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.”
It helps to read this in context. The verse before this says, “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” So we should be quick to hear “the word of truth,” not just any word. For many people get themselves in “hot water” when they are too quick to listen to just any words and then to accept them as truth when they are far from the truth. And this happens all the time these days when so many people want everything instantaneously.
So, we should be quick to hear the word of truth, but not so quick that we don’t take time to examine what we are reading and to make certain that we are reading it in context, so that we don’t interpret it falsely based on a false understanding. For not every verse stands on its own and can be interpreted on its own. That is how many false teachings come about, when they pull Scriptures out of their context and thus they twist them and they make them to say what the Scriptures do not teach.
So, we should be quick to listen to the Lord, but take time to make certain that we are interpreting the Scriptures correctly by their context and under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit. And it helps to use bible dictionaries and the interlinear on biblehub.com to get correct meanings of words, too, for our English language does not always capture the original meanings of the words or the verb tenses. If you do use the interlinear, be sure to click on the number above each column above each word to get the correct definitions of the words. And always rely on the Holy Spirit.
Also, we should be slow to speak. We should be slow to respond, especially if it is a passage of Scripture we are just discovering has a different meaning than we had originally thought to be true. Some people have a tendency to just write off anything that does not agree with whatever theology they were taught in their church. But we need to be willing to learn where we have learned things wrongly, and then we need to be willing to change our beliefs when the Holy Spirit reveals to us that we have been believing wrongly.
But some people just get angry when they hear something that does not agree with what they have always been taught. They don’t want to hear the truth, because they are comfortable believing in the lies, because the lies don’t make any demands out of them for repentance, and obedience, and holy living. And so they keep on in their sin without conscience believing that all their sins are covered by the blood of Christ and convinced that their habitual sins will not keep them out of heaven and that change is not required.
But in so doing they are rejecting the word of truth in favor of the lies, and they are displaying ungodly anger at what they do not want to hear or accept. But the word of truth teaches us that we must die with Christ to sin and live to God and to his righteousness. We must turn from (repent of) our sins, and now we must walk in obedience to our Lord in walks of holiness and righteousness, and that we must continue in this faith steadfast to the end or we do not have eternal life with God.
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
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.”
But we need to go beyond just hearing the word of truth and we need to be doers of the word. We must obey our Lord and his teachings for us who believe in Jesus Christ, and this requires biblical discernment as to what teachings apply to us and which ones don’t, but not based on our own reasoning, but based on the word of truth. For we do not have to obey the liturgical, ceremonial, sacrificial, purification, and dietary laws and restrictions of the Old Covenant, for we are under the New Covenant.
But that does not make us lawless. We still have to obey our Lord’s commands, but the ones repeated for us and taught to us under the New Covenant, which are mainly God’s moral laws. They never went away. And we are taught under the New Covenant that obedience is required for salvation from sin, as a matter of our life practice. And so are walks of holiness and righteousness. And sin must not be our practice or we will not inherit eternal life with God (see noted Scriptures above).
So, if we are people who just listen but then it “goes in one ear and out the other”, we are not really listening. Yes, we can hear with our ears, but that is not the same as listening, for listening involves paying close attention to what is being said and adhering to the truth. But some people will hear it, but then they just walk away and immediately forget what they just heard, because they are rejecting the truth that they are hearing in favor of the lies which make them feel good.
Now, this “perfect law,” “the law of liberty,” is the gospel of Christ. For when we believe the gospel with God-given faith, we are then crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, not like our old lives, but as those who have been delivered out of our slavery (addiction) to sin. For “the gospel” is not merely that Jesus died to forgive us our sins so we can go to heaven when we die. The gospel teaches that we must die with Christ to sin that we might live to God and to his righteousness in walks of obedience and holiness, in godly living.
An Original Work / February 21, 2013
Based off Luke 9:22-25
Jesus, Son of God,
Died for us on a cross.
Anyone who would come to Him
Must deny himself and follow.
He must take up his cross daily;
Die to sin and self each day.
Father, God above,
Loved us so: gave His Son.
If you want to save your old life;
Keep on sinning, follow your ways,
You will lose your life forever;
Hope of heaven gone away.
Spirit of our God
Gives us life in God’s Son.
Nonetheless, if you die to self;
Forsake your sin; follow Jesus,
You will live with God in heaven,
And forever praise His name!