The world has this policy: if it feels good, do it! The results of this promiscuous lifestyle is headline news: NlU3, teenage pregnancy, herpes, alcoholism, and the list goes on and on. The world are doers of whatever appeals to their wicked natures. The Christian is also, by nature, sinful. Do we, or can we, do whatever we feel like doing? Do we feel an urge to try everything at least once, maybe more if we like it?
James 1:22 states, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” James is telling us that there is more to salvation than going to church twice every Sunday. Just because you are going to a Christian school doesn’t mean you are automatically saved. James says you must follow the instruction that you receive in church (and in the school which is an extension of the home). You must show by your walk, that wondrous gift of salvation that God has given you; otherwise, you are deceiving yourself.
Are you a hearer, or are you a hearer and a doer? James continues on in verses 23 & 24 and compares one that only hears God’s word to a person who looks in a mirror; that mirror being God’s word. The mirror of God’s word tells us what ugly, sinful creatures we are; but the hearer goes his way and forgets what an ugly sinner he saw.
A person that only hears the word and doesn’t walk obedient to that word is deceiving himself. He goes to church because it is required of him; perhaps he’d as soon stay home in bed, but to keep peace in the house, he will go to church. The word of God affects him only superficially; he thinks to himself, “Yes, I’m sinful, but I’m saved. That’s what I’m taught. My salvation is sure regardless of the sins I commit. ” Then he goes merrily on his sinful, unrepentant way. He continues to go to movies, parties, and, in general, does whatever he pleases. Do not deceive yourselves, young people. Do not forget what answer 64 of the Heidelberg Catechism says, “For it is impossible that those who are implanted into Christ by a true faith, should not bring forth fruits of thankfulness.”
Do we bring forth fruits of thankfulness when we go to movies, or when we don’t want to bother ourselves with preparing for catechism and societies? No! We are deceiving ourselves. We must look into the mirror of God’s word and see what sinful creatures we are. We must ask God’s forgiveness and strive to lead a new and holy life. Col. 1:10 states, “That ye walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God. ”
But the world is filled with temptations that appeal to our flesh. The devil fills our minds with evil thoughts. So often we say. “We don’t have anything to do. We can’t do anything.” Sometimes. I think that we have this horrible misconception that we can’t have fun unless we are doing something that is sinful. What a wicked, wretched, abominable sin that would be. Get rid of that idea and see what James 1:25 has to say about the law of God, “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.”
First of all, notice that James calls the law, the perfect law of liberty. God’s law doesn’t put us in bondage so that we cannot do anything. No, it is the perfect law of liberty; it sets us free. Our sins are what put us in bondage. I1 Cor. 3:17 states, “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Rom. 8:21, “Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. ” Gal. 5:1 & 13 and many other passages teach us that sin is bondage; only in Christ are we set free. Remember that the next time you complain you have nothing to do and are using that as a justification for sinful deeds.
How can we be doers of the word and not hearers only? That is really the theme of the entire book of James: Doers of the Word. James 2:26 states, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 1:27, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” In and of ourselves we cannot do this; in fact, we have not the least desire to do this. It is only in and through God’s grace that we receive the ability to fight the battle of faith.
We must depend on God, not our own strength. In our own strength we will surely fail. In God’s strength we are assured of the victory. In and through God alone can we walk worthy of the Lord.