Good morning everyone!
The devotion yesterday highlighted James’ challenge to his readers to understand that their faith must be demonstrated in the way they live their lives. There must be EVIDENCE to collaborate one’s declaration of faith. That evidence supporting a person’s faith will be visible through their actions and James continue to develop this theme in verses 18 through 24.
“But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend.’”
This passage presents a stark contrast between those who “believe in God”, but their “faith” in God produces fear and causes them to become an enemy of God and those whose “belief in God” results in a relationship between “friends” – a personal one.
James is continuing to reinforce the proposition that genuine faith is demonstrated in our actions. Those receiving James’ letter would not have had access to the New Testament. Their “scripture” was the Old Testament. So, it is reasonable that James would refer to the Old Testament examples as he presents his argument. He begins his passage by drawing attention to the fact there is only ONE GOD.
That may seem obvious to a contemporary Christian but those scattered throughout the world would have found themselves in places where a multiple of Gods were recognized and worshiped.The prevailing empire was the Roman Empire and they recognized at least ten different Gods.
We know followers of Christ would have believed there was only one God. James is providing an example of those who KNEW there was only one God and yet that knowledge in one God did not result in faith IN God.
There is no question that demons KNOW there is one God. At one time, they were in heaven with God. They KNOW about His glory, His power, His righteousness, everything about His character. They have been in the PRESENCE of God. No other group knows better than demons there is one God. And yet, they continue to demonstrate their demonic actions. They don’t know anything about the peace of God. They do not LOVE God, even though they confess he is God. There are multiple instances in scripture where Jesus is rebuking demonic spirits and they acknowledge Him as the Son of God. They have full knowledge of God.
Yet scripture says they shudder. One has to wonder what “shudder” means in this context. Here is a personal example, not a good one, but it may provide some insight into what James is attempting to say. I shudder when I think about English peas. I despise English peas. Just the thought of having to eat them makes me “shudder!” In other words, I don’t want to have anything to do with English peas. They are repulsive to me. I would be content if I NEVER had to look at, smell, or taste another English pea as long as I live. I think that is what James is saying when he says the demons know there is one God, but shudder.
They don’t want to have anything to do with God…..they are His enemy AND YET THE KNOW THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD.
We believe in one God. The question is: Does that belief impact the way we live. Is it possible there are people who “shudder” when they think of God? Is it possible there are people whose first emotional response when confronted with the reality of God is fear?
What about our faith? How does our faith, YOUR FAITH, lead you to respond to the reality that there is one God.
Out of their antagonistic relationship with God, the demons do not possess the peace of God. When we consider God, does it generate a sense of peace in our lives (think about Covid-19!)?The demons do NOT love God. Therefore, their actions reveal their hatred for Him. Do our actions, through every season and situation of life reveal our love for Him.
There is a proverb that says: “Actions speak louder than words.” We may declare our love for God verbally on a daily basis. But if our actions do not support that declaration, which to you think people are going to believe – our verbal message or the message supported by our actions!
The actions of the demons provide proof they are God’s enemies. Our faith in God will be defined by our actions as well.
Tomorrow, we will look at James’ example of Abraham, whose faith confirmed he was a “friend of God.”