“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead...As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” [James 2:14-17,26]
Faith apart from works is head belief, and therefore dead belief.
These verses are commonly misused to support the heresy that we are saved by faith plus works. In other words, we must trust the Lord Jesus as our Savior, but that is not enough. We must also add to His redemptive work our own deeds of charity and devotion.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. [Eph 2:8-9].
Grace is the principle upon which God justifies; faith is the means by which man receives it; blood is the price which the Savior had to pay; God is the active Agent in justification; power is the proof; and works are the result.
James insists that a faith that does not result in good works cannot save. There are two keys which greatly help in the understanding of verse 14. First of all, James does not say “What does it profit… though a man has faith…” Rather he says, what does it profit…if someone says he has faith. In other words, it is not a question of a man who truly has faith, and yet is not saved. James is describing the man who has nothing but a profession of faith. He says he has faith, but there is nothing about his life that indicates it. “Can that faith save him?” Such a faith is worthless. It is all words, and nothing else.
It is not enough to believe in the existence of God. True, this is essential, but it is not sufficient. Even the demons believe in the existence of God and they shudder at the thought of their eventual punishment by Him. The demons believe the fact, but they do not surrender to God. This is not saving faith. When a person truly believes on the Lord, it involves a commitment of spirit, soul, and body. This commitment in turn results in a changed life. Faith apart from works is head belief, and therefore dead belief.
As soon as Abraham believed in the Lord, he was justified in the sight of God. But then, seven chapters later, God put Abraham’s faith to the test. Abraham demonstrated that it was genuine faith by his willingness to offer up Isaac. His obedience showed that his faith was not merely a head belief, but a heart commitment.
Rahab taken the two spies and hidden them
Rahab the prostitute considered righteous...
“But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them.
...In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. ” [Joshua 2:4; James 2:25-26]