There’s one thing I’ve discovered since I’ve been thinking about God and trying to surrender to Him. Every time I see the word “believe” or “faith” in the Bible I substitute the word “trust”. Works almost every time, except in that verse, in James, that says, “Even the devils believe, and tremble.” For example, “For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever [trusts] in Him, will not perish, but have eternal life.”(John 3:16) And, “Abraham [trusted] God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.” (Gen 15:6) And, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through [trust], and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9) Like I say, works almost every time.
In Greek, the language of the New Testament, the word for ‘believe’ is the same as the word for trust. In Greek the root word is ‘pisteuo’, and it means, to believe, to have confidence in, to trust, to rely on; the same root, different ending, pistis, is faith; and pistos, means ‘trustworthy’, ‘faithful’.
Today, in the United States, ‘believe ‘ is a different word with a different meaning from ‘trust’. Believe is something we do with our heads; trust is something we do with our hearts. Believe is mental assent to a fact or to the truth of something; trust is reliance on the object of our belief. So James 2:19 is right. The demons do believe; they do recognize that God exists; and they do tremble. But they don’t trust Him. They give mental assent; but they don’t rely on Him to take care of them. Oh, and if trust is something we do with our hearts, we should remember one other thing, which it says over and over, throughout the Bible, “Men look at outward appearances, but God looks at the heart.” So God knows; He knows very well, whether we trust with our hearts, or whether we just believe with our heads.
And what about ‘faith’. In Hebrews 11:1 and following, it says, “Faith is. . .” Please substitute [trust]. “Now trust is the substance and the evidence . . .Without trust it is impossible to please God, for whoever comes to God must trust that He exists and trust that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Still fits, and it still conveys the true message of what God wants from us; and it’s not something you do with your head.