“21 Therefore lay apart all filthiness and the superfluity of wickedness, and receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he beholdeth himself, and then goeth his way and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. James 1:21-25
“Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Amen.
It is through the hearing of God’s Word that we are saved, for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17).
The Word of God convicts us of our sins and calls us to repent of our evil ways — of “all filthiness and the superfluity of wickedness” — and to look in faith to the shed blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for pardon and forgiveness. The Word is engrafted into our hearts and there creates faith that takes hold of God’s promises of mercy and forgiveness in the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world.
However, as James warns us, such faith is not just an empty assent to the facts. It’s not a faith that produces no fruits; it’s not an empty, dead faith, for “faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17). And so, James says, “But be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (v. 22).
When we hear the Word of God preached and proclaimed, or when we read it in our Bibles, it will do us no good unless we act on it. To hear the Word and not do as it says is self-deception — thinking that all is well with our souls when it is not — when we have no real and genuine faith in Christ Jesus.
It is to hear the Word of God calling us to repent of our evil ways and to look in faith to Christ Jesus and His cross for forgiveness but then not repenting of our sins and not looking to Christ. It is to continue on in our sinful ways rather than to lay aside “all filthiness and the superfluity of wickedness, and receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls.”
It is seeing ourselves in the mirror of God’s law — seeing our utter sinfulness and the just condemnation we deserve on account of our sins — but then coming away and forgetting our wretchedness and, consequently, not seeing our need to repent and look in faith to the cross of Jesus.
As James writes, “For if any be a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror; for he beholdeth himself, and then goeth his way and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was” (James 1:23-24).
Do you do this? Do you see from reading and hearing God’s Word that you are a sinner and deserving of God’s wrath and punishment but then just go your way and do nothing about it? Do you assume it’s OK to continue on as you are and not repent and look in faith to Christ and His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world?
John the Baptist said to his hearers (Luke 3:7-9): “O generation of vipers! Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say among yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say unto you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees. Every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire.”
If one truly looks at himself and examines himself in the mirror of God’s law and sees his wickedness and sin and then hears of Christ and His holy life and His innocent suffering and death in our stead, of His sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world (1 John 2:1-2), this word, if it becomes engrafted in the sinner’s heart, will move him to repent of all sins, trust in Christ for pardon and forgiveness, and then, as a fruit of faith, to amend his evil ways and seek to live for the LORD God in accord with His Word.
Has God’s Word become engrafted in your heart? Is it putting down roots and growing, moving you to repent of your sinful ways and look in faith to Christ and His cross for pardon and forgiveness?
James writes: “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”
The one in whom the Word of God has taken root repents of his evil deeds and looks to Christ for mercy and forgiveness. But the Word also moves him to then amend his evil ways and seek to live for Christ who died for him and rose again. He is set free of the guilt and condemnation of his sins that he might freely live for His Savior!
As the Scriptures say in 2 Corinthians 5:15, “He [Christ] died for all, that those who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them and rose again.”
Grant that I be not a forgetful hearer but a doer of Your Word, O Lord. Grant that I see my sins and repent, trusting in Christ and His cross for forgiveness and life everlasting, and then amend my ways and live for You. Amen.
[Scripture quoted from the 21st Century King James Version (KJ21) Copyright © 1994 by Deuel Enterprises, Inc.]