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Sermon #15 — James Series
Title: The Faith of Devils
Text: James 2:19
Subject: True and False Faith
Date: Tuesday Evening — June 16, 2015
Readings: Bobbie Estes and Mark Henson
The title of my message this is — The Faith of Devils. My text will be James 2:19. — The Faith of Devils (James 2:19).
(James 2:19) Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
Before I give you the meaning and message of this verse of Scripture, let me make a few introductory statements.
1. The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is vitally and essentially different from every religion in the world.
It is different in this one vital point: — The Gospel of Christ is a message of grace alone. Every religion in the world, except the Gospel of Christ, tells you to do something to recommend yourself to God. It is the business of all false religions to patch up a righteousness in which sinners can stand before God accepted. —— It is the business of the Gospel preacher to proclaim a righteousness ready-made, a robe of righteousness to wear, a perfect righteousness wrought by Jesus Christ alone, wherein sinners stand eternally, immutably accepted in the Beloved, perfect, complete, and without fault in the sight of God. I hold before you perfect righteousness in Jesus Christ, without any works, conditions, or stipulations (Romans 5:19; Colossians 2:10). Will you receive this free-grace righteousness by faith alone? Or, will you perish, seeking to establish righteousness by your own works? (See Romans 9:31-10:4).
(Romans 9:31-10:4) But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. (32) Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; (33) As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (10:1) Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. (2) For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. (3) For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (4) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.
Now, hear me well, — any religion, under any name, that conditions salvation upon something you must do, be it a work ever so small, is antichrist. Any religion that conditions salvation upon you is damning to your soul (Galatians 5:2-4).
(Galatians 5:1-4) Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (2) Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. (3) For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. (4) Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
2. Because we preach salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, we are constantly accused of being antinomians, promoters of licentiousness, and enemies to good works.
I do not mind being accused of these things. Every faithful Gospel preacher in history has been accused of practicing and promoting licentiousness by preaching the Gospel of God’s free grace in Christ (Jude 4). The Pharisees called our Lord a “glutton,” a “wine bibber,” and a “devil.” The Judaizers of Paul’s day said that Paul preached, “Let us do evil that good may come.” So I do not mind being accused of these things. When natural, spiritually dead, self-righteous men hear the Gospel of unconditional salvation by grace, through the perfect righteousness and finished atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, received by faith alone, I fully expect them to say, “That is antinomianism. That opens the floodgates to licentiousness. That destroys the necessity of good works.” I expect no more from spiritually blind and ignorant men. But nothing could be further from the truth. The charge is altogether without foundation. Grace does not produce, promote, or excuse ungodliness (Ephesians 2:8-10).
3. True, saving faith in Christ does, most assuredly produce good works in regenerate men and women (James 2:20).
I do not suggest that faith in Christ produces works that lost, unregenerate men and women approve of, admire, and applaud. It does not. The world never approve of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, or Rahab’s hiding the spies. Yet, these are the very things God uses as examples of faith producing good works in James 2:21-26.
· Good works are not the cause of salvation.
· Good works are not a condition of God’s favor.
· Good works are not a basis of assurance.
· And good works are not a means of sanctification.
· But good works are the inevitable results of God’s saving grace and by which God the Holy Spirit testifies the reality of our faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10).
(Ephesians 2:8-10) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast. (10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
James wrote his Epistle, primarily to expose and silence a very grave error that had crept into the Church even during the Apostolic Age. It is a flattering delusion generally held by religious people today. But it is a damning, deadly error.
Many suppose that a mere, naked assent to the truths of the Gospel is saving faith. They think that a mere head knowledge of Gospel doctrine is the stamp of grace and proves that they are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. They suppose that embracing the doctrine of Christ is the same thing as embracing Christ. What a foolish delusion! Did not Judas, Ananias, Simon Magus, Demas, and Diotriphes embrace the doctrine of Christ? Of course they did. Yet, they were lost, unregenerate, religious men, who now suffer the wrath of God in hell.
Proposition: Any faith that does not radically change a person’s life, that does not cause people to “walk in” and “maintain good works” is a false faith.
I repeat, and I want you to hear me clearly, good works is not the basis of our assurance before God. If you look to your good works as the basis of your assurance, you will either sink in utter despair, or you will become a proud, self-righteous Pharisee. But good works is the result of saving faith.
Look at the challenge James issues in verse 14, — “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?” Notice, James does not say, “What doth it profit a man to have faith without works?” That is not a possibility. James says, “What will it profit a man to say he has faith without works.” There is a big difference between saying, “I have faith,” and having faith!
“The man who professes himself a believer must offer something more than his own verbal profession, if he wishes to be credited by those to whom that profession is made.”
— Augustus Toplady
Should I declare to you that my annual salary is a million dollars, you would laugh. No one would believe me. Why? Because I have nothing to show for it. I own nothing. My bank records would not indicate it. Any my lifestyle would not suggest it. Everything about me would indicate that I was either a liar or a grossly deceived lunatic. By the same rule, James says, If a man says, “I have faith,” it is very natural to ask, “Where are your works? Show me your faith.” You see, faith is a hidden principle of the heart, revealed and made manifest by good works of faith and righteousness (vv. 15-26).
· Works that are profitable and beneficial to others.
· Works that are honoring to God.
· Works seen only by God.
· Abraham justified his claim to faith by the sacrifice of his son Isaac.
· Rahab justified her claim to faith by hiding God’s messengers.
(James 2:15-26) If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, (16) And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? (17) Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. (18) Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (19) Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (20) But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? (21) Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? (22) Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? (23) And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. (24) Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. (25) Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? (26) For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Divisions: In our text James shows us that faith without works is a diabolical delusion, nothing but the faith of devils.
1. There are demon spirits in this world.
2. These diabolic spirits have faith.
3. What is the difference between the faith of devils and the faith of God’s elect?
First, our text clearly shows us that there are demon spirits in this world. I will not say much about them, because little is revealed about them. But these devils, of whom James here speaks by Divine inspiration, are that whole body of apostate spirits, fallen angels, who were cast out of heaven with Satan, when they revolted against the throne of God (Revelation 12:4, 7-9).
· They were created in holiness as the stars of Heaven.
· They were permitted, according to God’s sovereign decree, to fall with Satan.
(Revelation 12:4) And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
(Revelation 12:7-9) And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, (8) And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. (9) And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
The Problem of Evil
We are all tempted to ask, “Why did God permit the angels to fall, when he could have easily prevented it? Why did God ordain that sin should come into the world, when he could easily have prevented it?” I have no interest in answering the vile objections of unbelieving rebels. But I can give some answer to the questions of God’s elect in this matter.
1. Had evil never been permitted, the justice of God could never have been revealed in punishing it.
2. Had evil never been allowed, the wisdom of God could never have been revealed in overruling it.
3. Had evil never been permitted, the goodness, love, and grace of God could never have been known in pardoning and forgiving it.
4. Had evil never been allowed, the power of God could never have been revealed overruling it.
5. Had evil never been permitted, the sovereignty of God could never have been seen in saving some and passing by others.
· Christ Jesus took not on him the seed of angels.
· Christ took not on him the seed of Adam.
· But he took on him the seed of Abraham! (Hebrews 2:16).
6. Had evil never existed, we could never have known the glory of God revealed in the redemption of our souls by Christ Jesus.
Having said that, let me emphasize this fact: — Demons are real, and the influence of demons in this world is real.
· The demons of hell are too wise and powerful for us.
· Demonic influence always leads men and women in a path of self-destruction.
· Sometimes it is destruction of self by acts of insanity, moral degradation, and vile behavior.
Illustrations: The Gadarene
The Young Man Coming to
The Canaanite Woman’s
The Heard of Swine.
· Frequently, the influence of demons is seen in bringing men and women to destruction by the strong delusion of false religion (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
(2 Corinthians 11:13-15) For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. (14) And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. (15) Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
Demonism, demon influence, and demon possession are not things to be toyed with, or ignored, and are not things to be investigated. If you go out looking for demons, you will find them. — But demonic influence is not something for God’s saints to fear. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Lord over the Prince of Darkness and the demons of hell. — These fallen, demon spirits are all under the total, sovereign rule of our Lord Jesus Christ (Jude 6; Luke 8:26-36).
(Jude 1:6) And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
But, secondly, James shows us that even these diabolic spirits have faith. What is their faith? How far does their faith go? I will tell you this, the devils of hell are incomparably more orthodox in their faith than 99 out of 100 of our modern preachers. There is not a freewiller, or liberal, or works monger among them. They seduce men to believe those things. But they know too much to believe them themselves.
The devils believe that there is one God. They believe in the Trinity and unity of the Godhead. They believe in the co-existence and co-equality of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, three persons in one indivisible Godhead. Satan and his demons believe that the Son of God assumed human nature and redeemed an elect people.
They believe all the great doctrines of the Gospel.
· Divine Sovereignty
· Total Depravity
· Irresistible Grace
· Unconditional Election (Hebrews 1:14) — They only make war with God’s elect.
· Limited Atonement
· Perseverance of The Saints
They believe that Christ accomplished the redemption of God’s elect by his death upon the cross.
· The Virgin Birth
· Perfect Obedience
· Imputed Righteousness
· The Incarnation
· Accomplished Redemption
· Certain salvation of God’s Elect
The demons of hell also know the covenant office and work of God the Holy Spirit.
· To Regenerate
· To Convert
· To Apply The Blood of Christ
· To Comfort
· To Seal
They know, and never question the fact that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. They know that every word of God is true, that every syllable is inspired, that every prophecy is true, that every doctrine is sure, that every precept is authoritative, and that every ordinance is meaningful.
And they know that there is a great day of judgment to come. These devils tremble and quake before God in anticipation of that great appointed day when they shall be arraigned before Messiah’s bar and receive the sentence of his justice, for all the evil they have done, and for all the evil they have influenced men to do (Matthew 8:29.
(Matthew 8:29) And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?
And you can be sure of this: — As the devils themselves are thoroughly orthodox in their doctrine, every human soul now suffering the wrath of God in hell is thoroughly orthodox in doctrine. When the departed spirits of lost men and women open their eyes in hell, at that moment, they open their eyes to the truth of God which they despise (The Rich Man in Hell – Luke 16). There is not a single will-worship Arminian in the lake of fire.
“As there are no heretics in heaven, so there are none in hell. It is only on earth that men have the dreadful prerogative of out-sinning the very devils themselves.” — Augustus Toplady.
· Arius is not an Arian now!
· Pelagius is not a Pelagian now!
· Arminius is not an Arminian now!
· Wesley is not a Wesleyan now!
· Russell is not a Russellite now!
· Campbell is not a Campbellite now!
· The popes now gone are not papists now!
Now, thirdly, let me show you the answer to this question: ——– What is the difference between the faith of devils and the faith of God’s elect? I could preach a good many sermons, just answering that question. There is a vast difference between the faith of devils and that faith which is wrought in the hearts of God’s elect by God the Holy Ghost. For now, let me answer the question as briefly as I can.
The faith of devils is nothing but a mere head knowledge, without love for the truth, without regard for Christ, without concern for the glory of God. Many make far too much of feelings and emotions. Others would shut them out altogether. But our faith does involve feelings, affections, and emotions of the heart. If a cold, dry, unfelt assent to the written Word is faith, then we would be forced to conclude that Satan and the devils are sons of God.
· The conviction of sin is nothing to me, unless I feel my depravity, my helplessness, and my guilt.
· The conviction of Christ’s righteousness is nothing to me, if I do not see the necessity of it, value it, rejoice in it, and rest in it.
· The comforts of the Spirit are nothing to me, if I do not feel his comfort. Unfelt consolation is a contradiction of words! Who does not feel life, feel rest, feel peace, feel joy, and feel love? Only the dead are without feeling.
The faith of devils is a faith without repentance. — Though they are condemned, they repent not. Though they fear punishment, they do not hate sin. Though they know the truth, they do not regret having offended God.
The faith of devils is a faith without love. — “Faith worketh by love.” But demonic faith has no love but self-love.
· No Love for Christ
· No Love for God
· No Love for The Word
· No Love for Truth
· No Love for The Children of God
The faith of devils is a faith without works. — All that they know and believe has no effect upon them. It makes no change in their lives. It produces no good. It is a dead notion. It is a cold batch of facts. It is a lifeless knowledge.
The faith of devils is a faith without desire. — God’s saints desire the favor, the presence, the image of God in Christ. Nothing will satisfy the renewed soul, but…
· Total commitment to Christ.
· Perfect communion with Christ.
· Complete conformity to Christ.
The faith of devils is a faith without reliance, or trust. — They know the mercy of God to be immense, but they do not trust it. They know the righteousness of Christ to be perfect, but they do not want it. They know the blood of Christ to be infinitely meritorious, but they do not rely upon it.
The faith of God’s elect is a faith of truth and reliance upon…
· The goodness of God.
· The covenant of his grace.
· The blood of Christ.
· The righteousness of Christ.
· The intercession of Christ.
· The rule of Christ.
· The seal of the Spirit.
The faith of devils is a faith against their wills. — They believe what they know to be so; but they despise all that they believe, and wish they were not forced to believe so much. — But God’s saints believe with their hearts, rejoice in that which they believe, love it, and desire to believe more. — The faith of God’s elect is the willing, deliberate, determined consecration of our very lives to the will and glory of God.
· Abraham and Isaac!
· Rahab and the Spies!
· The Hungry and Cold!
The faith of devils does not look to, or depend upon the influence of the Holy Spirit. — But that faith which the Spirit of God gives looks to Christ for all things and looks to the Spirit of Christ for strength, preservation, direction, and comfort.
Look at James 2:18 for a minute, and I’ll show you one more great distinction, one more difference between the faith of devils and the faith of God’s elect. — The faith of devils always brags about good works and loves to show its good works; but the faith of God’s elect will not allow them to talk about, let alone boast of, their good works. That is what James speaks of in verse 18. We read this statement correctly when we read it as a scathing sarcasm spoken to those who like to talk about their good works.
(James 2:18) Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
We see this clearly illustrated by our Savior in Matthew 25:31-46. There our Lord Jesus tells us that lost, unbelieving, self-righteous legalists will even boast of their good works at the bar of God in the Day of Judgment. Believers will not do so now or then, because believers never look upon what they do as good. We acknowledge and confess our sin, even in the very best things we try to do.
(Matthew 25:31-46) When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: (32) And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: (33) And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. (34) Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: (35) For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: (36) Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. (37) Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? (38) When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? (39) Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? (40) And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (41) Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: (42) For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: (43) I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. (44) Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? (45) Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. (46) And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
What are we to learn from the faith of devils?
· We will rejoice in God’s glorious sovereignty and distinguishing grace.
· We must recognize that any faith which does not produce good works is nothing but a demonic faith.
A lost Calvinist is no better off than a lost Arminian. It is of no value to a sinner to embrace the doctrine of Christ. We must embrace Christ himself (2 Timothy 1:12).
Let all who profess faith in Christ justify their profession by maintaining good works for the honor of Christ (Titus 3:4-8, 14).
· Works of Love
· Works of Generosity
· Works of Kindness
(Titus 3:4-4) But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, (5) Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; (6) Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; (7) That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (8) This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. (9) But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. (10) A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; (11) Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself. (12) When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter. (13) Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them. (14) And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.