Summary: Here’s what you will find in the Scripture—that genuine confession serves as a first step toward repentance.
[For the video elements associated with this sermon, please visit http://store.northpoint.org/life-apps-starter-kit.html.]
Well, a couple of weeks ago we began a brand new series called Life Apps, and basically we’re talking about the importance of not just listening, but the importance of doing. And when we launched this series we looked at this verse. This verse, it’s a pretty convicting verse, because this verse explains something or looks at a dynamic that takes place in churches all over the country, all over the world, every single Sunday. James, the brother of Jesus said this:
James 1:22 (TNIV)
22Do not merely listen to the word, [which is like listening to messages and listening to preaching and listening to the Bible being taught] and so deceive yourselves.
And remember, we talked about this the very first week, that in churches all over America, and if you’re not like a church person you’re going to love this. This is great news for you, because you know this goes on. It’s just those church people—we’re not clued in sometimes. James knew—and this is two thousand years ago—James knew that there would be a community and a culture where people would gather and listen, and because they had listened, felt convicted. They would confuse listening and feeling convicted as a real, genuine religious experience and people would listen to preaching and go, Oh, I feel so bad. And they would equate guilt with a connection to God. And they would, Oh, I just feel close to God, because I feel so bad about myself. And I went to church. And then they would leave church and go, Oh, I’m a church person. And God loves me because I went to church and feel bad about myself. I mean what could be better than that?
James says no, that’s not a religious experience. You’ve just manufactured that. You’ve made that up. That has nothing to do with walking with God; it has nothing to do with following Christ. This is just something you’ve made up. He said:
James 1:22 (TNIV)
22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.
Don’t deceive yourself into thinking, Wow, I’ve done something really genuine. I went to church, I was in the building, I fought the traffic, and God looks down on me and says, I’m going to bless you because you’re in church; you’re a church person. James says that this has nothing to do with listening and being in a building or being in church. He says:
James 1:22 (TNIV)
22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
So you say, Well, that would kind of wreck my whole life if I had to start doing this stuff. Isn’t it enough that I attend church? Isn’t it enough that I listen? Isn’t it enough that I’m in the building and have my family in church? James, the brother of Jesus, says, No, you’re deceiving yourself. Unapplied paint doesn’t do you any good. Buying a treadmill doesn’t do you any good. Joining a health club doesn’t do you any good. Taking a class on nutrition doesn’t do you any good. Application makes all the difference. To which the people who know you, who aren’t church people, and they know you’re a church person—they don’t normally say amen, but to that they would say amen, because you act like you’re better than them. And you’re not better than them, you just go to church more.
And the people who don’t go to church—and isn’t this great, I get to pick on us and you get to go amen or whatever you say—go Dawgs, or whatever you say—because this is where we’ve so confused our communities. Because they see us get up in the morning and we go to church and we don’t do anything differently. We just go to church. And then we say, Hey, you ought to come to my church. They’re going, Why should I go to your church? I do the same kinds of things you do; you do the same kinds of things I do. There is no real difference in the way we live our lives. Why would I want to give away my Sunday morning? You’re going, Oh, because you’ll be closer to God. James goes time out. No; listening is nothing. Doing is everything. You have to do something.
So for these few weeks in this series, Life Apps, we’re talking about five very, very specific life applications, and if you’re a Christian, you’re supposed to do this stuff. You’re not supposed to listen to sermons on it and go, Ah, I really ought to do this stuff. James is going okay, don’t deceive yourself into thinking oh, you get credit with God because you felt guilty. It’s all about doing. Doing makes all the difference.