“Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22).
It’s a delusion to think you can hear God’s Word, then disobey it without cost.
Matthew 7:21–23 records the tragic results of spiritual delusion. Jesus says, “Not every one who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father, who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
Jesus made a clear distinction between those who merely claim to be Christians and those who truly are. The difference is, true believers do the will of the Father. In the words of James, they are doers of the Word, not merely hearers who delude themselves.
“Hearers” in James 1:22 translates a Greek word that speaks of auditing a class. Auditing students attend class and listen to the instructor but don’t do any work. Consequently, they don’t receive credit for the course. The phrase “delude themselves” speaks of being victimized by one’s own faulty reasoning.
People who listen to God’s Word but never obey it are spiritual auditors who delude themselves by thinking that hearing the Word is all God requires of them. Unfortunately, many churches are full of such people. They attend services and hear the sermons, but their lives never seem to change. They’re content to hear the Word but never apply it. Like those whom Jesus condemned in Matthew 7, they’ve chosen religious activities over true faith in Christ.
How tragic to think you’re saved, only to hear, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matt. 7:23). That will never happen if you’re a doer of the Word.
Suggestions for Prayer: Take advantage of every opportunity to respond to the Word in specific ways. Ask God for His grace to keep you faithful to that goal.
For Further Study: Read Matthew 7:13–29. ✧ How did Jesus describe false prophets? ✧ How can you discern a false from a true prophet? ✧ To what did Jesus liken those who hear His words and act on them? Why?