A Wisdom Retreat - April 28

The Devil’s Theology

James 2:19
You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.

Has it ever occurred to you that demons are good theologians? Think about it:

  • Demons don’t debate who created the universe. They were there, singing praise to God with the rest of creation (Job 38; Colossians 1).
  • Demons don’t question the historicity of the Resurrection. They were there to witness the scene!
  • Demons don’t question if the Bible has recorded the truth. In fact, they evidently know biblical prophecy so well that they asked Christ in Mark 5, “Have you come to torment us before our time?”
  • Demons don’t debate that Christ is the Son of God. In Mark 3, we hear them affirm that, loud and clear.

So demons can check off all the theological boxes with perfect precision. They would beat our best theologians in a game of Bible Trivia. They know all the facts; but that’s all it is to them—facts.

You see, demonic faith is recognition without relationship; it’s acknowledgement without acceptance; it’s reverence without repentance.

James is, effectively, asking his readers the probing question, “What distinguishes your faith from that of demons?”

There must have been a lot of fidgeting in the pews when these words were read. Remember that James’ audience is primarily made up of committed Jews—not half-hearted Gentiles. These Jews prayed a prayer every morning and evening known as the Shema: “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4).

This affirmation of monotheism is what separated them from their polytheistic and pluralistic Gentile neighbors. It was their creed: they believed that only one true God existed, and that fact would guarantee them a place in Paradise.

But James only quotes half of the Shema. The second half included: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

So what James is revealing to his audience is that there is a difference between recognizing the facts about God’s existence and actually loving Him. It’s possible to affirm His existence without giving Him your existence.

It’s time for us to come to grips with James’ message and start practicing what we are preaching! Stop mentally checking off the boxes of basic truths regarding Christianity, and pursue the person of Jesus Christ in a living, personal way.

There is a difference between carrying your cross as a Christian and wearing one around your neck.

What will your response to the Gospel be today?

Demons believe and shudder. They believe and have an emotional reaction! But they don’t get past facts and feelings.

Will you believe and act? Don’t heed the popular voices of culture and mainstream Christianity. Martin Luther, the Reformer, said in the sixteenth century, “The devil knows the truth, but he remains the devil.”

Good theology isn’t just believing facts; it’s about following Jesus Christ personally . . . and then behaving accordingly.

Prayer Point: Is there a bit of “demonic” faith in your life? Is there some aspect of truth you believe but aren’t practicing? Confess it to Christ today and then pray for courage and conviction to change.

Extra Refreshment: In Revelation 3 Christ sends two different messages to two very different churches. One has “demonic” faith and the other has vibrant, active faith. As you read it, ask yourself where you fit in this chapter.

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