I was taught growing up that we are justified through faith, not by works. Romans 4, Galatians 2 and 3 seemed to teach that. Then there was James 2, "people are justified by works, not faith alone." I struggled for years to reconcile the two. For a while I believed what my pastor told me. He said James was talking about fake faith, just intellectual knowledge, while Paul was talking about genuine trust. Then I believed John Calvin, that Paul and James were talking about two different justifications (Paul's being 'before God' and James' being 'before men'). However, then I realized that the truth is so simple. “… people are justified by works and not by faith alone.” James 2:24 “… people not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.” Galatians 2:16 We are not justified by works of the law, but we are justified by works. The works of the law are just the ceremonial works of the old testament law, not all works of obedience. When Paul speaks of faith "apart from works" in Romans 4 the context is the works of the law (he even cites circumcision). Such faith is not necessarily “faith alone” because it can (and indeed must) still be joined with works that are not of the law. Those are the types of works James cites in James 2... works of obedience and love for God that were not listed in the law. Believe it or don't my friends, we are justified by both faith *and* by what we do. Regardless, always keep in mind First Corinthians 6:11, “…you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Are faith and are works are all gifts from our glorious Father. Everything we have we owe to His grace.