I don't believe Paul and James are speaking of the same thing.
James was writing **to the twelve tribes of Israel** concerning the royal law (he said so). Then says that if one have faith but have no works, THAT faith cannot save him.
James uses Abraham as an example of doing something AFTER he believes.
Paul would NEVER agree with James on that issue for us of the nations.
Paul uses Abraham as an example of just believing God and being justified BEFORE doing anything.
I could go on and on with examples.
Tony think about this for a second: what commandment in the Law of Moses required Abraham to slay his only son? NONE! The Law of Moses hadn't yet been given! And even when it was, there was no law that required such an act as a means to prove faith. The law is NOT of faith. Therefore, the works that James applies to Abraham has nothing to do with obedience to letters on stone and parchment (Moses), and everything to do with obedience to God according to faith and not by "works of the law/letter"
Paul absolutely agrees with James on the issue of doing good AFTER belief. Paul's example of Abraham is to show that Abraham did not do "works of the law" the example being CIRCUMCISION to gain righteousness. Paul did not consider "works of the law" to be in obedience to God. What Paul did consider obedience to God are "good works" as a result of already believing....just like James.
Neither James or Paul taught that "works of the law" were a means to be righteous.
James DID NOT TEACH the Jews to obey the LAW OF MOSES. He told them to obey the Spirit by faith, just like Paul taught.James 1:25
But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.James 2:8
If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well
Notice that James did not say "follow
the Law of Moses." He said "fulfill
the royal law." Paul declares the same fulfillment:Romans 2
13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, BY NATURE DO the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,
15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)
16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.
The reason Gentiles can DO the things in the law is not because they obey the letter, but because their NATURE is changed by the Spirit. That is why Paul says "when the Gentiles WHO DO NOT HAVE THE LAW, BY NATURE do the things in the law." That is what James is applying to Abraham. He was not saying that Abraham was justified by the law of Moses. There was no Law of Moses yet! Moses wasn't even born. That's the whole point. Abraham worked according to a NATURE of obedience BEFORE the law was even given, which is why he was circumcised after not before. That is the same nature of obedience that Paul speaks about regarding: walking according to the Spirit (not just having faith).
25 For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.
26 Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteousness of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision?
27 And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law?
28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh;
29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,
4 that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.
8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
This means: Abraham fulfilled the righteousness of the law of Moses WITHOUT having the parchments and stone tablets, because he obeyed God according to his nature, which was controlled by faith.
This is how Gentiles can be the seed of Abraham: by WALKING in steps of faith of our father Abraham.In contrast: Those who live under the law, and break it have broken the whole law...including the circumcision law.
That is why "their circumcision has become uncircumcision." It means that if they live by the letter and break some of the law, then they have broken all....and because they have broken the circumcision law they become spiritual Gentiles. That is why Paul was so unpopular among his physical kinsmen. He was going around saying that Gentiles were Jews and Jews were Gentiles.
But Tony, to be a Jew according to the Spirit is predicated on being a keeper of the righteousness of the law, and doing the things which are there, by nature, which is the nature of God given to us according to the Spirit.
As Paul said: IF a physical Gentile "BY NATURE does the righteousness of the law", even without the letter, that Gentile is a Jew according to circumcision of the heart by the Spirit. That is what it means when Paul says "we establish law." When we do the righteousness of the Law, we ARE the law unto ourselves, BECAUSE it is written in our hearts by the Spirit. So, by nature according to the Spirit, we BECOME the parchments and tablets without being under them. This is what it means when it says:Romans 3
31Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
There is no condemnation (as described in Romans 7) for those who do not walk after the flesh, who do not set their minds on the things of the flesh. Jesus died SO THAT the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in those who do not walk after the flesh. He died so he could be resurrected. That is why the Bible says that "how much more so having been reconciled shall we be saved by his life"
Salvation from the carnal mind is not achieved by the letter, but the Spirit, and neither James or Paul denied that. James spoke of the fulfilling of the royal law. So did Paul. James spoke about obedience to the spirit resulting in righteousness. So did Paul. That is why Paul said that there is no condemnation to those who do not walk after the flesh but DO walk after the spirit
You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
"God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble."
Compare the grace James speaks about to the grace Paul speaks about:Titus 2
7In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,
8Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
9Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again;
10Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
11For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Both Paul and James taught the same grace: the one that chastises us to live Godly lives and be ZEALOUS...for what? Good works. Those are the works of obedience James taught which are not the works of the law, but the works as a result of faith. Faith leads to grace, which leads to good works of obedience: salvation from sin.