Summary: This sermon challenges believers to go beyond merely hearing the truth to practicing the truth.
Be a Doer of the Word
Our text in James today emphasizes the difference between hearing and doing God’s Word. I came across a wonderful illustration of this from Chuck Swindoll. He says…(READ Swindoll Illustration)
How true to life is that? Let’s examine what James says regarding hearing and doing.
I. Hearing God’s Word without doing leads to self-deception.
A. Do not merely listen to the Word.
1. Note that James does not devalue hearing. Hearing
the Word is important. Faith comes by hearing and
hearing by the Word of Christ (Rom. 10:17).
2. James speaks of the fact that hearing alone is not
enough. Hearing must be accompanied by action.
B. Mere hearing leads to self-deception.
1. The person who hears without doing is like a person
who looks into the mirror, walks away, and forgets
what he or she looked like.
a. Looking into God’s Word (hearing) reveals
our true condition like a mirror shows our
face. It shows where things are right as well
as where things are out of order. It is not like
the carnival mirrors that give distorted ideas
of our true condition. It shows us for real.
b. But if we look into the mirror (hearing) and
then walk away and forget what we saw, not
taking steps to address what the Word shows,
then we are self-deceived.
c. We think we have benefited spiritually when
in reality, we are worse off than before. We
have only gained accountability for light from
the truth which we don’t plan to act upon.
There are some approaches to Scripture in our own day which result in being hearers only and not doers. They lead to self-deception.
• Relativistic hearers. Those who undermine the authority of Scripture by suggesting that “it may be right for you but it is not right for me.” It is the crowd who suggest the Word is no longer relevant for our day. You have your truth and I have mine.
• Superstitious hearers. Others treat the Bible like a magic talisman of some kind. Like the children of Israel who thought they would win the battle just because they had the ark of the covenant with them, some think that just because they read the Bible, they are going to automatically be blessed by God.
• Emotional hearers. No doubt the Word affects our emotions, but some come to the Bible seeking a certain kind of experience. They are more interested in feeling than doing.
• Theoretical hearers. These are the hearers who come to the Bible just to gain information. They emphasize Bible knowledge and theological correctness, but they aren’t so interested in practical godliness.
All these hearers who neglect doing what Scripture says are self-deceived.
APP: How many times have you and I had the experience of being exposed to Scripture through reading or a sermon, and with that exposure we began to sense conviction. The Word began pointing out things we need to change. We sensed an attitude we needed to get rid of. We felt convicted to start doing something we had not been doing. We sensed a need for a change in some relationship. As we listened to the Word, we began to say in our hearts, “I am going to do something about this. I am going to change. I am going to get things right with God.”
Then, the final hymn was sung, we left the church and we quickly forgot all the conviction and potential change we promised to make. How much spiritual good did that exposure to the Word of God do for us? Did we not leave in one sense deceived into thinking that we had done some spiritual good when we really left in worse shape than before?
II. Hearing and doing God’s Word leads to blessedness.
James now contrasts the doer with the hearer. He describes the doer of the word in four important phrases.
A. The doer looks intently into the Word.
1. The word James uses pictures a person who stoops
down to look at something. It is the image of a
serious observation intent on understanding the
2. This is the person who undertakes serious study of
the Word of God to develop deep understanding.
APP: Someone once compared two classes of Bible students. Some are like tourists. They hit the well-known places and stick to the well-worn paths. Others are like explorers. These people go beyond the safe and easy places. They venture into more difficult terrain and press on to find mountain peaks and remote meadows which others will not see because they are unwilling to do the work.
3. Note James’ description of the Word of God. It is the
perfect law that gives freedom. The Word of God is