James 2:19—If the demons believe in God, then why are they not saved?
Problem: According to the Bible, all that is necessary to be saved is to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31), for “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Paul said salvation comes “to him who does not work but believes on Him” (Rom. 4:5). If this is so, then why are not the demons saved, since the Bible admits that “even the demons believe” (v. 19).
Solution: The demons are not saved because they do not exercise a saving kind of faith. This is James’ very point, namely, not any kind of faith can save a person. Only the kind of faith that produces good works can save (James 2:17). While we are saved by faith alone, nevertheless, the faith that saves is not alone. It is always accompanied by good works. We are not saved by works (Eph. 2:8–9), but we are saved for works (Eph. 2:10).
The difference between saving faith and non-saving faith is that the former is only belief that God exists. The latter is faith in God. No one can be saved by believing that God exists and that Christ died for their sins and rose again. They must believe in Him (i.e., trust Him). In like manner, no one can get to the top floor by an elevator if she simply believes that elevators can get her there. She must believe in the elevator (i.e., trust it) enough to step in it and allow it to get her there. The demons do not believe in (trust God) for their salvation—they simply believe that God exists, but they continue in their rebellion against Him (Jude 6; Rev. 12:4).
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.