And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” – Mark 3:11
Large crowds often followed Jesus as a result of healings that people received. Some of these healings included the release from demonic or unclean spirits. Here in his gospel, Mark records that these spirits would cry out truths about who Jesus was.
Also, in Matthew 8:29 we also see demons crying out from within possessed men: “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?”
It would seem, then, that at least in some respect demons and unclean spirits have good theology and faith in Jesus, but this didn’t stave off their condemnation. James spoke to this issue in his letter. He wrote, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder” (James 2:19). This is in James’ larger teaching on the role of faith and works.
This is what we find consistently taught through the Bible: We are saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. As James wrote, “Faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:26).
What set the faith of the demons apart from those who have faith in Jesus that saves is the works that the faith produces. The demons believed right things about Jesus, but their works set them against the Kingdom of God. People who have a faith that saves have good works that flow from their faith which demonstrate a growing love for Jesus and his Kingdom.
Simply put, if we say that we believe in Jesus but we’re known more for a dislike of people than love, for bitterness more than a joy, for meanness more than kindness, for conflict more than peace, for a lack of control more than self-control, for impatience more than patience, etc., then we have grounds to ask: Is our faith really better than that of the demons?
True belief in Jesus manifests itself in practical love for God and others. How is the fruit of your faith?
New posts in this series will appear most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.