When Paul warned about “works,” he was warning about “works of the law.” The Judaizers were trying to put followers of Christ back under the old covenant law. Now we’re to be led by the Spirit instead:
“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” – Gal. 5:18.
This short video clarifies:
(video) David Pawson: Reconciling PAUL and JAMES on ‘WORKS’ — Paul was defending Gentiles from JEWISH works-*of-the-law* LEGALISM; James was defending Jews from Gentile LICENSE TO SIN • When Paul says ‘WORKS’ he means works *of the law*, but James means *actions* • “Faith without actions cannot save you” • FAITH + ACTIONS = SAVING FAITH!
But as we’ll see in some verses here, Paul also used the word “works” the way James did.
The principle is that if we keep ourselves attached to Jesus, the Vine, we’ll automatically bear good fruit, which can also be called “deeds” or “works.” It’s when we leave Christ and do our own thing, that’s when get into trouble. Apart from Him we can do nothing.
And if we don’t produce good fruit because we did not abide in Him, Jesus said we’ll be cut off, thrown into the fire and burned. John 15:
4 Remain in me, and I in you. As the branch can’t bear fruit by itself unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you, unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If a man doesn’t remain in me, he is thrown out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
Encouragingly, Jesus then said:
10 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and remain in his love. 11 I have spoken these things to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be made full.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you.
Jesus’ words in Matthew 7 are similar:
17 Even so, every good tree produces good fruit, but the corrupt tree produces evil fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn’t grow good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Paul’s concept is similar. God works in us to do His pleasure as we make sure we abide in Christ, becoming “lights!” Philippians 2:
12 So then, my beloved, even as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God who works in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without complaining and arguing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without defect in the middle of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you are seen as lights in the world, 16 holding up the word of life….
Romans 8 does not teach we have no condemnation because we said a conversion prayer. We have “no condemnation” when we are “in Christ Jesus, who don’t walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Verses 4-17 also make this clear, as does Romans 2:
5 …God; 6 who “will pay back to everyone according to their works:” 7 to those who by perseverance in well-doing seek for glory, honor, and incorruptibility, eternal life; 8 but to those who are self-seeking, and don’t obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, will be wrath, indignation, 9 oppression, and anguish on every soul of man who does evil….
2 Corinthians 5:
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. NKJV
Galatians 5 & 6:
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit God’s Kingdom.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts.
6:7 Don’t be deceived. God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. But he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 Let’s not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don’t give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let’s do what is good….
23 And whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord, and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. 25 But he who does wrong will receive again for the wrong that he has done, and there is no partiality.
Peter agrees — 1 Peter 1:
17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear…. NKJV
Jesus in Revelation 3:
“And to the angel of the assembly in Sardis write:
“He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars says these things:
“I know your works, that you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up and keep the things that remain, which you were about to throw away, for I have found no works of yours perfected before my God. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard. Keep it and repent. If therefore you won’t watch, I will come as a thief, and you won’t know what hour I will come upon you. 4 Nevertheless you have a few names in Sardis that didn’t defile their garments. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes will be arrayed in white garments, and I will in no way blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
12 I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and they opened books. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it. Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them. They were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 If anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.
12 “Behold, I come quickly. My reward is with me, to repay to each man according to his work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 14 Blessed are those who do his commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city.
Luther couldn’t reconcile Paul and James because he misread Paul. The entire New Testament teaches we must bear fruit in keeping with repentance. James is not an oddity.
12 So speak and so do, as men who are to be judged by a law of freedom. 13 For judgment is without mercy to him who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man says he has faith, but has no works? Can faith save him? 15 And if a brother or sister is naked and in lack of daily food, 16 and one of you tells them, “Go in peace. Be warmed and filled;” yet you didn’t give them the things the body needs, what good is it? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself. 18 Yes, a man will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
19 You believe that God is one. You do well. The demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But do you want to know, vain man, that faith apart from works is dead? 21 Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith worked with his works, and by works faith was perfected. 23 So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that by works, a man is justified, and not only by faith. 25 In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works, in that she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead.
Jesus teaching in Matthew 25 should also be added, making this list 13 instead of 12:
Jesus again in Matthew 7:
20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
“Those who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14). And when we’re led by the Spirit we’ll produce good fruit!
Paul ran his race to win! 1 Corinthians 9:
24 Don’t you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run like that, that you may win. 25 Every man who strives in the games exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible [crown, eternal life in heaven]. 26 I therefore run like that, not aimlessly. I fight like that, not beating the air, 27 but I beat my body and bring it into submission, lest by any means, after I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.
The entire New Testament agrees: we must produce good fruit in keeping with repentance, which comes from abiding in Christ, walking not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit!
Who-Goes-To-Heaven Scriptures — Narrow is the Way | Who are the Children of God? — “There is therefore now *no condemnation* to those who are IN CHRIST Jesus, who don’t WALK according to the flesh, but ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT”