The Sermon on the Mount Part 20


by Mike Ratliff

22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 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; 24 for once he has looked at himself and 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, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25 NASB)

26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (James 2:26 NASB)

Back in the early days of my walk as a Christian after I became a Bible teacher and later a Deacon, I read my Bible through every year just as I do now, but there were large areas of it that I would consider as “something deeper that I would learn later.” Most of those passages were those we now deal with here that are specifically about doctrine. There was a concept that I had back then that those who took doctrine seriously were “legalistic” while the rest of us were actually walking closer to Jesus because we were “experiencing him” through our relationships with him. This included our religiosity. What is that? That is a form of piety that spurns doctrinal precision. Many of the leaders of those who believe and teach this sort of thing view “works” as something Christians do in order to be found worthy for salvation. I can remember walking through the parking lot one cold December morning with my snow shovel in hand to clear the sleet from the sidewalk from the entrance to our Church building so people could enter without slipping and falling. In my mind I wondered if God would consider this a “worthy work” and that perhaps my righteousness would indeed exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees in the end if I continued to read my Bible enough, to pray enough, to give enough, to serve enough, et cetera I would not hear Jesus say to me what he said in Matthew 7:23. Continue reading