The Content of Scripture (2) 1511
James 1:18-27

Dan Lightfoot

May 19, 2002 AM

I. Receive the Word


Noted 2 weeks ago to receive the word implanted Today we look at the 2nd part of our attitude toward the Word:


1. 1st we receive it; Then we follow up on that by responding to it.

2. Read: James 1:22-25 But prove yourselves doers of the word, & not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word & not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself & gone away, . . . he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, & abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

a. How do you position yourself so that you can be blessed in what you do"? Respond to the Word the way a person is supposed to respond to what he sees in a mirror.

A. Glancing in the Mirror

1. Some look like they didn't spend enough time in front of the mirror!

a. Jas. uses “aner” (male) here. Why? Men usually don’t spend as much time with mirrors as women do. (Thin ice here, but stay with me.)

Men tend to glance & go on; women are more apt to study ....

So, "Don't just look into the Word & run on, as a man might glance in a mirror & not notice what needs to be noticed.''

b. What are mirrors designed to do? ... to show us exactly what we look like so we can see what needs correcting. Don’t get upset with the mirror if you look bad … !

c. James calls the Bible a mirror for our souls. It shows us what we really look like inside. We need that, because we tend to think we look better than we really do. (commercial: woman saying “I look good”)

d. Have you ever looked into a mirror and been shocked?

Once you see that, the issue is what you are going to do about it.

Many mark their Bibles, but never let their Bibles mark them.

2. Another interesting word in v. 23 describes a person who is only a "hearer" of the Word. This word was used of an audit.

a. Audit a class in college: "I want the information, but not the responsibility."

b. You cannot "audit" the Christian life, ...

c. Hearing the Word without responding to it is like chewing your food without swallowing: It tastes good, but it has no long-term benefit.
d. Some treat the Word the way we chew gum.

3. As Jesus' disciples, every time we come to His Word we should pray, "Lord, show me myself as You see me." That's very threatening.

a. A lot of us want lying mirrors. We're like the fairy-tale queen who said, "Mirror; mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" & only accepted one answer.

b. We want mirrors that make us look good. That's why Paul warned Timothy, "Watch out for people who come wanting to have their ears tickled instead of wanting the truth" (2 Tim. 4:3).

c. Did you know that hell will be full of people who looked in the mirror & tho’t they were OK? ...

d. “Confess” means to “agree with” — We are to agree with God about what we see in the mirror of His Word.

B. Staring into the Mirror

1. We’re not just to glance at the mirror..., but to gaze into it intently (1:25).

a. We're to stare at it. ...get the 360-degree look. (Women are better at it)
b. Don’t approach the Bible like tourists (quick look)… — (Bill’s trip thru Europe…)
c. But like explorers (look & study & make maps because they want to find out the real deal.) ...want to discover the truth & do something
d. The Bible doesn't show us our true selves so we can just walk away & moan about it. The idea is to see the truth so we can respond to it.

2. We don’t need a quick snapshot of ourselves, we need an X-ray machine that penetrates below the surface & gets down to the truth.

a. It happened throughout Scripture. Those who came face-to-face with God & saw themselves as they really were had the same reaction.

b. Isaiah said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined!" — (Isa. 6:5).

c. Peter to Jesus, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!"—(Luke 5:8)

d. Job said, "I abhor myself” — (Job 42:6 KJV).

e. Paul cried out, "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?" — (Romans 7:24).

f. And they were motivated to do something about it.

3. When your heart has an attitude that says, "Lord, make clear what You want, and I'll do it," I have good news for you.

a. You'll hear things in Scripture you never heard before; you'll see things you never saw before. You'll understand things ...

b. Why is that? Because you have given God the freedom to let you see yourself as He sees you.

C. Understanding the Perfect Law of Liberty

Here's the good part. Look what God is asking us to respond to. James calls it "the perfect law, the law of liberty" (1:25).

1. The Word of God is flawless.

a. It's without error (last sermon). It is the truth, ...whole, & nothing but..
b. Look into Scripture with a heart to respond, & you won't have to worry about going astray.

2. The Word is also liberating.

a. It sets us free from the things of this world that keep us in bondage.

b. Are you being held hostage to sin or fear or defeat? Then come to the Word and let it set you free.

c. Some have a wrong view of liberty: free from all restraint, living without any rules or boundaries.

That's not biblical or true liberty. You can't be a liberated baseball player with no foul lines on the field. ... tennis player w/o base lines. You will simply be frustrated, & out-of-control.

Freedom on the high seas is being enslaved to the sextant…

d. The truly free people are those who are what God created them to be.

e. Psalm 119:45 — "I will walk at liberty, for I seek Thy precepts." As long as the psalmist sought God's truth, he knew he would be free.

f. Jesus, "You shall know the truth, & the truth shall make you free" (Jn 8:32)

Pilate asked Jesus, "What is truth?''
Jesus answered that for us when He said to His Father, "Thy word is truth'' (John 17:17).

D. Enjoying God's Blessing

1. I don't know anyone who doesn't want to be "blessed in what he does”(Jas. 1:25). Even unbelievers want to live blessed lives.

2. But where do you find that kind of blessing? James says it comes in being "an effectual doer" of the Word.

a. I like the way Paul puts it in 2 Cor 3:18: "But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."

b. Blessedness comes when the Word of God transforms us into the image of Christ. In the Word, we see the Son of God & are transformed by the Spirit so that we are able to live out the will of God.

3. Responding to the Word is like beginning an exercise program. When you do this, two things become clear very quickly.

a. 1st, you’re not going to look like a body builder in a week.

b. 2nd, those first workouts are going to hurt. You are using muscles you haven't used in a long time...

c. But the only way to work past the pain is to keep exercising. ... It works that way in the spiritual realm, too.



James continues: “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, & yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. This is pure & undefiled religion in the sight of our God & Father, to visit orphans & widows in their distress, & to keep oneself unstained by the world.” ( 1:26-27)

1. “Religion” as James uses it here has to do with our external spiritual activity, those things that other people can see & hear us doing.

2. James is talking to believers who have already been brought to life by the Word. He is saying that genuine faith produces genuine works.

A. Reflect the Word IN OUR WORDS

1. No matter what we may be doing, if we cannot control that little appen-dage in our mouths, our religion is a waste of time.

2. One proof that you have received the Word & are responding to it is the way you talk.

a. Jas 3:9 — we sometimes use the same mouth to bless God on Sunday & curse people on Monday. Then he asks a very good question: "Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh & bitter water?" (3:11). — The obvious answer is no.

b. If you’ve got the real stuff, it will show up in the way you talk.

B. Reflect the Word IN OUR WORKS

1. Our commitment to the Word of God will also be reflected in our works.

a. Jas 1:27 talks about helping the helpless, those who can do nothing for us in return. So we're not looking at a business deal.

b. When you are "in sync" with the Word, people who may otherwise not get noticed suddenly become very important to you.

2. You probably already know this, but if you follow Jesus Christ you won't usually find yourself in the halls of power & influence & wealth.

a. There are faithful disciples in places of great power & influence, ...

b. These are the kind of people Jesus sought & hung out with.

C. In Our Walk

1. Our commitment also reflects itself in our walk. The challenge here is "to keep oneself unstained by the world."

a. This means being in the world, but not of the world.

b. We are supposed to leave our mark on the world for Christ, not allow the world to leave its mark on US.

2. What happens when you spill something on your blouse, & the stain is really obvious? People say, "You've got a stain on your blouse."

a. They don't say, "That's a really nice tie except for that little stain."

b. Why don't people say that? Because when you have a stain on your clothes, the stain takes center stage. It attracts all the attention.

3. So it is with our spiritual lives. When the world stains you, it shows.

a. Lot ...

b. Abraham kept himself unstained from the world & was blessed

4. How do you keep the stains of sin off so you can reflect Christ?

a. You pray what David prayed at the end of Psalm 139: "Search me, O God, & know my heart; try me & know my anxious thoughts; & see if there be any hurtful way in me, & lead me in the everlasting way."

b. How does God search us & know us? By the Spirit of God using the Word of God to dissect our hearts (Hebrews 4: 12).

c. We are cracked vessels, no doubt about it. We all have flaws & leaks. The only way to keep a leaky vessel full is to keep the faucet turned on. We have to keep the Word of God flowing thru us, keeping us filled & clean. It's an absolute necessity.

d. There's no other way to be a genuine, growing disciple of Jesus Christ

“In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;

20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

21 Therefore, putting aside all filthiness & all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:18-21)

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude them-selves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does. (1:22-25)


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