“So the LORD said to Moses, ‘Say to Aaron, “Stretch out your rod, and strike the dust of the land, so that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.”’ And they did so. For Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod and struck the dust of the earth, and it became lice on man and beast. All the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. Now the magicians so worked with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not. So there were lice on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, ‘This is the finger of God.’ But Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, just as the LORD had said.” (Exodus 8.16-19).

Egyptian magicians weren’t particularly noted for their faith in the God of Israel. In fact, they worshiped and served hundreds of pagan gods, each of which stood in direct opposition to the teachings and commandments of the LORD God. Yet, when confronted by an undeniable miracle, they could do nothing but confess that the power behind the feat was “the finger of God.” This confession came on the heels of their “imitation miracles” which mimicked the turning of water into blood and the production of multitudes of frogs. However, the appearance of such multitudes of lice (possibly current day gnats or mosquitoes) was more than they could conjure up.

The confession by Pharaoh’s magicians is not the only one where the enemies of God were forced to admit His existence, power, and majesty. Perhaps a more notable one, and one which has more direct application to us, took place at the cross of Jesus Christ. There had been innumerable miracles which had accompanied His ministry and it seems that anyone who truly wanted to know of His power had only to visit one of the places where He was preaching and performing miracles. Yet, there were countless and nameless masses which had never bowed their knee to Him. One such person was in attendance at the cross; he was a Roman soldier. Notice Mark’s record of the event. “So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this Man was the Son of God!’” (Mark 15.39). Like the magicians of Egypt, the centurion witnessed events which could only mean one thing, even the thing which his pagan culture vehemently denied.

One other type of confession will conclude our short study. As Jesus was passing through a particular place “…there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way. And suddenly they cried out, saying, ‘What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?’” (Matthew 8.28-29). In another place, Luke reported, “When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of God!’ And He, rebuking them, did not allow them to speak, for they knew that He was the Christ.” (Luke 4.40-41).

James had it right when he wrote, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2.19). The magicians believed in the God of the Hebrews, but they did not submit to him. The centurion believed that Jesus was the Son of God but there is no evidence that he submitted to Him. The demon-possessed of Jesus’ day knew full well who He was but they did not submit to Him. Believing is great, but it is not everything. If the doctrine of "faith only" produces followers of God, then magicians, pagans, and demons follow God; however, that just isn’t the way it is. Belief must be accompanied by works in order for justification to occur (James 2.14-26).

Questions:

1. What caused the magicians to declare that they were dealing with the “finger of God”?

2. What caused the centurion to declare that Jesus was the Son of God?

3. What evidence is there that the demons knew who Jesus was?

4. If "faith only" saves, what did James mean when he said, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.”?