Q. Could you explain James 2:19 in relation to salvation and works? I’ve heard many use this verse to say “see, just believing isn’t enough for salvation because the demons believe and aren’t saved”. They say your fruit is indicated by your “works”. Can you put this into proper perspective?
A. James 2:19 says, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.”
A simple reading of the passage tells the story. The demons believe there is one God because they’ve seen Him. The Jews also believe there’s one God, and so do the liberal denominations who teach that you don’t have to be born again to be saved.
But believing there’s a God is not sufficient for salvation. It takes the belief that He sent His son to die for us, and that the Son’s death purchased a pardon for our sins that allowed God to grant us eternal life. The Son’s resurrection is proof that we will be resurrected too.
God didn’t send His Son to save the demons, so all they can look forward to is judgment. That’s why they shudder.
People who say we have to generate good works to “prove” we’re saved are misinterpreting this verse. True belief will manifest good works of one kind or another, but Jesus said that the only work God requires for salvation is to believe in the One He sent (John 6:28-29), and the Bible is clear that our salvation is based on belief alone. John 1:12-13, John 3:16, John 5:24, John 6:40 are a few of many examples.