“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
We now come to a conclusion and summary of James’ argument on the relationship between faith and works.
For as the body without the spirit is dead,
James now introduces his last illustration of the contrast between static faith and dynamic faith. A body has no life without a spirit. This is physical death. A dead faith can exist in the Christian life, but it will produce nothing.
James uses the word “dead” in verses 17 and 26 for useless faith (vv. 14,16,20). He does not argue that dead faith is no faith at all but a useless faith. It is a faith that is not active and dynamic.
so faith without works is dead also
Faith without works is like a dead body without a human psyche. That kind of faith has no practical worth. Our faith is dead when we do not apply principle to experience. This makes for a serious danger against the vitality of our faith on an ongoing basis.
Faith without works is spiritually like a dead body.
We know a body is alive because of its actions; we know faith is alive by its actions. The most wonderful works without faith are dead because they do not have God’s principles of life. Faith with a view to God’s values finds acceptance to God. Faith is the root, and production is the fruit.
The blending of faith and works is as close as the body and spirit. In both cases, the union results in life. The separation of the two is death. Both body life and spiritual life are indivisible because they are made of one life principle. Live consists of energy and movement. Thus, there is no dynamic faith without works. Death has no movement. Faith without works has no movement; it is destitute of dynamic. Assent to words without active faith is like the dead church at Sardis.
Re 3:1-6, “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,
‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. 4 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
6 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”