Scripture Text – James 2:14-26
Faith is not just a key doctrine in the Christian life, but an important aspect of any true Christian lifestyle.
Last time we discussed dead faith; this second aspect of faith we will tackle is demonic faith:
But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! – James 2:18-19.
Because of the times in which he was teaching and those Jewish people he was writing to, James wanted to shock his complacent readers, so he used demons as his illustration. In more recent years the modern church has rediscovered the reality and activity of demons. When our Lord was ministering on earth, He often cast out demons; and He gave that power to His disciples. Paul often confronted demonic forces in his ministry; and in Ephesians 6:10–20, he admonished the early Christians to claim God’s protection and spiritual weaponry to defeat the spiritual forces of wickedness.
It came to people back then and truly comes as a shock to people today that demons have faith! So, what exactly do they believe? For one thing, they believe in and know of the existence of God; they are neither atheists nor agnostics. They also believe in and know of the deity of and power of Christ. Whenever they met Christ when He was on earth, they bore witness to His Sonship (Mark 3:11–12). They believe in the existence of a place of punishment (Luke 8:31); and they also recognize Jesus Christ as the inevitable and final Judge (Mark 5:1–13). They most certainly submit to the power of His Word.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” – Deuteronomy 6:4. This was the daily affirmation of faith of the godly Jew. “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” – James 2:19 (NIV). The man with dead faith was touched only in his intellect; but the demons are touched also in their emotions. They believe AND tremble.
But that does not make it a saving experience to believe and even tremble. A person can be enlightened in his mind and even stirred in his heart and still be lost forever. True saving faith involves something more, somethings so much deeper, something that can be seen and recognized: a changed life. James presented this challenge to his readers, “Show me your faith without your works, and I will show my faith by my works.”
How could a person show, manifest or demonstrate his faith without works? Can a dead sinner perform good works? It’s impossible! When you trust Christ, you are “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10. Being a Christian involves trusting Christ and living for Christ; you receive abundant life, then you reveal the life in abundance by your actions. Faith that is barren and empty is not saving faith. The Greek word translated “dead” in James 2:20 carries the meaning of “barren or idle,” similar to money not drawing any interest.
So far, James has introduced us to two kinds of faith that can never save the sinner: dead faith (based on the intellect alone), and demonic faith (based on the intellect and the emotions). In the next lesson we will check out what he has to say about dynamic faith.