But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed
And keeps all my decrees
And does what is just and right
He will surely live
He will not die.
None of the offenses he has committed
Will be remembered against him.
Because of the righteous things he has done
He will live.
Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?
Declares the Sovereign Lord.
Rather, am I not pleased
When they turn from their ways and live?
Present day discussions on the Book of James usually centers on James’ hand-in-glove idea of ‘faith and works’ – one without the other has no value. More often than not what James writes about is compared with what Paul had to say about ‘faith and works’ but really the two discussions should stand on their own merit within the whole context of what each author wrote. Usually, theologians and apologists deal with this subject in an anticipatory way, depending on their point of view on which text pre-dated the other, and usually James is interpreted only in light of what Paul wrote about faith, in spite of present day re-examinations of the dating of the texts favouring James as one of the earliest written (‘compiled’ to some minds) texts in the New Testament.
However, this passage in Ezekiel confirms James’ hand-in-glove idea of ‘faith and works’ no matter when James was written. How are the wicked to express their faith in the forgiveness received from He Who Is? They are to ‘keep all my decrees’, ‘do what is just and right’. Their ‘faith’ in the One from whom they received forgiveness must be expressed in action, in the ‘works’ of keeping God’s decrees and doing what is just and right. This is qualified by God’s foresight – “because of the righteous things he has done, he will live”. So, indeed, ‘faith with works’ is what God is looking for in every believer of His Good News of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Never grow weary of ‘doing good works’. Continue to express your faith in Him who gives you life.
The Lord is coming!