Is faith without works dead?

Last night, I had a conversation with an extended family member about salvation. Romans teaches that we are saved by faith alone, not by works. I am well aware of this. However, what does it mean? How do you reconcile this with James, who teaches that faith without works is dead? And, how do you reconcile this with the repeated teachings of repentance throughout the New Testament? It just amazes me how little Christians discuss repentance, and how heated discussions get when the term “works” raises its ugly head. The fact of the matter is that we are all sinners, saved by grace, by faith alone, not by works, or anything that we have or can do. We cannot attribute anything that we do to our salvation because in our best moment, on our best day, we are but filthy rags, so unworthy of God’s grace. However, faith without works, without repentance, without turning away from our sins, is a dead faith. While the blood of Jesus atones for our sins, it does not give us a license to sin. And, while we are to work out our faith daily, we cannot abide in sin. That is to say, we cannot continue to live in sin. We have to put off the old self, and put on the new one. And, contrary to popular opinion, this is work.

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