We’re in the middle of our study of James in our Sunday morning young adult Bible Study class. Last week, we discussed James 1:19-25, where we are challenged to not only be hearers of the Word, but doers also. There is an interesting analogy found in verses 23-25. A man who looks in the mirror, but forgets right away what he looks like. Here’s an extension of that:
This man looks into the mirror in the morning, sees that he is an 86 year old married man with wrinkles and arthritis. He then leaves the house, and hits on 20 year old super-models while attempting to ride a skateboard to and from his job as a shipyard cargo loader. At the end of the day, he wonders why his back, knees, and hips hurt so bad and why his wife of 45 years is angry at him. He looks in the mirror again before he goes to bed and it all clicks, “Oh yeah – I’m an 86 year old married man with wrinkles and arthritis.” The next day, the cycle repeats.
When we approach the Word, as Children of God, we are exposed. His glorious truth reveals the innermost wickedness of our hearts and demands confession and repentance. But those of us who choose to ignore the utterings of the indwelling Spirit of God are only fooling (deceiving, James 1:22) ourselves. When we suppress the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we are choosing to live unnaturally as God’s chosen. Read Lewis Chafer’s words on this from his 1922 work, Grace: The Glorious Theme:
“The carnal Christian is abnormal. His position is perfect in Christ, but in character and conduct,
he violates the most precious principles and provisions of grace,” (346).
Being BORN AGAIN (John 3:3), CITIZENS OF HEAVEN (Philippians 3:20), it is only natural that our character and conduct would exemplify that of the One in whom we “abide,” (John 15:1-8). Anything less is abnormal, perverted, and unusual. So where do we get off being “hearers of the Word,” but not “doers?”
Earlier in Chafer’s work, we find these words:
“No Christian may hope to live well-pleasing to God who does not know the facts of the revealed
will of God for his daily life… appalling ignorance exists on every hand
concerning these vital truths and distinctions in the Word of God.”
I. I think the first problem is that we don’t really even know what the Word of God says. We are biblically illiterate, and to tell you the truth, I think we’d like to stay that way. The more we learn from scripture, the more we, as Children of God, are obligated to conform our walks to God’s desire. But again, Christian friend, we are DECEIVING ourselves! We cannot walk in God’s glory or victory if we don’t subject ourselves to His truth, His character, and His commandments. Once again, Chafer’s words:
II. Secondly, I believe that when we look in the mirror of God’s Word, which reveals us as we truly are, we are likely to distort the image we see somewhere between our eyes and our minds. Viz., when we read something in scripture that demands a change from us in character or conduct, we are apt to excuse ourselves from it by our own reasoning. We tell ourselves things like, “Well, it wasn’t really ‘sin,’ it was more of a fault. It’s God who made me this way.” Or perhaps, “I wouldn’t have done that if ‘X’ hadn’t happened, or if ‘Y’ person hadn’t provoked me.” Again, we are only DECEIVING ourselves! Read Matthew Henry’s words from his commentary on James 1:19-21:
“We must therefore yield ourselves to the Word of God, with most submissive, humble, and tractable tempers; this is to receive it with meekness. Being willing to hear of our own faults, and taking it not only patiently, but thankfully – desiring also to be molded and formed by the doctrines and precepts of the gospel.”
The Word of God is a gracious gift to us. It reveals what He requires from us as His children. It gives us standards by which to live, and examples to follow. It provides counsel and truth applicable to every occasion. Why do we shun it so?! Why do we approach it with such contempt and fallible presumptions?! Can’t we come to it expecting to see a clear and accurate picture of who we are?! Can’t we trust the One who has revealed, written, preserved, and delivered it for us?!
We seek blessing from our God. Every Sunday, we walk into church desiring a “blessing” from God. “I’m here to be blessed!” “I want God’s blessings on me and my family.” Do you really? Because God has revealed to you how you may live a blessed life. James 1:25:
“The one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who acts – this person will be BLESSED in what he does.”
Grace and Peace,