Much confusion is caused by rejection of the biblical principle that faith must walk hand in hand with the works that God and Christ require, whether by their own voices, by inspiration, or through the writings of those they have called to be their earthly representatives to teach faithful believers what they must believe and what they must do to please God and obtain eternal salvation.
It is untrue to write or suggest that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe to any degree that they are taught that they can gain salvation through their own works independently of the Atoning Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This has never been the case, it is not the case now, and it never will be the case. Latter-day Saints believe and teach that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no one can stand before the God the Father cleansed from the effects of their wrongoings except through faith in and obedience to Jesus Christ and by obedience to the requirements of his everlasting Gospel.
That some have chosen to deny this and make claims to the contrary is unfortunate. It is even more unfortunate to have to describe their actions in so doing as outright lies, but that is what they are.
No one that is even passingly familiar with the contents of the Holy Bible can remain in any doubt that faith in Jesus Christ requires the believer, especially one that claims to be a Christian, to exercise those good works commanded by Almighty God. Failure to obey God is open rebellion, and attracts condign punishment. God and Jesus require those that take upon them the name of Jesus Christ to do the good works that Christians are called to do as evidence that their faith is alive and that they obey and do good to glorify their Father in heaven.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. --Ephesians 2:10
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. --Matthew 5:16
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: --Romans 13:3
Saint Paul teaches us that every person, Christian or not, has a choice between Good and Evil and that he chooses one or the other because there is no neutrality between Good and Evil. He writes:
Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid. --1 Timothy 5:24-25
The confusion that has arisen within Christianity is based on shallow interpretations of Paul's disavowal of the Law, by which he intended onl to refer to the Law of Moses that belong to the Levitical Code. He did not disavow God's moral laws that were given before.
Therefore we reckon a man to be justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Romans 3:28 --Berean Literal Bible
Of this verse, Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary says:
Believers are not left to be lawless; faith is a law, it is a working grace, wherever it is in truth. By faith, not in this matter an act of obedience, or a good work, but forming the relation between Christ and the sinner, which renders it proper that the believer should be pardoned and justified for the sake of the Saviour, and that the unbeliever who is not thus united or related to him, should remain under condemnation. The law is still of use to convince us of what is past, and to direct us for the future. Though we cannot be saved by it [the Law] as a covenant, yet we own and submit to it, as a rule in the hand of the Mediator.
Of the same verse the Pulpit Commentary says:
Its reference is not at all to works required or not required from man for acceptance, but simply to the ground or principle of his justification.
Benson's Commentary of Romans 3:28 observes:
Without perfect obedience to any law, as the meritorious cause of his justification. Every one, however, who is justified in this way, must show his faith by his works, James 2:14-26, and make the moral law the constant rule of his temper and conduct. It may be proper to observe here, 1st, That the faith by which men, under the new covenant, are justified, “hath for its object persons, rather than propositions. So Christ himself hath told us; Ye believe in God, believe also in me. So Moses also; Abraham believed in the Lord, and it was counted to him for righteousness: and Paul; Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. In the mean time, this faith in God and in Christ necessarily leads those who possess it, to believe every thing made known to them by God and by Christ, and to do every thing which they have enjoined: so that it terminates in the sincere belief of the doctrines of religion, and in the constant practice of its duties, as far as they are made known to the believer.”
James the Apostle leaves us with a perspective that, when read, removes all shallowness and misdirection of the confusions that have been allowed to rise within the many disparate denominations and discrete theologies of Christianity across it many centuries. The second chapter of his epistle that was cruelly disparaged by Luther, says:
My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is uselessd ? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
In spite of Luther's contempt for this epistle, he called it 'am epistle of straw,' it was written the Apostle James, the brother of Jesus, and in the face of the stunning neglect it suffers at the hands and minds of many evangelicals, to whom its content is felt as a judgement, it remains the word of God and teaches a valuable lesson that every Christian needs to learn and obey.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible posits:
[W]orks may deceive, and do not infallibly prove truth of faith, yet it is certain, that where they are not, but persons live in a continued course of sinning, there cannot be true faith.
From this we recognise that good and godly works are the fruits of faith and that where such godly works of faith are not present, neither is faith in God or Jesus Christ.