The Faith of Many People Today
The phrase “I believe in God” is often heard among people who claim to be religious. Some, not willing to be so specific, say they believe in “something” or “the universe,” confessions that seem to be fashionable today.
Actually, what they mean is that they believe that “Someone” or “something” exists and that he (or it) created us and left us on Earth. They mentally accept the idea that there is a Being who is bigger than themselves. At first glance, these confessions of faith may seem sufficient, but is this so?
The Faith of Some in the First Century
To answer this question, we consider a passage from the letter of James. In this epistle, the inspired writer addresses some who had a similar belief to the people of today. James says to them, “You believe that God is one; you do well” (James 2:19). The Jews used Deuteronomy 6:4 as part of their daily prayers. It says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Now, as Christians, they remembered well this fact about the nature of God.
However, James adds a very important point that they had forgotten: “Even the demons believe–and shudder!” (James 2:19). It was not enough to believe in the existence of the one God. Even the evil spirits, Satan’s angels (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:7-8), know with all surety that God exists! However, they refuse to obey his will. They don’t respect his word or feel responsible to him. As a result, neither are they saved.
The faith of many today is not very different from that of those Hebrew Christians. They use phrases like “I believe in God” or “I believe in something,” as if they were a magic formula that satisfies their responsibility before the Creator. They seem to think that this way they can avoid their obligation to obey him. They want to do things their way, without humbly submitting to the word of God or giving up their sinful practices.
What does God think about this kind of “faith”? Jesus answers frankly, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). He asks all those who want to believe without obeying, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46).
It’s not enough to believe in the existence of God. Besides accepting the idea that God exists, it’s necessary to obey his will. In order to have a true faith, it’s necessary to humbly receive his word and put it into practice in our daily lives (James 1:21-22).