In the book of Romans, Paul writes:

For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.

Romans 3:28 (NIV)

James has this to say about righteousness.

You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

James 2:24 (NIV)

Is there a contradiction between what Paul says about being justified by faith and James’s statement that people are considered righteous by what they do and not just faith?

Fortunately, James’ statement wasn’t made in a vacuum, so let’s examine the context.

In James 2:14-17, he asks, “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?” (NIV)

How often do we tell someone that we’ll pray for them when we have the means to meet their needs? Or, at the very least, the means to help alleviate some of their burdens? Perhaps, we don’t tell them. We just pray and go on our way. We ask God to help them when we are right there with the means to help them. Ironic, don’t you think? This is the sort of thing James was talking about in James 2:24. In a way, Paul covers this in this verse from Galatians.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love (emphasis added).

Galatians 5:6 (NIV)

In Galatians 5, Paul had been addressing the false notion that men had to be circumcised to be saved. Although he states that the work (of circumcision) has no value, whether done or not, Paul describes what is essential: Faith in action, expressing itself through love. This is what James addresses in James 2:24. James is telling us that faith isn’t passive. 

For we walk by faith, not by sight.

2 Corinthians 5:7 (BSB)

This verse from 2 Corinthians is a popular one. Walking by faith is an action. The verse doesn’t say we sit by and do nothing in faith. No, we walk. We step out into the unknown, not seeing where we are going through our physical eyes. Instead, we’re holding the hand of our Father, who is leading us along the way. 

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, freed from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart and receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.