What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
As a reformed Christian believer, I do believe that “justification is by faith alone” but very often we have humanist fools who differentiate faith from works because somehow, they want to credit the salvation God offers us in Jesus Christ to the works they do by their own volition. So, they like to see faith separate from works because they would like to see this all coming from their own volition. After all, their faith exists because they choose to believe from their own free will and since this faith arises from their own volition it must not reflect their depraved spiritual condition, lest their faith be proven counterfeit. It’s as Jesus says that you can tell a tree from its fruit (Mat 7:19-20), a good tree bear good fruit and bad tree bears bad fruit. As for most unbelieving goats (self-righteously stubborn humanists) who are wise in their own eyes, they subconsciously realize that if faith and works are not considered separate, then their wicked lives would prove that their faith is useless and so they fool themselves into believing that faith and works is separate in the sight of God.
13 This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.
If you were to read the account of the fall of mankind in Adam as reported in Genesis 3, you would notice that what Adam willingly chose over the righteousness of God was the righteousness of self. In Adam, we have this natural apathy for the truth about God and His righteousness (Is 5:20) but in Christ the elect are spiritually reborn (Jn 3:3), being given this living hope which is from God (2Cor 4:8-10). It’s very important that scripture be understood in the light of scripture because when you look at scripture like Phil 3:14 in the light of Phil 4:13 or for that matter Eph 2:10 in the light of Eph 2:8-9, we understand that works is simply the evidence of genuine faith. This is why on one hand the Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6) while on the other hand it says that faith without works is dead (Jam 2:26).
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
The faith and works argument is very much like the grace and law argument. The humanist however argues that faith and works are separate because he/she foolishly believes faith & works are actuated by his/her own free will and not by the Sovereign will of God as the Bible teaches (Eph 2:8-10). When it comes to grace and law, the humanist goes on another wild goose chase because he/she believes that the grace he/she receives in salvation is a license for him/her to live as he/she pleases (Rom 6:15). However, grace seen from a Biblical perspective teaches us that saving grace is that unmerited favour by which God turns us around from ourselves unto Himself (Jn 12:24-26) because truthfully, we are not God but God is God. It is therefore in turning to God that we learn there is standard we are to live by. The Moral Law is the very nature… the very image/character of God in which we were made (Gen 1:26). Imagine the immense privilege we have been given by grace (unmerited favour) to share in the very nature of the Almighty Triune God! Though we are not under the Law but under grace (Rom 6:14), those who won’t live by the Law shall perish apart from the law (Rom 2:12-16) because if we won’t glorify God by conforming to the image of God-the-Son (Rom 8:29), we have no right to the life offers us in Himself (Jn 14:6). The Bible says that the Law is like a mirror, which the elect look into and make amends in their own nature (Jam 1:23), in willingly conforming to the nature of Christ as revealed in scripture. The aspect of grace is in this, that Christ died for us while we were still sinners (Rom 5:8) that we may not just share at His table but also share in His nature. A nature which is now a Law we live by! Still, we are justified through faith alone and not by works because if we were justified by our works then the salvation we have in Jesus would not be by the power of God but by the power of our own will, and this blasphemes the redeeming merit of Jesus Christ who secured for all His people, salvation in all its fullness which is lacking in nothing. I hope you are able to see how works identify genuine faith by which we are justified just as the Moral Law identifies with saving grace by which we are saved. By grace alone… through faith alone… in Christ alone!
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
To conclude, remember how Jesus cursed the fig tree for not bearing fruit that the Lord of lords may eat and be satiated (Mark 11:12-25)? This is very much along the lines of Mat 7:21 where Jesus says not all who call Him Lord shall enter His abode but only those who do the will of His Father because just like faith and works aren’t separate, so too recognizing Jesus as Lord over our lives is not separate from obeying His Commandments/Law in our lives.