James 1:19-21 ESV
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
We need to be good listeners and not be ones who quickly respond, especially if we tend to respond in anger.
Now, I am certainly not suggesting that we listen to garbage or to the same lies repeated over and over again by people who are addicted to sin and who are making the same repeated excuses for why they are still living in addiction to sin. We don’t have to entertain lies or trash talk or gossip or anything we should not be listening to nor entertaining.
I am also not suggesting that we have to listen to people spouting out any false gospels which deny Jesus as Lord or which mock God and his sacrifice for our sins or which are sacrilegious and dishonoring of our Lord. We don’t have to entertain them. We don’t have to listen to lies being told in the name of truth and in the name of Jesus Christ.
But when it comes to normal everyday conversations which are decent in nature, even if we may not agree with what others are saying, we should listen and not feel as though we have to talk unless the Lord says it is time to say something. For there is a time to speak and there is a time to listen. But we need to listen with discernment, testing everything we hear.
For, moral filth, rampant wickedness, off-color humor, sexually suggestive conversations, lewd comments, lies, mocking of God, etc. are not to be a part of what we listen to or what we speak. We are also not to be angry people who are nasty to others and who make a habit of saying things that aren’t true or that are willfully unkind and hurtful. But we should speak the truth in love and not withhold the truth that people need to hear.
And we should be filling our minds and hearts with the word of God. But we need to read the Scriptures in context, for too many false teachings are being taught using Scriptures taught outside their context. So, I recommend reading the Bible book by book, chapter by chapter, and verse by verse so that you get the whole context. It might surprise you when you do this to learn that you were taught some things wrongly.
But reading the word of God is not a religious exercise we go through each day so that we can check it off our list that we read the Bible. The word is to be implanted within us, and this is not just through memorizing Bible verses, either. But this has to do with putting the word of the Lord into practice in our daily lives, by God’s grace, and in his power, which is then able to save our souls. For, if we do not do this, we do not have eternal life.
[Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; 2 Co 5:10; 1 Co 6:9-10; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Rom 6:16; Rom 8:1-17; Jn 15:1-11; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rev. 2-3; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27]
James 1:22-25 ESV
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
There are many people today teaching a half-truth (false) gospel which is telling people that they don’t have to do anything. Since in Ephesians 2:8-9 we read that we are saved by God’s grace, through faith, and that this is not of ourselves, not of works lest anyone should boast, they are teaching that we do nothing and that God does it all. But is that true?
But then if you read verse 10 you learn that it says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” So, works are not absent from our salvation, they are just the works of God which he designed that we should walk (in conduct, in practice) in them.
[Eph 2:8-10; 1 Co 15:58; 2 Co 9:8; Gal 5:6; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:9-14; 2 Thess 1:11-12; 2 Tim. 2:21; Tit 2:11-14; Jn 15:1-11; Tit 3:8; Jas 2:17]
So, the Scriptures stress that we must walk in obedience to our Lord and to his commands and that if we don’t, we don’t have eternal life with God. They stress that we are to walk no longer according to the flesh but according to the Spirit, and that we are to sow to please the Spirit and not the flesh if we want to have salvation from sin and eternal life with God.
So, obedience to our Lord and putting his word into practice are not optional. They are not merely recommendations. And they are definitely not to be discouraged nor taught against. For, if we are hearers only but we do not put the word of God into practice, we are deceiving ourselves. For Jesus died for us that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. Faith is putting what we say we believe into practice.
If all we do is just listen to the Scriptures but we don’t put them into practice, those which are instructions for us to obey, and if all we do is recognize that the words are speaking to our hearts, and that they are addressing our situations, but then we do nothing about it, they do us no good at all. We are just wasting our time going through the motions of religion.
Obedience to God is required for our salvation and for our eternal life. Check out the Scripture references that I include in many of these writings. Read what they teach and read them in context. Also, forsaking our sinful practices is also required. For, if we do not forsake our sins, but we continue in them, and if we do not obey our Lord, but we keep on living in disobedience, then heaven is not guaranteed us. Hell is!
For the law of liberty, the perfect law is the gospel of our salvation which teaches us that we must die with Christ to sin, that we must no longer live as slaves to sin but as slaves to righteousness, and that we must walk in obedience to our Lord’s command or we don’t have eternal life with God. This is repeated for us many times throughout the New Testament.
So, we need to take this to heart. We need to be good listeners to our Lord who do what he says to do and who go with him wherever he leads us. Our lives are no longer our own to be lived however we want, for Jesus bought us back for God (he redeemed us) with his blood so that we would now honor God with our lives. So, surrender your all to Jesus today.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15; Jas 1:22-25; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Rom 12:1-2]
By Jonathan Foreman
I give you my destiny
I’m giving you all of me
I want your symphony
Singing in all that I am
At the top of my lungs
I’m giving it my all
So, I lay my head back down
And I lift my hands and pray
To be only yours I pray
To be only yours I pray
To be only yours
I know now you’re my only hope
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