Text: James 1: 22-27
We understand that not only in Bible times, but more so it seems in our times, there are those who will scoff at God’s word. They are not willing to give audience to God’s word; they are not willing to hear God’s word. They called it a dead letter and yet never having truly and honestly investigated its claims for themselves. Yet there are others who are willing to listen to God’s word but simply will do nothing about it. The Bible stresses the necessity of not only hearing, but then, of obeying that which we hear.
Recognizing what God’s word says is one thing but then, willing to obey and do, is another. The difficulty in the lives of most Christians as well as many of the problems that arise in the congregation is not so much the ignorance of what God’s word teaches on a particular subject, but the willingness to abide by it in our lives. Most of those who miss worship services can quote Hebrew 10:25 as surely as I can. It’s not a problem of knowledge, it is a matter of practice. Thus, God, through the pen of James, in particular, points out the importance of obeying or doing God’s word as well as hearing. Hearing is typically much easier than doing. It’s one thing to sit in a Bible class or sermon and hear the preacher or teacher say “This is what the Word of God says and how important it is that we give heed to that”, we may even agree with every statement that he makes. But when it comes down to application of those principles in our day-to-day life, it becomes more difficult.
5 types of hearers: (vs 22-25)
- THE SELF-DECEIVED HEARER
David deceived himself into believing that everything he had done could be justified until Nathan rebuked him. Someone says “The toughest man to deal with is the man in the mirror.” That’s the danger of being self-deceived (vs 22)
- THE PUNITIVE HEAR
The punitive hearer is the one who believes that a good tongue lashing straightens everything out. I know there are those who, sit in the pews and listen to a preacher spending some time in rebuke, exhortation and reproof and they come out and say, “Well, he really gave it to us this morning, didn’t he?” “Well, that’s right. You know, he really has good points that really struck me, that really hurt,” And yet, from that point forward, they really do nothing to change their lives. Here, James is talking about those who hear but make no change, deceiving themselves.
- THE SUBSTITUTE-FINDING HEARER
There are others who want to substitute. Those who want to substitute the 2 hours hearing for a week of working. They believe that as long as they come in and occupy their places on the pew and sit through the sermon, God is pleased with that and that’s all that is. Nothing can be further from the truth. They are deceiving themselves.
- THE FORGETFUL HEARER
James talks about the very distinct possibility of being a forgetful hearer in vs 25. He uses a very good illustration in vs 24, of a looking mirror, how that one can look into the mirror and can see the corrections that need to be made and yet as soon as they turn away and walk away from that, they begin to be occupied with something else, they forget what corrections needed to be made. How easy it is for us to do the same thing with God’s word, whether we are listening to a sermon, whether we are studying the word for ourselves, or sitting in a Bible class, recognizing that there are corrections that need to be made, recognizing that there is Christian spiritual progress that needs to be made yet, no sooner than getting across the parking lot and into our car, we forget the urgency of that message. This is one of the greatest spiritual dangers that can step into a Christian’s life – the tendency to forget.
- THE OBEDIENT HEARER
The good news is, James says, there are some believers who are not self-deceive, who are not forgetful. There are some, in vs 22, who are obedient, that is, they are actually doers of the word and His commands. John deals with that in 1 John 5:3 when he says, For this is the love of God that ye keep my commandments.” Notice this, His commandments are not grievous. The one who is motivated properly by the love for God, His commandments are not grievous to him. He is the obedient hearer, he looks at every aspect of God’s will for his life and says, “Hey that’s not only the right thing to do, that’s a smart thing to do. I appreciate God for steering me away from the wrong course of action or thinking. He doesn’t find his endeavor to practice God’s word in that regard, a tedious or a grievous thing but something that makes his life better.
WHAT GOD HAS COMANDED MAN TO DO?
Man must look into the perfect law of liberty. (James 1:25) Study is not only a Christian’s duty but also a Christian’s privilege. We must study God’s word in order to handle it right. 2 Timothy 2:15 and 1 Peter 2:2 challenge us to long for the sincere milk of the word that we may grow thereby.
Jesus concluded His sermon on the Mount by emphasizing the importance of obedient hearing. Matthew 7:21-23, “Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in thy name?” “I never knew you if you don’t do the will of the Father which is in heaven.”