Many years ago a friend expressed an objection to one of the passages in the book of Proverbs which endorsed corporal punishment. My friend didn’t like the sound of that at all, and preferred to believe that spanking was wrong. I told her that whatever the passage means, it certainly cannot mean that spanking is a sin!
I am reminded of that exchange by the following from the book of Revelation.
Then I saw a great white throne and the One who was sitting on it. In his presence, earth and sky vanished, leaving no trace. I saw the dead, great and small alike, standing in front of his throne while the books lay open. And another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged from what was written in the books, as their deeds deserved. The sea gave up all the dead who were in it; Death and Hades were emptied of the dead that were in them; and every one was judged as his deeds deserved. [emphasis added]
St. John says we will be judged on the basis of our deeds. Does that mean that we can work our way to heaven? Of course not. We can never be worthy to stand in God’s presence on our own merits. We are saved by grace. But our deeds matter. We do not have free will for no purpose.
Does this mean that we do not need faith in order to be saved? Of course not. But one thing this passage simply cannot mean is that our works will be irrelevant on Judgment Day. If words have any meaning at all, it is clear that our deeds will be taken into account in some way on Judgment Day. There is simply no getting around it. Sola fide will not be the order of the day on that Day.