Summary: An personal in-depth look at our Christian life.
GOD’S WORD AS A MIRROR
INTRO: IMPORTANT! PLACE A REMOVABLE BLACK MARK ON YOUR RIGHT CHEEK BEFORE STARTING THIS MESSAGE. The Bible is one of the ways god reveals our sins to us. It is not enough to hear the Word; we must do it. Many people have the mistaken idea that hearing a good sermon or Bible study is what makes them grow. It is not the hearing but the doing that brings the blessing and growth. Too many Christians mark their Bibles, but their Bibles never mark them! Looking in the Bible is like looking in a mirror. It reveals us as God sees us, the way a mirror reveals how others see us, not how we think we appear to them.
In this passage, James is comparing the Word to a mirror. There are two other references in the Bible to God’s Word as a mirror; and when you put all three together, you discover three ministries of the Word of God as a mirror.
I. EXAMINATION (James 1:23-25).
Why do you own a mirror? To be able to see yourself and make yourself look as clean and neat as possible. As we look into the mirror of God’s Word, we see ourselves as we really are. James mentions several mistakes people make as they look into God’s mirror. Casually glance into a small hand mirror — left side is best side.
1. — They merely glance at themselves. They do not carefully study themselves as they read the Word. You don’t just glance in a mirror when you are getting ready for the day. A casual reading of the Bible will never reveal our deepest needs. It is the difference between a candid photo and an X-ray.
2. — They forget what they see. Have you ever looked at yourself in a mirror then when you walked away you forgot what you saw? If they were looking deeply enough into their hearts, what they would see would be unforgettable! Listen to what Isaiah and Peter said when they searched their hearts. Isaiah cried, “Woe is me! for I am undone!” (Isa. 6:5), and Peter cried, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8).
3. — They fail to obey what the Word tells them to do. They think that hearing is the same as doing and it is not. We Christians sometimes substitute reading for doing, or even talking for doing. We hold endless committee meetings and conferences about topics like evangelism and church growth, and think we have made progress. Where there is certainly nothing wrong with conferences and committee meetings, they are sinful if they are a substitute for service.
If we are to use God’s mirror profitably, then we must gaze into it carefully and with serious intent (v. 25). No quick glances will do. We must examine our own hearts and lives in the light of God’s Word. This requires time, attention, and sincere devotion. Five minutes with God each day will never accomplish a deep spiritual examination. GAZE INTENTLY INTO THE MIRROR AND DISCOVER THE BLACK MARK!
ILLUS: If you had a serious medical problem, would you be satisfied if the doctor only took a few minutes examining you? When Jesus the Great Physician examines us, He uses His Word; and He wants us to give Him sufficient time to do the job well.
After seeing ourselves, we must remember what we are and what God says, and we must do the Word. The blessing comes in doing, not in the reading of the Word.
II. RESTORATION (Exodus 38:8).
When he built the tabernacle, Moses took the metal looking glasses of the women and made the laver from them. The laver was a huge basin that stood between the brazen altar of sacrifice and the holy place (see Exodus 30:17-21). The basin was filled with water, and the priests washed their hands and feet at the laver before they entered the holy place to minister.
Water for washing is a picture of the Word of God in its cleansing power. “Now you are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3). When the sinner trusts Christ, he is once and for all washed clean. But as a believer walks in this world, his hands and feet are defiled, and he needs cleansing.
The mirror of the Word not only examines us and reveals our sins, but it helps to cleanse us as well. It gives us the promise of cleansing (1 John 1:9) and, as we meditate on it, it cleanses the heart and the mind from spiritual defilement.
ILLUS: Nathan’s experience with David in 2 Samuel 12 helps to illustrate this truth. Nathan told David the story about the stolen ewe lamb, and David became angry at the sin described. “Thou art the man,” said the prophet, and he held up the mirror of the Word for David to see himself. The result was confession and repentance: “I have sinned against the Lord!” The Word did its work of examination.