in the

General Epistles



But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:22-27)

THE HOLY SPIRIT NEVER EASES His pressure upon us about our salvation with this all-important “if.”


Anyone who is a hearer of the Word but not a doer is self-deceived. His “religion is vain.” His religion is a false make-believe; it is hypocritical pretension. He moves always in the orbit of his polluted self-interests. Sacrifice and holiness are words for the dictionary. They have no part in the spiritual language of his life. To him, consecration is a word that has lost its meaning. But he talks often about a sovereign will that gives him a once-saved-always-saved hope.

“But be ye doers of the word.” The meaning of the Greek text is: “keep on becoming doers of the  word.”  “Keep himself unspotted from the world”–“keep on keeping himself unspotted from the world.” Whoso looketh into the Word and continueth therein is not deceived. This idea of continuous action in the things of God is one of the most emphasized truths in the Greek New Testament.


One of Isaiah’s prophecies that has mass fulfillment today was quoted by Jesus: “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matt. 15:8).

Observe the conditions of the texts: Whoever does not continue in God’s Word; whoever does not bridle his tongue; whoever does not continually keep himself pure and undefiled before God; whoever does not take his share of the world’s sorrow and visit the fatherless and widow; whoever does not keep himself unspotted from the world—he is self-deceived and his religion is in “vain.” If he continues in sin instead of continuing to fulfill the conditions of salvation, he is predestinated to be lost.

There are two more ifs in chapter 2: 8, 9, but we have passed over many ifs in the progress of our argument. In verses 17-26, we read:

 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone…But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?


Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.


The Apostle told here how faith can be identified. Faith, if alone, is powerless to save. But if it has the activating and energizing component of works, it is saving faith.

“If it hath not works.” Again the Greek tense is emphatic:  “If it keep on not having works”—it is dead. When a man is alive, there is evidence that he is alive. When he is dead, there is evidence that he is dead. Works are proofs of living faith. The absence of works is proof of dead faith. Those with saving faith can be identified–by their works.

The Apostle challenged all: “Shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works” (v. 18). Faith cannot prove its existence without works. Paul, in Galatians 5:6, told about “faith which worketh [is energized] by love.”

James illustrated his faith-works doctrine with Abraham. “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works.” Abraham offered up Isaac by faith and works. Faith alone or works alone would not have made Abraham acceptable to God. Faith in the heart cannot be seen, but faith expressing itself through works is easily seen. If saving faith cannot be seen, it doesn’t exist. Another seest-thou illustration was that of Rahab. She was justified by works when she hid the spies and helped them escape. Rahab’s faith was exhibited by her works. Suppose Rahab had told the spies: “I have faith; I am a believer in your God, but I cannot betray my country and endanger my life to save yours.” Would she have been saved?

No, that would have been dead faith, and she would have died when Joshua’s army marched into Jericho. She would have died with a dead faith.

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews has forty verses.

One verse (the first) tells us what faith is. The rest of the chapter tells us what faith does. Conversely, many talk much about faith in predestinating grace, but neglect the things that genuine faith does. When people do not give a Bible truth the importance that God gives it — BEWARE.


James stressed faith-works and their coordinating dependence–their interacting effect upon each other. The Great Day will reveal that much modern preaching is deceptive because it teaches faith without a proportionate emphasis on works.

James said that as the body is-dead without the spirit, so faith without works is dead. Works are to faith what spirit is to the body. A dead man has a body but the body has no spirit. If it did, it would act.; There would be a seest-thou evidence. Salvation is of the Jews. This salvation is founded on the conditional Abrahamic Covenant. Abraham is “the father of us all.” He faithfully obeyed the conditions of the covenant God gave him. God’s predestinating grace does not save without this faith-works principle. Do you, dear reader, have the faith-works of a soul-saving experience that can be seen, or a faith-alone experience that cannot be seen and which cannot save you? Do you, like Abraham, bring to God’s altar the faith-works of a costly sacrifice, or the unbelief and cheapness of a Cain-sacrifice??



By Guy Duty

1966 Bethany House Publishers

Reproduced with permission




938 7th St., Wasco, CA. 93280


Spanish Department, 944 7th St.

Our services:

Sunday…10am, 11am, & 6pm