“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
James 1:22, NIV
Some people like to think of the Bible, especially in the Authorised King James version, as great literature. While that is true, sadly, if that’s all you see it as, you have totally and utterly missed the point. It`s purpose in being written by the Holy Spirit was not to create a work of great literature but to communicate to the world great truth about our great God. And then to show sinful men and women how great a salvation the very Son of God made possible for us, when He died on the cross for our sins. For, as Hebrews 2:3 puts it, “how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?”
Our Scripture for today makes it clear that those who listen to or read the word, but do nothing with what they have just read or heard, are deceiving themselves. Last Christmas I went to a magnificent presentation of Handel’s Messiah. It was truly wonderful to hear some of the greatest words of Scripture put to music in that most amazing and very anointed Oratorio. There is no doubt that Handel knew the One he was writing about. I looked around the auditorium and there were clearly many Christians there who were rejoicing in what they were hearing, the looks on their faces betrayed the fact that the words being sung were real in their lives.
The majority of the people who were enjoying the performance had a different look on their faces. They were clearly enjoying the music, but it looked as though there was something missing in their response and some, even, seemed bored by the words that were being sung. As the words of the Hallelujah Chorus rang out in glorious celebration of all that the Messiah had done for us, I was praying that some of those present who did not know the Lord would realise that what they had been listening to was more than great music and a great performance, but was conveying a great message of a great salvation, which mankind ignores to their peril.
As believers, If we become so familiar with the word, and even worship the word, instead of worshipping the Lord, we can fall victims to our own self-imposed self-deception as well, becoming ‘hearers only’, as the authorised version translates James 1:22. Perhaps it’s time to check out our own lives with the Lord and ask Him if there is anything we are forgetting to do, even though we know it to be the truth. Self-deception is a dangerous disease which lies at the beginning of a very slippery slope!
Prayer: Help me, Lord, to recognise any areas of my life where I am guilty of self-deception, having become only a hearer and not a doer. I choose to come back to you and ask for Your forgiveness and to walk in obedience to the directions You have given me through Your word. In Jesus’s name, Amen.