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Sermon #16 — James Series
Title: “The Devils also Believe”
Text: James 2:19
Subject: True and False Faith
Date: Tuesday Evening — June 23, 2015
Readings: Larry Brown and David Burge
You will find my text in the 2nd chapter of James — James 2:19. In the latter portion of this chapter God the Holy Ghost shows us a clear distinction between true faith and false faith. True, saving faith is willingly obedient to God, bows to his word and his will, trusting Christ as Lord. It is what the Apostle Paul calls “faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6). — True faith is known and identified by obedience.
False faith, damning faith, is nothing but a professed faith, a faith that has no effect upon your life. Therefore we are admonished in the Book of God to make our calling and election sure, examining ourselves to make certain that we are “in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5; 2 Peter 1:10-11).
(2 Corinthians 13:5) Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
(2 Peter 1:10-11) Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: (11) For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Are you in the faith? Am I in the faith? Or do we merely profess faith? May God the Holy Ghost, who alone can give us faith, be our Teacher and give us faith in Christ.
The title of my message this is — “The Devils also Believe”— “The Devils also Believe.” That’s my subject. — “The Devils also Believe” (James 2:19).
(James 2:19) Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble
Faith without works is no more than the faith of devils who are forever damned. “You believe that there is one God; you do well.” There is but one God, the Triune Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. That fact is obvious, being everywhere displayed by the light of nature, the works of creation, Divine providence, and the Scriptures. But the devils also have that faith, historical faith and knowledge. They know and believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Messiah (Luke 4:34; Acts16:17; 19:15). The devils have faith; and they tremble at the wrath of God and the thought of future torment Matthew 8:28-29; Mark 5:7)
If my faith is true, it will bear examination, examination by the light of Holy Scripture. If it is not true, I want to know it. I beg mercy from God that he will not let me perish in a refuge of lies. And I beg of God that same mercy for you. —— O Spirit of God, let me not go to hell with the faith of devils!
Faith in Christ is the one thing essential to salvation. — “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” That is the one thing that matters. That is the one question that must be settled. — “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” Faith is an inward, heart thing, a work of grace given to us and performed in us. It is a state of life and a way of life. It is a condition of life and a course of life. Faith is an inward thing, a matter of the heart, an experience of the soul. — “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness.”
· If we would worship God acceptably, we must worship him in faith, for “without faith it is impossible to please him.”
· If we would pray, we must pray in faith. We must “ask in faith, nothing doubting.” It is the “prayer of faith” that is saving and effectual.
· When the Gospel is preached, unless the Word is “mixed with faith” in them that hear it profits them nothing.
True heart faith is that one thing, the only thing that is essential to eternal life. When the Philippian jailor cried out to Paul and Silas, — “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” their response was clear and simple, — “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” It is not faith and baptism, faith and good works, faith and church membership, faith and a holy life, or faith and anything else that saves a soul. It is faith alone that savingly unites the perishing sinner to the powerful Savior. And this faith is itself a gift of God’s free and distinguishing grace. Faith is not something that a man musters for himself; it is a gift of God.
O gift of gifts! O grace of faith!
The gift of God so free,
Amazing mercy, grace, and love
Bestowed on one like me!
Into the most unlikely hearts
Free grace delights to come;
Christ’s glory is to seek and find
In darkest spots a home.
He knocks with His almighty hand,
(Omnipotent His grace!),
Breaks down the door with bolt and bar,
Creating faith and peace!
(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.
Faith is not always a good thing. False faith is damning.
· Faith in Allah is damning.
· Faith in Buddha is damning.
· Faith in a Frog is damning.
· Faith in a false christ is damning.
· And false faith is damning.
I do not just want to have faith. I want to know God. I want to possess and live in and by God-given faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And I want that for you.
In this day of mass-evangelism, easy-believism and religious revivalism multitudes are deceived with a false faith. The Bible makes it plain that there is such a thing as a false faith. There are false christs. There is a false gospel. There is a false spirit and false gods. And there is a false faith. — “The devils believe.” Judas had faith, but he went to hell. Many who call upon the name of the Lord have no real faith in him. And it has always been the concern of God’s servants that their hearers not be deceived by a false faith. John Owen once wrote…
“Of all the poison which at this day is diffused in the minds of men, corrupting them from the mystery of the gospel, there is no part that is more pernicious than this one perverse imagination, that to believe in Christ is nothing at all but to believe the doctrine of the gospel.”
Paul was very much concerned for the saints at Corinth and Galatia. They had the doctrine of faith. But he feared that some among them did not have a heart of faith. And we see this same grave concern in almost every line of James’ epistle. Of all the snares by which Satan carries the souls of men into hell, none is more deceiving and deadly than a false faith.
· Many have a false faith produced in them by the sight of a miracle being performed. This was true in the days of our Lord and his apostles, when miraculous gifts were given. And it is true today, when the ministers of Satan perform, or pretend to perform, great wonders.
· Another form of false faith is what we might call a historical, or theoretical faith, that is, a mere mental assent to the historical facts of the gospel.
· There is also that false faith which appears to be true and genuine. It is a temporary faith. Like the seed sown on stony ground and among thorns, it seems to thrive for a while. But afterwards it withers away and is choked out.
Read the Word of God again, and pay attention to what it says. It tells us of many who have lived and died in a false faith. There are multitudes in hell today, because they were satisfied to have a false faith. Have you not heard of Lot’s wife and of Saul? Did you not read about Judas and Simon Magus? Are you not alarmed by the examples of Ananias and Sapphira? All of these had faith. But the faith they had was a false faith; and it carried them to hell!
True faith is founded upon the Word of God, upon the authority and veracity of the testimony God has given concerning his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the act of the heart, resting upon the Word of God, and trusting Christ alone for all things. There are three things involved in any true, heart faith.
1. True heart faith is built upon knowledge. Where there is faith, there must be knowledge. And that knowledge comes only by divine revelation. — “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Before anyone can believe the gospel, he must have knowledge. He must know who and what he is. He must know who God is. And he must know who Christ is. This is the purpose of preaching the gospel, so that all men everywhere might know what God says concerning his Son. Who is He? What has He done? Where is He now?
2. But knowledge alone is not enough. There must also be an assent, or an agreement of heart with what God has said. Where there is true faith, the heart agrees and gives assent to divine revelation.
3. Still, that is not all that there is to faith. There must be knowledge. There must be assent. And there must be confidence. We know what God has said. And we agree that it is true. And we confidently trust Christ, committing to him our eternal souls (Luke 14:25-33). That is faith.
God alone can produce this faith in a man’s heart. This is that faith which is the operation of God. We could never know Christ, except by divine revelation. We would never agree with what God says about Christ unless the God the Holy Ghost wrought a mighty change in our souls called “the new birth,” making us new creatures in Christ. We would never come to Christ, trusting him as our only Lord and Savior until the Holy Spirit enabled us to do so. We could not and would not come to him until we were brought to him.
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.
Illustration: Bill Parker’s Doctrine
They suppose that embracing the doctrine of Christ is the same thing as embracing Christ. What a foolish delusion!
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. — That is the doctrine of our text and that is the doctrine of this Book!
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. The 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?
Hell’s Inhabitants Orthodox
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 3:4-14) 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.