Do You Believe Like a Demon?

airplane-no-parachute-2There are many people today that have come to the conclusion that because they believe in Jesus, their actions don’t matter. They live in ways that are completely contrary to what the Bible teaches and think they will live in God’s kingdom for eternity. There are well known ministers who initiate or reinforce this misconception. Unfortunately, those who embrace this path will find it doesn’t lead to the Kingdom of God but rather to destruction. This belief system is based on a distorted understanding of what faith is.

It has always been a common belief that people could gain God’s acceptance through their actions. Many religions and rituals developed from this belief. It probably reached its’ highest level of perversion when societies began sacrificing their children to please some deity. The idea of working our way into God’s favor tried to creep into Christianity almost from the beginning and many of the letters to the church in the New Testament address this malady. In the 16th century, the reformer Martin Luther began to resist the Roman Catholic Churches practices of redemption through works by teaching that people can only be redeemed by faith in Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8-9 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast.

Humans have a strong tendency to swing from one extreme to another and today it seems that some have reached the pinnacle of the swing from Salvation through works to actions are unimportant by reducing the concept of faith to simple belief. The Bible strongly states that our works do indicate our final destination. Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. If we removed everything in the Bible that speaks about the importance and consequences of our actions, we would have a very thin book indeed.

The error in this thinking is mainly due to equating faith with belief. It only takes a little examination to realize that they are not the same. Most of us believe that a man can wear a parachute while jumping from an airplane and survive undamaged. We have seen it done on TV or at air shows. However, if we ask those same people to demonstrate their belief, the percentage of volunteers would be low. Many people believe parachutes work but few have faith enough to test them. We can easily apply this test in many areas of our lives and quickly see that belief is less than faith. As we have seen faith begins with belief but adds a component of trust. Without trust belief remains a theoretical idea. There is one more component to real faith that we see in the parachute illustration. Faith is only completed through action. We only have true faith in the parachute at the moment we jump from the plane.  

Many people believe that Jesus lived. Some believe that He was sent by God and some of those believe He was the Son of God. Some people believe He died on a cross and paid the price for their sins. A number of us believe that He rose from the dead, will raise us from the dead and is retuning to rule the earth. This is a good place to start but until we begin to trust him with our lives we do not have faith. John Wesley was an influential minister of the 18th century. He was known for his dedication to spreading the gospel and his sacrifices to live godly. After he had been ministering for many years he came to America by ship. During the voyage a great storm arose. He along with most of the other passengers was terrified but a small group of Moravian families remained unafraid. Instead of trembling in fear, they sang hymns. This had a great impact on Wesley and when he asked why they were so fearless they responded that they had eternal life. Why should they be frightened? Wesley realized that while he believed in Christ, his faith was lacking and this lead to his salvation experience.

Until our belief develops into a trust in God our actions will always fall short of God’s standards. When we are in trouble, we will lie instead of depending on God’s help. When we lack, we will take from someone else rather than wait for God’s provision. When we are lonely we will turn to anything or anyone who will ease the pain momentarily instead of turning to the one who loves us unconditionally. Our actions will always truly show what we believe and whom we trust. Are actions are very important as we can see from the following scripture in James.

James 2:14-26 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can his faith save him?

 If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.

 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe—and they shudder.

 Foolish man! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless? Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was perfected. So the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness, and he was called God’s friend. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by a different route? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

Faith is a not an idea or concept that exists in our head. Rather it is a process that begins with belief, moves into trust and is completed through action. Just as a baby is conceived in the womb, grows for nine months and finally is delivered into the world, faith begins internally as a belief, grows into trust and is finally birthed into the world as action. If that process is aborted it results in death. Our actions are the only true gage of our faith. We must use them to determine where we are and ask God to change us appropriately. We will talk more about that in the next article.

All scriptures are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.

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