James 2:15-19, “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, (16) and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? (17) So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (18) But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (19) You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder!”
As we have said before, Satan is an excellent theologian. He knows the Bible well – he was able to quote it from memory when he tempted Jesus (Matthew 4). Satan believes in God, and so do his emissaries. And the God in which he believes is no false god. Satan believes in the living and true God. He believes in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. He knows all about Christ’s incarnation, atonement, and resurrection. He knows them to be true. He even knows that Christ is coming again to judge all men and himself –
Revelation 12:12, “Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
Matthew 8:29, “And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?””
So let’s talk for a bit here about the faith of the devil and his demons. First of all, it just needs to be said – the devil and his demons have a stronger and more accurate faith than many professing Christians. The devil lives and acts in light of his faith. He knows his time is short, so he rages. The demons fear Christ because they know their time is coming. Do you see it? How many people who profess the name of Christ truly live out what they believe? That was James’ whole point when he said that a faith that does not yield works is no real faith at all. If I see a brother or sister in need or being oppressed by an evil person, and I only give them pious sounding words but do nothing to help them, my faith is not genuine faith. It doesn’t save that victim, nor can it save my soul. The demons are very sound and accurate in their theology proper – they confess full well that God is one. They adhere to the doctrine of the trinity. In fact, their faith is so accurate that it leads them to shudder!
Are we telling our congregations, as pastors and as church members, that man needs to fear God? That apart from genuine repentance – a real, heartfelt turning from sin to Christ – the only thing that awaits a person when they depart out of this world is, hell? Are we calling, as Scripture commands us to, all people to turn from their love for the world and love Christ above all else? Does anyone ever leave our worship services shuddering and trembling out of the fear of the Lord? Unfortunately, we know the answer to these questions, at least in the vast majority of cases. People leave our worship services thinking about what the special is at The Sizzler, or any number of other things.
And it gets worse than that, because there ARE people who leave our services shuddering and trembling. The victims of abuse. The oppressed and down-trodden, the humble of soul, find no relief. They often leave condemned, thinking that it is they who have been too judgmental and unkind or unforgiving toward their oppressor. The wicked man leaves justified in his own mind.
The professing, Bible-believing Christian church is fostering a devilish faith. The faith of demons is a faith that knows all about various facts and details of Scripture, but is devoid of fruit. It confesses God is one, then it goes out and oppresses the innocent and weak.
I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Charles Finney, an evangelist in the Northeastern United States (New York area?) back in the 1800’s. Finney is the one who is “credited” with inventing the altar call approach to evangelism. He had some kind of bench that he would put up front for sinners to come to a be saved. He believed that the preacher can actually, by following certain guidelines, effect a real revival. If you have any doubts, pick up a copy of Finney’s writings and you can see for yourself. What has this to do with the present state of the church and with abuse and domestic violence? I believe, and I am not alone, that Finney’s methodology so infected the church that it is still with us today. Instead of telling people who are under conviction of sin to go home and plead with God to show them mercy, as the humble tax-collector did –
Luke 18:13, “But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’”
… we tell them they can say a simple prayer and then be absolutely confident that the Lord has saved them. This is what we call easy-believism, and it is probably exactly what the Apostle James was opposing in James 2. All of us who are deeply concerned about abuse and abusers and the church’s unjust handling of abuse victims, need to understand that it is this very kind of unbiblical theology that is responsible for creating an environment in our churches where evil can hide. As we fill our pews with people we have pronounced to be saved, but who do not know the Lord, we endanger the flock and act as allies of the enemy.
Where there is genuine, saving faith, there will be fruits and evidences of that faith. The love of Christ will be evident – a real love that is so foreign to this world that when the world sees it, they know we are followers of Christ. But sadly, Christ’s name is being blasphemed among the world today because even an unsaved man knows hypocrisy when he sees it. We are not calling our people to genuine repentance and faith as Christ demands, and we are reaping the whirlwind as a result. No one knows this better than the battered victim of the “Christian” abuser.