"JUSTIFIED BY WORKS...OR
BY FAITH ALONE?"
James the Apostle wrote that we are justified by WORKS and not by faith alone: "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only"
Shalom dear called-out of Yahweh's Israel and brethren!
Greetings to all in Yahushua's powerful name! May Yahweh bless your studies as you aim to get closer to the knowledge of His grace, and your life as you procure to put in practice what you are given by Him as truth. May Yahweh Almighty bless you and those around you in the manner that you strive to honor and obey Him.
The statement you just read from James 2 is one of the most misunderstood passages in Scripture. Many people tend to think in his writings James is contradicting the Apostle Paul. In order to avoid the implications of what this verse is saying – that we are not justified by faith alone – people often suggest that we are justified by our works before PEOPLE, whereas we are justified by our faith (alone) before YAH. But does that understanding hold up to scrutiny? Let’s see what James 2 is saying about Abraham, starting at verse 21:
"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 Yahweh, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of Yahweh. 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."
Here is the incident where Abraham offered up his son Isaac:
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,“ He said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear Yahweh, because you have not withheld from Me your son, your only son.” Genesis 22:12
If James 2:24 is supposed to show that believers are justified by works before people, then James couldn’t have chosen a worse example! Abraham was alone when he offered up his son, and it appears as though not even his servant was around to see it (if we check for instance the secular history as per The Book of Jasher). We can read that Yahweh says “Now I know” when he beheld Abraham offering his son. Clearly Abraham’s work was before Yahweh and not before people. We also get this established here:
"For not the hearers of the law are just BEFORE YAHWEH, but the doers of the law shall be justified." Romans 2:13
The passage earlier in James 2 says this:
"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 Elohim; thou doest well: the demons also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" James 2:14
My beloved brethren and friends, the context here is about WORKS (and not about the constitution of Yahweh or angels). The Apostle James compares faith without works with the faith demons have. Just like us, demons also accept that Yahushua is the Son of Yahweh, and they can even confess this out loud, but they are not saved since they can't have faith in Him as their savior because of their disobedience, and they don’t have the corresponding good works to go with it! Demons are fountains of iniquity, and "a bad tree cannot produce good fruit."
Precious ones, faith without works is dead, and works without faith is dead too. We can’t merit salvation with our works, but works is still a condition for salvation and therefore needed. If we don’t show good fruit, Yahwshua Ha Mashiach promises we will be cut off the vine, so obedience and good works is something very essential. We know that sinning doesn’t necessarily mean loss of fellowship/relationship, and/or reduced rewards in heaven, because Yahwshua opened before us the door to repentance---but our SOULS are at stake:
"What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in DEATH!" Rom 6:21
"Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin UNTO DEATH, or obedience unto righteousness." Romans 6:16
"Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your SOUL." 1 Pet 2:11
"For to be carnally minded is DEATH; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against Yahweh: for it is not subject to the law of Yahweh, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please Yahweh.
"For if ye live after the flesh, YE SHALL DIE: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, YE SHALL LIVE." Romans 8: 6
"He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son WILL NOT SEE LIFE, but the wrath of Yahweh abides on him." John 3:36
"And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of Yahweh with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into HELL." Mark 9:47.
"Not everyone who says to me Master, Master, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who DOES the will of my Father who is in heaven." Matt. 7:21
"And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the "godless man" and sinner? 1 Peter 4:18
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of Yahweh? Be not deceived…” 1 Cor. 9.
"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." Matt. 16:24
The oft mentioned verses in Ephesians 2:8-9 doesn’t speak against the above passages. Many claim we are saved by the law, while others claim we are saved by faith alone without any type of works (including the much misunderstood "works of the faith").
Let's analyze briefly what some claim. Let's take the law. There are two possibilities. We are either saved by the law OR by grace through faith which produces good fruit (those "works of the faith"---as the result of obedience through faith in Yahwshua)---ONE OR THE OTHER---and we know for sure it could not be the former since that option requires 100% obedience at all times and which we---as having been called to Yahweh from the modern descendanse of the rebellious and disobedient people of Israel---have obviously not achieved when we are called!
Therefore none of us not keeping the law perfectly would be saved! Scripture states there is no one on earth who never sins!
“Certainly there is not a righteous man on earth, who does good and never sins." (Eccl. 7:20).
Thankfully and mercifully our Father Almighty Yahweh offers us the gift of salvation by faith in His Son Yahwshua, but this doesn’t mean that obeying the MORAL law (the ten commandments) is from now on just “optional” to obey, albeit “good” if we manage to obey them! No, my beloved sheep of Yahwshua: we are supposed to have these laws in our hearts!
Understand that we are not merely under the law IF we live in obedience guided by the spirit. Being merely under the law is being under "the letter of the law" which produces the dreadful "works of the law" which we know for sure cannot save anyone, because "there is not a righteous man on earth who never sins!" We just read it! What we are saying is that we need a solution to the problem that arises we sin while trying to keep the law---and it's not sacrificing animals as atonement!
So my beloved, we fail miserably if we try to keep the law by itself ---"the letter of the law"---by our own means and effort without faith in Yahwshua to intercede for us when we fail and repent wholeheartedly. Because we WILL FAIL, and we NEED YAHWSHUA as our mediator. We cannot be saved by the law alone. But we are saved by obedience to the law through faith, which again is faith in Yahwshua Ha Mashiach---who was chosen as lamb "before the foundation of the earth" as atonement for our sins once and for all BY THE GRACE OF YAHWEH.
The ten commandments are just as important to obey today as they have always been (ever since the time of Adam) since iniquities continue to separate us from Yahweh. It’s the "works of the law," and the "ceremonial law" which we are mostly free from. Being cleansed in the blood of Yahwshua doesn’t mean we are still saved if we continue to get filthier and filthier by constantly sinning in the future. Yahweh wants us clean, pure and kodesh. See also how in the book of Galatians, the Apostle Shaul (Paul) on the one hand says we are NOT under the law, but on the other hand lists numerous examples of sins which separate us from Yahweh. In his writings he makes it very clear we are not under the law, but under Mashiach.
"BUT IF YE BE LED OF THE SPIRIT, YE ARE NOT UNDER THE LAW. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of Yahweh." Gal.5:18
"Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of Yahweh." 1 Corinthians 7:19
"Seeing it is one Yahweh, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? Yahweh forbid: yea, We ESTABLISH THE LAW." Rom.3:30
The law is not made void because of faith. Shaul makes it very clear.
Yahweh is compassionate, patient and merciful with his called-out ones, my beloved. He knows we have been called from the worst and most sinful society in the history of mankind (which he calls the Great Babylon, and her subject states), and He knows better than anyone else that it will take us---as His called-out sheep---a certain time to purify our hearts deep enough so that we have consciousness of all our sins and can come to full obedience under the law BY FAITH.
He knows we are deeply contaminated and that we cannot keep the law automatically and perfectly from the moment we are called by Him. But He wants us to have hearts willing to purify, submit and obey. And with faith in His Son, we know that "Yahweh will surely finish the work He started in us."
As our dear brother in the faith Jim Rector stated before being called to Yahweh and going to sleep in Mashiach: BY GRACE, FAITH WORKS.
brother in Yahwshua and servant of the Kehilah