Put your money where your mouth is. So says the Bible. James 2:17-18 (King James Version) reads: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”
And so begins the debate: are we saved by grace, or through our own efforts? Any Christian necessarily believes we are saved through the sacrifice of Christ, but is it sufficient to merely believe? Must our belief affect our behavior?
Some scriptures would seem to indicate that faith is all we need. Christ repeatedly said to those He healed “Thy faith hath made thee whole.” Galatians 2:16 reads: “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”
So, clearly, works are not enough without faith. Being a moral person will not be sufficient if you do not believe in Christ. That still does not answer the question of whether or not works are necessary. Lets look at another situation in which faith and works come into question.
Politicians make a great many promises about what they believe in and what they will do. We might believe their faith. But once in office, do they make good? Do we think well of a politician who says nice things but doesn’t follow through?
Now a more extreme example: a man who abuses his wife or girlfriend. After every incident, he apologizes, apparently sincerely. He promises to be better. Maybe things even are better for awhile. But if, after every apology, the abuse continues, will she still believe his promises? Wouldn’t those concerned for her welfare urge her to leave him?
When we meet Him in the hereafter, will God be impressed by pretty words or impassioned apologies? No. He will expect us to have obeyed His commandments and behaved as Christians.
Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. This applies to every area of our lives. In other areas of our lives, faith and works combined is called integrity. Faith without works is called hypocrisy.