As I have studied the book of James, I have come to the conclusion that we should perhaps call him the ‘Apostle of Action.’ James believed that if someone truly loved the Lord and knew Him as their Savior, they would strive to live the Christian life. Some of the classic verses from the book of James that we have studied thus far are:
James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 2:8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
James 2:17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Each of these verses indicate that James felt very strongly that true believers should seek to live lives that demonstrate Christlike character. Today we consider yet another classic verse from his important epistle.
James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
What do the demons believe about God? Do they believe that there is only one God? Yes, they have seen Him. Do they believe that Jesus is God’s Son? Yes, they have seen Him sitting at the right hand of His Father. Do they believe that Jesus died on the cross and that His tomb is now empty? Yes, they were there and they have witnessed it. In some ways we could say that demons have a very solid theology. James tells us that what they believe is so real – it causes them to tremble. Consider this account from the gospel of Mark.
Mark 5:2 And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit… 6 And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. 7 And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8 For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”
Notice how the demons feared Jesus and confessed that He was the Son of God. They understood that He is Lord and that in the end He will judge them for their disobedience. (see Matthew 25:41; Revelation 2:10) Yet in all of this, there is nothing in scripture that indicates that they have ever repented of their sin and turned back to God. They have faith, yet their faith has not changed them. Or, to put it in the thoughts of James, their faith is dead and useless. It is only head knowledge and not true saving faith.
As we close today we must remember that James’ original intent was not to talk about the salvation of demons, but rather the salvation of men. No doubt James realized even in his day that there were some who professed Christ with their mouth, yet did not possess Him in their heart.