Hearing and Doing the Word

by Mike Ratliff

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (James 1:22 ESV)

The visible Church in our time has been compromised for the most part by human philosophy and has succumbed to the pressure from the world to not emphasize God’s truth as absolute. Professing Christians who discount the Word of God as absolute truth are actually placing their intellect, their beliefs, and the counsel of their own hearts above the Word of God as it relates to authority and truth. It is one thing for an atheist to denigrate Christians, the Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the God the Holy Spirit. That is almost expected and should not surprise us. However, when the majority of professing Christians demand the right to behave contrary to what the Word teaches about Christian behavior can God’s judgment be far behind?

Those in the rebellion have believed a lie. They are deceived. They do not know God’s Word and their leaders never preach the Law of God with the Gospel so to them the fact that their behavior “used to be” considered sinful is now seen as relative. This has resulted from a protracted famine of hearing and doing God’s Word.

I have confession to make. I have a very low tolerance for people who are inconsiderate and my anger over that compounds drastically if the guilty party is also incompetent. If I am not very careful, I can become full of rage while driving to or from work in rush hour traffic. Oh, I do not act out that rage, but I do sin horribly in my heart at times over the blatant selfishness exhibited in how some drive. Couple that with a very strong sense of justice and it creates a circumstance that makes my commute each way something to be dreaded. As I was walking after lunch today, I prayed about this post. I asked for direction in choosing a topic along with wisdom and discernment in putting it together. However, as I tried to cross the street next to the building in which I work to enter the walking trail, I was forced to take evasive action when a fellow in a great deal of hurry to exit the parking lot next to me refused to wait for me to cross.

My first reaction was rage and resentment. As I walked around one of the ponds on the trail I actually pictured me confronting that driver. Well, I stopped right there and asked God to forgive me. Then I asked why I struggled so with this. Then the picture became very clear. This anger is the product of my old man. That part of me that is unredeemed still exists. It is full of pride. It wants “to win” at all things. It will never submit to anyone. When that resentment and rage overwhelm me it is that old man within who is doing this. However, when that happens it is all my fault because I am not denying myself nor taking up my cross. It is only as I do this that I can deny strength to my old man. Interestingly, the more time I spend in God’s Word, studying it, meditating on it, and praying before the throne of Grace the less problem I have in this area. But, those circumstances that trigger it can happen at any time. What are we to do?

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. (James 1:19-21 ESV) 

Even though my anger is usually directed towards those who I perceive to be rude and inconsiderate, it does not produce the righteousness of God no matter how “right” I am. The goal is to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. The only way we can do this is to receive with meekness the implanted Word. When we are saved, God implants His Word in our hearts. However, we often walk through each day as if it isn’t even there. What we must to do is submit our wills to God’s in all meekness, memorize the Word, and therefore bring it to life within us. When we walk through each day this way, we become doers of the Word.

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. (James 1:22-25 ESV)

Hearing God’s Word, but not acting upon it is a form of self-deception. The more a professing Christian does this the deeper their spiritual blindness becomes. On the other hand, those who hear God’s Word and in all meekness submit to it, the brighter becomes God’s light within. The Christians who do this perseveres in God’s truth. Perfection is for eternity. In this life, we must still deal with that unredeemed part of our hearts that hates the light and loves self. If our old man gets his way then we will be that one who forgets the truth, but if we deliberately seek to put our old man to death by denying him what he wants consistently then we will be blessed and become doers of God’s Word.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:26-27 ESV)

As I read this passage during my morning devotion today, I was pierced to the heart. I asked God to fill me with His wisdom and help me get control over that consuming anger within. Then after eating lunch I had that episode trying to cross the street. That started the fires of anger in the furnace of my heart, but God was in control. He caused me to stop and repent of it. He caused me to see clearly the line that I had crossed and why. I then put it together with this passage. When we are doers of the Word we walk through this life as Christ would. We are giving and merciful and the filthiness of this world has no part in us. However, as soon as we cross that line into self-righteous anger we cease being doers of the Word and are, instead, controlled by our flesh.

I cannot say to any reading this that I have this conquered. I do not. I am a work in progress and I hate my sin, but the tests and trials by fire never cease with me. This is walking in repentance my brethren. This is working out our salvation with fear and trembling. Let us pray for one another that we do not fall away and become discouraged in our repeated failures.

Oh Lord, help us to be doers of your Word and not hearers only. Help us to walk in meekness and self-denial as you burn away the dross within. Oh be glorified in us Lord!

Soli Deo Gloria!

10 thoughts on “Hearing and Doing the Word

  1. Pingback: Hearing and Doing the Word - Reformata

  2. My prayer as well to be a doer of the Word and not just a hearer. All for the glory of Christ.

    Thanks Mike, that was something that I needed to hear.

  3. Well you ask Him to help you with this and thats just what He did! Nothing like putting you to the test right away :) Ask for patience, He’ll send a trial. Sounds like you are passing more than failing at this point. Road rage………its a good thing you don’t live in California. :) I did for half my life and THAT can be a trial and a half for drivers. Out there you either floor it or slam on the brakes…….no inbetween! Missouri is a bit more calm. Atleast in the smaller towns. My pet peeve is not leaving something the way you found it. I bite my tounge till it bleeds on that one! :) Ssssssllloooooow to anger………………….

  4. Amen, Mike!
    “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” Galatians 5:16. So often in my own desire for “justice now”, I see my flesh tempt me to disobey the Word of God with actions of “outbursts of wrath (vs.20)” that I easily justify as righteous anger towards the unjustice that I witness. But I am reminded daily of the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22,23; I am humbled by His patience with me, and it encourages me to be the same in turn with others.
    Excellent post. I praised God today for the good work that He is doing in you and for your ministry.
    Soli Deo Gloria.

  5. Thanks Paul and Luann! That is one of my pet peeves as well. We have a Wall-Mart in our town and it has two shopping cart collection points on each row of parking spaces. There is one just a few seconds away from each parking spot, but people still won’t push their empty shopping carts those few feet. Instead they park them in the empty space next to them so that no one can park there. We have become a nation of prima donnas.

  6. Wow! This post was very convicting to me. I have the exact problem that you have Mike. Your post described me to a “T”. I also have the same problems that Paul and Luann described & also the shopping cart thing. We can be so “self-righteous” at times.

    Praise God that He is there to lead us & strengthen us & lovingly correct us:

    Hebrews 12:5-11 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; (6) For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” (7) If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? (8) But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. (9) Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? (10) For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. (11) Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

    Ken

  7. Hi Mike,
    I was getting ready to leave work and I stopped and read your post. I know someone just like that, Me!
    I am an employer and I kinda do that anger thing with my staff. There incompetence at times makes my blood boil. They work hard and want to do a good job. My expectations are always above what they can do. I get so frustrated at times I can’t contain myself.
    My wife takes me aside and very gently reminds me that I need to be a Godly Boss.
    I alway’s go to Romans chapter 7. Paul struggled with sin also. What he didn’t want to do he did and what he wanted to do at times he didn’t.” What a wretched man I am, Who will save me from this body of death”!! Rom.7:24 “I thank God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”7:25
    Those pile of verses in Rom.7 are the most difficult to memorize. Satan is a master of bringing out his best in us.
    Thank you for your post today it reminded me of the sin in me that I need to lay at His Feet before I speak.
    I am so not worthy.
    Steve

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