2017-09-21 - Belief and Faith
Originally Published 2004-02-19
James 2:19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. (NAS)
I remember the first time I read this passage years ago. I was completely stunned by the fact that the enemies of the cross would believe in God. It didn't take long to realize that God was the one who had thrown them out of Paradise and left them as outcasts for their rebellion. They had every reason to believe. And they had ever reason to shudder.
These beings were once angels living in the presence of God. They allowed themselves to be deceived by Lucifer and went to war with God. It must have been an amazing speech to get angels, created beings, to believe they could defeat their Creator. In one way, these fallen angels are not unlike the soldiers of the Spanish Conquistador Cortez. When Cortez arrived in the new world, he burned his ships. His men were severely motivated. Their only hope of survival was to act. There was no easy return trip. Likewise the enemies of the cross are equally motivated. They have no other way of enjoying Heaven for eternity unless they take it back. They wage war, both overt and covert, at every turn and in every facet.
The good news is that they are still simply created beings not unlike ourselves in that respect. The creation is not greater than its creator. The second attempt to take control of Heaven and usurp God will fail as the first attempt. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us that the enemy is like a roaring lion, seeking who he may "drink down". The lion has no teeth. His power has already been restrained. Can he and his minions not cause fear and trouble by that roaring? Certainly. In the minute we take our eyes off the Lord and focus on the lion we have a problem.
This is where the faith comes in to play. Faith and actions are inseparable according to the next few verses. If the Lord of Hosts is going to win in the end and He is our Master, then He will make us partners in His victory. We need to act and work and live like we victors. If the outcome is not in doubt, it is as good as done. Abraham believed enough to raise a knife over his son in preparation to sacrifice him. I can only think that even if the Lord had allowed Abraham to slay his son, Abraham believed that God would restore his son. That is an impressive measure of faith indeed. I imagine there are few of us ready to walk to that level. For Abraham there were many years of preparation, and probably not a few failures. In the end God knew the heart of Abraham was ready. The only one who may have been surprised by his faith in action was Abraham.
Edison was heard saying something to the effect that he had never failed. He had only had ideas that didn't work. The inventor learned from his "ideas that didn't work". In the end he had contributed to over a thousand patents and revolutionary inventions. We need only turn on a light switch to be reminded of the impact of his work. A failure is only a failure if you stop trying. In that moment the failure is completed. Abraham kept walking and learning. In the end his contribution of faith in action compares very favorably to Edison's work. The two have one striking similarity in the fact that they refused to allow their missteps and miscalculations to defeat them, be it in inventing or in faith.
Grace & Peace,
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.