faith is dead without works. The word "dead" is the word "nekros" the same word that God uses to describe the pre-salvific Christian. The word carries with it the meaning of "useless, lifeless, and dead." Then God adds the word "alone," which carries the meaning of being alone or isolated." God is then declaring that if your faith has no action, you have no faith, thus you have no salvation. True good works are an evidence of your salvation.
James 2:18 (KJV)
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.
Some may have separated works and faith and made them two distinctives of the Christian Faith. However, the two cannot be separated as works spring out of faith, not faith out of works. Works is never a foundation. Faith is a gift from God while works is our required "reasonable service" (Rom 12:1 KJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Your works bring forth the evidence you are saved. Evidence of salvation is not speaking in tongues rather it is the working out (not for) of your own salvation as stated in Philippians 2:12.  (Phil 2:12 KJV) Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Notice the challenge in this verse to show the faith without works. Is faith visible by itself? The answer of course is no! Is faith visible when it is being exercised by works? The answer is yes! This is why the Scripture declares that we can show our faith by works. Works is faith in action!!!!!
James 2:19 (KJV)
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
Here is an indictment against the trite person who proclaims "Oh Yes, I believe in God." There are many who say they believe in God and the Bible puts that on par with "Big deal the demons believe too." These people have no works, in the realm of Christianity, belief is dead if it is alone. At least the demons have some sense in that they tremble, people shake their fist at God. I guess because the demons who rebelled with Satan already saw God in His majesty and know what's coming. Many people say there is no God, even the devils aren't that stupid!
James 2:20 (KJV)
But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
The word vain here is "Empty or Worthless." Dead is "nekros" remember "lifeless and useless?" Do any of these words describe the gospel? The answer is no. Throughout this study we are seeing some common words describe faith without works, "useless. lifeless, empty, worthless." James is continuing to drive home the reality that a life of verbal faith is not evidence of salvation. Faith without works is like a light bulb that is off. If the light bulb is off in the dark, it does not light the way and is as useless as a bulb that is bad, but if that light bulb claims it is a light bulb and then lights the way, the light bulb has proven that it is a light bulb by being lit. A Christian proves they are a Christian by working for the Kingdom of God. The difference between true and false works is that false works are tied to this world and the glory of the doer. The true works are tied to the Kingdom of God and the glory of God.
James 2:21(KJV)
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
Here is one of those verses that the "work for salvation" crowd uses as their crowning verse. They pull out "justified by works" and leave it there. It is a pity that they ignore the second half of this verse. This entire verse shows us that the faith of Abraham was extremely alive and active. His trust in God was so mighty that he was willing to sacrifice his own son on God's orders. This verse does not contradict Romans 3:28 & 4:3, rather it combines the principles of both verses in showing us what a living faith is. (Rom 3:28 KJV) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. (Rom 4:3 KJV) For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
James 2:22 (KJV)
Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
The perfect or mature Christian life is a life of works in conformity to our faith and a life of faith in conformity to works. In other words, they complement each other. If I may make an illustration: It is like one who puts on a glove, the hand is the faith and the glove is the works. The glove is lifeless and limp unless there is a hand in it. On the other hand (no pun intended) the hand is works and the glove is faith. In other words, they are a perfect match. Next time you listen to a missionary, think of these verses and you will have a live demonstration of how works and faith go hand in hand.
James 2:23 (KJV)
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.
This part of Scripture goes back to Genesis 15:5 where God promised Abraham that his seed would be as the stars in number and he believed God. Notice how the word friend shows up, remember what the Lord Jesus called all His true believers in John 15:14-15? (John 15:14-15 KJV) Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. {15} Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Not only does the believer inherit the faith of Abraham, they inherit the right to call the Lord Jesus "Friend." Therefore, since we have inherited those things, we have also inherited the ability to do great works for God in concert with our faith. (Gal 3:29 KJV) And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. You can be sure you are of Christ if your works are in concert with your faith in Him. Abraham’s faith proved that he was one of God’s Elect.
James 2:24 (KJV)
Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
Back in verse 14, James asks the question "can a dead faith save anyone?" The answer is found in this verse because no one is saved by any type of intellectual belief which lacks appropriate actions. Saving faith is more than giving mental assent to a doctrine. Saving faith is a compelling force in the life of a Christian and causes them to want to do what the Lord assigns them. True salvation is a motivating salvation. Even bed bound people in nursing homes have prayer ministries which shows evidence that they are children of God. Religious people get tired of religious things after a while but the Child of God cannot rest until their ministry is complete and then we fly away. (Psa 90:10 KJV) The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
James 2:25 (KJV)
Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
Rahab was justified because she heard about the God of the spies and believed the story. She had faith to hide the spies and then send them off in a different direction. It is necessary to note that both Abraham and Rahab were justified in the same manner. Their works were in concert with their faith. "Likewise" may also be translated “In like manner." Her beliefs led to her actions. If you have no beliefs, you will take no action.
James 2:26( KJV)
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Here is the summary of this section - WORKS WITHOUT FAITH OR FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD. This is the great balance in the Christian walk. Faith and works must be in concert because one without the other is dead. If you have ever gone to a funeral, when you saw the body in the casket, what you saw was faith without works. That is the essence of James 2:14-26 - WORKS MUST COMPLEMENT OUR FAITH not justification by works. Works always come as a result of salvation and for it. That causes many people to stumble because unsaved man wants to appease God by their works but the problem remains that unsaved man’s works are dead because his faith is dead because he is spiritually dead and in need of spiritual resurrection. When that happens, he is alive unto good works to the glory of God.