Faith without works is dead. Faith that does not issue in an active, transformed life is useless. This is a warning to pious, but passive people who think right opinions are sufficient. It should also warn those who do good, but are not motivated by faith. You must believe and have faith that can be seen in your life.
Two things that help this discussion I'd not noticed before:
- James 2:18 makes it clear that the issue is the demonstration of faith. "You show. . . I show." In other words, how can you see faith? Only by works. It is primarily a visibility question, how do you see faith.
- The relationship of the body to the Spirit is a key to understanding faith and works. Faith is to works and the body is to the spirit. Works animate faith.