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What Works Should Accompany Faith?
About the works that should accompany faith, the apostle Paul wrote in his epistle to the Galatians, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). Faith does have “works,” but these are not the “works of the law” (Galatians 2:16). Paul excluded all deeds that are done for the aim of earning righteousness.
The Bible teaches that salvation is a free gift from God. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
The deeds that accompany true faith are moved by the spirit of gratitude for the gift of God’s grace, and by love for God and man. “Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37–40 also Galatians 5:14).
When love is present, a person will naturally order his life in line with the will of God as expressed in His commandments (Exodus 20:2-17). As the believer yields to God’s transforming power, obedience to the law will be manifested in his life. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome”
(1 John 5:3). The Ten Commandments are simply the expansion of the two principles, love to God and love to man (Matthew 19:17–19; 22:36–40; Romans 13:8–10).
Paul and James Are in Agreement
Some have wrongly suggested that Paul wrote against good deeds in relation to salvation (Ephesians 2:9), whereas James wrote of the necessity of good deeds in relation to salvation, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). In reality, the teachings of Paul and James are not contradictory. Rather, they are in full agreement. They both speak of the deeds that are the natural fruit of true faith not the deeds of law that are done in order to earn salvation.
It is a false faith that does not produce the “fruit of the Spirit” in the life (Galatians 5:22, 23). It is a false faith that leads a man to think that he is free from obedience to the will of God as shown in obedience to the Ten Commandments. Obedience to God’s moral principles show how love toward God and man must find expression (Matthew 5:17, 18; 7:21–27). Without obedience a claim of love is a false claim. “He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4).
“You Will Know Them by Their Fruits”
Doing God’s will is the clear expression of the righteousness that comes through faith, and is the ultimate test of its sincerity (James 2:18). Paul declared that God’s purpose in giving His Son, to save fallen humanity (John 3:16), was to make it possible for the truths of His holy law to be lived out in the lives of His children.
People don’t do good works to be saved but because they are saved. Good works are the fruits of the Spirit of God working in the life of the believer. The apostle Paul explained, “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:3, 4).
God requires perfection of His children. “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). And the perfect life of Christ in His humanity is His pledge to us, that by His strength, we too may gain perfection of character. This truth caused Paul to triumphantly declare, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 3:14).
In His service,