Summary: If we believe there is a God, our faith is no better than that of the demons. They believe God is one, and they shudder. The message explores the faith of the demons, encouraging us to have the faith of saints.
ORTHODOXY OF THE DEVIL
“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!”
Though orthopraxy is absolutely dependent upon orthodoxy, orthodoxy can be divorced from orthopraxy. Orthopraxy and orthodoxy are strange words today, seldom heard from Christian pulpits. Orthopraxy simply refers to correct practise or action. Orthodoxy speaks of correct doctrine. Let me restate the proposition in less formal language, then. Doing what is right is absolutely dependent upon believing what is correct. However, believing what is true and correct does not necessarily lead to doing what is right. James refers to this oft-neglected truth when he makes what superficially appears to be a rather controversial statement. James says that the demons believe that God is one.
With this incisive commentary on a postulated attempt to dismiss the need for faith to influence life, James insinuates that the demons are more committed to their belief than are the people of God. In fact, it is fair to say that the demonic powers have knowledge of God that exceeds that possessed by the finest among the saints. The demons know there is a God and they fear His power and are utterly terrified at the thought of facing Him.
Contained in this challenge delivered by James are truths that are essential for an effective Christian walk. Exploration of James’ strange contention will prove valuable for each of us as children of the Living God. Join me, then, in study of these truths.
ORIGIN OF THE DEMONS — Unbelief, doubts and unanswerable questions, characterise the society in which we live. We flatter ourselves that we are a scientific society, but even the science in which we place so much hope is as much venerated as are the tenets of religion. Among the doubts that prevail is denial of demonic powers. Our sophistication does not permit us to accept the existence of an unseen world, and we dare not admit that such unseen powers exist lest we expose ourselves to dismissive ridicule by our peers.
Nevertheless, the Word of God assumes the existence of malevolent beings we speak of as demons. Moreover, reflection upon the evil that continues in our world drives us to the conclusion that such powers do exist. What does the Bible say about these creatures? What was their origin? These are questions that demand an answer.
That the demons exist is assumed throughout the Bible. The identification of demonic powers is not prominent in the Old Testament, though the people of Israel were condemned for sacrificing their children to the demons [DEUTERONOMY 32:17; PSALM 106.37]. As an aside of some significance in this day which celebrates “choice,” Israel’s children were sacrificed for convenience of those slaughtering the innocent. Their actions were not unlike the actions of modern mothers who sacrifice their children for personal convenience. However, 115 times the Old Testament writers speak of idols, and behind the idols are demonic powers, as Paul acknowledges when he writes the Corinthians, cautioning against idolatry adopted via the backdoor, “What pagans sacrifice they offer to demons” [1 CORINTHIANS 10:19, 20].
In contradistinction to the Old Testament, 77 times in the New Testament, demons or demonic powers are admitted. All but ten of those statements concerning demons occur in the Gospels, and all but six of the 67 occurrences are found in the Synoptic Gospels. The ministry of the Master focused to a large extent on freeing those oppressed by demons. Peter, explaining the Lord’s ministry to Cornelius, said that Jesus “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil” [ACTS 10:38]. He acknowledged the existence of unseen, though very real forces, though he confessed that the Master had power over the demons.
In the Gospels, we read that the Master delivered those who were “oppressed by demons” [e.g. MATTHEW 4:24]. Not only did He have power over the demons, but He assigned that power to His disciples. The seventy whom He sent out were commissioned to “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, [and] cast out demons” [MATTHEW 10:8]. Then, the Master appointed 72 others to precede Him into the towns He would enter. When they returned, they were rejoicing because, “Even the demons [were] subject to [them] in [Jesus’] Name” [LUKE 10:17]. Jesus acknowledged that He had given them authority over the power of the enemy [LUKE 10:19].
That demons exist, and that they oppress people, is assumed and demonstrated throughout the Synoptic Gospels, especially. It is appropriate to demonstrate where theses beings came from. In order to explore this, we must refer back to his satanic majesty, the devil. “Satan,” whose name means “Accuser” or “Slanderer,” is also known by the Greek term, “devil.” He is a created being. At one time he was the guardian cherub, watching over the throne of God. Listen to Ezekiel as he recounts the early days of this beautiful being.