Works is not legalism

In James 2 the word “works” is defined as being applied to the conduct of humans, measured by the standards that are the teachings within the Bible. In other words either following or not following the instructions of Jesus Christ and His apostles.
Due to poor understanding of how faith plus works mesh together. Many construe works, or following the commandments as legalism. The best example of legalism is the Catholic Church; where you have to take the word of the priest that you are doing the right thing. Where you have to perform rituals and ceremonies to guarantee you are making it into heaven. All of which is the furthest thing from the truth. Now is there and had there been people that can call themselves truly “Christian” in this religion? I would say yes, however extremely few.
Legalism is a strict following of rules and instructions. Rigid without concern as to why or even with feeling. Simply legalism is works without faith. Repetitive motions without any feeling or concern as to why they are actually performed.
The works of James 2 are an act of love for our Savior. A desire to follow what He has told us to do. Jesus said we are to place His Father at the center of our lives. Yet most, even within the Christian faith, only place themselves as this center, the place reserved for God alone. Whenever this is done they are guaranteed to fail. That is why when Christ added to the core Ten Commandments, they become the greatest.
Matthew 22:34 – But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. 35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
When you place God at the core of your life, what is the most important thing to consider? None other than the Bible itself. Jesus made this clear that we are to follow the commandments, which is a reflection of placing God at the core of our lives.
Luke 11:28 – Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.”
These are the works to which He is referring. So those that call works legalism are just making excuses to place themselves at the core of their lives thus heading down a road to failure and misery. So we should live our lives in both faith and works, both equal and desired by God, through His Son Jesus Christ.
James 2:14 – What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? 17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. 18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” 19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. 20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? 21 Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. 23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. 24 So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. 25 Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. 26 Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.