James 2:17  Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

It's like the difference between Cement and Concrete.
Cement is the powder used for many applications in building, repairs, etc.
Concrete is the finished product that includes cement as an ingredient.
 
Cement, in its pure state is worthless. Not until it is mixed with sand, or sand and gravel does cement become of value.
 
The same principle applies to faith. Faith by itself, in its pure state, is worthless.
The Bible calls it dead.
But mixed with an act, faith becomes alive, useful, aggressive, productive.
 
Study the above verse in its context:
 
James 2:14  What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
17  Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
20  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
22  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
24  Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
26  For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
 
The passage of course is saying that if we profess faith in Jesus as Savior, but do not act as a redeemed person is expected to act, then we can conclude that the faith was a dead faith, worthless. James illustrates some of the behavioral actions that show whether faith is alive or dead.
 
We can apply the same principle to living the life of faith to receive from God what we need for ourselves, and for others.
 
Faith is worthless if not mixed with action.
Thrice James repeats "faith without works is dead".
He wants us to know this without the shadow of a doubt that faith needs doing to bring it to life.
 

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