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. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!
As if James’s argument isn’t already strong enough, he takes it up another notch by noting the demons have faith too. Yet they aren’t saved—and they know it.
And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” — Mark 1:23–24
This cannot be a legitimate confession of faith. But why isn’t it? Is it that the demon didn’t exactly say the words, “Jesus is Lord.”? Is it that the demon had faith without works?
The answer is that the demon effectively said that Jesus is the Lord but he didn’t confess Him as his Lord.
The demon knew that Jesus is the king of a kingdom, but he declined to join it. He chose to not be a member.
In fact, the demon’s words are the exact opposite of a confession of faith. They’re cleverly scripted to oppose Jesus’s agenda (by revealing His deity).
So, the first thing Jesus does is silence him.
But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” — Mark 1:25
Jesus has the power to force the demon to do His will because He’s the Lord.
And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. — Mark 1:26
But the demon clearly doesn’t want to obey because Jesus is not his lord.
Being a member of a kingdom means pledging fealty to the king.
This has always been the case for a kingdom.
Do not miss how harsh James’s point is here. He is directly comparing demons to people who have faith without works.
Don’t get me wrong; James is not saying that those folks are just as bad as demons.
He’s saying that they’re just as unsaved.
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These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. Saturdays' by Matt Richardson. Subscribe here: https://www.ailbe.org/resources/community
The weekly study guides, which include questions for discussion or meditation, are here: https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies
Scripture taken from the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.