You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble!
Yesterday I had posed a question to some friends about whether or not they were known by God. The question arose from a message I wrote about Jesus rejecting those who claimed to do things in His name while never truly knowing Him, nor Him knowing them. (Matthew 7:21-23) This I then connected to something Paul wrote: "But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him." (1 Corinthians 8:3) It is our love of God that makes us known to Him, and it is that love and faith that draws us to Him and Him to us.
One friend of mine wrote back to me that being known by God scared him. I certainly understand that. After all, we are told that all our deeds, all our intentions, whether good or evil, will be brought into the light. (Ecclesiastes 12:14, John 3:20) Yes, since none of us is truly without sin, that ought to make even the most staunch believer tremble.
Some atheists jokingly say they cannot enter a church for fear of being struck down on the spot for their blasphemy. Of course, to believe that, you must first believe in God, and so the atheists think it's a funny joke. But as James mentions in today's verse, knowledge of the one true God makes even demons tremble in fear. God's wrath is no joke to them, nor should it be to us.
James brings this remark right into the middle of a discussion of faith versus works, and this section of Scripture came to my attention in reference to what many churches call a "Statement of Faith." What occurred to me was that a statement of our faith needs to be less about what we believe than about how those beliefs influence our lives. As James notes, even the demons believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. The demons believe in the righteousness of God. The demons believe that God will judge the living and the dead. The demons believe that the name of Jesus gives people power over them. Yes, the demons undoubtedly believe all the same things you or I or any other well-intentioned Christian may believe about God and His kingdom. In that respect, we are no different than Satan and his minions. That's a scary thought, isn't it?
The question is: What do we DO with that belief? Do we love God and allow Him to reign in our lives? Do we accept the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross? Do we embrace eternal life through our faith in Christ as our Savior and Lord? Do we live lives influenced and changed by the gospel? Do we repent of who we've been to become new creations in Christ? You see, that is what sets us apart from the demons. What makes us God's children is not our simple belief in God but our faith in Christ as our Lord and Savior, and what we DO with that faith.
Do we remain the same as we always were, or do we become someone new? Does our life continue "status quo" or does it change course? Faith in Christ as our Savior is important, but it is not the be-all and end-all of our relationship with Him. Faith is just the beginning!
If we are truly to be known by God, then our love for Jesus must transform our lives. Our love should draw us closer to the image in which we were made. Our faith should become action to serve and to guide others to the gospel of Christ. Our hope of eternal life should become an anchor for our souls, keeping us tethered always to the One from whom all blessings flow.
How do we want to be known by God? Do we want to be known as those who knew of Him but did nothing about it? Or do we want to be known as people who loved Him so much we were willing to give our lives for Him? Jesus, knowing that He could take up His life again, laid aside His life to pay the price for our sins. And now we, knowing that death from sin has been defeated by the risen Lord, can die for God's kingdom in this mortal life and know we shall live eternally with Jesus.
I would encourage us all to look at our lives today, to examine whether or not we are acting on our life of faith. Do we, like Abraham, step out toward an unfamiliar country at the Lord's direction? Or do we stand still, never growing, never changing as a result of our faith? Do we, like Moses, approach the burning bush of God's Word with reverence and awe? Or do we ignore the Bible and cling instead to the teachings of men? Do we, like the apostles, give up our very lives for the gospel of Christ? Or do we keep the gospel hidden and secret, so that no one ever knows we love God?
Yes, knowing that God knows our sinfulness and brokenness, we ought to tremble at the thought of God's judgment. But more than that, we should rejoice in embracing His Son, through whom we can now know eternal salvation. We need to turn that fear and trembling into work for God's kingdom.
Today, let us defy the demons. Let us show that we are not like them. Let us lay aside our old lives and become renewed and revived by the Holy Spirit of God. Let our love for God be known to everyone, and let us not be afraid to be known by God for that. Instead of trembling at the knowledge of God like the demons do, let us instead love Him and revere Him, praise and honor Him, serve and obey Him. That is, after all, what true faith in Christ is all about.
Heavenly Father, I want to be known by You. Yes, I tremble a bit because I know that I have been unfaithful at times, that I am not so holy as You. But I do love You, and I am not ashamed of loving You. Transform my life, make me bolder in Your name. Let the things I do and the way I live my life reflect only glory and honor upon You. And may the precious name of Jesus be ever upon my lips, ready to be spoken in love and in faith, with power and with praise. Amen.