A SAVING FAITH VRS. A SHAM FAITH – WHICH DO YOU HAVE?
The Bible teaches specifically in James chapter two that there are three kinds of faith or belief: that which is dead, that which is demonicand that which is dynamic. Some professed Christians would do well to stop, and figure out what kind of faith they have.
As to dead faith, James writes, “What doth it profit a man, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”(v. 14) The answer is, No. In verse 17, James writes, “even so faith, if it hath not works is dead.” Verse 20 says, “Faith without works is dead.” In verse 26, he reiterates: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
It has been truthfully said that, “Faith saves without works, but saving faith doesn’t stand around with its hands in its pockets.” No one earns eternal life through good works, but good works are evidence that they do possess eternal life. Ephesians 2:8,9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Verse ten expands and clarifies: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Masses of professed Christians today “stand around with their hands in their pockets.” They’ve never been baptized or joined a church, and are comfortable with, if not proud, of it. Multitudes, baptized and members of a church, never produce any good works. They’re disinclined to do so – and they don’t. This kind of faith is worthless; as dead as the proverbial doornail.
Then, there’s demonic faith; the kind that devils, and some professed Christians have. James chapter two addresses this kind of faith: “Thou believest that there is one God: thou doest well: the devils believe also and tremble” (v. 19). This describes those who have nothing more than a head faith; a belief in the historicity of Jesus Christ; the same kind of belief or faith one might have relative to George Washington or any other historical figure.
Demonic faith is merely intellectual in nature. It concedes that Jesus was Who He said He was, did what the Bible says He did, and will do what He said He would do. But this kind of belief and faith goes no further than the making of a mental concession to certain historical facts about Jesus. But this isn’t the kid of belief spoken of in Romans 10:9: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” The new birth requires the kind of faith that makes it possible for one to turn from their sin to Christ and trust in Him once and for all as their own personal Lord and Savior.
There are multitudes of professed Christians, some in pews and some in pulpits; some conscious, and some unconscious of the fact that their faith is nothing more than demonic in nature. They may do much in terms of what might be considered Christian service but it is no more spiritual in nature than the service rendered by a lodge member to his lodge.
Their “belief” and “faith” of some people is like that of devils; the only difference being that such false-professing “Christians,” either being deceived, or deceiving themselves about their true condition, do not “tremble” at with the knowledge that, like devils, they are on their way to the lake of fire.
The third category of faith the Bible describes is dynamic, living, faith; the kind that is initiated and invigorated in a person by the Holy Spirit of God. This is the kind of faith James speaks of in verse 18; the kind that can say, “
This is the kind of faith that can say, “Shew me thy faith by thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:18b). James uses Abraham, whose dynamic faith in God, allowed him to offer his son Issac as a sacrifice, which action, bore testimony to the reality of his faith in God.
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon
Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto
him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."
Abraham is an example of how a believer’s works testify to the authenticity of his faith. His faith had caused him to turn from idolatry to follow the Lord. His living, dynamic faith resulted hiss being able to be called “the Friend of God.” Abraham’s testimony corresponded to that of the believers in Thessalonica to whom Paul wrote:
“And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction,
with joy of the Holy Ghost.
So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.
For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in
every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing
For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye
turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.”
—1 Thes. 1:6-10
Large numbers of professed believers today have substituted dead or demonic faith for dynamic faith. They’ve never experienced, nor do they want to believe in, saving faith that jars the moral life or embarrasses the Adamic ego. They know nothing of an experience of faith that has impacted them like this; neither are they interested in any experience of faith that would affect them this way. They have a postmodern brand of thinking about faith that fits in comfortably with what they want to believe and how they want to behave. The Apostle. Paul's warning to members of the Church at Corinth deserves attention today as much as it did then:
"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not,
your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?"
— 1 Cor. 13:4