I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain (Galatians 2:21).
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 (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (James 2:17).
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also (James 2:26).
We’re not saved by what we do, but by what we believe! And we’ve not been saved by grace to live by works. We’re saved by the grace of God. We stand righteous, able to please the Father by faith. We’re not right with God because of what we do; we’re right with God because of who Jesus is!
Bible reading, church attendance, prayer, and helping others are wonderful things to do as long as they are not done to make us right with God. With the right motive, they bless us. With the wrong motive, they hinder the grace of God and make life a religious set of rules void of joy and peace.
A person working to please God is never at peace and finds no inward rest. A person who comes to understand grace has ceased from his owns works, is comfortable in his own skin, and has settled down into a love relationship with the Father that produces supernatural peace and joy. It’s really quite incredible!
The other side of the coin is the works that follow grace. Grace and works compliment each other. If the grace of God is working in me, then my lifestyle will prove it. Works don’t precede salvation, they follow it. James was practical. His statements show that grace through faith produces tangible results in a believer’s life. If I say that I have faith, then that faith will be realized in how I live my life. Works follow grace through faith. If my lifestyle doesn’t change as a result of what I believe, then I really don’t believe!
If a person professes to be saved by grace then change is sure to follow. That’s what James emphasizes. The works don’t save us, they merely point to what we already believe and are the byproduct of believing!
Rest in the grace of God today. Enjoy your free gift of righteousness. Bask in the peace that grace through faith provides. Then let the byproduct of your faith called works (referred to as salt and light by Jesus) be seen by others so they can join you!