James tells us that faith without works are dead.
James 2:26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (NASB)
But Paul tells us that the opposite is also true- Anything we do apart from faith is sin. So if the good works we do are void of faith they are dead works.
Romans 14:23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
Just as faith without works is dead, works without faith are dead. The reason is because works apart from faith either become about us, a "look at me" mentality, or they become about "moralism," I do these works in order to gain God's approval.
Doing like Jesus?
With so many books and sermons about living like, and doing the things that Jesus did we have become a church concerned more about "doing" than "knowing." And yet if you look at Paul’s letters you find that "knowing" comes first and "doing" comes second. You can't "do" until you "know." To "do" and "live" like Jesus before you "know" what Jesus did for you is putting the cart before the horse. And yet thanks to "pastors" like Steven Furtick and Perry Nobel doctrine has become a dirty word.
Although it seems that the Perry Noble video talking to Pastors about "the jackass in the church" who wants to be fed can no longer be found, here is Steven Furtick with such Pastoral care and concern telling his people, in so many words, how wrong it is to want to be fed.
The fuel that drives the works
Yet the Apostle Paul saw doctrine as the fuel that drives the works. The Gospel is what separates moral works from good works. Good works are works done in faith. They are works done with the knowledge that God accepts them on behalf of what Christ has done for me. Because Christ has lived a perfect life on my behalf and then died for every time I broke His Law I can love and serve my neighbor without fear of punishment. Im no longer doing the works to appease God, Christ’s death on my behalf has appeased Him. How do I know this? Doctrine!
Colossians 3:3-4 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Colossians 2:13-14 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
Romans 3:21-22 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Paul tells us in Col. 3:16 to let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly. Then he goes on to say that we are to "teach" one another. Doctrine comes first. "Knowing" gives us "power" to do the works God has called us to do. Works like being a good husband, wife, parent, employee, employer, loving and serving our neighbors in our vocations, serving in our local church, all of these are what the Bible calls "good works." These works are to be done in faith. Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to minimize what James says. Faith without works is dead faith. But what really, really bothers me is that so many in the Church today have such a low view of doctrine. As if the Apostles creed was a "doctrine of deeds."
Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles ' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Works are natural for the Christian. But a work without faith is a dead work.
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.