From Hearing to Doing: Living Out the Word of God

Category: Full Sermons

All right. James, chapter one. James is one of my favorite books in all of the scriptures. I love how practical it is. I told our folks back home, I said, “If James was from the United States, he’d be from the state of Missouri.” James doesn’t want to just hear about your faith. He wants to see it. “Show me your faith by your works.” We’ll start reading from verse 17, and we’ll go to 25, but we’ll really be focusing on verse 21 and the verses that follow.

Verse 17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth.” I’m so glad that it was by His will because if it was by mine, it would have never happened. But He made me willing in the day of His power, as He did with you, my beloved brethren, born again by the incorruptible seed of the Word of God. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” So, of His own will, He brought us forth by the word of truth that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures, new creations in Christ. Therefore, if any man be in Christ, if any woman be in Christ, if any boy or girl be in Christ, they are a new creation. Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. They are new. They have a new nature. They have a new heart. They have new wants. They have a new love. And it’s the Lord Jesus Christ.

So then, my beloved brethren, “let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” Now, that’s good counsel for any time. I think in the context of James, he’s talking about receiving the Word of God. He’s talking about how we receive the word, and it kind of spills over into verse 21. But he says, “let us be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” That’s not a good reaction to hearing the truth of God’s Word. Yet sometimes I’ve experienced where people will get angry when they hear what the word is saying, for “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Therefore, lay aside all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

I love what Paul said to the Thessalonian believers. He says, “For this reason, we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.” It’s the powerful word of God. Beloved, we need to be like those that were with Cornelius in Acts chapter ten when they called for Peter, and Cornelius gathered them all in the room. And Cornelius said, “Now we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.” They were ready to hear everything that God had commanded. They started with meekness.

Beloved, we need to be like Mary in the house of Martha. When Martha was distracted with much serving, I don’t want to speak ill of Martha. I believe Martha was a precious believer, but Mary chose what was better. She sat at the feet of Jesus. I kind of picture her being in the kitchen, trying to take the food out of the oven, and all of a sudden, Christ started teaching, and she put the spoon down, walked over, and sat down, hanging on every word. Beloved, we need to be like Mary. You need to be like Cornelius and his people, and as James says, we need to receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

And that’s really the subject tonight: to receive the word and then to be doers of the word. He says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only.” You need to receive it.

You need to hear it, and you need to do it. Acting on the word, rather than merely hearing it, prevents self-deception. For if anyone hears the word but does not act on it, they are like a person who looks at their face in a mirror; they see themselves, walk away, and immediately forget their appearance. James uses the analogy of a physical mirror to represent the spiritual reflection provided by the word. When we delve into the Word of God, we should introspectively question our alignment with it, asking ourselves if we are embodying its teachings. Jesus challenges us with the question, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6), emphasizing the importance of being doers of the word, not forgetful hearers. Those who persist in the perfect law of liberty, actively applying what they learn, will be blessed in their deeds.

The reception of God’s word should be with humility and a readiness of heart, akin to the fertile soil among the four types described in Matthew 13 that yields fruit. It’s easy to momentarily accept the word, but challenges and distractions can diminish its impact. Our hearts must remain soft to truly embrace and be transformed by the word. Even if you consider yourself saved, the journey of faith is ongoing. Salvation is not merely a past event but an ongoing process requiring daily reaffirmation of faith. Continual growth in grace, knowledge, and faith in Jesus Christ is imperative, aiming for a constant renewal of mind and alignment with Christ’s image.

Peter speaks of the culmination of our faith as the salvation of our souls, a moment when faith becomes sight. This journey involves actively receiving, believing, and applying the word to our lives. Being like the Bereans, who critically engaged with the scriptures, is crucial. Our faith must translate into action, embodying the teachings of Christ in every aspect of our lives. This commitment to doing the word should not be burdensome but a joyous expression of our love for Christ, mirroring Jacob’s labor for Rachel, where his service was fueled by love, making the years seem fleeting.

In summary, being a Christian entails more than acknowledging Christ’s lordship; it demands daily, active faith and a willingness to grow and be molded by His teachings. We are called to live out our faith vibrantly, driven by love for Christ, and to continually receive His word with meekness, allowing it to shape our lives until we achieve ultimate salvation.

And that’s why it’s so important for the word to be engrafted and implanted in us. The Word of God is vital for our spiritual nourishment. We must maintain a steady diet of God’s Word, for without it, the influences of the world begin to alter our behavior and thoughts. Greg and I discussed how even a little exposure to news can lead to anger and negative attitudes. It’s crucial to stay informed while also safeguarding our spirits from negativity.

We are encouraged to let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly, using psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to admonish one another and sing with grace in our hearts to the Lord. Job esteemed God’s words more than his necessary food, highlighting the essential nature of divine instruction for our lives. Jesus, during His temptation, reminded us that life is sustained not only by bread but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. This spiritual vitality is what we all need.

However, if we refuse to receive the word with meekness, we struggle with humility and submission to Christ. It’s essential to avoid living a mechanical, heartless Christian life, merely complying with expectations without genuine love for Christ. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15), emphasizing that obedience is a reflection of our love for Him. Scripture memorization is a powerful tool for keeping God’s Word close to our hearts, preparing us for times when physical Bibles may not be accessible.

Jesus also taught that loving Him means keeping His word, a statement that underscores the intimate relationship between obedience to God’s commands and our love for Him. He promises that those who love Him and keep His commandments will be loved by the Father, and He will manifest Himself to them.

James exhorts us to lay aside all sin and receive with meekness the implanted word capable of saving our souls. This process of humbly accepting and acting upon God’s Word allows us to identify and renounce our sins. Viewing God’s Word as a mirror enables a discovery phase, where the Holy Spirit reveals areas of our lives needing transformation.

James warns against the self-deception of being mere hearers of the word. It’s a dangerous thing to listen to God’s Word without applying it to our lives, leading to a faith that is inauthentic and ineffective. Jesus further illustrates the importance of being doers of the word through the parable of the wise and foolish builders, showing that a life built on obedience to His teachings can withstand any storm.

In conclusion, living a Christian life requires more than just hearing the Word; it demands action based on what we’ve learned. Our faith is proven genuine through our obedience, reflecting our love for Christ and building a foundation that can endure life’s challenges.

Verse 49 illustrates the danger of hearing the word but failing to act on it. A person who builds their house without a foundation is vulnerable, and when trials come, the structure inevitably collapses, leading to great ruin. In 1 John 2:29, we learn that practicing righteousness is a sign of being born of God, emphasizing the inseparable link between faith and deeds. James challenges us to demonstrate faith through action, while Ephesians reminds us that salvation is a gift of grace through faith, not a result of our works. However, as God’s creation, we are designed for good works, prepared in advance for us to engage in.

The analogy of the word as a spiritual mirror is compelling. Just as we examine our physical appearance in a mirror to make corrections, the word of God reflects our spiritual state, urging us to address and rectify our shortcomings. Ignoring these spiritual insights is akin to noticing a flaw in the mirror but choosing not to correct it. This behavior reveals a disconnect between hearing the word and implementing its teachings in our lives.

We’re encouraged to frequently look into this spiritual mirror, not out of vanity but to ensure our lives align with God’s will. Just as we naturally tend to physical imperfections seen in a mirror, we should also be eager to correct spiritual blemishes revealed through God’s word. This process of continual self-examination and correction is crucial for our spiritual growth and transformation into the likeness of Christ.

The discussion moves to the importance of attentiveness and action. Hearing God’s word without applying it is likened to building on an unstable foundation, prone to collapse under life’s pressures. Conversely, those who listen and act on the word construct their lives on a solid foundation, capable of withstanding any storm. This principle is underscored by Jesus’ teachings, which call for a proactive embrace of His commands as evidence of our love for Him.

In closing, the emphasis is on being not just hearers but doers of the word. This involves a committed, loving service to Christ, motivated by our desire to follow His teachings. As we engage with God’s word, we must do so with full attention, allowing it to guide our actions and shape our lives. The goal is to live in accordance with the perfect law of liberty, continuously applying its principles to our daily living, thereby ensuring our spiritual edifice is robust and enduring.

There should never be a time when we open the precious Word of God and walk away without being impacted. God ought to speak to us. I’ve shared with some folks that there are moments when I feel obligated to get through my four chapters, to simply check them off and move on. However, there are times when God stops me at the very first verse, blessing my soul profoundly. That alone is sufficient. We should anticipate and yearn for such divine communication, approaching the Word with a hunger and thirst for righteousness, assured that we shall be filled.

When we come to the Word with this eagerness, it becomes engrafted within us. We must cultivate it like seed in good soil, ensuring it takes root deeply to bear fruit in our lives. When we read, study, and embrace the Word in this manner, acknowledging it as the divine voice of God, our response should be one of high esteem and praise for God. We call Him Lord and commit to obeying His commands wholeheartedly.

James emphasizes the importance of not just hearing the Word but acting upon it. Those who do so will be blessed in their actions. The perfect law of liberty, which I believe refers to the gospel and the truth of God’s Word, liberates and frees us from sin, guiding us toward salvation. This freedom, granted by Christ, is experienced most fully when we engage deeply with the Word, hearing it, receiving it, submitting to it, believing it, and diligently following its commands.

In Colossians 3, we’re reminded to do everything heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that it is from the Lord that we will receive our inheritance. This principle applies in all areas of our lives, whether at work, at home, or in society. Serving Christ in all we do elevates our daily tasks beyond mere obligations.

Psalm 119 celebrates those who walk according to the Word of God, seeking Him with their whole heart. This pursuit of godliness requires a wholehearted reception of the Word, aiming to love God fully and, by extension, love our neighbors as ourselves. The psalmist and Micah 6:8 both highlight the importance of living justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God.

Ultimately, doing everything heartily for the Lord involves receiving the Word with meekness and humility, motivated by love for Christ. Many may call Jesus “Lord,” but true discipleship is demonstrated by those who hear His words and act on them, embodying the essence of His teachings in their lives.

That’s what they were doing. That’s not what we do. God has made us new. He’s saved us from our sins, from the bondage and the snare of the devil, from the deceptions of the wicked one. He’s saved us from the wrath of Almighty God, and from eternal damnation. We have so much to be thankful for to our Father and our God.

Let us receive the Word of God with meekness every time we open it, every time we read it. Let it be engrafted in our hearts. Then, beloved, we will be the right kind of doers of the word. We don’t do the word to be saved; we do the word because we are saved. We do the word because we want to, because we love Christ. Amen.

Let’s pray as we dismiss. Oh God, thank you so much for our precious Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for your great salvation. Oh God, thank you for shedding your love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which is given unto us.

Father, I thank you so much for this gathering of your people, which I believe sends up a sweet aroma into the heavens. Oh God, I pray now that you would continue to bless our fellowship, bless our thoughts and our minds. Help us to continue to converse about you. In Malachi, you heard the saints conversing, and a book of remembrance was written.

Father, you love when your people speak of you. Oh God, bend the heavens and hear your servants who are poor and needy. Help us, Heavenly Father, as we fellowship now, as we eat. Father, we pray that the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts would be acceptable to you, Oh Lord, our strength and our Redeemer.

We ask this in the highly exalted name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.