27/9/2020「Sunday Sermon」 www.lifechurchmissions.com
Is Our Faith Any Different From The Faith of Demons? <Jn 2:23-25; Jas 2:14-19, 22; Jn 3:16-18; 2 Co 13:5>
Prelude: We often hear people encouraging us to have faith and not to doubt God. But what is it to believe and what not to doubt? Is it to believe that God is God, no matter what the situation is, regardless of whether He fulfils what we want, He is still God? Or do you believe that "as long as we pray to God earnestly, we can get what we want"? The former trusts the sufficiency of God, that is, it is enough to have God; the latter believes that we can only be satisfied if we get what we ask for. Of course, it is also a form of faith when we "believe that God can give us what we ask for", but the faith that simply trusts in God is more beautiful, greater, and deeper. Many people have faith, but our faith should be of a higher standard, and we should not stay at a shallow or even carnal faith. In particular, what we have to reflect on is: Is there any difference between our faith and the demons’ faith? We see from the Bible that even demons have faith. But even if the devil and fallen angels have faith, their faith cannot save them. Therefore, our faith cannot just be the same as that of demons. We need to be clear of what we believe in, whether our faith is a "saving faith", and if we have the fruit and evidence brought by faith?
1. We need to be clear of what we believe in <Jn 2:23-25>
*In this passage, Jesus knew very well that people believed in Him because they saw the many miracles He performed; such faith is still very shallow and unstable. Therefore, He "does not trust" such a faith that people have. This is also not to say that faith generated by miracles is false. But we can only say that such a faith which comes from witnessing miracles is just the beginning. From here, people have to be brought to truly know Jesus, His divinity, humanity, uniqueness, and the redemptive grace that only Jesus can give. In other words, faith that comes from seeing miracles is faith that has not been fully built up. People are only astonished by miracles, but will they truly commit their sovereignty and their entire lives to the Lord?
1）What exactly is the object of our faith?
Of course it is good for us to have faith in God. But what we have to ask is, do we believe in God, or the "good things" that we ask from God? In other words, do we believe that our happiness lies in God Himself or in getting what we ask for? For example, when a person says that he prays with faith and asks God to let him succeed in an interview for a job he likes, does he only believe that he will have a future if he successfully gets the job he likes? Or does he believe in God Himself? That is, no matter whether he finally gets the job he really wants, God can also allow him to have a bright future through various channels. Is man’s faith in God Himself, a good job, or an ideal living condition? Sometimes, we think that we believe in God, but it turns out that we don’t believe that God Himself is the best, but believe that what we ask of God is more valuable than God, such as: a good job, a good spouse, an obedient child, good health, wealth, etc., and once we do not get these good things, we will be extremely disappointed, as if they are the source and basis of our joy. Although we can believe that God is able to give us what we ask for if He is willing, we must believe that even if God does not give, He alone is enough for us to trust in Him and can satisfy us. This is what we call "even if" faith <Dan 3:18>.
2）Confirm: Is it truly enough to have God?
Usually, we all think that our faith will only grow when God gives us what we ask for. This is not wrong, but amazingly, when God sometimes does not give us what we ask for, He still shows grace to us in unexpected ways which surprise us. We are then brought to a greater faith - such that It does not matter if we get what we want, as long as we have God. Or sometimes, when the good things we depend on all collapse, and we are only left with God, then we will discover that God is enough. Indeed, the God who fulfils promises is better than His promises itself. Do you believe that God is enough? Or do you believe that God must accomplish what you pray for so that you and the lives of your loved ones will be better? This does not mean that in following God, we must automatically give up money, human love, success, etc; in fact, there can be all these in God. But God does not need to use these to satisfy us, for He alone can satisfy us.
2. Difference between the demons’ faith and saving faith <Jas 2:14-19>
1) Intellectual faith is still not saving faith
We must understand that having the knowledge of the truth doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is saved. The problems with demons is not that they do not know or believe in God. Their problems is that they do not love or submit to this God. A faith like the demons’ will not bring benefit <Jas 2:14>. They believe there is God, but their faith does not bring them to salvation. Because they did not repent of their sins and turn their lives around, from what they know and believe. They also do not have deeds that come from their faith. Although we say we are saved by faith, and justified by faith, not every kind of faith leads to salvation.
2) What is “saving faith”? <Jn 3:16-18>
There are two basic elements: (1) Right object of faith; (2) Right reason to believe.
“Saving faith” is to believe in Jesus, not just that there is only one God, but that God is Jesus, salvation is found in no one else and there is no other God <Ac 4:12>. Furthermore, we must have the right reason to believe in Jesus. That is to believe in order to have forgiveness of sins and eternal life. If your object of faith is right, but it is for the wrong reasons, you might not be saved. For example, if you believe Jesus for health, prosperity, that faith is not saving faith. Or if you believe for the right reason – you want to receive forgiveness of sins and go to heaven, however, you believe in the wrong person - a certain idol or great pastor, thinking that he can save you, then you also do not having saving faith. Also, saving faith will surely include being conscious of sin, repentance and submission to the true God.
3) Demon’s faith is one without willingness and joy
The biggest difference between the faith of demons and Christians is that although demons know that God is real and has power, they do not rejoice over this. When demons know of the power of resurrection of Jesus, they gnashed their teeth in anger. Demons know the word of God, but they do delight in them nor obey them. However, Christians can give thanks with joy when they believe in God. When the Holy Spirit convicts us to trust in the Lord, we will love God and His Word. Therefore, although we have the same content in our faith (eg. Jesus is the Son of God, Jesus is victorious), but the response and attitude of demons and Christians are different. Demons believe and shudder <Jas 2:19>, because they do not plan to repent, and will naturally fear judgment. However, believers will have peace from their faith, because they are reconciled with God.
3. True faith will surely lead to deeds <Jas 2:17, 22>
<Jas 2:19> tells us the demons shudder because they believe, actually in <Ph 2:12>, the bible calls believers to “work out our salvation, with fear and trembling”. The biggest difference between our faith and the demon’s is that the demon’s faith will not bring about holy work that pleases God. Although we are not saved by works or dependent on human ways, instead by God’s grace alone, but deeds are the evidence of our faith. After a person has received grace, his life will bear fruit (blessed deeds). Before conversion, works cannot save a person. However, after conversion, a person should have works that is aligned to his faith. Therefore <Jas 2:22> says, “You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” Therefore, if a person thinks that he just needs to believe in the Lord, and have no need to improve his ways, then that is a big misunderstanding. Although, we believers will never have our deeds that are “good enough”, but at the least, we are willing to be sanctified and be transformed in our lives bit by bit.
Conclusion: Everyone of us has to grow in faith. We cannot remain in or be satisfied with the level of faith that is like the demons. Some people may be shocked after hearing this sermon. How can our faith be same as the demons? However, maybe many people may think they are Christians or that their faith is good enough, but their faith is still not perfect. Paul calls for Christians to “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? <2 Co 13:5> Especially when many modern day believers are in comfort, like to seek an easy faith, believe in God only to achieve what they desire, such a reflection is needed. Hope today’s message will awaken the carnal, complacent and nominal Christians, and for every believers to restore a faith that is pleasing to God.