What Does It Mean that Faith Without Works is Dead?
This statement at times is misinterpreted to mean that you do something to make God respond to you.
Your prayer, participating at church, giving, or any form of good deed will not benefit you before God if they are not motivated by love. Your actions will benefit the recipient but not you, the doer. (1 Corinthians 13:3)
When we read the context where the phrase “faith without works is dead” is taken from we see that it implies that you believe God has already answered your prayer such that when He instructs you to do something to show (release) your faith you do it without hesitation.
Put differently, this does not mean that you choose to do something that will force/bind God to respond to your need (James 2:14-26).
This phrase is speaking of CORRESPONDING/MATCHING/AGREEING/CONFORMING action; not action to cause God to move on your behalf. Faith believes that God has already blessed you; you just have to receive the blessing (Ephesians 1:3 and 2 Peter 1:2).
To understand this phrase well we should answer the following questions: When was Abraham declared righteous?
It was after he believed God’s promise to give him descendants as many as the stars (Genesis 15:5&6). His actions did not make him acceptable before God, his belief did that for him. His action, he did many years later, simply revealed what he believed.
The second example James gives about Rahab must make this point very clear.
Rahab believed God’s supremacy when she first heard about what God was doing for the Israelites. The action that proved her faith was her doing what she could to save the Israelites that were spying the land. If she did not believe in God’s ability to give Canaan to Israel she would not have hidden the spies. Hiding the spies is a corresponding action; it shows that she believed what she heard about God and was willing to do whatever it takes to be treated favourably by the God who had shown His supremacy.
Don’t try to impress God by your actions, believe His promise and act as you are prompted by the Holy Spirit (Romans 7:6).