Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Smoke And Mirrors

In the church today, obedience to God is both scarce and hard to find.
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. ~James 1:23,24

We would all agree that to hear, read, and study the Word of God is important, but all of that without obedience to what it calls us to do misses the point entirely. To take in God’s Word without submitting to it is a form of self deception and an indicator of a life unchanged by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. James uses the analogy of someone who looks at themselves in a mirror but then leaves and forgets what they looked like. A hearer of the Word and not a doer is someone who looks into the mirror of God’s Word and does not respond to the call for change and obedience. As Pastor pointed out this last Sunday, there is an obvious danger for those who read and study the Bible, but have no desire for change.

And early in the morning all the people came to him in the temple to hear him. ~Luke 21:38

There is an eager anticipation in the heart of a disciple of Christ. We long to hear His voice, something to comfort our anxious hearts and to calm our fear. We rise up early and pour ourselves out in prayer; we read and study His Word, our souls laid bare before Him. We long to hear His voice as the people did so long ago. Should we be surprised then when He speaks to us through his Word?

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” ~John 14:15

The validity of our claim to be a disciple of Christ, is bound up in our desire to hear and obey what He says. The heart ready to receive the Lord's Words with submissiveness and intention to obey gives evidence to the most basic proof of authentic Christianity. Pastor pointed out for those who receive God's word with an intention to obey it will:

  • Show up in your speech 
  • Show up in your treatment of needy people 
  • Show up in your pursuit of a pure lifestyle 

The reason being is that Scripture will clearly point out our fallen nature and give the true Child of God direction and strength as they look to the grace and mercy of God found only in Jesus. How we respond to what the Bible says, indicates the presence of God's regenerating power found in His people, or lack of it. Note this example from the Old Testament...

“As for you, son of man, your people who talk together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, say to one another, each to his brother, ‘Come, and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain. And behold, you are to them like one who sings lustful songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument, for they hear what you say, but they will not do it.” ~Ezekiel 33:30-32

These people from Ezekiel chapter thirty-three are examples of someone who “is a hearer of the word and not a doer.” They are like the auditor of a college class Pastor was talking about. If after hearing this message and you have been convicted by a lack of obedience to our Lord, take heart and simply repent; do as this first son and love the Father through obedience...

“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go.” ~Matthew 21:28-30

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