A Person is Justified by Works - (James 2:14-26)

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WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "œGo in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, "œYou have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe"”and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, "œAbraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness""”and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

What is James saying?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "œGo in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, "œYou have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe"”and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, "œAbraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness""”and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
He is saying that:
1. We are not justified by merely saying that we have faith.

2. Faith that saves (true faith) demonstrates itself by its fruit. Put another way, bad trees can only produce bad fruit. Paul, in Gal 5, compares the fruit that comes from the flesh with the fruit that comes from the Spirit. It is not that the production of fruit makes one a good tree; rather, good fruit comes from good trees.

3. Above faith by itself or faith without works, as James calls it, is in reference to the person who says he has faith but there is no evidence of that faith. The statement stands alone as his only evidence. The person wants you to accept the statement "But I believe in Jesus..." even though his life bears absolutely no evidence of it. He wants you to accept him as a good tree when all his fruit is "bad tree" fruit. His confession is false. He has not the faith that can save.

[Edited on 5-2-2006 by SemperFideles]
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by WrittenFromUtopia

What is James saying?
It is interesting that Augustine, while commenting on this passage, repeatedly insisted that Paul and James are not contradicting one another, but that James is contrasting a dead faith (the faith of demons) with a true and living faith. He even states that good works are the fruit of true faith.

Quotes supplied on request.

DTK
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
Here are the Augustine commentaries on this passage I've collected in my notes...

Augustine (354-430): I confess I would perfer [sic] to hear more intelligent and learned men on the subject, who would explain it in such a way that all those things which I have mentioned above, and the rest that I have not mentioned to which Scripture clearly testifies, would remain true and constant"”that faith is of no profit unless it be that which the Apostle defines; namely, "˜which works through charity´;... Fathers of the Church, Vol. 16, Saint Augustine "“ The Eight Questions of Dulcitius, Question #1 (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1953), p. 433.

Augustine (354-430): That faith of demons, since even they believed and trembled and confessed Jesus to be the Son of God, cannot be accepted as a foundation. Why not, unless it is a faith which does not work through love, but is expressed through fear? So, the faith of Christ, the faith of Christian grace, that faith, namely, which works through love, laid on the foundation, allows no one to be lost. Fathers of the Church, Vol. 16, Saint Augustine "“ The Eight Questions of Dulcitius, Question #1 (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1953), p. 434.

Augustine (354-430): Thus, whether men suffer those misfortunes only in this life, or whether after this life as well certain such judgments follow, in my opinion that interpretation of the Apostle´s teaching is not inconsistent with the reasoning of truth. Nevertheless, even if another interpretation which does not occur to me ought to be chosen, as long as we hold this, to the unjust, to the disobedient, to the wicked, to the corrupt, to parricides, to matricides, to homicides, to fornicators, to sodomites, to oppressors, to liars, to perjurers, we are not compelled to say the following or anything else that opposes sound teaching, which is according to the Gospel of the glory of the Blessed Lord: "˜If only you believe in Christ and receive the sacrament of His baptism, even if you do not change that utterly wicked life of yours, you will be saved.´
So, then, the woman of Canaan does not prescribe for us, since the Lord gave her what she wanted, saying first: "˜It is not good to take the bread of the children and cast it to the dogs;´ that searcher of hearts saw that the woman had changed when she praised Him and so He did not say: "˜O dog, great is they faith,´ but: "˜O woman, great is thy faith.´ He changed the name because he saw the changed love, and he knew that that reproach had borne fruit. But, I wonder whether He would have praised faith in her without works, specifically, faith"”not the kind that could presently have worked through love, but dead faith and that which James did not hesitate at all to call the faith not of Christians but of devils. Fathers of the Church, Vol. 16, Saint Augustine "“ The Eight Questions of Dulcitius, Question #1 (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1953), p. 437.

Augustine (354-430): For the faith that saves is not the faith which the devils have and which is correctly called a dead faith, but the faith which works by charity. Gregory J. Lombardo, C.S.C., S.T.D., trans., St. Augustine On Faith and Works, 16.30 (New York: Newman Press, 1988), p. 37.

Augustine (354-430): However, it can be truthfully said that the commandments of God pertain only to faith, provided that the faith which is meant is not a dead faith but that living faith which works through love. Gregory J. Lombardo, C.S.C., S.T.D., trans., St. Augustine On Faith and Works, 22.40 (New York: Newman Press, 1988), p. 46.
Latin text: licet recte dici possit ad solam fidem pertinere Dei mandata, si non mortua, sed viva illa intelligatur fides, quae per dilectionem operatur. De Fide Et Operibus, Caput XXII, PL 40:223.

Same quote as above, different translation...
Augustine (354-430): Although it can be said that God´s commandments pertain to faith alone, if it is not a dead [faith], but rather understood as that live faith, which works through love. See Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., Romans, A New Translation with introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Bible Series (New York: Doubleday, 1993), p. 361.

Augustine (354-430): So our faith has to be distinguished from the faith of the demons. Our faith, you see, purifies the heart, their faith makes them guilty. They act wickedly, and so they say to the Lord, What have you to do with us? When you hear the demons saying this, do you imagine they don't recognize him? We know who you are, they say. You are the Son of God (Lk 4:34). Peter says this and he is praised for it;" 15 the demon says it, and is condemned. Why's that, if not because the words may be the same, but the heart is very different? So let us distinguish our faith, and see that believing is not enough. That's not the sort of faith that purifies the heart. Purifying their hearts, it says, by faith. But which faith, what sort of faith? The one, surely, which the apostle Paul defines when he says Faith which works through love (Gal 5:6) This faith is different from the faith of demons, different from the morals of dissolute and desperate men. Faith, he says. "œWhich faith?" The one which works through love, hopes for what God promises. You couldn't have a more perfect, a more carefully thought-out definition than that. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., WSA, Sermons, Part 3, Vol. 3, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., Sermon 53.11 (Brooklyn: New City Press, 1991), p. 71.

Augustine (354-430): Such, you see, is the faith of the faithful; it mustn't be the same as the faith of demons, because the demons too believe, and tremble. So the faith to be admired, the true faith of grace, is the sort that works through love. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., WSA, Sermons, Part 3, Vol. 5, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., Sermon 156.5 (New Rochelle: New City Press, 1992), p. 99.

Augustine (354-430): What we believe by, after all, is faith. But it should be the faith of Christians, not of demons; because, as the apostle James says, The demons too believe, and tremble (Jas 2:19). The demons too said to Christ, You are the Son of God (Mk 3:11). Demons confessed what men would not believe; they trembled at him, while these killed him. I mean, so what, just because the demons said, You are the Son of God, we know who you are (Mk 1:24)? Does that mean they are going to reign with the Son of God? Perish the thought!
So the faith of demons is to be distinguished from the faith of the saints. Certainly to be distinguished with all care and alertness. You see, Peter too said the same thing to the Lord when he asked, Who do you say that I am? You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. And the Lord answered, Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jona (Mt 16:15-17). "œO Lord, the demons said the same thing to you; why aren't they blessed?"
"œWhy not? Because the demons said this out of fear, Peter out of love." John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., WSA, Sermons, Part 3, Vol. 5, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., Sermon 168.2 (New Rochelle: New City Press, 1992), p. 217.

Augustine (354-430): But I must tell your graces that all bad Catholics too confess in words that Christ has come in the flesh; but by their deeds they deny it. So don't be too smug, so to say, and self-assured about the faith. Join an upright life to right faith, so that you may confess that Christ has come in the flesh, both by speaking the truth in words and by living a good life in deeds. Because if you confess it in words and deny it by deeds"”the faith of such bad people is practically the same as the faith of demons. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., WSA, Sermons, Part 3, Vol. 5, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., Sermon 183.13 (New Rochelle: New City Press, 1992), pp. 342-343.

Augustine (354-430): Not so our father Abraham. This passage of scripture is meant to draw our attention to the difference. We confess that the holy patriarch was pleasing to God; this is what our faith affirms about him. So true is it that we can declare and be certain that he did have grounds for pride before God, and this is what the apostle tells us. It is quite certain, he says, and we know it for sure, that Abraham has grounds for pride before God. But if he had been justified by works, he would have had grounds for pride, but not before God. However, since we know he does have grounds for pride before God, it follows that he was not justified on the basis of works. So if Abraham was not justified by works, how was he justified?" The apostle goes on to tell us how: What does scripture say? (that is, about how Abraham was justified). Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness (Rom 4:3; Gn 15:6). Abraham, then, was justified by faith. Paul and James do not contradict each other: good works follow justification
3. Now when you hear this statement, that justification comes not from works, but by faith, remember the abyss of which I spoke earlier. You see that Abraham was justified not by what he did, but by his faith: all right then, so I can do whatever I like, because even though I have no good works to show, but simply believe in God, that is reckoned to me as righteousness? Anyone who has said this and has decided on it as a policy has already fallen in and sunk; anyone who is still considering it and hesitating is in mortal danger. But God's scripture, truly understood, not only safeguards an endangered person, but even hauls up a drowned one from the deep.
My advice is, on the face of it, a contradiction of what the apostle says; what I have to say about Abraham is what we find in the letter of another apostle, who set out to correct people who had misunderstood Paul. James in his letter opposed those who would not act rightly but relied on faith alone; and so he reminded them of the good works of this same Abraham whose faith was commended by Paul. The two apostles are not contradicting each other. James dwells on an action performed by Abraham that we all know about: he offered his son to God as a sacrifice. That is a great work, but it proceeded from faith. I have nothing but praise for the superstructure of action, but I see the foundation of faith; I admire the good work as a fruit, but I recognize that it springs from the root of faith. If Abraham had done it without right faith it would have profited him nothing, however noble the work was. On the other hand, if Abraham had been so complacent in his faith that, on hearing God's command to offer his son as a sacrificial victim, he had said to himself, "œNo, I won't. But I believe that God will set me free, even if I ignore his orders," his faith would have been a dead faith because it did not issue in right action, and it would have remained a barren, dried-up root that never produced fruit.
4. What are we to make of this? That no good actions take precedence of faith, in the sense that no one can be said to have performed good works before believing? Yes, that's right, because although people may claim to perform good works before faith, works that seem praiseworthy to onlookers, such works are vacuous. They look to me like someone running with great power and at high speed, but off course. This is why no one should reckon actions performed before belief as good; where there was no faith, there was no good action either. It is the intention that makes an action good, and the intention is directed by faith. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., WSA, Part 3, Vol. 15, trans. Maria Boulding, O.S.B., Expositions of the Psalms 1-32, Exposition 2 of Psalm 31, §2-4 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2000), pp. 364-365.

In confronting Roman Catholics with this distinction between a dead faith and a living faith in James, I have yet to meet one who was willing to admit any such distinction between two kinds of faith, even when shown this Augustinian precedence. And more than one has insisted that I have misunderstood Augustine regarding this distinction. When such folk deny the obvious, one tends to lose any sense of credibility in anything further they have to say.

DTK
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by DTK
Originally posted by WrittenFromUtopia

What is James saying?
It is interesting that Augustine, while commenting on this passage, repeatedly insisted that Paul and James are not contradicting one another, but that James is contrasting a dead faith (the faith of demons) with a true and living faith. He even states that good works are the fruit of true faith.

Quotes supplied on request.

DTK

I'd like to read any quotes you have on this passage, if you don't mind, Rev. King. I'm glad Aurelius didn't see Paul and James contradicting one another ... anyone who does is "out to lunch" in my humble opinion.
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
Considering that Abraham is the example of both James and Paul... there is no way James is speaking of Justification in the sense of forensic declaration. As Paul says, we are justified by faith apart from works, and on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ.

For James, using Abraham's example, justification can't be this forensic declaration in the same sense, as Abraham was already justified by FAITH alone in Genesis several chapters before the situation with Isaac. You can't be justified twice...
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Good point. At the very least, Paul spends much more time explaining very clearly and unequivocally, using multiple analogies, in multiple epistles that justification is by faith. It really takes a dark heart to come to James and develop a doctrine of justification that mixes faith and works from such a short passage and then re-interpret everything Paul says in the light of a flawed understanding of James.
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
The more I read about this, the more apparent it is that the example of Abraham is KEY in interpreting James properly.

Abraham was justified and counted righteous in Christ by FAITH ALONE, his BELIEF alone.

That belief was justified (by God) by his works/deeds, in that he was willing to give up his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God on the mountain.

If this is the example James gives, it would be quite irrational to assume he is speaking of initial/forensic/delcarative Justification by Works, as Abraham was already counted righteous by faith/belief (cf. Gen 15).
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by WrittenFromUtopia
For James, using Abraham's example, justification can't be this forensic declaration in the same sense, as Abraham was already justified by FAITH alone in Genesis several chapters before the situation with Isaac. You can't be justified twice...
I am inclined to agree. But there is a tension here with which we have to wrestle, and come down on the right side of the issue, if we are to respond intelligently to the critics of the point you've made. For example, when it comes to the issue of what Samuel Waldron has called "the two phases of justification" in his soon to be published doctoral dissertation, one must distinguish between "the fact that justification is both already and not yet, i.e., between our past justification and that of which our Lord speaks concerning the future judgment of the last day (Matt 12:37 & Rom 2:13). There is, then, this tension between the now and the not yet. As Waldron points out...
An increased awareness of this important, exegetical fact has, it is to be feared, resulted in not a little fuzzy thinking among evangelicals with regard to justification. The fact that justification is both already and not yet does not mean that these two phases of justification are identical or may be merged into one another. A biblical parallel may make the matter clear. Adoption, as noted previously, is also presented in terms of a tension between the already and the not yet. See Galatians 4:5-7 and Romans 8:15 (where the already dimension of adoption is emphasized) and Romans 8:23 and possibly Ephesians 1:5 (where the not yet dimension is emphasized). According to Romans 8:23 our yet future adoption involves, however, the redemption of our bodies. Quite clearly, our already adoption does not and is, thus, in this respect quite different. Even so, however helpful and necessary it may be to see the connection between the already and not yet aspects of justification, this clearly does not give us the right to simply merge the two phases of justification into one or treat them as theologically equivalent.
I think we need, at least, to reckon with what the critics have to offer against our contention, and demonstrate (as Waldron has) why we disagree with their merging of these two realities.

DTK
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
I have understood James to use the term "justification" as before men, and not before God. In other words, a person judges another person by his works (since he cannot see the heart), and is therefore justified in that man's sight.

Calvin:

That we may not then fall into that false reasoning which has deceived the Sophists, we must take notice of the two fold meaning, of the word justified. Paul means by it the gratuitous imputation of righteousness before the tribunal of God; and James, the manifestation of righteousness by the conduct, and that before men, as we may gather from the preceding words, "Shew to me thy faith," etc. In this sense we fully allow that man is justified by works, as when any one says that a man is enriched by the purchase of a large and valuable chest, because his riches, before hid, shut up in a chest, were thus made known.

Do you agree with this DTK? Or is the justification that you are suggesting different?

Thanks,
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Jeff_Bartel


Do you agree with this DTK? Or is the justification that you are suggesting different?

Thanks,
Indeed I do! I agree with Calvin, and your understanding of James.

DTK
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
When we talk about these two realities as Waldron has done about justification, would it be safe to say that the "not yet" of justification is "vindication"?
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by wsw201
When we talk about these two realities as Waldron has done about justification, would it be safe to say that the "not yet" of justification is "vindication"?
Waldron doesn't address this question per se, at any rate that I can recall from his work, but my answer to your question is yes. For in example, in Matthew 25:31-46, where works are brought in with regard to the judgment at the return of Christ, I see this as a vindication of God's moral government before the whole universe. For in respect to those whom He bids, "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" - He will be able, in essence, to declare before all, "Look not only at what I've done FOR My people, but look at what I've done IN them; I have taken these God-hating, disobedient rebel sinners and have transformed then into God-loving, obedient servants. Not servants who have obeyed Me perfectly, but servants who have sought to obey Me purposefully." And that is a display of God's amazing grace, as well as a vindication before the whole moral universe that God wasn't simply shuffling the books around. To be sure, our present and lasting justification before God is based entirely upon the imputed righteousness of both the active and passive obedience of Christ. But with this imputed righteousness, God is pleased to give His people, in addition, an imparted righteousness, by which His judgment in the last day will be vindicated before the whole moral universe.

DTK
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
The faith of demons that God is one does not justify one before men as being a saint, the good deeds of one who clothes the naked, shelters the homeless and feeds the hungry does. Empty professions of faith do not justify, professions of faith that are backed up following such a profession with good deeds does.

Si?
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by WrittenFromUtopia
The faith of demons that God is one does not justify one before men as being a saint, the good deeds of one who clothes the naked, shelters the homeless and feeds the hungry does. Empty professions of faith do not justify, professions of faith that are backed up following such a profession with good deeds does.

Si?

:up::up:
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by WrittenFromUtopia
The faith of demons that God is one does not justify one before men as being a saint, the good deeds of one who clothes the naked, shelters the homeless and feeds the hungry does. Empty professions of faith do not justify, professions of faith that are backed up following such a profession with good deeds does.

Si?
I'd like to qualify because some might read into the words you use even though I know what you mean.

Some might read you as saying: "I believe in Christ and the proof that I believe is that I clothe the naked and feed the hungry." Many say that about Mother Teresa.

Could you say: "I believe and the fruit of that belief is that I clothe the naked and fee the hungry..."

On the one hand, many might turn to works to "self-vindicate" their faith and, in a sense, prove they have no faith at all since they do so out of self-righteousness. On the other hand, the transformed heart that believes is impelled by the love of Christ to works of the Spirit. In the latter case, Christ's work in you is vindicated by the fruit that the Spirit produces.

[Edited on 5-3-2006 by SemperFideles]
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by SemperFideles
Originally posted by WrittenFromUtopia
The faith of demons that God is one does not justify one before men as being a saint, the good deeds of one who clothes the naked, shelters the homeless and feeds the hungry does. Empty professions of faith do not justify, professions of faith that are backed up following such a profession with good deeds does.

Si?
I'd like to qualify because some might read into the words you use even though I know what you mean.

Some might read you as saying: "I believe in Christ and the proof that I believe is that I clothe the naked and feed the hungry." Many say that about Mother Teresa.

Could you say: "I believe and the fruit of that belief is that I clothe the naked and fee the hungry..."

On the one hand, many might turn to works to "self-vindicate" their faith and, in a sense, prove they have no faith at all since they do so out of self-righteousness. On the other hand, the transformed heart that believes is impelled by the love of Christ to works of the Spirit. In the latter case, Christ's work in you is vindicated by the fruit that the Spirit produces.

I agree Rich. At least in the Mother Teresa example, she would likely miss out on the "faith" aspect of James 2. She has the works, but no valid profession (and I am assuming b/c she is a Romist, but have not read her for myself).

In regards to justification in the sight of men:

Faith alone (or profession alone)=reason for doubt

Works alone =reason for doubt

Faith+works=:up::up:

Sadly, I know too many in the first two categories. :um:
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
This brings up an interesting related question.

If James 2 is addressing justification in the sight of men, then why do so many people appeal to "demon faith" with regards to "justifying faith" (merely believing isn't enough)?

It seems that James isn't addressing "saving faith" at all, but merely how we outwardly judge a person's salvation.

Thoughts?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by Jeff_Bartel
This brings up an interesting related question.

If James 2 is addressing justification in the sight of men, then why do so many people appeal to "demon faith" with regards to "justifying faith" (merely believing isn't enough)?

It seems that James isn't addressing "saving faith" at all, but merely how we outwardly judge a person's salvation.

Thoughts?
I don't know Jeff. James seems to be addressing the letter to the person who thinks he has faith. He is exposing their carnal understanding of it. It seems like an Epistle written for a 1st Century form of Carnal Christianity and Quietism. It's kind of a form of NT wisdom literature with even strong Proverbial parallels about how wicked the rich are who don't consider the poor. I guess I just don't see it as much as a guide for Churchmen to measure whether members are believers as intended to be an exhortation to true believers and a polemic against unbelief that wants to claim it really believes.

In it, I see a strong parallel to Galatians 5 except arrived at from a different direction. Paul's audience is being condemned for confidence in the flesh and then Paul points out: "Look! See the evidences of the flesh all around you. Look at all the bitterness and backbiting. You guys are devouring one another. Your fruit reveals that you are in the flesh." James is pointing out: "Look! You say you believe and are in the Spirit but look how you sit on your hands while you see your brother starve. Such idleness and selfishness is of the flesh but the fruits of the Spirit are these...."

For me, it's a different expression of the "flesh" in mind but, in both cases, the works of the flesh are distinguished from the fruits of the Spirit. In Paul, the "flesh" convinces one they are good enough to please God through works, in James, the "flesh" convinces one that sloth and selfishness are not sinful. Both are ultimately revealed for what they are: you act just like a reprobate.

[Edited on 5-3-2006 by SemperFideles]
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
Rich,

I guess to state my point another way would be that James doesn't chide the demons for not having enough faith, or not the right kind. Instead, he states that they do not have works.

Given this, I guess I don't see how the demons can be used as an example for a saving vs. non-saving faith...which does not include works (but is merely a necessary result).
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by Jeff_Bartel
Rich,

I guess to state my point another way would be that James doesn't chide the demons for not having enough faith, or not the right kind. Instead, he states that they do not have works.

Given this, I guess I don't see how the demons can be used as an example for a saving vs. non-saving faith...which does not include works (but is merely a necessary result).
OK I get it.

James doesn't chide the demons for having no works. He states merely that demons believe in God. The implication is that those who merely state "I believe in God" are not to be commended - even demons can say that.

Everyone knows the works of demons. Everyone also can recognize the works of the flesh.... Both believe that God is one but both bear the fruit of unrighteousness. Maybe that's the parallel. A man with resources to help a brother who cares not has all the belief of a demon and all the love of a demon.
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Jeff_Bartel
Given this, I guess I don't see how the demons can be used as an example for a saving vs. non-saving faith...which does not include works (but is merely a necessary result).
Jeff,

I would like to address this, and try to offer you a little more light on this passage. It is true that the demons are not rebuked, but that's not why their negative example is employed by James. James' target audience is primarily Jews (James 1:1), and when he says to these folk, who have a profession of faith but devoid of loving works, he sets before them the one touchstone of orthodoxy that every Jew would rally around - He says in James 2:19, You believe that there is one God. You do well....This statement would have called to the mind of his readers the SHEMA as found in Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!", and James commends that profession, saying, "you do well.". And it is in this context that he adds this additional searching application, "Even the demons believe -- and tremble!"

What James is telling his readers is that they may have a very orthodox confession - You believe in God, so what??? so do the demons! You believe in Jesus Christ, so what??? so do the demons! In fact, they confess the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth in the Gospel accounts. Moreover, they even have a very orthodox eschatology, for they ask Jesus, "Have you come to torment us before the time?" They know that their doom in the day of judgment is sealed, and yet they believe every single revealed truth about God!

But here is James' point to his readers - "Who among you is willing to go on record and hold out the possibility of salvation for the demons? After all, their profession of doctrine is just as orthodox as yours! But here's the sticker, could it be (he's asking), could it be that you have something tragically in common with the demons themselves? Could it be that there is this tragic parallel between your faith and that of the demons themselves? They, too, share with you a very orthodox profession of faith, but bear no practical love to God or to the people of God."

You will recall that the demons in the gospel accounts were more than uncomfortable in the presence of Jesus of Nazareth. They wanted to flee his presence, even if it meant their indwelling swine.

James is saying to his readers, and to us, "You say you have faith, well and fine, but bear this in mind, they (the demons) share the same orthodox confession concerning God's revelation of Himself in Holy Scripture (they too believe what is revealed about God), and it may be that you share with them the same orthodox confession, but like them are no better off for it, and no less slated for the same judgment in the last day, because your faith beholds no beauty in, or love for, the Son of God and His people."

That, I'm convinced, is James' point in referencing the faith of demons.

DTK
 
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