THE ORTHODOXY OF THE DEVIL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-22-60 7:30 p.m.
Will you turn with me to the Book of James, chapter 2? Let us read the passage. The text will be the nineteenth verse. James 2, the pericope is James 2:14-26; let us read it all together, everybody. Look on the Bible with your neighbor if you do not have yours, and let us read it together. James 2:14, all of us:
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God.
Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
The sermon tonight is a continuation of the message of this morning which was from this passage. And in illustrating what he is talking about, what he means, James says several things here. He speaks of Abraham who had given his heart to the Lord, and who had believed in God, and who so was justified; that is, he was declared righteous [Genesis 15:6; Galatians 3:6], even though he was not righteous, even though we are not righteous, yet we are declared so, we are received so, we are accepted so by faith, by trusting God [Ephesians 2:8]. That is justification, a declaration of righteousness, a standing of righteousness by the mercy of God [Romans 4:25]. We trust God for it. We could never achieve it, we could never buy it, we could never gain it. If a man were to be perfect from now on until he died, what would he do about the sins in his past life? God must do something for a man if he is to be saved. And God does that in the sacrifice of Christ [2 Corinthians 5:21], in whom we trust and do believe: we are declared righteous. That is that word "justification." Our standing before God is one of righteousness, by the mercy and gift of our Lord [Romans 4:25].
Now having done that, James says that there is to be an affirmation of that faith on the part of the world, easily seen in us by these dedications that we make to the Lord [James 2:18-20]. Then he mentions Abraham [James 2:21-24]: Abraham showed that he had a great trust in God when he believed the Lord was able to raise up from the dead the son that God called him to sacrifice on an altar [Hebrews 11:17-19]. Then he uses another illustration here: he talks about the vanity and the futility and the emptiness of just sound and syllable. If a man is hungry and if he is naked, and you say, "Be filled and be clothed," and you do not do anything for him, the man goes away still hungry and still naked [James 2:15-16]. It takes something more than just the syllable, than the sentence, to make a thing real. We must do something; it involves a committal and a devotion. Then he uses the illustration that I want to speak of tonight: he talks about the fine speaking, magnificent, brilliant orthodoxy of the devil. "Thou believest," he says, "your mind, however a man sometimes may acknowledge God," and I hear that on every hand – I don’t suppose anyone in one of these national assemblies would speak of Jesus, but to speak of God would be in perfect order – "Thou believest there is one God; fine, excellent," he says, "but it is not enough. The devils believe that, and tremble" [James 2:19]. So we’re going to talk about the Orthodoxy of the Devil; what the devil believes.
Now, it is a very incumbent thing upon us who are in the church to make a distinction between the devils and the saints. We are called upon to do that. In the Bible, the Book, in the Bible the church is called an ekklesia, it’s a "called out group," it is a separated group. As God called the people of the Lord out of Egypt, so the Lord is calling His children out of the world; a separation, a distinction from the world, and to be in Christ is to be out of the world. And to be a member of the church is to be a subtraction from the world. They’re two different things, and in that distinguishment, why, our Lord had several things to say. He said, "Look how they do; ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles? So every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and an evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. And therefore, by their fruits ye shall know them" [Matthew 7:16-20]. Now that is a commandment and an observation from our Lord Himself. It isn’t that we’re judging people; God will do that in that great and final day [Matthew 25:31-46]. But down here there is a separation made, always made, in the realm of the church and in the realm of the Christian life, between what is godly and what is ungodly. And we are to pray God for an ability to distinguish between the two. And our lives are to be so ordered and so colored and so turned.
Now many times that is very [easy]; I mean, in many times that is very easy, to make that distinction between folks that are Christian and belong to God, and folks that belong to the world and have never been regenerated. Many, many times just to look is to see, just to hear is to know; it’s very easy. But a lot of times it is difficult, it is hard to tell when a man is really saved and when he’s genuinely converted.
Now I’m going to talk to you tonight about how you can tell. Now I say it’s not easy sometimes. In the eighth chapter of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, we have the story of the evangelist Philip, who’s down in Samaria in a great revival meeting [Acts 8:5-8]. And there’s a man down there, a witch-worker, a marvelous somebody in his own estimation, he agreed to that; his name was Simon. And in secular literature, he’s called Simon Magus. And Simon himself believed, it says. While Philip was a-preaching, and while the revival was a-going, and while the people were being saved, down that aisle came Simon himself and said he believed. And when he was baptized, he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done [Acts 8:9-13].
Now, he looked like a saint, he looked like a Christian, he looked like a born again believer, he’s baptized, he belonged to the First Baptist Church there in Samaria. And while they were going on, and shouting and singing and testifying and baptizing the converts, and everybody happy in the Lord, there was great joy in that city, it says. While all that was going on, why, the disciples came down from Jerusalem to Samaria, put their hands on those that believed, and they received the Holy Ghost [Acts 8:14-17]. That was a marvelous thing in the sight of Simon. And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was received, he put his hands in his pockets and took out all the money that he had, and he said, "You give me this power, that on whomsoever I may lay my hands he may receive the Holy Ghost, and I’ll give you this money" [Acts 8:18-19]. And that’s called "simony"; that’s where it comes from. "Simony" is a common ordinary word you read throughout all history.
When a man buys a sacred privilege, like he’d buy a bishopric, or he’d buy a cardinal, or he’d buy some place in the work of God, that’s called "simony," from Simon Magus, here, who offered money to the apostles that he might buy the gift of the Holy Spirit. And when Simon Peter looked at it, he said, "Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God could be bought with money! Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter, for thy heart is not right with God" [Acts 8:20-21]. Looked like it was right; he came down that aisle, gave the pastor his hand, he was baptized, he believed, he said [Acts 8:13]. "Repent therefore," he [Peter] says, "this day, of this wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity" [Acts 8:22-23]. And Simon [Magus] got scared to death and said, "Pray for me that these things thou hast spoken come not upon me" [Acts 8:24]. Now he looked like a good member, he just looked like you, couldn’t tell him from you out there, just fine; but he is never saved, he is never regenerated, he is never born again. He was not a Christian.
Now I am saying that sometimes that is hard to tell. But I’m going to tell you how you can tell. All right, down the aisle comes the devil. Now this is my text here, "The devils believe." Down the aisle comes the devil. Man, don’t you ever get in your head that the devil has horns, and a tail, and a forked tongue, and all that kind of stuff; that’s the devil’s caricature of him to throw you off. The devil the Bible has called in 2 Corinthians 11 and the fourteenth verse, the devil is called "an angel of light" [2 Corinthians 11:14]. Man, he sparkles and he shines. Talk about singing on the radio; man he could out sing any singer that ever sang. Talk about acting out there in Hollywood; he can act with more suave, oh, he’s got it, he’s got it.
So he’s coming down that aisle, and man do we know he’s a-coming. He sparkles and he glitters and he shines. He’s an angel of light. And he comes down that aisle, and he takes this pastor by the hand, and he says, "Pastor, I want to be a Christian, and I want to join the First Baptist Church, and I want to be baptized." My, my, all the folks up here in the balcony round, all the folks down here in the lower floor, they look at that fellow a-glittering and a-shining, the most famous name in all of the banners, and headlines, and all the write ups in the articles and the magazines, look at him there, look at him, "What a convert. We got the devil himself." Well let’s call him Lucifer because we prejudice our case when we call him "the devil." We got Lucifer himself, the son of the morning [Isaiah 14:12].
And so the pastor asks him, he, the pastor says, "You know this is an unusual hour, this is an unusual occasion. You coming down this aisle, the most glittering, the most glamorized of all the personalities in all creation, this angel of light [2 Corinthians 11:14], a-sparkling, and a-scintillating and a-shining, the iridescent glory himself. Wonderful to have you down here, greatest convert we’ve ever had. Now I want to ask you some questions, just to be sure that you’ve been converted into a Christian. All right, first of all, I want to ask you: do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?"
"Yes sir," says Satan; "Yes sir," says Lucifer, "Yes sir, I believe He is the Son of God. I know He is the Son of God. I knew Him in glory before the world was [Ezekiel 28:13-14]. I saw Him the Prince of the power of all heaven. I certainly do know He is the Son of God. I know that, I believe that. And they got me wrong down there in the King James Version of the Bible, when it says down there in the King James Version of the Bible, ‘If You be the Son of God, turn these stones into bread’ [Matthew 4:3], you get the idea that I didn’t know who He was. Listen, I’ve known Him from the beginning of the creation [John 1:1-3]. What I said was, ‘Since You are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread’ [Matthew 4:3]. Yes sir, I believe He is the Son of God."
"All right, Satan, I want to ask you another question: do you believe that Jesus came into the world to die for our sins?" [Hebrews 10:5-14; 1 Corinthians 15:3].
"Yes sir," says Satan, "I believe He came to the world to die for our sins. I heard that plan before the foundation of the world" [Ephesians 1:4].
"Well, Satan, do you believe that Jesus was born of a virgin?" [Matthew 1:23-25].
"Yes sir, I saw it."
"Well do you believe that Jesus did all the miracles that are recorded here in the Bible?"
"I believe every one of them. I was there when He did them."
"Well, do you believe Jesus died on the cross?" [Matthew 27:32-50].
"Yes sir, I saw Him die."
"Well, do you believe He was buried in the tomb [Matthew 27:57-60], and the third day He rose from the dead?" [Matthew 28:1-7].
"Yes sir, I saw it all."
"Well, do you believe Jesus ascended into glory [Acts 1:9-10], and is at the right hand of God?" [Acts 2:33].
"And do you believe Jesus is coming again in glory and power?" [Matthew 24:30].
"Yes sir," says Satan, "and my time is short" [Revelation 12:12].
"Man, what a brilliant testifier you are, Satan; what a glorious believer you are. Now I want to ask some questions about the church. Will you be here at every service?"
"Yes sir," says the devil, "I’ll never miss. I’ll be here at every service. And more than that," says the devil, "I’ll not only come here to every service, I’ll be there every Wednesday night at prayer meeting."
"Man, I hadn’t had a convert like that in a generation; Satan, you’re all right. You’re all right." He believes in God, he believes the miracles, he believes Jesus in heaven, believes Jesus, everything about Him. Marvelous, marvelous. "Now brethren, what about him?"
And one of you stands up and says, "I make a motion we take him in."
And somebody seconds the motion, "I second it."
And the pastor takes him into the First Baptist Church, and we got him; and I baptize him. And Satan himself is a member of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. Man, we’re getting to be scrumptious folks, we really are. We got them that glitter and shine. They spark.
But I just wonder would it be Dr. Fowler or would it be some other sainted man of God out there in the congregation stand up and say, "Pastor, wait, just wait a moment. Before the motion is put and the people vote on receiving Lucifer into the church, just one question: I’d like pastor for you to ask him, ‘Have you turned from your sins? And have you received Jesus in your heart as your Savior? Have you?"
Well, Satan says, "I don’t know about that. I don’t know about that. That’s something else. You were asking me about the doctrine. You were talking to me about the orthodoxy. I didn’t know you were going to ask me about turning in my life. I didn’t know you were going to say anything to me about giving my heart to Jesus, and bowing down and worshiping Him as my Lord and my Savior. Now that’s something else."
Now that’s the one thing Satan won’t do. That’s the one thing Satan doesn’t do. And that’s the heart of the Christian faith. Have you turned? Have you turned? [Acts 3:19]. The world’s going this way, then we’re a-going that way. The world’s going this way, man, we’re going this a-way. The world is following the glitter and the lust of the day, and the flesh, and the people of God are in a pilgrimage to Zion, and they sing the songs of the Lord and they love Jesus. Have you turned? Have you turned? Have you received Jesus in your heart? "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; all things are become new" [2 Corinthians 5:17]. That’s what it is to be a Christian. It’s to receive a holy disposition in the soul. That’s what James is talking about. It’s to receive a holy attitude, affinity, love, commitment [James 3:17-18]. And if a man doesn’t have it, he hasn’t got it. For that’s what it is, that’s the thing itself. That’s what it is to be a Christian: to receive in our hearts and in our souls a vast immeasurable, indescribable, illimitable love and devotion for Jesus; not for the world, dead to the world; not for the blandishments of the world, dead to it. The best picture we have is in our baptismal service: buried with our Lord, dead with our Lord, raised with our Lord, to walk in the new life with Christ [Romans 6:3-5]. That’s what it is.
You cannot have rain without water; that’s what it is. You cannot have the sun without light and heat; that’s what it is. You cannot have gravity without pull; that’s what it is. You cannot have steel without iron; that’s what it is. You cannot have matter and substance without elements; that’s what it is. You can’t have a man without a spirit; he’s a living soul [Genesis 2:7]. And you can’t have a born again man without a new heart, and a new love, and a new commitment, and a new devotion; that’s what it is, that’s what it is [John 3:6; 2 Corinthians 5:16-17].
In this thing of a conversion experience, of becoming a Christian, there are many different kinds of experiences. Some of them are intellectual, like the devil: he knows all about it. You don’t have to argue with him; all of those things he knows and he believes, intellectually, but he’s not saved. For a man to know like a university professor might know is still to be lost; you’re not saved intellectually. Sometimes people have a social experience; the crowd, the gang, the mob, a social experience in a great revival or upheaval. That’s what they had when Jesus fed the five thousand [John 6:1-14]. Oh, they uproariously applauded our Lord; but when He spoke to them about the bread of life and turned aside from the bread He was feeding them, then they didn’t like Him and all of them left except the disciples, and they thought about doing it [John 6:35-67]. And then sometime we have an emotional experience, like they did in the triumphal entry into Jerusalem: everybody a-singing and a-shouting and a-waving palm branches and putting their garments before the beast upon which our Lord rode into Jerusalem [Matthew 21:1-11]. Sometimes we have an emotional experience. And sometimes we have a reformational experience. I wish I had time, a long time, to preach on this text, "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man," said our Lord in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Matthew, "he goes through dry places seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I am going to return to my house from whence I came out. And when he cometh he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished" [Matthew 12:43-44]. The man’s been a bad man and a vile man and a wicked man, and in a form he puts out of his heart all those evil spirits; but nothing comes in. The Holy Spirit doesn’t come in. Jesus doesn’t come in. And his heart is vacant and empty, though it’s clean and swept and garnished. And then that evil spirit goeth and findeth seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first [Matthew 12:45]. You can’t be saved by just reformation. "Preacher I’m going to cut out my cussing, and I’m going to cut out my drinking, and I’m going to cut out my carousing, going to cut out the vile wickedness of my life. I’m going to be a real fine upstanding man." Well, that’s good and commendable; nobody would say anything against it. But that’s not becoming a Christian. Your heart’s empty, swept, and garnished, and you’re reformed; but you don’t have Jesus in your soul, and you don’t have Jesus in your heart, and you don’t have the Holy Spirit in your life, and you’re still lost.
Well, how is a man saved? A man is saved like the great gospel that Paul preached, like the Bible presents: Paul says in Acts 20:21, preaching "repentance toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ." A man becomes a Christian when he turns, repentance toward God, turning to the Lord, turning to the Lord. Been going down this way, now I’m going down this way; I’ve been saying no to the preacher, now I’m going to say yes. I’ve been putting it off, I’m going to put it off no longer; I’m going to make it now. I’ve been saying, "Some other day, some other time," not going to say, "Some other day, some other time," I’m going to say, "Now." God says for me to confess faith in Christ, I’ve been saying no; going to say yes. God says for me to be baptized; I’ve been refusing: going to be baptized. God says for me to join the church, I’ve been passing it by; I’m going to join the church. God says for me to love Jesus, and to follow the Lord. I’ve been following the world; going to follow Jesus now. Here I am. It’s a turning. It’s a turning. Here I come, preacher, get your hand out, stand down there at the front, because I’m a-coming. That’s what it is: a turning, a repentance toward God, and a faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
I one time asked the dear Lord: Lord, according to the Book, what is it to believe in Jesus? For it says if we’ll trust Him, we’ll be saved. "He came unto His own, His own received Him not. But unto as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become the children of God, even to them that trust in His name" [John 1:12]. Lord, what is it to believe in His name, to trust in His name? And the Lord gave me an answer: 2 Timothy 1:12, "For I know whom I have trusted, I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." Then what Paul did when he trusted, when he believed, he committed his soul and his life and his destiny to the Lord Jesus, now and forever and forever. That’s what it is to trust: it’s to bow at His feet, it’s to look up into His face, it’s to commit all of life and destiny to Him. Lord, if I live, my life will be Thine. And if I don’t live, if tonight I die, I die persuaded that God is able to keep me forever and forever. That’s what it is to be a Christian. That’s what it is to be saved. And that’s the invitation we make to your heart tonight.
Would you take Him? Would you turn and trust Jesus? Would you come and bow at His feet? Would you look up into His face? Would you give Him your heart and your life? Would you make it now? Coming down one of these stairwells, you in the balcony, a throng of you in the balcony, at the front, here at the back, coming down one of those stairwells, a whole family or just one somebody you, "I take Jesus as my Savior tonight, and here I come, and here I am." On this lower floor, a whole family to come, or one somebody you, come. As the Spirit of God shall lead the way and as the Holy Father shall open the door, walk, walk, walk toward God. Walk toward Jesus; offer Him your heart and your soul. "Lord, the best I know how, I turn toward Thee. I look unto Thee. I do trust Thee. And I offer Thee tonight my poor soul and heart and life. Keep me now blessed Lord, and when I die and in the long eternity that is yet to come, remember me. Save me, Lord." And He will. And He will. While we sing this song, come, while we stand and while we sing.