"And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace." Romans 11:6
We are saved by grace, but grace is no longer grace if you attempt to add your own works and good deeds. Why? Salvation is something God does for you and me. Salvation is never achieved by anyone.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." Ephesians 2:8-10
We are saved "not of ourselves... not as a result of works" but note that we were "created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand". So once a person is saved by grace through faith, then and only then will a believer produce divine good works. But these divine good works are never used to achieve or maintain salvation.
Now, back to Satan's attempts to confuse unbelievers about salvation. If he hasn't managed to confuse you in regards to grace and faith, two of his favorite verses to confuse unbelievers about salvation are taken from James 2. The last thing Satan wants you to do is to read the entire chapter of James two. To read and understand the entire second chapter leads to salvation by grace through faith which results in divine good works performed by believers. Satan's worst nightmare! So let's look at Satan's method. Read James 2:17 and James 2:24 by themselves just like Satan wants unbelievers to do.
"Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself." James 2:17
"You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone." James 2:24
See what Satan has done. When read by themselves, James 2:17 and 2:24 appear to conflict with all the other passages which clearly teach salvation is by grace through faith. But God's holy Word is perfect and there are no two passages or verses that conflict. If they appear to conflict to us, it is because we don't understand one or more of the passages. The following exposition is from a previous blog:
"Now back to James 2:24. How does James 2:24 fit with the whole of the bible? A few verses earlier we read, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” (James 2:10) This earlier verse in James is consistent with the other verses and passages considered above. The Mosaic Law was given to the Jews to prove that they could not live a perfect life, and because of sin they would need a savior. A works system of salvation is doomed to fail. Our good works cannot save and as James points out in verse 10 it just takes one stumble to become guilty. And we are all guilty and need a savior. So not only does James 2:24 seem to contradict the rest of the bible, it would also seem to conflict with a verse found in the same chapter. To reconcile the issue, the believer must consider the entire passage and when finished there is no conflict at all.
The second chapter of James opens with “My brethren, hold not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.” In the next two verses the writer gives an example of two men who walk into a synagogue and are judged by others according to their clothing. In James 2:4 the writer begins to address the specific issue of believers judging other believers. “Do ye not make distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?” Therefore, we see that this second chapter in James speaks to believers judging other believers. The next several include a reminder that we should love one another, not judge, and to judge is in fact sin. This leads to James 2:10, see above, the reminder that it only takes one stumble, one sin to result in the need for a savior.
So the first half of the second chapter of James is related to believers judging other believers, and the way believers judge other believers is based on outward appearance (verses 2 and 3). Believers mistakenly judge other believers based on tangible things that can be seen. A believer will have the tendency to judge other believers based on things the others are seen doing. Things like “works” and “deeds.” We know from Hebrews 4:12 that God judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. It is man that judges by “works” and “deeds,” and the second half of this chapter in James speaks to works as they relate to faith judged by man. “Even so faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself.” (James 2:17) Believers, limited in their ability to judge other believers, will judge based on the outward appearance of “works” and “deeds.” As believers, we are not capable of judging the thoughts and intentions of believers. Verse 18 states, “Yea, a man will say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith apart from thy works, and I by my works will show thee my faith.” I underlined three words, “man will say.” According to this passage it is man that judges another man’s faith by tangible “works” and “deeds.” If you want to know how God judges believers you will need to go to the other passages considered above.
Continuing in chapter two with the theme of man judging man, picking up at verse twenty-one, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son upon the alter? Thou seest that faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect; and the scripture was fulfilled with saith, And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God.” Please note as underlined above that when it comes to the scriptures we know that Abraham was saved because he “believed.” Righteousness credited to Abraham is apparent to every other believer because of his obedience to God (works and deeds). Abraham was saved by faith, just as you and I are saved by faith alone."
Satan scores a victory when he is able to confuse one unbeliever with verses read in isolation of the complete scriptures. Satan fails when believers like Abraham prove their faith to others with divine good works.