Updated: Mar 17
As a person in long-term recovery, I'd heard the expression "faith without works is dead" for many years without fully understanding its meaning. I knew it was biblical but had no idea where to find it or what the context was, and therefore likened it to another saying in the recovery world, "fake it till you make it."
Although the topic of faith and works is discussed in several places throughout scripture, the most widely recognized passage regarding "faith without works is dead" is found in the New Testament, specifically in James 2:14-26. In this passage, James addresses the relationship between faith and good deeds. He argues that faith, if genuine, will naturally lead to good works.
James begins by asking, "What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?" (James 2:14). He goes on to give an example of someone who sees a person in need and says, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing to help them. James argues that such faith is useless because it does not result in good deeds.
James then gives two examples of individuals whose faith was exemplified by their works: Abraham and Rahab. Abraham demonstrated his faith by being willing to sacrifice his son Isaac (James 2:21-24), and Rahab demonstrated her faith by hiding the Israelite spies and sending them away safely (James 2:25).
James concludes by saying, "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead" (James 2:26). In other words, just as a body without a spirit is lifeless, faith without works is lifeless and without value.
Therefore, James emphasizes that genuine faith will always lead to good works and that true faith is synonymous with good deeds, as good deeds are the fruit of a life lived in true faith. The two are inseparable, and both are necessary for a truly vibrant and compelling spiritual life.
Frankie E. Valle, LMHC, is the Owner and Chief Formulator of Esthete Beard Co., a men's grooming company that prioritizes mental and emotional wellness. With over a decade of experience as a Licensed Mental Counselor in Florida, Frankie is passionate about identifying real solutions to life issues and promoting healthy living through a faith-based approach. With a background as an Adjunct Professor and Consultant, he grew a small private practice into a treatment center before founding Esthete Beard Co. Check out Frankie's tips for achieving good mental, emotional, and spiritual balance in the Point Man Blost Post, where he emphasizes the importance of nurturing supportive fellowship, healthy living, and a meaningful relationship with God.