Faith working through love means that our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ manifests itself in love. Love for God and love for people. We receive salvation by faith, but true biblical faith responds with work or action. This “work” is love and it is the automatic result of our faith in Christ.
You see, we do not receive salvation on the basis of works, for we could never measure up, in our own strength, to the standard of holiness that God has. This is why in Ephesians 2:8-9 it says,
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
But although we do not receive salvation based upon our works but upon the grace of God through faith, we are, however, saved for good works. This is why the very next verses to 8 & 9 say,
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
So as you can see we do not receive salvation by works, but we are saved with a purpose and that purpose is for good works. [Related article: Can you Have Faith Withour Works? (Explained)].
And those “good works” are found in one word- love.
“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14)
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
Also, notice how in verse 10 of Ephesians 2 it says, “for we are His workmanship.”
So although we were saved for good works, these works are not to be done out of our own merit and strength, but out of God’s ability and the Spirit’s sanctification within us.
This is why Peter says to the churches, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22).
There is a lot here in this small verse but if you break it down you’ll notice that obeying the truth through the Spirit by loving others purifies our soul, which is our mind, will, and emotions.
So in simpler terms “obeying the truth” is loving others by the ability of the Spirit, and when we do this our mind, will, and emotions get purified.
Doesn’t that sound awesome?!
Our whole being gets sanctified and purified as we walk in love towards others. And the crazy thing is, the love that we give isn’t even suppose to be out of our own strength.
The apostle Paul said that the Holy Spirit poured into our hearts the love of God when we received Him.
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:5)
And that the Spirit of God is the One who is our etching tool. He is the One who transforms us and makes us pure and holy in God’s sight as we spend time in His Presence.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3: 17-18)
That part of the verse that says “with unveiled face” is important because it is referring to Moses when he had to put a veil over his face in front of the people because his face would shine, but then when he went to be with the Lord he would take the veil off.
This verse is signifying to us that (1) we are under a greater covenant, one that does not pass away, and (2) if we want to be transformed by the Spirit into the image of the Lord we have to spend time in His presence.
If you remember the image of the Lord is referring to His nature, or His likeness. And the Bible makes it very clear that the nature of God is holy and it is love.
“..but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16).
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)
Notice, the Lord doesn’t have these things, He is these things.
So when we are being transformed by the Spirit of God as we spend time in God’s presence, He begins to make His love a reality in our lives and we begin to look like Him everywhere that we go.
[Related article: How to Practice Faith in God (& What it Means)].
How does faith work through love?
Faith works through love primarily in two ways: (1) as we put faith in Christ for salvation love gets poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit and we begin to walk in love towards God and towards people, and (2) love is a breeding ground for strong faith because “love believes all things.”
So as we read Galatians 5:6 we can read it in two perspectives, and both could be correct.
The first perspective is that we put our faith in Christ and that faith produces love in us so that we are able to love God and love people.
This is primary meaning behind this verse and it is heavily supported throughout scripture.
“We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19)
“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16)
The second perspective is that faith only becomes active, or begins to work, when it is mixed with love.
I believe that this is not what Paul was primarily trying to communicate in Galatians 5:6. However, I do believe that this has merit.
God is a God of faith and He is a God of love.
Love is always selfless and it always cares about other’s temporal and eternal well-being. Therefore, it is able to produce faith in the indivual’s heart who walks in love because the cares of this world and the unbelief that chokes is unable to penetrate a love walk.
The man whose heart is fixed on the love of God and love for people, is the perfect soil for the seed of faith (a.k.a the word of God) to be planted and to grow to become a mighty tree.
If you want to know more on this topic I encourage you to read my articles What a Mustard Seed of Faith Means (And How to Have it) and How to grow in Faith. They go very in depth in how to grow strong faith.
I hope you enjoyed this article and that it helped you in your walk with God.
God bless you all!