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.”
Importance of Obedience
Jesus Christ said that not everyone saying to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but only the one DOING the will of God the Father who is in heaven. And John said that whoever says, “I know him,” but does not keep (obey) his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. And Paul said that we are slaves of the one whom we obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness and ends in eternal life.
So, obedience is not optional for the believer in Jesus Christ. Jesus said that if anyone would come after him he must deny self and take up his cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. And he said that if we love him that we will obey him (we will keep his commandments). And God the Father will love us and Jesus will love us and manifest himself to us. And he said that his sheep listen to him, he knows us, and we follow him.
Therefore, faith in Jesus Christ is not God-given faith if it is not coupled with obedience to the Lord and to his commands (New Covenant). It is not divinely persuaded faith which is gifted to us by God if we do not end up, by faith, submitting to Christ as Lord, surrendering our lives to him, forsaking our lives of sin, and walking in obedience to his commands, in practice. If we don’t obey our Lord, our faith is based in the flesh and not in God.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 8:51; Jn 14:15-24; Jn 15:10; Matt 7:21-23; 1 Jn 2:3-6,15-17; 1 Jn 3:4-10,24; 1 Jn 5:2-3; 2 Jn 1:6; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:16; Heb 5:9; 1 Pet 1:1-2; Jas 1:21-25; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Php 2:12-13; Jn 10:27-30]
Doers, Not just Hearers
So, we need to be doers of the word and not hearers only. We need to be those who are putting the word of God into practice in our daily lives. For if all we do is listen to or read the Scriptures but we do not do what the word teaches Christians that they must do, then what is the point in reading them or listening to them? They aren’t there just for our intellectual knowledge or so that we can spout them off to others.
The Scriptures are our instructions for life, for living the lives God has called us to live. So, those people who are telling you that you can believe in Jesus and be saved from your sins and be guaranteed heaven when you die, but who are telling you that you don’t have to obey the Lord’s commands, they are lying to you. If we don’t obey the Lord, we don’t have salvation from sin, and we don’t have eternal life with God.
So, if you think you can get by without obeying the Lord and that he will still welcome you into his heaven, you are self-deceived. You are believing lies being propagated by wolves in sheep’s clothing who are trying to lead you away from the truth to follow after the lies so that you will think that you are saved and that you are going to heaven but while they know full well that if you do not obey Jesus that hell is your eternal destiny, instead.
Like a Man Who Forgets
So, what does this look like if someone hears the word of God but does not do what it says? It is like looking at yourself in the mirror and then walking away and forgetting what you look like, but not necessarily literally forgetting, but choosing to forget. For when a professing Christian knows the word of God and what it teaches, and he knows right from wrong, but he chooses to do wrong and not right, he is choosing to forget willfully.
Many people, even professing Christians, choose to block out the truth, and will feign ignorance. They will act as if they did not know when they did know, and some of them have known for a very long time. Some of them, when confronted, will act as though they are hearing something for the first time, although they have heard it probably hundreds of times (plus). There is always an excuse for why they can’t or haven’t yet obeyed.
They will violate known boundaries over and over again while repeating the same old tired excuses for why they continue to violate those boundaries. There is always an excuse, always a justification for why they continue to do wrong and why they don’t do what is right. And it is because they have no intention of forsaking their evil behaviors and of following the Lord in obedience. So they just play mind games and pretend they forgot.
The Perfect Law
What is the perfect law, the law of liberty? It is the gospel of our salvation. It is the message that says that Jesus Christ died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. It is the message that says that Jesus died in order that we might be crucified with him in death to sin so that we might be delivered from our slavery (addiction) to sin and so we can now walk in newness of life in Christ free from the control of sin and of Satan and in righteousness and holiness.
It is the message that tells us that God’s grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s return. It is the message which teaches that we must put off our old self, which belongs to our former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, that we are to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and that we are to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
And it is the message which tells us that if we do not put away our old lives of sin but we continue to walk in deliberate and habitual sin, as our practice, and if we do not obey the Lord or walk in his righteousness that we will not have eternal life with God no matter what we have professed with our lips. So we need to be those who not just hear/read the Scriptures but who, by the grace of God, put what we are hearing into practice in our daily lives.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-10; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-11; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Ac 26:18; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15; Eph 2:8-10]
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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