I mean. I want to put my faith in Jesus, and I try to make myself believe that he is my Savior.. But I find myself putting more faith in "My" actions instead of his. And according to these two scriptures, I don't know which way to turn. If this is a question for a pastor or a preacher, I apologize for the inconvenience. I'm just looking everywhere an anywhere for clarification.

Romans 3:24 NIV:

and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

James 2:17 NIV:

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

  • 1
    I really do appreciate that Flimzy.. I dropped out of school in the six grade..im starting to experience the repercussions.. An plus, I'm new to this sight.. But I'm taking notes though.. Lol.
    – user10314
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 0:15
  • I'm not quite sure what you're asking... Can you spell out precisely what your doubt/question is regarding these to verses? I'm not entirely sure if it's on-topic here, or as you say, a pastoral advice question... but it would certainly help to be more explicit.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 0:17
  • It's like this. I'm going to explain this the best way I can. An its evident that I'm over my head when it comes to proper grammar and being self explanatory with you guys.. But what the heck, I'm going to give it a try. .. ......Jesus died for our sins, payed the price, wiped the sleight clean..I hear the only thing you have to do is believe an accept that gift from God. Which was Jesus sacrifice..But then, i read: Faith without works is dead. An if we keep sinning, we are not going to heaven.. So I'm like ok,,is the power within "Our" works, or what Jesus did on the cross?
    – user10314
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 0:32
  • Okay... I think the clearest way to ask your question would probably be along the lines of "What does 'faith without works is dead' mean in James 2:17?"
    – Flimzy
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 0:34
  • I get that part. From my understanding it means: you just can't "Say" you have faith. You have to prove it with your "Actions"..An if that is the case, then its "Our" actions that prevails. Not Jesus death on the cross..Now,, this is were (I'm) confused at..Just trying to get a better understanding.
    – user10314
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 0:37

3 Answers 3


In the passage in Romans, Paul has just finished condemning the whole world through their sin, and shows us that by the law, by following rules, no one can be made righteous before God (Rom. 3:20). But now by God's graciousness, He has prepared a way for us to be saved from our unrighteous state through faith alone in Jesus (Rom. 3:21, 24), apart from good deeds. Paul is noting the fact that our entrance into salvation is by faith alone.

But James is addressing our state after we have received God's salvation. The tendency of many Christians is to say, "Well, I'm saved and going to heaven," and forget that God is looking for fruit from that salvation, which is a relationship with God of trust and obedience. For instance, a wife would be frustrated if her new husband never has anything to do with her other than to say, "Well, I'm married now." No -- that's the time to learn to love his wife and do good for her.

In the same way, faith is dead if there are no steps of relating to God, of obeying Him, appreciating Him, wanting to submit to His wisdom, wanting to learn more about Him and wanting to imitate Him. Again, all this is after salvation by faith alone.

To put it practically, we, as unbelievers, realize that we have sinned and are due for an awful judgment before God. So we come to Christ by faith, submitting to him, since we can "do" nothing to save ourselves. Now, on the other side of salvation, we prove our faith by dealing with sin, cutting them off as the Spirit shows them to us. After all, if we believe that Jesus died for our sins, then it makes sense to renounce those sins and learn to live a holy life. These are the works James is advocating (as is Paul when he wrote us to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling" in Philippians 2:12).

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    You say all of this is after salvation by (Faith Alone) .. But the scriptures clearly state (Faith alone) want work....so are you saying, after we believe Jesus died for our sins..we still have to work on our sins?
    – user10314
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 1:09
  • @user10314 I answered you by added the last paragraph to my answer :)
    – Steve
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 2:42
  • In the passage "in the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead", what is the definition and meaning of dead? Does it mean that the person is no longer allowed into heaven?
    – Pacerier
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 11:04

Confusing the Gospel

Solving the confusion

A study of the Bible will reveal that there are two kinds of works, God's works and man's works. God's works can save and man's works cannot save. Indeed it is utter foolishness to think otherwise.

Isaiah 64:6 (New International Version)

6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;we all shrivel up like a leaf,and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

In Romans 3:24 it is clear Paul is talking about justification while James in James 2:17 is talking about sanctification. Sanctification has nothing to do with man's works indeed it is Jesus and the Holy Spirit working in man.

Galatians 2:20 (New International Version)

20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 (New International Version)

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The idea here is that Christians do things but it is not them doing it but Jesus who is in them. Paul rejects the idea that people can be saved by their own works and James in James 2:17 on the other end is rejecting the idea that you can accept Jesus as your saviour but reject the power of the Holy Spirit.

2 Timothy 3:5 (New International Version)

5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

More Confusion of the Gospel

So then after hearing that when a believer does something e.g Abraham it is not them doing it but God more questions follow. Most Christians know this kind of theology, they just cannot apply it practically.

They ask how it is that if they do something it is not them doing it but Jesus? My answer is that Christians who have experienced the power of God in their lives know very well that it was not them doing it but God and so boast in God and not themselves. It is an experiential thing.

Philippians 1:6 (New International Version)

6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.


The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible offers the following Catholic perspective on this issue -

The Letter of James presents many challenges to readers of the Bible. For one thing, what James teaches about faith and works can seem to contradict what Paul teaches on the same subject in Romans and Galatians. Both discuss topics such as faith, works, and justification, yet they seem to draw different conclusions, with Paul asserting the saving power of faith over works and James defending the saving value of works as an expression of faith. Martin Luther believed Paul and James to be in such sharp disagreement that he relegated the Letter of James to an appendix in his 1522 edition of the New Testament. This is not an option for Catholics, who maintain the inspiration and authority of the book, nor have other Christians followed Luther on this point. Still, the question remains how to reconcile the teaching of Paul and James on faith and works. Consider the following quotations.

Romans 3:28 "For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law."

James 2:24 "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone."

On the surface, it seems as if Paul affirms what James denies, and James affirms what Paul denies. However, when we delve below the surface and examine these statements in their proper contexts, we discover that Paul and James are not in disagreement at all. In fact, they share a common doctrine on faith and works, though they draw attention to different aspects of it. This is not surprising, since they address different pastoral situations in the early Church.


First, when Paul speaks of justifying faith in Rom 3:28, he is talking about the faith of the convert that leads to Baptism. In other words, the apostle is making a general statement about how man is brought from sin to salvation. This process begins with faith and leads the believer to Baptism, which Paul teaches is the sacrament of our justification in Christ (1 Cor 6:11; Gal 3:25-27; Tit 3:5-7). James, on the other hand, is dealing with a much different situation. He is talking, not about the faith of the convert, but about the faith of the professing Christian. He is making a general statement about those who already "hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jas 2:1). The point, then, is that Paul and James discuss the role of justifying faith in two different contexts, namely, before and after the believer is incorporated into Christ.


Second, it is important to notice that Paul, when he denies justification by works in Rom 3:28, is speaking very specifically about works of the Mosaic Law. His point is that no one can earn or merit the free gift of grace by obedience to the Torah. Whether one observes its moral commandments, such as those of the Decalogue, or its ritual and ceremonial obligations, such as circumcision, dietary laws, or Sabbath observance, none of these works—apart from the grace of Christ—can bring about the justification of the sinner. There is no reason to think that James would disagree with this. After all, when James affirms justification by works, he is talking, not about works of the Mosaic Law performed apart from grace, but about works of mercy performed by those who are already established in grace (Jas 1:27; 2:15-16). Again, Paul and James are discussing different scenarios. Paul denies the saving power of Mosaic works, performed on the strength of human nature, while James affirms the value of Christian works, performed by the grace and power supplied by Jesus Christ.


Third, since Paul in Rom 3:28 is addressing issues related to conversion, it follows that he is talking about our initial justification in Christ, that is, the critical moment when God makes the believer righteous by an infusion of his Spirit and life. Apart from this divine action in the believer, human works—even those done in compliance with the Mosaic Law—are simply unable to merit the grace of our first justification in Christ, which is rather the free gift of his grace. James, we must recognize, is not contradicting this teaching when he says that believers are "justified by works" (Jas 2:24). Unlike Paul, he is not talking about the initial justification of the sinner at all; nor is he referring to works of the Mosaic Law undertaken to establish one's standing before God. Rather, he is discussing the ongoing justification of believers who put their faith into action and strive to live the gospel in practical and charitable ways. These are works of Christian obedience undertaken in response to the grace of Christ. In this context, where Christian living is made possible by the grace of God, works do indeed contribute to our increase in righteousness and justification. This teaching of James is in full harmony with the teaching of Paul (Rom 2:13; 6:12-19). More could be said about this issue, and additional distinctions could be made. Suffice it to say, there is no real discrepancy between Paul and James on the matter of faith and works. James does not contradict Paul. In fact, many scholars believe that James is refuting a popular misunderstanding of Paul's doctrine of justification. Is it merely a coincidence that Paul and James both discuss faith, works, and justification? Or is it merely happenstance that these doctrines are illustrated by turning to the figure of Abraham, whom Paul hails as a man of faith (Rom 4:1-12) and James hails as a man of faithfulness (Jas 2:21-23)? Probably not. James is correcting those who took Paul out of context and minimized the importance of works as a proper and necessary expression of faith in the Christian life. This is why he stresses that faith in Christ entails the obligation to live faithfully in Christ through good works. Thanks to the preservation of both Paul and James' writings in the New Testament, we have the benefit of having this clarification and of responding to the full message of the gospel.


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