Case Closed (Romans 3:31)
So were James and Paul at odds? This debate still rages between some today. However, one simple verse should settle the issue. Of course Paul would go to expand on the verse, but nonetheless the Gospel of Jesus Christ insists that a person is indeed not saved by any works of their own or by abiding by God's law. The reason why is that in our sin and imperfection we are incapable of doing so. In order to be saved through the law, that is to be right with God and escape hell and be rewarded with eternal life, we would have to keep the law perfectly because God is perfect. God's moral law cannot save because of our sin. In fact when we replace obedience to the law with faith in Jesus Christ, it frees us to obey him without fear of condemnation when we fall short of its standard. The law no longer has that power over those who trust in Jesus.
However, and here is the key to what Luther missed, James and the rest of Scripture actually agree. In fact, the book of James becomes much clearer when we read one simple verse that Paul wrote to the Romans after he stated that we are justified, not by works of the law, but by faith. That verse reads, "Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law" (Romans 3:31). Case closed.