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. (James 2:14-18 KJV)
Have you ever noticed how some Christians can profess over and over how Jesus came into their life, yet they never seem to have any good works? While I do realize that salvation is not by works, and works in no way affect our eternal destiny, I must adamantly state that our good works are necessary in this life. Take, for instance, the words of James, a pastor in the first century church. The church was just getting started at this time, and certainly problems did arise. For this reason, James, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote this epistle to address some of these issues.
He states (above) that faith without works is dead. Notice the word that is used here twice: profit. This word means benefit or gain. What good is it to be born again and saved if it produces no works? How then can it be used to benefit the world when it fails to even benefit the one who possess it? Can this workless faith save us (:14) in times of trouble? The answer is no.
How do you know if you have this type of faith? The answer is simple. The Bible tells us plainly:
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV)
Are things different since Jesus came into your life or is everything still the same? (Note: read more on the evidence of salvation here.) Things should be different since you have been born again; otherwise, your faith is worthless. This, therefore, is the main reason we need to have good works: to prove that we are a child of God as we profess.
Some other reasons for maintaining good works include the following:
- For the world to see there is a better way:
- Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 KJV)
- To prove our identity to other believers:
- Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matthew 7:15-20 KJV)
- To provoke other believers to do the same:
- Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25 KJV)
- To give us prosperity:
- Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. (Joshua 1:7-8 KJV)
- To prevent clashes with the rest of the world:
- Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27 KJV)
Are good works necessary? The answer is yes!