From my devotions this morning:
“And the Lord said:
“Because this people draw near with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
while their hearts are far from me,
and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,
therefore, behold, I will again
do wonderful things with this people,
with wonder upon wonder;
and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.”
Jesus quotes this verse (29:13) as found in the Gospel of Mark (7:7) where He calls out the Pharisees and scribes for their lip service to God. You must decide for yourself whether mere belief in God is enough (“Even the Demons believe…” – James 2:19), or whether this belief must result in some consequent inner change in the person (and outward “Fruit”, i.e., Matthew 7:15-20).
One of the teachers at Hope Chapel, who taught a couple of the HCMI (Hope Chapel Ministries Institute) course that I took, said that you can put it into a matrix format (as crudely illustrated below). It’s a simple analysis to show that people who do not believe, and who have no “Moral” or philanthropic behavior or attitude, are merely folks wandering around in their default human state. That would be what the Bible refers to as “The Flesh”. Again, that is our “Default” state.
The next state, where belief comes into the picture, those who simply believe in Jesus, but where there is no consequent change in the heart (as evidenced by outward behavior, the “Fruits of the Spirit”), are Demonic, or are operating from the Demonic perspective, as quoted in the Book of James (see reference above). Then, there are those, who for a variety of reasons, tend to operate from the philanthropic, or what most folks refer to as “Goodness” of their hearts. Those people are self-righteous, but as we know, they will not make it to Heaven under their own power (see John 14:6, and Romans 3:23).
The only “Saving” spot in this matrix it should be emphasized (also known as true salvation, or authentic faith) is the bottom right corner, where folks believe in Jesus, and are changed inwardly (by the act of the Holy Spirit, something over which we actually have no control). This “Conversion” leads to a changed heart the Bible tells us (Ezekiel 36:26), and that changed heart is then capable of the desire to follow Jesus and brings about an honest desire to become more like Him.