Doers of the Word
“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”
- There can be no comfort in mere hearing, for Jesus warned, “Take heed therefore how ye hear” (Luke 8:18).
- Many are called, but few are chosen; many hear the sound of the words, but do not understand and obey.
- To whom much is given, much shall be required; therefore it is our incumbent duty to apply this lesson.
- The prior context laid the foundation of regenerated children needing to work God’s righteousness (1:18-20).
- These are absolutely regenerated brethren, whom James is pressing to obey the gospel to please God.
- The “wherefore” draws a further result from regeneration (1:18) and God’s righteousness (1:20).
- To work the righteousness of God, you must live a holy life and receive God’s word with meekness.
- There is something we are to lay apart – or get rid of by putting distance between ourselves and it.
- We set apart things to avoid – menstruating women under Moses (Lev 15:19; 18:19; Eze 22:10).
- We set apart things that are to be treated differently – as the animals for sacrifice (Exodus 13:12).
- If we carefully analyze words, this is stronger than putting off our sins (Eph 4:22; Col 3:8-9).
- Peter used similar wording in a similar context of holiness as necessary to learning (I Pet 2:1-3).
- To run the Christian race we must lay aside every weight and our most tempting sins (Heb 12:1).
- Only a pure mind is suitable and ready to receive the gospel of Jesus and delight in it (II Pet 3:1).
- We have three words we need to define to properly understand this first verse in our chosen passage.
- Filthiness. Moral corruption or pollution; obscenity, vileness, wickedness.
- We must cleanse, or wash, our flesh and spirit, of all filthiness, for God to receive us (II Cor 7:1).
- Superfluity. More than is needed, excessive; extravagance or immoderate indulgence.
- We had our fill of sin in the past, when we went to excess; now we are different (I Pet 4:3-5).
- Let us consider wisely here: is there some naughtiness not superfluous? No, it is all superfluous!
- Naughtiness. Moral badness or wickedness; bad, wrong, blameworthy, improper; waywardness.
- The transgressions of the wicked will take and destroy them in their own naughtiness (Pro 11:6).
- Clearly stated here is the necessary prerequisite of holiness for fruitful hearing (John 7:17).
- There is something we are to receive with meekness – or accept in a humble way of submission.
- The action of receiving is reaching forth to take something that is available or offered for taking.
- Doing it with meekness is rejecting any self-protection or resentment of negative consequences.
- Meekness. Free from haughtiness and self-will; piously humble and submissive.
- Here is the fulfillment of a precious proverb describing the beauty of an obedient ear (Pr 25:12).
- The engrafted word must be received with meekness as a corollary and extension of laying apart sin.
- Engrafted. To graft in; to insert. transferred. To set firmly in. figurative. To implant in the mind.
- Which word is engrafted in us? The written word, the law of God, not the living Word of 1:18.
- Paul told the Romans it was in them; he told the Hebrews it was in them (Rom 10:8; Heb 8:10).
- The Old Testament addressed the ears; the New Testament is in the heart (II Corinthians 3:3-6).
- This word is obviously the Scriptures, as written and preached by looking and hearing (1:22-25).
- This engrafted word can save our souls, if we receive it with meekness and do it, as our verses teach.
- The holy brethren addressed were already born again by the living Word of God (1:2,16,18,19).
- We are born again here to work out our salvation that He worked in (Eph 2:10; Phil 2:12-13).
- This salvation is strictly from error and sin, as James plainly tells us later in his epistle (5:19-20).
- The salvation under consideration is the righteous manifestation of God’s regenerate creatures.
- And salvation from error and sin is most surely a salvation from death (Luke 15:24; I Tim 5:6).
- Receiving is hearing and doing, and it reveals us as children of God (Luke 6:35 cp I John 3:10).
- There is no profit in hearing only, as Paul blasts the Jews for pride by hearing (Romans 2:1 – 3:19).
- Jesus corrected their false impression of salvation by the mere possession of Scripture (John 5:39).
- The devil will give a man confidence in hearing, to keep him from doing, which neuters his religion.
- The deception is believing that hearing is evidence of life and will save a man from error and sin.
- Consider the parable of the sower: three types of ground heard and rejoiced, but they were fruitless.
- James compares in this verse “hearers only” and hearers and doers, for hearing is needed for doing.
- It is nothing to receive God or His Word by faith without works, as James will prove (2:14-26).
- Your lack of doing, lack of fruit, and lack of works does not deceive God or good men, just yourself.
- Hearing without doing brings deception as to evidence of salvation (1:22,26 cp 2:14-26; Rom 2:13).
- Those who hear the Word of God without obeying are like a man beholding his face in a mirror.
- While they may not have had glass mirrors as we today, they polished metals to reflect like glass.
- Being in the presence of the preaching of the Word of God is like looking at your face in a mirror.
- The first part of improving appearance is done – you see blemishes and things needing straightening.
- Bible preaching is to identify and expose error and sin of any sort in the lives of every single hearer.
- Paul made war at hearers – to cast down imaginations and thoughts contrary to God (II Cor 10:3-6).
- Showing God’s people their sins is the work of the ministry (Is 58:1). It is a game to some (Is 58:2).
- Nine times each week, not counting personal exhortations and correspondence, you are shown spots.
- Consider for illustration the blemishes (errors and sins) identified this past week on your face.
- Sunday a.m. was the parable of the sower – showing the blemish of hearing without fruitfulness.
- Sunday p.m. was the example of Jesus refusing to tempt God – showing the ways we tempt God.
- Monday was Proverbs 29:21 – exposing overbearing and harsh authority as foolish and wrong.
- Tuesday was Proverbs 30:33 – exposing the danger and sin of pursuing anger in relationships.
- Wednesday was Proverbs 1:31 – exposing the dysfunction, pain, and trouble caused by sin.
- Wednesday night warned of self-love – wicked selfishness defying the second commandment.
- Thursday was Proverbs 2:18 – exposing the danger of sexual sins and the result of death and hell.
- Friday was Proverbs 3:11 – exposing the wrong way to bear adversity and chastening from God.
- Saturday was Proverbs 4:2 – reproving lazy fathers and ministers regarding their teaching duties.
- The man who hears without doing is like a man seeing his blemishes but going away and forgetting.
- Rather than washing his face, combing his hair, brushing his teeth, and etc., he blows out the door!
- He rushes off to an important interview or some sales calls in his pajamas and his hair on end!
- The three grounds ascribed fruitlessness to lack of attention, little strength, and worldly attractions.
- Though he heard and saw his sins identified and exposed by the preaching, he goes out in security.
- He forgets that he has some serious problems, which will cause him disgrace and shame eventually.
- Continuing his practical analogy of looking in a mirror, James described a blessed doer of the Word.
- He used the word “looketh” as part of the analogy, but it refers to reading and hearing the gospel.
- The perfect law of liberty is none other than the inspired Scriptures, conveying the glorious gospel.
- The New Testament is a law, but in contrast to the Old Testament, it is a law of liberty (Gal 5:1).
- It is continuing – a theme we must raise again – that marks true disciples (John 8:31; Heb 12:1).
- Continuing in this context is opposite of forgetting – being convicted for a moment but without fruit.
- This man shall be blessed in his deed – this approach and result of hearing preaching will be blessed.
- The man will have God’s blessings of strength, assurance, salvation, and the peaceful life of saints.
- James has three tests of true religion and the fruitfulness of being doers of God’s word: here is one.
- James quickly went after sins of the tongue, which is a main feature of his epistle (1:19; 3:2-12).
- How does a man seem to be religious? He attends church, brings a Bible, and hears the preaching.
- How does a man seem to be religious? He spouts doctrine, is willing to pray, and condemns others.
- It is vain religion – the form of godliness without power – when we approach God without works.
- The same deceit described earlier (1:22) is here again – a man measuring salvation by false criteria.
- Here is temperance – self-discipline and self-denial – in using your tongue: a common Bible theme.
- James has three tests of true religion and the fruitfulness of being doers of God’s word; here are two.
- Here is pure religion – it is not hearing, reading, or quoting – it is maintaining charity and purity.
- Appropriate name-dropping is helpful: James reminds us our religion is before God our Father.
- Visiting the fatherless and widows in their difficulties and helping them is the pure religion of Jesus.
- Keeping yourself unspotted from the world – not even allowing a spot – is the pure religion of Jesus.
- These two tests include all aspects and matters of Christian charity and personal piety and purity.
- He later blasted friendship with the world as spiritual adultery and indicating hatred of God (4:4).
- To whom much is given, much is required; therefore it is our incumbent duty to pay heed to this lesson.
- We are deceived and profane hypocrites, if we hear the precious word of God without obeying it carefully.
- Use your nine or more opportunities each week to find at least one spot in your life and correct it that day.