Doers of the Word

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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.
From the time I was a kid, one of my life goals was to see Niagara Falls. I think I picked up that desire from my parents. stories Before they had kids, they travelled all over the US, and one of their favorite places was Niagara Falls.
I can recall my parents stories of travelling to Niagara Falls. I remember reading short stories of individuals who went over the Falls. I have seen pictures of you parents at the falls. I had even seen videos of Niagara Falls.
But until my freshman year of college, I had never seen the falls. My freshman summer I spent working at an underprivileged children’s camp outside of Buffalo, NY. On the weekends, we would see sights in the area.
No amount of stories, books, pictures, or videos can prepare you to experience Niagara Falls. The water cascading downward with an immense roar and mist covering not just the boats below but the American and Canadian sides of the falls.
Because of the incredible amount of technology that we have - books, phones, computers, etc., we can feel like we have seen something when we really haven’t experienced it. There is a big difference between seeing Niagara Falls on your phone and seeing it in person.
In the same way, there is a big difference between hearing God’s Word and responding to it.
James went through a similar experience in his relationship with Jesus.
James is the bishop of Jerusalem. He is not James the apostle, but James the brother of Jesus. He is writing this letter to the church that has been dispersed due to persecution.
In John 7, Jesus brothers did not believe that He was the son of God.
He would eventually had to decide whether Jesus was the Son of God or not.
The title he gives himself is our answer - James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.
James eventually responded to the message of Jesus and became one who would proclaim it.
He offers the same challenge to us today: What will you do with the Word that has been proclaimed to you?


James 1:22 “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
The Word always demands a response.
Throughout the gospels, Jesus often used a curious phrase when sharing a difficult message, “He who has ears, let Him hear.” What does that mean?
“You must decide what you will do with what you have heard." Jesus says, in Matthew 13...
Some will pay no heed to the word.
Others will hear it, act like they are changed by it, and move on shortly afterwards.
Other’s will allow their desire to obey the word to be choked out by everything else going on in their lives.
But finally, a some will hear AND produce 30, 60, or 100 fold.
The Word either has no effect, OR it takes root in our lives and inevitably produces something.
We often hear this verse and say, “I just need to be doing more. Get it together.” But, before the word can take effect in our outer lives, the part of our lives that everyone sees, we HAVE to have our inner lives changed.
We MUST make a decision about Jesus.
John 5:39-40 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”
The first response to God’s Word is to come to Jesus.
Church isn’t about community service. Church isn’t about an hour of moral teaching for your kids. Church isn’t about being a better citizen. Church IS about responding to the invitation of Christ to follow Him.
Once we have come to Jesus, we live for Him. We DO the Word. James is a book of action. Because Christ has saved us, we are able to live a life of triumph over sin.
When we listen without responding, we deceive…who? Not our neighbor, our family, or even God… but ourselves.
The Greek word for deceive here is an artistic term. It means deceitfully sophisticated. Think of an art forgery. At first glance, it looks like a real, authentic piece of art. But on closer examination, you see that it is a fake. In other instances, the word refers to a mathematical miscalculation.
In other words, you may think you are seeing and doing the right thing by knowing the word of God, but knowing is only part of the equation.
In the same way, we often think we are sophisticated in our knowledge of God.
We think that knowing the right things is the key.
We can fool our friends, our family, and even ourselves with our knowledge of the Word. We CANNOT fool our heavenly Father.
I once went to a pastor’s conference. I spent the day evaluating the sermons being preached… how was the transition? That illustration wasn’t very good. Nice voice inflection! etc…
At the end of the day, I had this sobering and sickening realization… I sat under some of the best preaching in the world, and I couldn’t tell you a single way that I was convicted by what I heard or responded to what I heard.
The Lord wasn’t the problem. The preaching wasn’t the problem. I was the problem.
How can we tell if we have fooled ourselves? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Have I asked God to move in my heart today as I hear His word proclaimed?
When was the last time my life was changed by what I read or heard.
Do I spend more time evaluating the worship service/preacher/etc. or evaluating myself?
James 1:23-24 “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.”
The Word of God is of no worth in our lives if we do not respond to it. The same was looking into a mirror and noticin
I want to tell you the real tragedy of my Niagara Falls experience.
I was flabbergasted by the people around me. They were standing in front of one of the largest waterfalls in the world, and they were on their phones.
I wish I could say they were all filming it. This wasn’t even iPhone with seven cameras on the back. People were still using Nokias and Motorolas and Blackberrys.
They were so close, and they thought they saw it, but they missed it. They took a pixelated version of the Niagara Falls to show their friends when they got home, but they missed it.
That is why I prayed this morning that you wouldn’t walk out of this room today saying, “That was a good/bad/funny, etc. sermon, but that you might worship a holy and magnificent God by obeying Him.
You can be so close to experiencing the life changing power of Jesus and still miss it.
You can be SO CLOSE to it and still miss it.
James 1:25 “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.”
How can we do? Because, we have been set free.
What is the perfect law, the law of liberty? Also, why has James used the “word of God” throughout the text, but in this verse, he refers to the law.
The law was not perfect, because the law was unable to save. We have been reading the law this week. Exodus changed quickly, didn’t it?
The law served a purpose - to expose our sins and to show us God’s holiness and to even cause the Israelite people
The law was not perfect, because the law was unable to save. That is why sacrifices were needed to continually atone for the sins of man.
The law of freedom is the fulfilment of the law in Jesus Christ. The burden of the law was great, but Jesus has set us free by fulfilling the law.
We sometimes think Jesus commandments make it harder to obey Him. They become a burden, like we are drowning and He is throwing packs on us to carry.
Jesus has thrown upon the door of our jail cell and said, you are free! You can come out!
And many of us look at Jesus and say, “It can’t be open.”
I hear you Jesus. I really hear you. But I can’t walk through that door.
John 8:31-32 “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.””
John Piper // “Freedom is being so in love with Christ that you do exactly what you want to do, and it accords with his will. Freedom is doing what you want to do, and not regretting it in a thousand years. Freedom is seeing and savoring the supremacy of Christ so intensely, that you are his totally. That’s freedom. The more satisfied you are in Jesus, the more free you are. The more you see him, the more free you are. The more you savor him, the more free you are. The more you trust him, the more free you are.”


Let Jesus set you free this morning. Believe that He died for your sins and freely bestows his grace upon those who call upon His name to be saved.
Step through that door into freedom. Some of you have been in a cell for far too long. Jesus is holding his hand out to you this morning.
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