James 2:14-26 Faith Without Works Is Dead.
We don’t need to go to Paul or any other portion of scripture to prove that salvation is by grace through faith. James himself has already made it abundantly clear that people are saved based on God’s sovereign will and determination to show mercy on whom He would show mercy (Cf. 1:18, 21; 2:5, 13). James has also made clear that true saving faith will evidence itself in what a person says and does (1:22-27; 2:8-12). So the example he now raises is not about a person who has this kind of faith, but only someone who says they have faith, but their words and actions don’t give evidence of this reality (Cf. I Jn. 3:17-18). This kind of so-called faith does not profit anyone (v. 14 Cf. Mt. 7:21-23). This is what he means when he says that this kind of faith is dead, or not real faith at all (vv. 15-17). This is also why he is careful to also refute the person who might say that it is their works alone that saves them, this is also false. Rather, true saving faith is seen in words spoken and deeds done (v. 18 Cf. 3:13; Heb. 6:10).
It is possible to believe in the one true God and be no better off than the demons (v. 19). James then turns to the example of Abraham who gave evidence of having saving faith by what he said and did (vv. 20-21). This is what he means when he says that Abraham’s faith was shown to be perfect or genuine, and why he was called a friend of God (vv. 22-24 Cf. Gen. 15:6; II Chron. 20:7; Jn. 8:39; Heb. 11:17). James also appeals to Rahab, who showed her faith by receiving the spies, and in lying to her countrymen. In lying to her countrymen she bore true witness. So in word, this deception, and in deed, hiding the spies and sending them out secretly, she gave evidence of true saving faith (Cf. Heb. 11:31). He also uses the analogy of the body and the spirit. James affirmed that human nature is made up of the body and the spirit, and just as we regard a person as dead whose spirit has left them, even so a faith without works is also dead (v. 26).