You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
James at first glance may seem to be contradicting himself. However, with further examination James is just restating his original position. Which is true faith, that is genuine faith, produces works pleasing to God as a natural byproduct of that faith. Moreover, we understand that works pleasing to God, are those actions which stem from following the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and it’s the Holy Spirit who indwells each and every believer because of our faith in Jesus. And that any faith without the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the works which stem from His work of sanctification in us, which themselves are the evidence and natural result of faith in Jesus, is a dead faith. Therefore, such a faith cannot save anyone. James then asked us to also remember Rahab, who at great personal risk to her own life and the life of her family, hid the two spies.
She not only hid the spies, but she also helped them escape. She did so because of her faith in the true and living God of Israel. She did so because of her faith in what God had done by leading the people out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. Rahab believed the stories of how God had intervened in the lives of the Hebrew people. Through faith she believed in God and how He delivered them from the hands of Pharaoh as well as the surrounding kings and people. Moreover, she understood and believed that God had given them the land. Therefore out of her belief and her faith in God, she hid the spies and ultimately because of her faith she became part of the family line of Jesus. And through this example, James is once again showing us that works are the natural fulfillment of faith. And that mature faith in Jesus cannot exist without the presence of the Holy Spirit and His work of sanctification in us, which naturally produces works pleasing to God. This shows that faith and works are tied together, how is that? Because it’s love and faith, which are the force and the source behind the works carried out by the believer. It’s our faith in Jesus, which gives us a supernatural love for Him and those in need around us, which in turn brings about works pleasing to God.