I continue to work on my book, The Law of Love. Following is an excerpt:

One of the hardest passages in scripture to reconcile with the rest of the Gospel is James 2:24 “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” For nearly 2000 years believers have used this and passage as a pretext to say that ‘faith alone’ in Jesus is not enough to be saved you must also do the ‘works’ required by the Law of Moses.

Although James does say that what a believer ‘does’ is an integral part of being justified, what many do not realize is that James is not referring to ‘works’ associated with the Law of Moses. In fact, when James quotes the Law of Moses, he is telling us NOT to live by the Law of Moses.

In James 2:8, he says “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.” Then he immediately he contrasts doing right by keeping this “royal law” to living by the Law of Moses. The comparative word to note is BUT:

“But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.”


It is clear here that his admonition is NOT to try live by the Law of Moses but to live by the “royal law.” Then he says “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom.”[2]

The Law of Moses does not bring freedom it brings death[3] because a single transgression of the Law of Moses demands our death. However, the royal law brings freedom and James is telling us to live by it. Therefore, what James is really saying in James 2:24:

You see that a person is justified by what he does (under the royal law) and not by faith alone.

James is not saying:

You see that a person is justified by what he does (under the Law of Moses) and not by faith alone.

James drives this point home unmistakably in verse 13 where he exclaims “Mercy triumphs over judgment!” In other words “Love triumphs over the Law!” James is in harmony with the rest of scripture. When you understand the royal law is the Law of Love you realize that James admonition to “faith and works of love” is very much like what Paul said in Galatians 5:6 … “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.“

(The Law of Love; Chapter – James – Epistle of Straw or Substance. Copyright © 2013, Timothy A. Baylor, All rights reserved )

You can read the introduction and receive a foreword announcement when the book is available at www.LawofLove.org.

[1] James 2:9-11

[2] James 2:12

[3] 2 Corinthians 3