Oh yes, justification is apart from works. This is because the specific message about the cross (the gospel) through which justification occurs or any man for the first time receives the right standing before God, does not have in it any demand of work.
By demand of work, I mean doing something practical by exercising obedience to some practical instruction other than faith alone in a given information.
However, the Christian living, which is secondary to justification is not apart from works. This is because the messages that surround the Christian living have in them certain specific works that are sometimes demanded to be fulfilled or done.
So you see, while some messages that form the Christian doctrines may have in them a demand of works, the other single message, which is the gospel, has in it no demand of work.
The justifying message informs you about the fact about Christ and His sacrificial work on the cross and demands that the unbeliever believes in that fact and what it promises.
The structure of the other messages that come as secondary because a person has accepted the first saving/justifying message do not just always inform the believer about certain facts of the spiritual life or the believer’s walk (like the gospel does to the unbeliever), but also command the believer to outwardly do something.
The difference in the composition of the saving gospel message and the Christian living messages is what makes both messages distinguishable from the other. Even though both messages require the exercise of faith, the secondary one which constitutes the Christian living doctrines go beyond just faith in the facts or doctrines presented, it includes doing whatever work that is contained in those secondary messages for the Christian living.
The gospel of Jesus having died for man’s sins only informs us about such good news and the demand of believing it, which of course such demand of an exercise of faith is not a work. But when a specific command is given to the person who is now saved/justified to be contented with what he has, goes beyond just faith.
For example, in times of an experience of financial difficulties in the believer’s, when he is tempted to steal what is not his, the doctrine of contentment, which is a “demand” doctrine, and distinguished from the gospel, and falls in the category of the secondary messages for the Christian living, needs to be applied since it is not just a doctrine that informs the believer about facts, rather, it commands and demands obedience to the command.
Therefore, let us not confuse the one single saving gospel message of the cross with the Christian living messages or sanctification messages.