Faith: Fake or Genuine
You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? James 2:19-20 NLT
It is important to emphasize that salvation is through the redemption obtained by the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ at the cross. This is why we place our faith in Christ because of what He accomplished on our behalf. But this faith will produce deeds that will magnify and reflect the existence of our relationship with God. James’ original audiences are Jewish converts to Christianity. And because of their background, they are very familiar with “Shema,” the confession of faith: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4 NIV). James commends such faith. But the problem is when such belief is just a mental assent that only settles in the existence of God. James says that such belief is problematic for “Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.” The demons believe in the existence of God, His deity, and that Jesus is the Son of God. “And whenever those possessed by evil spirits caught sight of him, the spirits would throw them to the ground in front of him shrieking, “You are the Son of God!” (James 3:11). The evil spirits believe that Jesus is the Judge who has the power to send them away. “Then the evil spirits begged him again and again not to send them to some distant place” (Mark 5:10). The demons believe in the place of torment. “And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss” (Luke 8:31 NIV). Just like what James said, the demons have the knowledge of the existence of God and they “tremble in terror” about what they know about Him. But their belief will not lead them to salvation. A person can be enlightened about the things of God and be enamored about it and yet still be lost for eternity. True salvation is more than a mental assent; it is a change of life manifested in attitudes and behaviors. It is not just nodding in agreement and propositions about God and will not be affected by such knowledge. “I will show you my faith by my good deeds” (James 2:18). Faith must be demonstrated in our lives. “By their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:16).