James is effectively saying, you can fill in the blank with whatever. Do you believe in a literal heaven? Yes, I do. Well, the demons do too.
They used to live there. Has it ever occurred to you that hell will one day be filled with monotheists? That's the shocking news of James' word to the first century Jew. Wait, I got the Shema down. So what? It can be just words without any meaning.
You can just be a really good ceremonial deal. Christianity is more than an intellectual pursuit. Even demons know things to be true. It's possible to know true doctrine intellectually and still not respond to Christ in faith. Would it help you to know more about the distinction? Stay with us because today on Wisdom for the Heart, Stephen Davey continues his series entitled, Faith Works.
This series comes from the book of James. Stephen will help you understand how to better live out your faith practically in this lesson called, More Than a Motto. You can say, in God we trust, but not trust him. You can repeat one nation under God, but your life not be under the authority of God.
I can't think, frankly, friends, of a better, more descriptive phrase for the average guy on the street today than this phrase. Just read the polls, even recent ones. Eighty percent of the people in this country believe in the existence of a supreme being.
Just don't obligate them to him. They want to be able to mention God, but they really don't want to buy into him. They prefer to remain ceremonial deists. Now do you think this is a new strategy for the enemy as it relates to the gospel of Christ? Do you think this is something new that the enemy has come up with? Some kind of new tactic or strategy to launch against the truth that the church embraces as the gospel? Do you think that a religion of spiritual words apart from the reality of spiritual life is really all that new? Have you been reading James lately? Yeah, I read it last week.
Well, pull it out. Let's read a little bit more today. In chapter two of James Epistle, he has introduced to us, and we've been working through these, three different kinds of faith.
Two of them are useless. One of them is the genuine item. And if you were with us in our last session, he began in verse 14 of James chapter two by describing what we called by way of outline dead faith. And we defined that kind of faith with what James revealed to us as a faith of words without works. James, you remember, took us into a worship setting. It was a worship service going on in verse 15. He showed us the super spiritual reaction of Christians to a brother and a sister who were destitute and in great need. In fact, they were hungry. Their clothing was so thin that James used a word that could be used of a person who had no clothing at all.
They were terribly destitute and in need. And at the end of the service, the believers said to them, God bless you. God bless you. Go in peace now.
Go get some warm clothing on and you want to get yourself something to eat. Their unbelievable indifference became the illustration for James of a faith that was absolutely useless. He would deliver to us the news that Christianity is a show and tell proposition.
But for this assembly, it was simply telling, but not showing. And James comes to the end of this particular description, this particular faith, dead faith, and says, don't kid yourselves. You need to understand that faith that does not work is a faith that doesn't work. Now James moves on to show us another kind of faith, which we will call demonic faith. And you could categorically define this faith as ceremonial deism.
That is, it's all words, but the words have no meaning. Dead faith is words without any kind of works. Demonic faith is words, but it's just a creed. It's not really living faith. Now, as we examine these faiths and today this particular kind of faith, James will give us at least three specific characteristics.
I'll give you the first one and then we'll look at the text. The first characteristic of demonic faith is this. It is recognition without a relationship. Look at verse 19. You believe that God is one.
You do well. The demons also believe and shudder. In other words, believing that God is one. You could understand this phrase to be saying that you believe there is only one true and living God. James effectively says, so what?
The demons believe that too. Now, what might be easy to miss is James expression here at the beginning of verse 19 that would have been immediately recognized by his Jewish audience. You remember, James is writing to the Jews of the diaspora, that is, the dispersion. They have been, because of the emperor's decree, they've been exiled. They have scattered to the four winds.
They've gone to the far reaches of the Roman Empire and they're living in difficult straits with great need. And James is writing primarily to Jewish believers, but even the unbelieving Jews present would immediately hear in this statement something that would grab them by the collar of the tunic, so to speak. See, every God-fearing Jew quoted a prayer in the morning and in the evening, a prayer known as the Shema. It's taken from Deuteronomy chapter 6, beginning at verse 4. The words of that text begin with the Hebrew verb Shema, and from that we get the name of the prayer.
And the verb simply means to hear, to hear. The opening six words in the Hebrew language of verse 4 are oftentimes the first words a Jewish child, to this day, is taught to memorize and to quote. In fact, it has become the central motto and has for centuries of the Jewish faith.
Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad. Hear Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one. Every morning and every evening, the faithful Jew prayed that prayer. You see, this was the monotheism that separated them from the polytheism, the many gods. This prayer was their creed.
It separated them from the pagans. Many would believe this guaranteed for them paradise. You could understand this statement to simply mean there aren't any other gods out there but you, Adonai, Elohim. You are the only true and living God. That, by the way, is a great statement of faith.
It would become a wonderful national anthem. It was a motto worth sinking your teeth into, something to believe in. What James does here, though, with inspired precision is he leaves out the rest of the Shema because the very next phrase in Deuteronomy 6 verse 5 says, oh, and by the way, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. He's saying there's a difference between recognizing the truth about God's existence and loving him. You can recognize he exists without having a relationship with him. You can say that he exists without ever giving your heart and life to him.
What James is saying here is that the Jewish repetition of the Shema was nothing more than ceremonial deism, words without meaning, recognition without a relationship. Their world, by the way, and ours are filled with people who will recognize on the street that God exists. They can say the creed.
It isn't that they would deny anything, but it hasn't become a part of their life. James would say that happens to be nothing more than demonic faith to come face to face with the truth here that demons are not atheists. There's no such thing as an atheistic demon. There's no such thing as an agnostic demon. I mean, they don't sit around and debate, I wonder how we got here.
I wonder how many billions of years it took to get from the soup to who I am. No, because Job 38 says they were created first, then the universe. And while God the Son, Colossians 1, was creating all there is, they sang to his glory in their unfallen state, the entire angelic host. They're not sitting around debating the meaning of the crucifixion. They're not debating whether or not Jesus Christ, either physically or mystically, just the Christ spirit rose from the dead.
They howled in defeat at that scene. A demon never wonders if the Bible is telling the truth. They're evidently aware and they buy into the fact that judgment's coming.
They've read the end of it too. You see, the devil and his demons are astute theologians. But it's nothing more than the repetition of words because for them it has no personal meaning. It's just like a motto, printed on your money, that says in God we trust.
So what? Demonic faith can quote the words. In fact, just about everybody I've ever talked to about the gospel believes in heaven.
They assume they're going. Truth be told, they could go to heaven with or without Christ. In fact, they'd really rather have heaven without him because they wouldn't be sure what to do with him for all eternity. Since they had nothing to do with him on earth, what in the world are they going to do with him in heaven? Recognition without a relationship.
Acknowledgement without acceptance. Thirdly, demonic faith is reverence without repentance. Go back to verse 19. It's the only verse we're going to look at today.
You probably figured that out by now, but look at it. Again, the Christians also believe and they what? They shudder, they tremble. They actually have an emotional reaction. It moves them.
It isn't just intellectual assent. They actually feel something. They tremble. They shudder. It's the word friso. It gives us our word fuzzy or frizzy. You won't believe this, by the way, but one commentator actually said this verb literally means to bristle like a cat.
Right there in the Bible. I was visiting a guy, in fact, this past week in a hospital, told me about one late night experience. You know, people talk to me about this kind of thing now.
And a cat appeared at his patio door. True story. Not that my other ones are not true. Don't you hate it when somebody's talking to you and they say, well, now to be honest with you and you think, well, was he not honest before?
This is true. And he said it was late, cold, storming, about 10 o'clock at night. And he thought, oh, the neighbor's cat's gotten into my yard. He called his neighbor. The lady answered the phone and said, it's not my cat.
Must be the neighbor on the other side. Why don't you call her? He said, I don't have the phone number. And the lady said to him, well, why don't you just let him into your house for the night?
And he said, no. She said, well, bring it over to my house and I'll take care of it until the morning. So he got on his coat, in his gloves, opened the patio door, went out on the deck, reached down, kind of, you know, scrubbed up the cat's head, seemed to like that. He picked up the cat. Seemed to be okay purring away. But as soon as he turned and walked down the steps, that cat bristled up.
And sure enough, went after his hand to bite him. And he went to get a little better hold on the cat to gain control. And the cat bit down again and literally went right through the glove. He let go of the cat.
It ran off. He went inside, pulled off his glove. And he said, one tooth of that cat had just broken into the skin with a little pinprick. Within an hour, he noticed it was red all around the knuckle. He called his doctor, get some antibiotics. He said, I'll pick him up in the morning.
So he'll be fine. And he watched. And an hour later, it was spreading. He went to bed, woke up a couple hours later in pain, one or two o'clock in the morning. Called his doctor again.
It had spread. The doctor said, go to the emergency room right away. And that could make you even more sick. You've been there, I'm sure. Even though the emergency room was full.
Imagine, two o'clock in the morning. They took one look at him, immediately took him back, hooked him up to an IV with antibiotics. Doctor came in, took a look at that. And he said, you've got a really serious thing going on right here. He said, in fact, we've got to watch this because if it spreads and it comes around to the other side, you might very well lose your hand. They got control of it.
A week later, he was able to go home. Now, I don't know why I told you that story. But I do think the word picture is helpful. You mentioned the person of God and the demon bristles. I mean, that's it. There it is.
All right, back to this here. The word carries the idea also of fright. In fact, the word in the noun form is the word freaky, which gives us our word freaky, which is transliterated. The way you tense up at a scary part of some show or movie that just happens to scare you. It's a word we use for something strangely eerie. It's frightening. The thought of God literally freaks out the demons. The tense of the verb is really interesting.
It's a tense that indicates they are consistently in this state. They are consistently in fear of God. That's why we'll learn later, James says, you want to get rid of the devil, draw near to God. They shudder at the truth of their own future. It makes them bristle up with horror, the truth of Christ's sovereignty, the truth of Christ's person and his power, makes them ready to strike. In fact, that's why they're always after you and me. See, you live for God.
You go through the day with his name on your lips and in your heart and mind you're asking for a fight. But just know they are afraid of them. But even though they are afraid of them, they will not surrender to him. They will not turn around and repent. Those individuals today who are filled with demonic faith are likewise in awe of God, perhaps in fearful reverence of him. They might even have a little bit of an emotional response in a church service. But they will choose their own lives and their own will and their own sin and they will refuse to repent. They might be afraid of standing before God but that never moves them over the edge.
They still will not surrender to God. That's demonic faith. Many people that I've talked to believe in God like I believe in Julius Caesar. I believe in the existence of that emperor.
In fact, I've read biographies of all the Roman emperors. I've stood at the coast of France. They're at the Mediterranean and I've stood in amazement at this massive stone monument built by Julius Caesar when he conquered the Gauls and etched into the face of that monument in the Latin is a description of his glory.
It's still supported on massive marble pillars and I don't deny that. But I have never nor would these Jewish believers ever bend their knee and say Caesar is Lord. Those with with demonic faith will not do that to Christ.
Have you those who worship so to speak with demonic faith will acknowledge historical facts about God and Christ and heaven and hell and the Bible and church will get all their facts straight. But they will not bend their knee. They will not hand over their lives. They will not say Jesus Christ is Lord. They may reverence Jesus Christ the son of God to a certain point but they'll not repent and desire to please them. You see people with demonic faith want a little touch of spirituality without surrender. In fact I believe demonic faith is the underpinnings of of ceremonial deism.
It exists in every generation and here on this planet it exists all around the world. People who want a God but they don't want any obligation to God. They want God especially in our culture but they don't want the demands of godliness. They want a life without limits.
They want to live in heaven but if he's not there that would be fine because they live their lives on earth without him to demonic faith is recognition without a relationship. It is acknowledgement without acceptance. It is reverence without repentance. It's the repetition of words without any personal meaning attached to them.
I can say the Lord's Prayer like I can recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Meaningless platitudes printed on my currency. Ceremonial deism one Supreme Court Justice rightly observed. It's words without any real religious meaning. Just say the Creed.
Get your boxes checked. I received two emails in the last 48 hours that have been thrilling. One came from a listener who said she was driving down the road and just happened to tune in and hear the message on the conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus and she a new believer said I was blown away and something inside me clicked.
She goes on to describe in her words what amounted to being reborn. Another email came from a gentleman who made an appointment with me a few days ago to talk about my conviction regarding the existence of God and my relationship with God. And he said to me in my study I wish I had the same conviction as you did.
This successful businessman was raised in the church but he knew he didn't have spiritual life when I explained the gospel to him he knew at the end of it. He said I've never placed my faith in Christ and I said you need to simply receive him. And he said I know but I'm not ready.
So will you go home and you think about it. He emailed me a couple of days ago he's out of town. He said I'm going to be back in town in a few weeks but I am ready now to receive the Lord. And I wrote him back and I said don't wait for me.
Don't wait two weeks or two days. You know what I love about both of those individuals. They really didn't know the language. They didn't have the vocabulary. They don't know their way around the New Testament. They truth be told that they really have a hard time explaining where they are and what they've done. But they have genuine faith and spiritual life. You know what our problem is in this culture is it's possible to grow up in church and know how to repeat the Lord's Prayer but not belong to the Lord. It's possible to cite a few of the Ten Commandments but never repent of being a sinner in desperate need of a savior. It's possible to check all the boxes off and say I believe that God exists. I believe that Jesus is the son of God.
I believe that heaven is a real place and hell is too and I believe the Bible is God's word. Listen my friend listen to me very carefully. You can say all of that and go to hell forever. That's what James was saying. Quote the prayer. The demons can too. In fact it kind of works them up.
So what do I do? When Paul and Silas were in jail and that earthquake occurred and their chains fell off and God was setting up a wonderful awakening for those men. The jailer had heard Paul preaching.
No doubt he heard. In fact the text reveals to us that Paul and Silas were singing at midnight. Praise the God. Then the earthquake occurs. The chains fall off. And instead of fleeing they wait. The jailer rushes in believing that they've all escaped because why would anybody hang around. And he knew that if they escaped that'd be his life.
And so he decided to just skip the whole court process and fall on his sword before he could. Paul said don't we're all here completely blew his mind. He came in and he fell down before them and he said men what must I do to be saved.
Can you sum it up in a sentence. And Paul said believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. Believe in that little preposition epi is weighted. It means to move toward and to place your faith upon. It means to move toward and rest entirely upon not just to believe that Jesus exists. The devil believes that not just to believe that Jesus died on the cross.
The devil believes that. But you move toward him in faith and with a heart of faith and repentance and you rest upon him alone for your salvation and you will be saved. You have to join the church. You don't have to memorize scripture you don't have to give money to anybody you don't have to be baptized all wonderful things that might be evidences of someone who in fact does belong to him.
But you don't do that prior to you do that afterward. It's living faith that now works. You see this is this movement toward and this rest upon is something a demon will never ever do. It's an invitation in fact confirmed in his unholy state he cannot accept but it is an invitation you can accept to rest entirely upon Christ for salvation. That kind of faith ladies and gentlemen moves you past merely recognizing him and receiving him saying I want a relationship with you.
It moves beyond just acknowledgement into acceptance and with that comes the acceptance of everything he is even his claim over your life. I hope this time in God's word has helped you. This lesson is called More Than a Motto.
It comes from Stephen's series called Faith Works. In addition to equipping you with these daily Bible lessons we also have a magazine that we publish. Stephen deals with a different topic each month and helps you better understand what the Bible says and how it applies directly to your life. The magazine also has a daily devotional guide that you can use to remain grounded in God's word every day. We offer three complimentary issues to anyone who calls and asks. If you haven't seen Heart to Heart magazine give us a call today. Our number is 866-48-BIBLE. You can also sign up at wisdomonline.org. Do that right now then join us next time for more wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-09 11:50:57 / 2023-03-09 12:00:19 / 9