|James 2 |
1 My brothers, do not mix the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with showing partiality towards men.
2 For if one man comes to your assembly with a gold ring, in costly apparel, while a poor man comes in inferior clothing,
3 And if you show respect to the man that wears the prestigious clothing, and say to him, "Sit here in this fine place;" and say to the poor man, "Stand over there, or sit here below my footstool,"
4 Are you not then showing partiality [preferential prejudice] among yourselves, and have you not judged [that person] with evil thoughts?
5 Listen, my beloved brothers: Has not God chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?
6 But you have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and take you to the courts of law?1
7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by which you are called?
8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well;
9 But if you have respect to persons [showing partiality to certain people, not treating everyone equally], you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.2
10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet offends in one point, he is guilty of breaking all of it.
12 So speak and act accordingly, as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.
13 He who has shown no mercy, will receive judgment without mercy. But mercy triumphs over judgment.
14 What does it profit, my brothers, if a man says he has faith, and does not have works? Can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,
16 And if one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, may you be warmed and filled;" while you have failed to give them those things that are necessities for life, what good have you done?3
17 Even so faith, if it is not accompanied with works, is dead, by itself.
18 But if a man says, "You have faith, and I have works;" then show me your faith without your works, and I will prove to you my faith by my works.
19 You say you believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble.4 [realize, James was writing to Jewish believers of the Father, the Word (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit being one spirit, and without conflict to — Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one! Deu 6:4. So James is in effect saying, "you say you believe in Jesus, you do well, the demons do too, but they tremble at his name in fear — do you?" And the demons do believe, fear, tremble, and beg "the Son of the Most High God," as recorded in the Bible.]
20 Are you willing to be shown, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? [James addresses vain Christian believers who think that faith alone is sufficient. Faith must be demonstrated by works energized by love: first works of repentance, then to be led by the Spirit of Grace in how to live godly, soberly, and righteously in the present world until you are purified; then after purity to serve Him as He orders our works to his glory.]
22 See how faith energized and motivated his works, and by works his faith was made perfect. [Not in works of the law, which works are selected and performed by man's will; but works in obedience to God's specific direction — works of loving obedience to God's orders — thy will being done, on earth as it is in heaven — operational faith. The first works of love for God are: a) to wait in humble silence as you listen and watch for His commands, and b) then to obey His spoken commands that you hear to repent from the sins He reveals in your heart.]
23 And the scripture was fulfilled that said, "Abraham believed God, and it was imputed [accounted] to him as righteousness; and he was called the Friend of God." [Righteousness is imputed when you receive faith with the fruit of the Spirit, against which is no law, to then walk in love, obeying the continuous commands of Christ; this occurs at the death of your selfish spirit on the inward cross of self-denial. When you possess the fullness of Christ, that ends imputation, and you are righteous as He is righteous.]
24 You see then how a man is justified by works, and not only by faith.5 [A man is not justified by works of the law; instead a man is justified by works of obedience to God's voice, which works are evidence of operational faith. Our faith must motivate us to seek to hear God's voice, to believe his words to be true, and then our faith must energize us to perform works commanded that we hear him speak to us . Otherwise our faith is the lip service of the hypocrites.]
25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead. [Paul said: glory, honor, and peace, are to every man who works good. Rom 2:10.]
Previous Chapter | Next Chapter
1 Evidently, Christians were particularly disliked by the rich, at least in Jerusalem, where James was head of the Apostles council after Peter. In Jerusalem, the Christians voluntarily shared all property, selling their lands and houses to provide for the needs of all. This was necessary because of the large number of poor who believed the gospel. A rich man would be very suspicious and resentful of any religion that might require him to share his property with the poor; thus the rich must have been very vocal critics of such a radical religion.
On the other hand, the early Quaker movement was primarily a middle class phenomenon; and there was no community property. Yet from organized collections, there was a remarkable caring for all.
2 But if you have respect to persons [showing partiality to certain people, not treating everyone equally], you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. Any discrimination among people is sin, and that discrimination can be negatively directed or can be of a flattering nature, not limited to, but including flattering titles such as:—your majesty, your honor, master, reverend, etc.
Let me not, I pray you, show partiality to any man, neither let me give flattering titles to man. For I do not know how to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away. Job 33:21-22
Flattery is deceit. Flattery is lying. Flattery is exaggerating. Flattery is an attempt to manipulate people. The worst flattery is from the opposite sex. From the Word of the Lord within: "groups of flattering women are particularly dangerous." When was the last time you heard a preacher speak against flattery? When was the last time you heard a preacher speak against sin? Yet Paul instructed ministers thus: "Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear." 1 Tim 5:20. Paul also warned his flock with tears, night and day for three years: remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.
3 If anyone, particularly a brother or sister, lacks any of the necessities of life: food, clothing, shelter, care; and you don't give them the things they need, you are showing that you cannot be faithful in the least of all treasures. You must liberally distribute, at all times. Without giving, you are demonstrating that your faith is so weak, that you don't understand that God is watching you and expects you to give. Give with faith that you are being watched over and recompensed by God. God loves a cheerful giver.
He who has pity upon the poor lends to the LORD, and the Lord will repay what he has given. Prov 19:17
The righteous gives and spares not;.. he who has a bountiful eye will be blessed for he gives of his bread to the poor. Prov 21:26 and 22:9
He who gives to the poor shall not lack. Prov 28:27
Give, and it will be given to you, said Christ. Luke 6:38
How could the love of God dwell in anyone who has this world's goods, sees his brother in need, and shuts up his feelings of compassion for him?
My little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.
By this we know that we are of the truth, and our hearts will be assured before him. 1 John 3:17-19
John is in total agreement with James. He is saying that if the love of God dwells in a man, then he will have works of love to show.
We could paraphrase John's words to "love without works is dead."
4 You say you believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. James corrected the shortcut of believing in Jesus, being all that is necessary for salvation, writing to the Jewish Christians: "You say you believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe, and tremble," James 2:19; realize, James was writing to Jewish believers of the Father, the Word [Jesus], and the Holy Spirit being one spirit, and without conflict to — Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Deu 6:4. So James is in effect saying, "you say you believe in Jesus, you do well, the demons do too, but they tremble at his name in fear — do you?" From the Word of the Lord within: "Everybody who believes the son, shall be made perfect;" note the Lord did not say "believes in the son ;" he said "believes the son." There is a huge difference between believing in the facts of the Bible and believing what the son speaks to you from within you heart, which is the Biblical definition of faith. To hear him speak to you, you must walk in the steps of faith as Abraham did; you must wait on God, listen in silence, hear, believe him to be the Son speaking to you, believe what he tells you to be true, and then obey whatever he commands. Do this repetitively with persistent dedication, and he will eventually make you perfect, which is to be delivered from even the desire to sin, which is to receive salvation.
5 Faith without works is dead. In verses 21-24 of this chapter, James shows how Abraham, the father of all nations of faith, and our Biblical example of faith, had faith that resulted in works; his faith energized and motivated his works.
Abraham obeyed God's voice. That is not works of the law, that is works of obedience and love to God.
And he went on to be circumcised — so we must receive the spiritual circumcision, our heart circumcised from sin.
As Abraham exercised his faith to leave his home for a new land — so we must forsake all the world to enter God's Kingdom.
As Abraham exercised his faith by obeying God's voice, willing to sacrifice Isaac — so too we must crucify our selfish life to save the life of our soul.
If Abraham had not obeyed God's voice in all the above, you would be reading about another person instead of Abraham.
So too, if we do not seek to hear God's voice and obey it in order to become free from sin, we will have no inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ.
You might be saying to yourself: "well if God told me to do something like he did Abraham, of course I would do it."
From the Word of the Lord within: "Abraham willingly exposed himself to God's commands."
God also ordered Abraham to "walk before me and be perfect," Gen 17:1.
So too we must wait on God, watch, and silently listen for His commands to us.
This is how we will be led into all truth, John 16:13; how we will be taught all things, John 14:26;
and how we be reproved, taught about righteousness, and judged. John 16:8-11
This is how we receive more of Christ's Spirit because the words he speaks to us impart the life of God to us. John 6:63
Before you can hear the Spirit of God guide you, your sincerity in seeking God is shown by works of repentance, which John the Baptist told us were the prerequisite to seeking the kingdom of heaven:
Repent [think differently; change your mind, regretting your sins and changing your conduct]. Matt 3:2
Share from your excess with those who are without the necessities of life. [This is key to receiving God's favor.]
Be honest in all your dealings, Do not defraud anyone; be honest in your dealings; do not take advantage of anyone.
Don't oppress people or frighten anyone, don't lie, don't want more, don't complain. Luke 3:10-14
And before you can hear the Word of the Lord within your heart to guide you, the inner law, (which inner law includes the moral core of the Mosaic law), is our schoolmaster.
The moral core of the law is: don't steal; and don't commit adultery; and don't lie; and don't covet; and don't murder; and honor your father and mother; do for others as you would have them do for you, etc.
Clearly to observe these moral commandments as best we can, while waiting for the Spirit's direction, is not doing works of the law.
The moral laws remind us of our shortcomings and motivates us to go to God to receive his heart and soul purifying grace,
— to become free of all sin, even the desire to sin,
— to be able to love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might, and
— to be able to love your neighbor as yourself.
Works of the law are the cereal offering, the lamb offering, the bull offering, washings, not eating certain foods, circumcision, tithing, sabbaths, celebration of days, feasts, etc.; these are dead works of the law, decided when to be done by the carnal mind of man.
But what about the moral commandments of the Law: don't steal; don't commit adultery; don't lie; don't covet; don't murder; honor your father and mother; do for others as you would have them do for you? Clearly to observe these commandments is not works of the law; a work is not to cease murder today, or to not commit adultery tonight, or to not lie this afternoon, or to love your neighbor today, or take an hour to love God, etc. These commandments are the moral core of the law and included in the law written on every man's heart, whose conscience bears witness, while their thoughts accuse or excuse them, and by which God will judge them. Rom 2:8-16; these commandments have not been annulled by faith in Jesus or grace and must be kept in mind by any who wish to please God.
Do you not know brothers, (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? Rom 7:1.
While Christ's blood sacrifice made the Mosaic law obsolete, the inner law on every man's heart is still alive, never cancelled, (which inner law includes the moral core of the Mosaic law); and for you to be free from this inner law, by which all men shall be judged, you must submit to God condemning the sins in your flesh, with commands that you hear when waiting on Him; those commands are established as additional laws in your heart, in which are the laws you must obey and continue to obey until you are crucified, to then walk in love and liberty under no laws.
Until you lose your life by crucifying your sinful nature, your carnal mind, and your evil spirit, you are still under the law; until then you are still walking in restricted flesh; until then the law is your schoolmaster. Until Christ replaces your nature, mind, and spirit with His so that your fleshly nature is dead, you are under the law. When Christ controls your thoughts, words, and deeds, then the law no longer has dominion over you because the selfish "you" has died. Even those who know no law have the inner law on their hearts by which a man is judged and which has dominion over him until the death.
The inner law on every man's heart makes us feel bad when we lie or steal. This law includes the external moral laws:* do not steal, do not lie, do not covet, do not murder, do not commit adultery, (and all sexual immorality), honor your parents, do unto others as you would have them do to you, etc. The inner law's moral laws exceed the external, Mosaic, moral laws for as Jesus said, he came to fulfill the law; and then He told us how it was to be strengthened, which the inner law reflects. This strengthened inner law can be understood to have been violated anytime you exhibit a fruit of the flesh, which includes: sexual immorality, uncleanness, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking, jesting, profanity, adultery, lack of restraint, sorcery, hatred, arguments, jealousies, rage, selfish ambition, divisiveness, envies, murders, drunkenness, revelries (partying), evil thoughts, fornications, wickedness, deceit, blasphemy, pride, anger, boasting, flattery, immodesty, immorality, and foolishness. Any of these disqualify all men from heaven. A man innocent of all these fruits of the flesh is in full compliance with the rigid requirements of salvation stated in the scriptures: be perfect as the Father is perfect, Mat 5:48; be righteous as He is righteous, 1 John 3:7-10; be merciful as He is merciful, Luke 6:36; become pure as He is pure. 1 John 3:3; as he who has called you is holy, so you be holy in all manner of conduct, 1 Pet 1:15; walk as he walked, 1 John 2:6; and as he is, so are we in this present world. 1 John 4:17.
For you to be free from this inner law, by which all men shall be judged, you must submit to God condemning the sins in your flesh, with commands tailored to your life's circumstances and that you hear when waiting on Him; those commands are established as additional laws in your heart, in which are all the laws you must obey and continue to obey until you are completely crucified, to then walk in love and liberty under no laws.
From the Word of the Lord within:
- "You must have a devotion to the law that is on every man's heart; you must listen; and you must obey.
- Restraint of sin is not enough; salvation is being freed from even the desire of your sins.
- Only a heart that is purged of sin is acceptable to God.
- Be on your guard at all times to be sure your words do not reflect the fruits of the flesh."
Paul makes it very plain that if you do not obey the moral laws, you have no salvation and no inheritance in the Kingdom of God:
Clearly the moral laws cannot be dead, when disobedience to the law keeps you out of the kingdom and salvation. The law is not dead and a believer in Jesus is not exempt from being banned from heaven when still sinning at death. The moral commandments have not been annulled by faith in Jesus or grace. We must strive to obey all the moral commandments until we are under total control of the Spirit of God; then we fulfill the law walking in obedience to the God's promptings. Until you have been freed from all sin; until you have been translated into the Kingdom of God, until you are an entirely new creature, until Christ has been revealed in you so that you behold his face, you must strive to obey the moral laws.
God judges every man by his words and deeds; every man means no exceptions — every man, even those who believe in Jesus:
You cannot be saved and justified by trying to observe the commandments or by doing works of the law. Salvation and justification come by faith that purifies your heart and soul through his grace. It is impossible to completely love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, or to love you neighbor equally as you love yourself until the power of God actually circumcises your heart from all selfishness and evil. But trying to observe these moral commandments, turning from evil as best we can, is a prerequisite to sincerely seeking God and his salvation; in the beginning you can't control your mind yet, you can't totally control your mouth yet, but you can control your hands and feet from running to and grasping evil. If you think you are saved, simply because you believe Jesus is the Son of God, was resurrected from the dead, etc., or because you were also baptized in water, then you have a form of godliness without the power of God to cleanse you, purify you, circumcise your heart, and make you holy; which when completed, the love of God is perfected in you and you fulfill the law.
Christendom's ignoring the moral commandments as a works of the law is ridiculous; that makes a work of the law include someone who decides to "cease adultery;" when clearly God looks with favor on someone who repents of evil.
Even worse, since whoever of you tries to be justified by the law has fallen from grace, and Christ has become of no benefit to you, Gal 5:4; then, following the faulty logic, (that observing the moral commandments of the law is works of the law), should you decide not to steal, you have lost your salvation through grace and faith in Jesus. Christendom's twisted logic of just "faith in Jesus," ignoring the moral commandments and classifying their observation as works, makes Jesus the author of lawlessness; it makes the blood of Jesus an unholy thing, an excuse for continuing in sin and ignoring all laws, a license for immorality; and in teaching this doctrine, the blind guides of Christendom have cast the law behind their back and led billions of their "believers" into the pit of destruction. From the Word of the Lord within: "they totter to the slaughter;" drunk with their lusts, passions, pride, and pleasures. This is a doctrinal error of colossal magnitude; it is a breakage of the covenant of God.
Until we can hear the Spirit of God teach us by grace to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and how to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world, the inner law on the heart of every man, which includes the moral laws, is our schoolmaster that reminds us of our shortcomings and motivates us to go to God for his changing grace.
When you can hear the Spirit of God from within your heart, as you wait on the Lord and listen to the Lord, he will command further repentance in your life.
The commands you hear him speak to you are to be kept, remembered, and obeyed; if he orders you to deny something in your life, you are to keep denying it.
The commands you obey and keep are then written in your heart and mind, supplementing the inner law already on every man's heart;
thus the scripture is fulfilled: I will put my laws into their hearts, and I will write them in their minds [inward understanding]. Heb 10:16
As you continue to obey His commands to you, you are eventually purified by his grace that teaches you how to live righteously, soberly and godly in this present world, until you are redeemed from all sins and purified to be a peculiar people with a zeal for good works. Tit 2:11-14
From the Word of the Lord within: "We go to him, and he rains help on us; well does this exercise of God purify those who do."
We seek, watch, listen, hear, and obey God's voice. The words we hear him speak to us impart the life of God to us, John 6:63
From the Word of the Lord within: "Everybody who believes the son, shall be made perfect." To believe him speaking to you is true faith. True faith purifies.
Doing this repetitively over time is how we are able to comply with the Bible's stated requirements that Christendom ignores to protect their false doctrines:
— be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect, Mat 5:48
— be merciful as He is merciful, Luke 6:36
— become pure as He is pure. 1 John 3:2-3
— as He who has called you is holy, so you be holy in all manner of conduct, 1 Pet 1:15
— so that we walk as He walked, 1 John 2:6, and
— as He is, so are we in this present world. 1 John 4:17
This is how we rid ourselves of the fruits of the flesh that disqualify us from any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ.
This is how to mortify the sins in your body and become totally free of sin, even the desire to sin.
This is how to carry your cross and follow Jesus, by denial of your own will and obeying the commands he speaks to you.
This is how to witness passing from death to life (of God), to experience Jesus bring to you your salvation and the eternal life of God.
So, have we said that faith is not important?
No! We have amplified what James said: unless your faith energizes and motivates you to do works of obedience, your faith is the lip service of the hypocrite.
When God orders works to be done by you, and you obey, you are showing your faith to be alive and operational, doing his will on earth as it is done in heaven.
After purification, then God continually prompts you to do good works to his glory and your joy.
Faith, which does not motivate, energize, and produce works, is dead.
Works of love, energized and prompted by God are essential.
James said, "faith without works is dead." James 2:17
James further said, "You see then how a man is justified by works, and not only by faith." James 2:24
Many people think Paul conflicts with James; but of course James and Paul don't conflict, and never would conflict.
In the below scriptures, Paul is speaking in context of works of the law: sacrifices, tithing, washings, Sabbaths, feasts, restrictions of foods, circumcision, etc.
——Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, Gal 2:16, (faith is hearing him and obeying him)
——A man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law. Rom 3:28
Paul has disdain for works of the law, but he is grossly misunderstood to include all the law, including the moral commands.
——No man is justified by the law in the sight of God. Gal 3:11. This verse alone, without looking at its context with the previous verse, is part of the error.
——For all who rely on works of the law are under the curse. Gal 3:10
But Paul makes it very clear that the consequences of sin still apply to every man, and works of love energized by obedient faith are required and esteemed.
Paul says obedience to the moral commands of the law is required until you are totally led by the Spirit of God:
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Gal 5:18
The law is your schoolmaster, until faith has come, Gal 3:24-25, which comes with the receipt of the fruit of the Spirit. Gal 5:22-23
A mature Christian is filled with love and fulfills, even exceeds, the moral laws, continually walking in obedience to God's commands that he hears.
From the Word of the Lord within: "There are no laws when you are under complete control of the spirit; you walk in love in obedience as prompted — you don't walk in restricted flesh. Until you can witness receiving faith from Christ, you are under the law. Until you witness the law fulfilled in you, you are under the law." Faith that frees from the law comes with the receipt of the fruit of the Spirit, against which is no law. Gal 5:22-23
Up to this time, as you are hearing the Spirit of Grace within convict you of sin and teach you about righteous living, you are in the Ministry of Condemnation, yet to receive the ministry of righteousness, yet to receive the end of grace, still subject to the Law of Sin and Death, still walking after the flesh and carnal mind, yet to receive the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, yet to be in Christ, yet to be dead to the law through the law, and yet to walk after the Spirit's prompting of your thoughts, words, and deeds.
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Gal 5:6. (Works energized and demonstrated through loving obedience to what God directs you to do)
And let us consider how to encourage one another to love and good works. Heb 10:24
Paul is not saying that you can ignore the moral laws — to be unloving, immoral, covetous, given to pleasures, lying, angry, etc.
Paul said: I declared.. that they should repent and turn to God, and do works consistent with repentance. Acts 26:20
Paul said, "continue to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Philippians 2:12
Again Paul said, grace, results in a people zealous for good works. Titus 2:14
Paul said: We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. Eph 2:10
Paul said: Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Cor 7:1
Paul said: Charge those who are rich in this world not to be high minded,
nor to trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God who gives us richly all things to enjoy;
[Charge] that they do good, to become rich in good works, to be generous, sharing with others. 1 Tim 6:17-18
If you live in a prosperous, industrialized nation, you are rich, compared to the rest of the world. So be rich in good works.
Paul said: glory, honor, and peace, are to every man who works good. Rom 2:10
Paul said: To those who by perseverance in good works, seek for glory, honor, and immortality, he will give eternal life. Rom 2:7
Peter said: Whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. Acts 10:35
Peter again: Make every effort to add to your faith virtue.. knowledge.. self control.. perseverance .. godliness. 2 Pet 1:5-6
Jesus said: Unless you repent, all of you will also perish. Luke 13:3. Repentance requires effort on your part.
And, As many as I love, I chastise [rebuke, discipline]. Be zealous therefore, and repent. Rev 3:19 (Zealous means filled with ardent desire, enthusiasm).
Jesus further said: Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,.. and [then] you will find rest for your souls. Mat 11:29
Jesus said: If any man desire to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23
In His messages to the seven churches, Jesus mentions to every church how their works are key.
Jesus said: I have not found your works perfect before God. Rev 3:2-3. He wants perfect works, energized by faith.
Hear! Jesus said: Strive to enter in at the strait gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter, and will not be able to. Luke 13:24
The doctrine of no works would have you believe striving is unnecessary, yet Jesus ordered us to strive, (to make every effort),
Jesus further says: Narrow is the gate and compressed is the way that leads to life, and there are few who find it,.. and many I say to you will seek to enter, and will not be able to. Mat 7:14, Luke 13:24
Don't Jesus' warnings seriously conflict with just believing in Jesus?
Gentle reader — heed what Jesus is saying. Your having said a sinner's prayer and gotten wet is not hard to find or do.
But he who practices truth comes to the light, so that his deeds may be shown to have been produced [effected, formed, prompted, energized] through God. John 3:21
Those who have been experiencing the Spirit's removal of sin from their hearts, love the light and eagerly come to the light for further destruction of sin.
Those who have been freed from sin, eagerly come to the light to be directed by God to do works of love, to their joy and God's glory:
for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. Eph 2:10
A man comes to the light by waiting on God in silence, watching and listening in hope of change by Jesus.
Those who come to the light, love Christ, as evidenced by their obedience to the truth.
How many works are necessary for salvation? As many acts as are commanded by the Spirit in repentance, as are necessary to crucify your sinful nature.
Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh [the sinful nature] with its passions and desires [lusts and affections]. Gal 5:24
For if you live after the flesh [the sinful nature], you will die; but if through the Spirit you mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:13
This is losing your life to save it, the one true sacrifice, required by God and pleasing to him. John 12:25, Rom 12:1
And, while you are putting to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit, you must distribute liberally to the poor from your excess.
When you have crucified your selfish spirit on the inward cross of self-denial, you will be filled with God's spirit.
You will then have a zeal for good works of love, and God will direct you and prompt you to both his and your joy.
Martin Luther, the principal founder of Protestantism in the Reformation, was very selective in his beliefs of the scriptures; he called this Epistle of James "an epistle of straw" because James said that "faith without works is dead," works being obedience to commands heard from the Voice of the Lord. Luther believed Paul's statement in Rom 3:28: "man is justified by faith and not by works of the law." Luther did not understand faith to be hearing the Word of God from within one's heart; neither did he understand that works of obedient love to the spoken commands heard from God differ from works of the law, which are done in man's will and are typically sacrifices, ceremonies, observation of days, tithes, circumcision, etc. So Luther, failing to understand that works of the law differed from works of faith, concluded that anyone who believed in Jesus was justified and saved. Luther obviously could not hear the voice of the Lord, and so concluded in error that Paul and James were in conflict. The reason that Luther could not hear the voice of the Lord is because he was preaching and teaching errors, and so he was leading people into captivity — the continued captivity of slavery to sin. Luther's false faith, false salvation, and false justification then became the cornerstone of Protestant doctrine; but alas, the Protestant cornerstone is only sand, and when the storm comes, great will be the destruction of those Protestants who built on it.
When Luther published his Bible in Germany, it was a sensation. Depraved people listened to his teaching on faith and justification and concluded they were saints; some concluded they were prophets; some concluded they were apostles. They began to grossly misinterpret other passages in the Bible, (after all, they were saints — right), including "the meek shall inherit the earth" to mean that the upper classes' property was theirs by divine right; and so they organized the Lord's Army of 300,000 men, and began to rape, plunder, and kill 100,000 Catholics and the nobility in The Peasants' War.
When Luther reached this false conclusion, he was a Catholic priest; and the Catholics then and now believe that a man is saved by a good life; and a good life to the Catholics consists of good works done, not in obedience to the voice of the Lord, but in the will of man; because the Catholic priests and hierarchy could not hear the voice of the Lord either, the only way they could interpret Matthew 25:31-48, Jesus' parable of the separation of sheep and the goats based on works, were works done in the will of men. And so neither have the Catholics ever understood faith or salvation.
Because similar pernicious doctrines were already creeping into Christendom during the time of the early church in Jerusalem, James ridiculed such doctrines with his statements of: 1) faith without works is dead, and 2) You say you believe that there is one God; you do well. Even the demons believe that, and tremble. Although James was an Apostle, a natural brother of Jesus, and a pillar of the church in Jerusalem, and the successor to Peter as head of the Apostle's Council, (all of which made him much greater in Christ than Luther), Luther considered his opinions superior to James. Luther also had disdain for the books of Esther, Hebrews, Jude, and Revelation.
In his arrogance, Luther had harsh words for the book of Revelation, saying that he could "in no way detect that the Holy Spirit produced it." He justified his rejection of the apostolicity of Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation because the early Roman Catholic church categorized these books as antilegomena, meaning that they were not accepted without reservation as canonical. Luther also added the word "alone" to Romans 3:28 controversially so that it read: " man is justified by faith alone, without the deeds of the law." Luther is correct, but he failed to understand what works of the law and faith actually meant; faith is hearing the word of God, which is in your heart and mouth to obey, Rom 10:8,17; he thought it was just believing in Jesus being the Son of God based on believing the Bible, the common misinterpretation of John 3:16. To believe in the Son is to believe what you hear the Son tell you to do: that his words are true, and so you obey him. Those who have received him in the light, while believing in his name, have the power to become a Son of God, not be a son of God; we must exercise and grow our faith by seeking God: waiting on God in silence, listening, hearing, believing what he says or shows us, and obeying — repetitively until we see the face of Jesus appear in our hearts to bring our salvation.
Contrast Luther's disdain for selected books of the Bible with the early Quakers, who never breathed a word of doubt or criticism of the books in the Bible. To the contrary, they embraced them all and quoted from them all, finding them all wholly compatible with their understandings. (George Fox pointed out a few errors in translation, but never questioned the validity of any book in the Bible.)
Luther and the Protestant founders fell into the exact error that Peter warned about in reading Paul's letters: There are some things in his letters which are hard to understand, which those who are unlearned and unstable wrest [twist] to their own destruction, as they also do the other scriptures. Therefore, beloved, since you know these things beforehand, beware lest you also, being led away by the error of the wicked, 2 Pet 3:16-17, which is to presume instant salvation, still immersed in sin, just by believing that Jesus is the son of God. The error of the wicked is to think wickedness (sin) is excused by grace, which Jude also denounced. Believing is not salvation, as Paul eleven times emphasizes writing to believers:
And Peter echoes the same message that salvation is not just believing or faith, rather salvation is the end of faith's obedient journey and requires growth:
Who are kept by the power of God through faith to salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a time, if necessary, you may have to suffer griefs through many trials,
so that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tried with fire, might result in praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
Though you have not seen him, you love him; though you do not see him now, but believe in him, you rejoice with joy that is unspeakable and full of glory,
receiving the end of your faith — the salvation of your souls. 1 Pet 1:5-9
As newborn babies, desire the sincere milk of the word, so that you may grow up to salvation. 1 Pet 2:2
Salvation, deliverance from sin, occurs when you experience the grace of God (Christ) bring it to you, when Christ destroys the selfish spirit in you by the spirit of his mouth and by the brightness of his coming, when he crushes the head of Satan under your feet. 2 Thes 2:8, Rom 16:20
Faith without works is dead: the ancient controversy of Christendom.
The Protestants shout, "not by works, by faith; not by works, by grace. So we don't have to do anything to be saved. We are saved already."
The Roman Catholics say: "a man is saved by a good life," referencing at judgment the sheep and goats are separated on the basis of good deeds. Mat 25:31-48
The Catholics are closer to the truth because every man is judged by his words and works;
however, a kind whoremonger, or a loving drunk, or a kind covetous person, or a philanthropic immoral person, or a loving liar, etc., whatever their good works, anyone who dies with fruits of the flesh will not be spared the fury of God.
It is impossible to lead a "good life" unless you are prompted by God what good deeds to do;
and unless your selfish spirit is crucified on the inward cross of self-denial, to have the Spirit of Christ take its place on the throne in your heart, you will not be prompted by God what good deeds to do — your faith will be dead, and your supposed salvation will be shockingly revealed as a lie that you loved more than the truth.
Previous Chapter | Next Chapter