“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 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? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 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. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”
Throughout the Bible we are commanded to exercise faith. Faith is of the utmost importance and is perhaps the most weighty element in our spiritual pilgrimage, as the Bible says…
Galatians 3:11 …the just shall live by faith.
As we know, faith in God and His Word is the foundational condition whereby we enter into the gospel covenant. It is the key of faith that opens the door into God’s family.
Galatians 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
From Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures are ripe with the theology of faith. Throughout God’s Word we are confronted again and again with examples of pure faith: faith is defined, outlined, emphasized, and commanded. Likewise, in the gospels we are reminded, “only believe.” However, few seem to exercise such faith. In fact, the Bible warns us of a faith that is rooted in unbelief. Here in the Book of James, the Holy Ghost gives us a much needed clarification: a faith that says but refuses to do is akin to devil’s faith. Such faith always produces unbelieving believers. As the root to pure Christianity is pure faith, so the root to counterfeit Christianity is this counterfeit faith.
In this article, we want to look at three outstanding marks whereby we can identify this “devil’s faith.”
DEVIL’S FAITH QUOTES A BIBLE IT REFUSES TO OBEY
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.
Hypocritical religion has always been distinguished by a tendency to say but not do.
Matthew 23:3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
The picture the Bible paints of the sinner is one who is bound by sin and thereby separated from God. Many sinners refuse to believe this but use secular reasoning to appease their conscience. For example: “There is no God,” or “there are no moral absolutes or sin.” However, the religious sinner is unique in that he refuses the Bible while confessing that he believes. Although he accepts the general testimony of Scripture he rejects its personal application. Yes, he may admit there are sinners who will perish, but, of course, he’s not one of them. He may believe in sin, but he’s not committing any, or at least not anything worthy of death. If he confesses to sin at all, he amazingly insists that his sin will not put him in hell. He freely quotes the Bible, but rarely puts it into practice. He’s a man for the moment. He seldom gives God a second thought in his day to day activities. Yet, if pressed, he can spontaneously and effortlessly pervert and twist the Scripture in an attempt to defend himself and his “sinning religion”.
And all this is a very predictable response if we understand the root of religious deception…
Romans 2:13 For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
Those with devil’s faith have, to some degree or another, committed to learn the Scriptures while steadfastly rejecting its demands. In other words, they attempt to keep an open mind while willfully closing their heart. Though they may have intentions of becoming familiar with the Bible, they seldom purpose to obey.
1 Tim. 4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron…
Such religious hypocrites have acquired and perfected the uncanny ability to evade the light with a smile and a chuckle.
DEVIL’S FAITH ACKNOWLEDGES GOD WITH ITS MOUTH WHILE IT REJECTS HIM WITH ITS LIFE
James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
Talk, is the only real link the religious hypocrite has to God. Ironically, in Scripture, wherever Satan is depicted as holding a conversation, he’s usually talking about God and twisting the Bible. This is easily verified if you recall his conversations with Eve, or His attack of Job, or temptation of Christ. The Holy Ghost, through the Book of James, is pointing out that even demons, and Satan himself, acknowledge God. Today, a mere mental assent and simple confession that Jesus is the Messiah is seen as proof of faith. However, the gospels are filled with examples of demons displaying such faith. For example…
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?
Luke 4:34 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God.
This irrefutably proves that knowing, and even expounding on who Jesus is doesn’t necessarily constitute faith (it is also interesting to note how the demons accused Jesus of “judging them before the time”).
Devil’s faith centers around what is known and what is spoken, while genuine faith is distinguished by its Biblical action. As Jesus said of the Jews in His day…
Matthew 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
So is the religious hypocrite in our day.
DEVIL’S FAITH IS VOID OF VALIDATING WORKS
James 2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
Words are important. Words communicate ideas, concepts, and above all, truth. The only words that must not be questioned are God’s Words. God’s Word judges us, we do not judge it. However, no matter how sacred, no matter how revered, no matter how traditional, man’s commentary on God’s Word is open to scrutiny and Scriptural cross-examination. In this hour of easy-believeism, when “faith” has been reduced to mere mental assent, I think Biblical qualifications are in order when discussing genuine God-inspired faith. “Sola fide” or “by faith alone” is considered orthodox doctrine. However, it is interesting to note, the only place in the Scriptures where the two words “faith” and “alone” are mentioned in the same verse is found in James 2:17, which reads, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” In light of this fact, the phrase “by faith alone” is an unfortunate choice of words, which in this Antinomian age can be very misleading. True “saving faith” will be verified by virtuous works that flow from the believers union with Christ. Indeed, faith justifies, but good works justify saving faith. Salvation is apprehended by genuine faith alone, but it will not abide alone.
Counterfeit Christianity will and can mimic almost every aspect of true spirituality except surrender to the cross of Jesus Christ. Those with devil’s faith may talk about the cross but they refuse to die thereon. Thus, the old man, no matter how suppressed and cloaked, will bleed through. An overcoming life of holiness and obedience can only be realized through union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. Hence, religious hypocrites will be marked by a lack of victory over sin.
Ours is a day of spiritual contradictions. Hatred is seen as love and love is thought to be hatred. Freedom is defined as bondage and bondage as freedom. It should not surprise us that faith is now defined as unbelief and unbelief as faith. And so it is, we live in a culture filled with unbelieving believers. It’s all a sign of men given over to a religious spirit; a spirit that confesses that it loves God, but refuses to obey Him; a religion rooted in an attempt to take what God has while rejecting who God is. Such faith may quote a confession, but it refuses to be conformed to God’s Christ.
Therefore, we conclude: obedience to the Word, following Jesus, is what sets Biblical faith apart from devil’s faith.