Be Doers, Not Just Hearers

Podcast 41 Transcript

This is a computer generated transcript of this podcast. This is NOT a typed transcript and it has not been edited. Expect grammatical and syntactical errors.

Hello, and good day. I am B. R. Maul, and you are listening to the podcast, Living God’s Way in an Ungodly World. It’s good to have you here with me. Today is the day the Lord has made. We shall rejoice and be glad in it. Today, we continue in the book of James, chapter 1, and we’ll be studying verses 22 through 25.

If you were with me last week, we paused to give a message that was directed to our Jewish friends, in hopes that more of the Jews will look to their God, Yahweh, and look away from the world with any hopes or aspirations. This comes with the war that Israel is currently in with Hamas and its neighboring countries are also causing some havoc.

So today we go back to the book of James continuing our studies and let’s jump right into it. We have much to cover and you know me, I’m not one for idle chitchat, so we’ll just get right into our study. James, chapter 1: 22 – 25, reads, But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Verse 23, For if anyone is a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror. 24, For he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. Verse 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it and is not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

Heavenly Father, we thank you so much for the word that you have left us. And as I teach today, I ask you, Lord, to guide my tongue, let nothing depart from these lips that are not of the Holy Spirit. And I pray for those who are all listening. That their hearts be opened up, their hearts be softened, Lord. And as the Holy Spirit speaks to them, that they will grow and learn and continue to walk with you. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

We continuously see the theme. of having a relationship with God woven into his message to us throughout the entire Bible. He is not a distant God. God wants a relationship with you. And for us to truly be his children, We need that, and ultimately, that’s how we know we are born again. But there’s no mistaking it. When it comes to being born again, no one is born into the family of God. Everyone must be born again. Because everyone is born physically.

But not everyone is born spiritually, because of the sinful state that we live in, when we are born, our spirits are dead. We have no gumption whatsoever to pursue God. We want to do our own thing. We want life as easy as possible. We want as much as possible. But we don’t desire to be with God because sin is what separates us from our Holy Father. So, as Jesus says in the book of John 3, as he was speaking to Nicodemus, that we must be born again. And no one earns their way into heaven. That’s impossible. And the reason we can’t earn it is because it is a gift. And a gift that must be accepted.

We have Christmas time coming up here. And with that said, we’re going to be exchanging a lot of gifts. Well, nobody just sets a gift next to their loved one. And then just walk away without it, expecting them to at least open it. And God has given us a gift. The gift of his Son, the Lamb of God, who does indeed take away the sins of the world. But to receive that, you must take it. And just like Christmas time, when somebody gives you a gift, You’re going to rip open that gift wrapping, and if it’s in a box, you’re going to get a knife or scissors. You’re going to open that up, and you’re going to dig through that box until you find what your loved one has given you.

So you will receive those Christmas gifts that you get. No different than with God. You must receive it. God just doesn’t give it to you sometime in your life, and then you just thank him and hold on to the gift, and you don’t open it. You don’t do anything with it. Also, no one defaults into heaven by way of perhaps family values.

This is one that I fell into as a little boy and growing up. I really thought that This is the way it’s always been. My family, we go to church. I know who Jesus is. I know he’s the son of God. I know what he did. I know why we celebrate Christmas and why we celebrate Easter. And there were plenty of times in my life I can look back and I just felt that, by default, I was going to heaven.

Or, if it’s not just that, being just born into a family that’s always done that, some people look at the faith of a loved one. Just because Mom or Dad or brother or sister has a very strong faith, Just believing that, well, that should be enough because we talked together about that. But again, if you have not accepted the gift, if you have not repented and declared Jesus Christ as your Lord, well, then you’re not born again. So it’s important that we establish that before we dive into James 1 and break down 22 through 25 because James is talking to born again believers here. But he’s also giving us something to think about. Before I get into that, what it is that he is giving us to think about, a little more on this relationship.

So, in Romans 10:17, Paul says, So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Now, hearing, in Greek here, it’s pronounced akoi. A K O E. Akoi. Now this kind of hearing, this type of hearing, is more than just hearing a message. It’s beyond that. It’s also receiving the message. So hearing it, yes, one needs to actually hear it, but then also receiving it, taking that message in. And it goes a little deeper. It’s an interaction with the word, and a decision is always made In this type of hearing, an interaction with the word, both kinds of word, capital W and lowercase w, because it is, it is Jesus at that point in time who is trying to get, at this point we’re talking about someone who’s a non believer.

So, someone who has not been born again, they hear the Word of God, they receive the Word of God, and then there’s interaction. And in that interaction, there is always, always a decision is made. So, this kind of hearing is compared to a courtroom hearing. If you’ve ever been in court, you definitely pay attention to what’s going on around you. It’s not a humdrum type of setting. So, what does it mean, though, by the decision is always made with this kind of hearing, the Greek word for hearings, interaction? Because every time a person hears the Word of God, we either accept it, And listen to it, and I mean listen as in not just hearing, I’m sorry, but listen to it as in obey it, listening, I will, like I listen to my parents, okay, I’m going to obey my parents, well I’m going to obey the word of God, or a person rejects it, okay, did you catch that?

There’s one of two things. There’s no in between here. And this is very important, beloved, because it seems to be this ongoing message, or I should say misunderstanding, perhaps, that there’s just the assumption that people are kind of in the middle, someone who’s not born again. They don’t want to reject Christ, but at the same time, they can’t admit that he is their Lord, which means they’re not born again. A born again believer will be quick to say, Yes, Jesus is my Lord and Savior. He, he owns me. I am his and he is mine. But somebody who, and many who call themselves Christians, that I have found, they fall into this category that, yes, they do go to church. Some, even often, but most of them, oh, from time to time, especially during important holidays. And they even try to be respectful when it comes to the religion, so they won’t say, no, I have rejected him. But truth be told, beloved, if you fall in that category, if you have not accepted him, then you are indeed rejecting him. There is no in between. So that’s the type of hearing in Romans 10, 17. So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.

And one needs faith. You cannot be a follower of Christ and not have faith. It’s impossible because we’re told we cannot please him without faith. So there’s that interaction right there. So first, a person, they don’t know Christ as their personal Savior. They hear the Word of God and they take it in. Okay, it’s not something that’s in the background. They actually interact with it. They’re thinking about it. So there’s a few things we need to be careful about, beloved, because when a person is in this scenario, of hearing the Word of God, must be very careful about rejecting that. And yes, remember, rejecting is also passively saying, well, eventually, or half heartedly, Oh, yeah, yeah, he’s my Lord.

Because we can look at John 3:36. Jesus is speaking, He who believes in the Son has everlasting life. And he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. So there’s that belief, and as a believer, one has everlasting life. But notice that there’s no in between here again. So be careful not to deceive yourself being among those who, who feel that either by default they’re going to heaven. Or, for some reason, they’re special, and so they don’t have to repent and have the Lord Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Because Jesus makes it clear that he who does not believe the Son, that’s S O N, right, shall not see life, which means they’re not born again. Their soul remains dead. It’s interesting, we have these shows out there, you know, The Walking Dead, and zombie shows, and it’s just crazy how so many people have taken a liking or are curious about it. It seems to be almost everywhere. I find it ironic, because the sad thing is, there’s truth to that. There are so many people who are just walking dead. Their bodies are alive, but their soul is not born again. My heart truly, truly goes out to these people. And be warned. Either yourself or pass this warning on to people, you know, or loved ones, especially loved ones, my goodness, but anybody that continues to reject the idea.

And I know that’s kind of hard to see, but remember we can’t judge each other’s fruit. Okay, the fruit of the Holy Spirit. We don’t know each other’s eternity. That ultimately is between each person and God. Now we are told that we can know One needs not question if they have accepted Christ as their Savior, they are indeed born again, and they will go to heaven.

But at the same time, for somebody who continues to sit on that fence post, and they have not been born again, and they believe that they also haven’t rejected Christ, which, again, they have. There’s a huge danger there. And I think the devil loves getting people stuck right in that place their whole life.

If we look at 2 Chronicles 36:15 and 16. I know I’m throwing a lot of verses at you today, but this is important to cover. 2 Chronicles 36 15 and 16 reads, And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by his messengers, rising up early and sending them, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place, his being God. But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and scoffed at his prophets. Until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy. Did you catch that? So, these people finally felt the wrath of God. Over and over he sends messengers to them, his people, trying to get their attention, that they mock and ridicule, think it’s ridiculous, and then there comes a point where it’s too late.

Now, there are those who say and believe that everybody can accept the Lord as their savior. That’s true, that once a person dies, and if they’re not born again, it’s too late. There’s no such thing as purgatory, there’s no second chances. And for those who misinterpret the millennial reign of Christ, that too is not a second chance for non believers, those who have rejected and have passed away.

However, I believe that there are plenty signs in God’s word that states otherwise. That yes, technically, we do have until we die. But there’s a lot of places that if you’re careful and if you’re reading his word, we’re shown that God can give a person what they want before they’re even dead and their fate is sealed. A huge example of that, the most popular that people don’t even think about, is Pharaoh in the book of Genesis. When Moses, time and time again, gives him a warning, and God says, let my people go. And Pharaoh can’t make up his mind. He’s, uh, yeah, no. Okay. Yes. No, forget it. And. It starts out that Pharaoh hardens his heart, but if you continue to read through that, you’ll notice that eventually God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, and I believe that at that point, Pharaoh, there was no turning back. Now, he was not dead. But his heart was so hardened that that’s it. There was no turning back. And we’re told the same thing here on the other side of the cross, those of us who look back instead of forward to the cross, that we can commit the unpardonable sin, which is rejecting the gospel message, the gospel truth, and to the point where a person’s heart can harden and they may just casually say, ah, you know, I’ll look into it on my deathbed. So that’s very dangerous. And even this last passage that I just read, because there was no remedy, there was no way for them to fix it. Here’s yet another one. First Chronicles 28:9. This is King David talking. As for you, my son, Solomon, know the God of your father and serve him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts.

Alright, so there’s no fooling God. We can fool our neighbors, we can fool our loved ones, we can even fool ourself, but there’s no fooling God. He searches and understands our hearts and thoughts. Continuing on, he says, if you seek him, that’s God, he will be found by you. But if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever. Now, the wonderful, beautiful promise here is that if you seek him, he will be found by you. That’s a promise. If you take the time and just pray to God, even if you are not born again and you’re just questioning, just ask him. Do you exist, Lord? Help my unbelief.

Show me who you are and he will reveal himself. But do you notice that there’s, um, intentional words in here, a person must do if you seek him. Seeking isn’t just casually just waiting until something from the sky comes and hits you on the head, and then a person goes, Oh, I get it. No, it takes a person to seek after God, and that’s where hearing the Word of God. So whether you’re hearing it in a sermon, someone reading it, or reading yourself the Word of God is still hearing it. You’re just reading it. Jesus goes on to say in Revelation 3, verse 20, Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with me.

There’s that intimacy again. There’s that relationship that Christ is seeking with every person. Now, to hear in this passage, the Greek means to hearken, give audience, understand it. So when he says, behold, I stand at the door and knock if anyone hears my voice and opens the door. So a person hearkens, they’re giving audience, they’re paying attention, and they understand that it’s, that it is Christ who is saying, Hey, you know, I want to be your savior. I want to be your Lord. So if anyone hears my voice and opens the door. That, again, is intentional. That’s an effort on a person, on a soul, to say, you know, yes, I, I hear you, Jesus, and opens the door to their heart. And by opening that, that, that is the process right there of confessing one’s sins, repenting, understanding, that’s that hearing of understanding that I am a sinner.

It’s not a head smart, it’s a heart smart. That understanding, and the person with their heart opens the doors and says, Yes, I am yours. And I love how Jesus says, I will come into him and dine with him and he with me. There’s that, that intimacy. When we sit down to eat a meal with loved ones, with a friend, and we’re intentional about it.

I know in today’s world, in America, sometimes those meals are not quite the same thing, but there are still plenty of times where we intentionally, we meet a friend out for dinner, or the family, we sit around the table for certain meals. And we are intentionally sitting around and being with one another. That is an intimate setting. If you really think about, like, eating, how, how intimate that is, it’s really hard to eat when you’re around people that you don’t like at all. It’s very uncomfortable. It’s like a person can lose their appetite. When it comes to celebrations, holy days, or holidays, we think of spending it with family and friends.

Because there’s that intimate part of sitting down and having a meal, eating, and that’s what Jesus is saying. Because Jesus also reminds us in Matthew 10:32 and 33, Therefore, whoever confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies me before men. Him I also denied before my Father who is in heaven.

So there’s a lot of intentionallity here, right? A person doesn’t just fall into Christianity. It’s impossible to do that. Okay, now let’s look back to James, because James is giving his readers, and his readers are born again believers, a message not to be deceived, and that was what I was referring to earlier.

When we studied verse 16, not long ago, James says, Do not be deceived. Again, in today’s reading, in verse 22, James says, six verses later, But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. And, the next time that we meet, he’ll say in verse 26, If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue, but deceives,

So, within just 10 verses, James uses that word, deceived, and when we hear a word used multiple times in a short setting, we are wise to heed that in God’s word because there’s no mistake. And so that’s what James is trying to tell us when in verse 22 he says, But be doers of the word and not hearers only deceiving yourself. He is warning each of us. There’s that caution of being somebody who just sits and hears the word but doesn’t live it out. And that’s what he’s talking about. When we are doers of the Word, we are listening to God, and listening in the sense of obeying God’s Word. And if you fall into the category of somebody who just hears, you should ask yourself, Am I deceiving myself?

That’s a tough question to ask. I understand that. That’s a very hard question to ask, but it’s also a blessing if you’re able to see that. That’s God, no doubt saying, yeah, you may want to look again because it is possible that perhaps you are not born again and you really haven’t accepted Christ as your savior or you are born again, so you are heaven bound, but you’re not going beyond just hearing and you need to put more effort into that. You need to get into God’s word. And read God’s word and not just go to church once or twice a month and say, yep, that’s enough because you will be deceiving yourself if you truly believe that just hearing it and not living it out is enough.

Because let’s look at the next two verses, 23 and 24. James says, for if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror. For he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. So we get this picture of a person, you step up to the mirror, and you look at it, and perhaps, you know, we all get up in the morning, and we got to make sure our hair is in the right place, right?

So we look in the mirror, and we check out ourselves, and we beautify ourselves for the day. And then we turn around and we head out the door. And of course, it doesn’t take long at all, and we completely forget, really, what we look like, physically. Which is only natural, because unless you work in front of a mirror, or are constantly looking at a mirror, well, you’re not going to remember. You’re not going to really know for sure your own expression, if that makes sense. I think that’s why when people take a picture of us, we want to see it and more often than not we’re the person that we want to look at, just to see what we look like. But how does this apply then to somebody who is only hearing and not a doer of the word?

Well, how many church goers do just that? They go to church, they listen to the sermon. They may feel even convicted, or maybe not. They thank the pastor for the message. But as soon as he or she gets home, the message melts away. And it’s back to life as usual. That is hearing God’s word and having it revealed to that person. Perhaps something, oh, that message makes sense, or yeah, I really shouldn’t do that. Or yeah, I wish I would do more of that, or I wish I’d behave more like that. Sure, at that moment, that’s like looking in the mirror, right? That message is in front of them, so they’re hearing it. But then like the person in the mirror, they just, once they leave, that message is done, they go home.

That’s it. They don’t remember it. It no longer has any effect, and they get back to this life as usual. And these are people that I give the most caution to. Those who say, yes, I’m a Christian, but their life doesn’t reflect it. They act differently when they are at church or when they are around Christian friends or relatives, but their own life, they’re not doers of the word.

They’re okay with swearing and cussing, being prideful, mocking, feeling greedy, acting on greed. There’s a big red flag there. So, a person in that situation is, once again, one of two things. They are either not born again, and they do not have the Holy Spirit in them. Their soul is still dead, and they’re okay with doing what they’re doing. Living life as usual. Really, those are the people that when they go to church, or they’re around Christian friends, or when somebody’s praying around them, or somebody says, can I pray for you? They’re the ones who are uncomfortable and go, oh, uh, well. And they’re okay with missing church. They’re okay not being around those people who do that because it just makes them feel uncomfortable.

Why is that? Because their soul is not born again. Their soul is not alive. Their soul is not seeking and thirsting after Jesus Christ. And so it is actually going to church and being around the holy presence of God that makes them uncomfortable. If you fall in that category, I beg you to ask the Lord for help.

Just ask him. The other possibility is, again, the person is born again, but they’re an infant. They are a baby Christian. And I’ve talked about this. In the past in some of my episodes about the difference about being a baby Christian, someone who is born again and they just stick to the milk. God loves me and this I know because the Bible tells me so, but they’re not in the meat of God’s word because they’re not in God’s word.

As we continue to read God’s word and we do it faithfully regularly, it becomes a part of us. It is living and it is sharper than any two edged sword. It will sever soul. from spirit. It will cut through the stuff in our life that does not belong as a Christian. And that’s what God’s Word will continue to do. Like a scalpel, it will cut away all of the evil stuff that we have done in the past and that our flesh still wants to go to. But baby Christians don’t get that. And so a baby Christian can easily be robbed from our enemy, the devil, all blessings the Lord wants to bestow upon his child on this side of eternity.

A person cannot lose their salvation, not at all. A person can lose all blessings that our Heavenly Father has in store for us on this side of the grave. Verse 25. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, okay, that’s God’s word, and is not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. So, now, James gives us the picture of the person who is in God’s Word, and continues in it, continues to listen to it, continues to read it, continues to talk about it, continues to pray about it. And this person is not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the Word, because now it is a part of them, and they live out God’s Word.

Not just hearing that we must be patient. But actually being patient, not just hearing that we are to honor the Lord with our possessions and with the first fruits of our increase, not just hearing that, but doing it, not just hearing that we are to love the Lord, our God, with all of our heart, with all of our soul, and with all of our might, but actually doing it. Are you starting to get that picture of the importance that James is saying? Don’t deceive yourself. Don’t just sit there and say, I’m a Christian and just hear God’s word every once in a while. Because you see the effort that is being told in that verse 25. He who looks into the perfect law of liberty.

Looks into. You can’t look into the Bible without opening it and reading it. Otherwise, a person would be looking at. The Bible, not into it. And how about more effort here, and continues in it. So not only does the person open God’s word, but does it often, regularly. It becomes a part of their life, and then also is a doer of the work.

Yes, Christian, to be a doer that takes effort, it really does. And I’m not going to sit here, speaking into this microphone and telling you that, Oh, yeah, it’s really easy. Don’t worry about it. Nah, there’s no challenges. Nope, just the opposite. There’s a lot of challenges because every single day we are barraged from the world of what we should be doing, how we should be acting, what we should be living like, what we deserve as people because we’re so awesome.

And the temptations are so extreme, the temptations to just have fun because there’s so many ways of doing it. Every generation has more and more opportunities of fun and feeling relaxed. It’s all about me. Temptations to just eat, eat, eat really good food. Temptation to be greedy. Temptation that is the world saying, Oh, just go get it. In fact, you know, you don’t even have to wait. Tell you what, take this plastic card to the store and just get it. You don’t have to wait. You’ve earned it. You deserve it. And so if you don’t have the money, but you want it now, go get it. And of course, there’s a ton of other ways that we’re tempted. So being a doer of the work is not easy, but certainly rewarding.

Before I close, an example of this type of person, perhaps you know the kind of person who is constantly learning, but seldom is practicing what they learn. They seldom put into practice what they learn. I think of a common type is, we’ll call those kind of people, a lifetime college student. They are a lifetime student. These people that have degrees upon degrees and have been in school for almost as long as been married or been a parent. I mean, it’s almost ridiculous. But these people just continue to go to school, but they’re not really practicing it. Does that make sense? So they’re learning a lot, but they’re really not practicing.

A side note on that though, I guess. Some of the best things that we learn in life, beloved, we have already learned from those that came before us. Our parents, our grandparents, I look back at what my grandmothers, what they knew, their life experience alone, quite amazing. But also learning things of our own life, our own life’s experiences.

Hopefully you’re learning from those and applying what you have learned and good old common sense. That goes a long way, and I dare say, even longer in today’s time. We live in an age where information is so easily accessible, that knowledge is easily accumulated, but so few have the wisdom of God, and common sense just goes out the door.

Well, I am out of time. Thank you so much for joining me. I encourage you to get a hold of me, go to my website, that’s, click on contact and get a hold of me. If there’s anything I can pray for you, let me know. If there’s anything in God’s word that you have questions about, perhaps I can help.

And if you can give to the ministry, living God’s way in an ungodly world. You can do so by either mailing B. R. Maul at Box 126, Frazee, MN 56544, or just go to the website. And I currently have a way for PayPal, and you can use PayPal. Most importantly, if you would, pray for me and pray for my family. Pray for this ministry, for all who hear it. Their hearts are soft and they’re open to what the Holy Spirit is saying to them. So, may the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, beloved, and give you peace. I’ll see you soon,

and until next time,

God bless.