“AT LEAST THE DEVILS TREMBLE”
1. Despite the vast sums of money that are spent each year to discover other forms of intelligent life in distant galaxies, and despite the sometimes extremely entertaining science fiction movies that are almost always predicated on the existence of life on other planets that simply has to be more intelligent than we are, there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support the notion that life exists elsewhere in the universe.
2. If we are content to speak where the Bible speaks and to remain silent where the Bible remains silent, one can only conclude that there are two types, two varieties, two kinds of sentient life forms created by God. One kind of intelligent life form created by God is a form of life that exists in a partly physical state. It is a race of creatures called man. The other intelligent life form that exists both in and beyond the physical universe is not a race of creatures at all, but a company. Neither are they corporeal beings, but are incorporeal, having no material, but only a spiritual, existence. They are called angels.
3. As man has a spiritual, a nonphysical, aspect to his existence and propagates by means of physical sexual reproduction, angels are a completely different order of life, having come to exist by the direct creation of God instead of reproducing after their own kind, and possessed with some capacity to at least control physical objects or creatures while not being physical beings themselves.
4. If we understand that the phrase “sons of God” describes anyone who is the direct creation of God, and that the phrase “morning stars” is poetical language used to described these same angelic beings, I take it that Job 38.4-7 speaks to the time when God created the physical universe we now inhabit, and that the company of angels created by God were already in existence at the time God created this universe.
5. Turn to that passage, Job 38.4-7, and read with me what the angels did when God created this universe and all that herein is:
4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;
7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
6. Verse 7 reveals to us that they “sang together” and “shouted for joy” in response to God’s handiwork. How was this possible? Being nonphysical creatures, incorporeal, they were created before God made the physical universe. Thus, they were on hand to appreciate and to cheer what God did in Genesis chapters 1 and 2.
7. But something happened shortly after God created the heavens and the earth. Lucifer rebelled against God and one third of the host of heaven followed him in his rebellion. I read from Revelation 12.3-4, a text filled with symbolism, but a passage that I am convinced describes Lucifer’s rebellion against God and the result of those angels who rebelled against God with him: “. . . behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth . . . .”
8. Two thirds of the angelic host originally created by God remain holy and loyal to God; such angels as Michael and Gabriel, the cherubim and seraphim. This evening I want to spend some time speaking to you about those of the angelic host who did not remain loyal to God. Let us take note of some things about those vile and repulsive creatures:
1A. First, TAKE NOTE OF WHAT THE DEVILS DO
1B. But what happened to the multitudes of angels, that one third of the heavenly host who sinned with Lucifer, now known as Satan, who were cast to the earth? I think they do what their leader does. In Job 1.7 and 2.2, Satan is called to give accounts of his activities to the LORD. By his own mouth he declares that he goes to and fro in the earth and that he walks up and down in it. And in First Peter 5.8, we are told that Satan “walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
2B. What does this mean? It means that there is an inestimable host of foul spirits, now called demons and devils, who travel the earth for no other purpose than to contaminate and defile, to ruin and destroy, just like their leader, Satan, does.
3B. Their purpose, I think, is the same as Satan’s. If you will remember, from Isaiah 14.13-14, Satan’s motive for rebelling against God was self-exaltation: “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” Lucifer actually longed for the worship and adoration that is properly due only to God.
4B. So, as Satan was behind Nimrod’s tower in Babel, erecting a religion of idolatry that he might gain the worship of men, so demons work in the false religions of this world to acquire what they lust for and cannot rightly have, the worship from man that is supposed to go only to God. Listen to what Paul wrote to the Corinthians in First Corinthians 10.20: “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.”
5B. Sometimes they are more subtle, as is suggested in First Timothy 4.1: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” Make no mistake about it, subverting the true religion with demonic doctrine has ever been their tactic, and never more so than in these last days. Decisionism is a demonic doctrine, as is John MacArthur’s heretical view of the blood of Christ.
6B. But demons do not only use false religion to subject men to their will. They also afflict people in other ways:
1C. In Matthew 4.24, we read, “And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.”
2C. In Mark 9.17-18, we read, “And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.”
3C. In Luke 4.33, we read, “And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice.”
4C. In Luke 13.11, we read, “And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.”
5C. In Acts 16.16, we read, “And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying.”
7B. So you see, demons use a variety of tactics. In Galilee and Judea during Jesus’ time the demons directly afflicted people, making them dumb or suicidal or insane. In Corinth they seem to have been content with subduing men with false religion, as they are so effective with today using the idolatries of Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. But whatever they do, it is no good.
2A. Second, TAKE NOTE OF WHY THE DEVILS TREMBLE
1B. Their destiny, of course, is irreversible. The demons, like Satan himself, will have no opportunity for repentance or salvation from their sins. In Matthew 25.41, the Lord Jesus Christ specifically states that “everlasting fire,” a reference to the lake of fire, was “prepared for the devil and his angels.”
2B. So, you can see why such creatures, eternal and intelligent, would be filled with such despair. Having rebelled against the omnipotent God, they now find themselves doomed without hope. Let me read two verses which tell us of an encounter the Lord Jesus Christ had with two demon possessed men. I read from Matthew 8.28-29: “And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?”
3B. Notice the phrase, “art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” The demons know what God has in store for them. They even have an approximation of when their torment will begin. But they are not omniscient creatures. They do not know everything. And they were surprised by their encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, and terribly frightened that their eternal torment had come upon them more quickly than they anticipated.
4B. Perhaps it was this encounter that James witnessed. Perhaps it was another encounter, that is not recorded in Scripture, but which he saw with his own eyes, which led him to write the inspired verse which serves as this evening’s text, James 2.19: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”
5B. That word “tremble” is significant. It is the word frissw, and it means to tremble from fear, to shudder. The word is used to refer to the physical signs of terror, especially of the hair on the back of your neck standing on end. The fact that the word in our text is the present active indicative form of the verb means that this is what the demons continually do, not something they do only when particularly provoked or startled.
6B. Understand, my friends, that the demons, those fallen angels who followed Satan in his catastrophic rebellion against God, are utterly and constantly terrified at the thought of their coming doom. Powerful as they are, they cannot escape it. Intelligent as they are, they cannot figure a way out. They are damned, they know they are damned, and they tremble at the very thought of its approach.
3A. Third, TAKE NOTE OF WHY YOU DO NOT TREMBLE
1B. The fact is, you do not tremble. Though your destiny is the same as the demons, though the punishment will be meted out in the same way and in the same place as theirs, and though you are no less aware of your fate than they are, you do not tremble as they tremble.
2B. It is obvious, from the trembling of the demons, that one does not need to be spiritually awakened to be terrified of the lake of fire and of going there, one does not have to be spiritually insightful to be horrified at the thought of being punished by an angry God forever and ever and ever and ever. After all, those foul spirits, the demons, are.
3B. I suspect that there are two basic reasons by the demons tremble and you do not: First, they are not physical creatures and you are. They can see what you and I cannot, but must take by faith. And being a physical creature, you are convinced in your mind that all there is is what you can see and feel and smell and taste and touch and hear, even though you really know there is more beyond your perception. And you would like for things to be only what you can see and smell and taste and touch and hear, because that would mean there is no eternity and no lake of fire.
4B. The second reason the demons tremble and you do not, is because they are not creatures limited for the present to time, while you and I for the present are. That means, as time passes, what used to alarm us no longer alarms you. What used to bother you does not bother you anymore. You have heard the old bromide, “Time heals all wounds”? Time does not heal all wounds, but we say that it does. So, with the passage of time you are able to sear your conscience, you are able to cloud your mind, you are able to harden your heart, so that the thought of eternal damnation no longer frightens you like it did when you were a child.
5B. In one respect, it seems that you are at a disadvantage to the demons. Your senses are dulled, while theirs are not. Your conscience is seared, while they have no conscience to sear. But remember, they have no hope of salvation from their sins, while you are invited to come to Christ for forgiveness full and free. So, you are really at a great advantage, so long as you will avail yourself of God’s grace.
4A. Finally, TAKE NOTE OF HOW YOU WILL COME TO TREMBLE
1B. The demons tremble because they know they have sinned, and they know God is angry at them, and they know that His wrath is inescapable. But you do not tremble, because for one reason or another those truths do not seem to truly reach you. It is partly the deadness of your fallen and sinful nature, but it is also the consequence of your past refusals to obey the Gospel.
2B. How, then, will you come to tremble as the demons tremble? How will you tremble as one does whose heart is prepared to come to Christ? How will you tremble as one does who takes note of both his fear of the LORD and his great sins against the LORD? Ah, that can only come about as a result of the Holy Spirit’s efforts to persuade you and convince you.
3B. But what happens if the Spirit of God does not alarm you now as He did in the past? What is to become of you if you were once convicted to the point of fear and trembling, but you are no longer fearful or trembling? Perhaps you have grieved Him away. Maybe your opportunity has passed.
4B. I do not know if such things have occurred. But I do know what you should do, whether or not your opportunity has passed, whether or not the Spirit has been grieved away by you. You should strive to enter in.
1. Think for a moment, before I conclude: God’s greatest enemies are so terrified of Him that they tremble, that the proverbial hair on the back of their necks stands up. They are terrified with fright by the might and majesty of Almighty God pouring out His wrath on them.
2. But you are not much bothered by it all. Why not? Could it be because you do not envision yourself as God’s enemy, as the demons are? Well, think again. Romans 5.10 categorizes every unsaved person as God’s enemy. That means you are God’s enemy. You are in the same camp as the demons and the Devil.
3. That is why I urge you to strive until you tremble, until you tremble enough to flee to Christ.
 Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 1065.
 Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 730.