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Lesson 8: Real Faith: A Life That Mirrors The Word of God

James 1:22-27

Lesson 8- Real Faith: A life that mirrors the Word of God

Through our study last week James revealed two truths about the Word and clearly stated two responsibilities we have to the Word of God.

1.  Word of truth gives us spiritual birth. Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."

2.  Word of God is implanted in us. We receive it with humility, a teachable spirit, allowing it to transform us.

In the Scriptures today, James compares the Word of God to a mirror. He seems to be a master at word pictures to communicate truth.

Read James 1: 22-27

We’ve seen that the Word of God brings spiritual life and spiritual maturity. James goes on to challenge us that as we look intently (gaze) into the Word of God, and put it into practice, we will receive freedom and spiritual blessing. Verse 22 is His admonition to us…"Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." We saw in verse 19 that we should all be quick to listen to the Word. That’s only the beginning. We must put it into practice. That same Word of truth must change our behavior or we are only deceiving ourselves by thinking that listening is enough. We must live out what we hear. Being church goers, doesn’t cut it. Listening isn’t enough. God’s desire for us is to live a life that mirrors the truth of God’s Word.Verse 23 gives us the explanation and reveals the Word to us as a mirror.

The mirrors that James refers to are not our shiny glass ones, but a piece of metal shined so that a reflection can be seen in it. Our mirrors will give us a much clearer reflection today. And so it is true about the Word in our lives. We have a much clearer reflection as we study and read the Word, not just listen to it taught or preached as they did in James’ day. The idea here is that as a man looks into a mirror, he sees what he really looks like spiritually. We do the same when we look into the Word of God (the mirror). We see what we really look like in light of God’s intent for us. The Word of truth shows us what we are and what we ought to be. As we look into the Word, it reflects what is wrong and how to put it right. II Timothy 3:16-17 states that the Scripture…"is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God can be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

There is a contrast between two men reacting to the Word of God. The first man only listens to the Word of truth. This man just glances in the mirror of the Word and immediately (without hesitation) walks away and forgets what he sees. We all know how that is. We do the same. See what we look like, but don’t do anything about it. In fact as the Scripture says here, we immediately forget what we look like! We don’t really pay attention to what we see. Maybe we don’t like what we see or don’t know what to do with what we see, or we are too overwhelmed by what we see. The truth here is we deceive ourselves (we are lying to ourselves), if we think the glance is enough. We must respond to it. We must become doers of the Word. Put it into practice. Let it effect our lives for our good and others’ good and for the Glory of God! The second man gazes (looks intently) into the perfect law that gives freedom. Here’s another revelation of the Word to us! The same Word of truth is perfect, reflecting the giver of the law, God himself. The perfect nature and character of God and God’s perfect will are expressed to us through His Word. That same law brings us liberty, freedom! John 8:32 states "...if you know the truth the truth will set you free." That is God’s perfect intention through His Word – to set us free! We are no longer slaves to sin, but free to worship and obey God. Free to experience His grace and love and mercy and forgiveness and power and presence in our lives! The mirror of God’s Word is that perfect law that can bring freedom to everyone who believes.

Do we just listen to it? James continues and says you must live it out…continue to do it. Let it change your behavior. Be doers of the Word. He reminds us that we are not to forget what we see, but do it! We are to live a life that mirrors the Word of God. Have you heard it said… "Your Life may be the only Bible another person reads"! What will be the result? We will be blessed by our obedience to the Word and the will of God.

So our responsibility to the Word of God is not to just glance, but gaze with intent into the Word, letting it reflect the path of freedom to us, and then to walk in that freedom. Obey what is revealed to us. Let our lives express the outwardly the inward change of our hearts. The blessing we will receive is the freedom to be all that God has designed us to be. God does have a purpose for each of us right here and now. We can reflect the glory of God to the world around us. James goes on to explain this very truth in verses 26-27. The impact of God’s Word in your life should be seen through your speech, your service and your separation from the world. Verse 26 says, "If anyone considers himself religious…" Religious refers to the external observances of our faith, like rituals and liturgy. Those can’t replace the matters of our heart- our hearts that have been changed to reflect God in our speech, service, and separation. James says that those of us who just observe the rituals of our faith, without becoming doers of the Word, are deceiving ourselves and our religion is worthless. We are deceiving ourselves and all our efforts are in vain.

He then gives us a contrast of worthless religion to a pure and faultless religion. There are three evidences that you are not just a hearer, but a doer of the Word , that your religion is acceptable to God, pure and undefiled.

1.  Verse 26 – we must keep a tight rein on our tongue. We will study how the importance of taming the tongue when we get to chapter 3. How we use our mouth is a practical evidence of our faith. It reflects the one we serve!

2.  Verse 27 – look after the orphans and widows. Not just visit them, but take care of them. I just heard a wonderful example of this. An acquaintance who just lost here husband within the last year, had men from her church come to help her rake leaves and prepare her house for winter. That’s real faith – faith that is evidenced by someone’s love and care for another. The Bible says others will know we are Christians by our love.

3.  Verse 27 - we must keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. We are not to separate ourselves from living in the world or with the people who do not do the will of God, but we are to keep ourselves from being drawn into those things that would be outside of the will of God (temptations). We need to walk purely, honoring God, in the midst of tempting circumstances. We need to keep ourselves from anything contrary to the new nature of God living within us, anything contrary to the character of God.

What James is saying is that we must reflect our love and commitment to the one we serve, Jesus Christ - the one who has set us free to obey Him - to be doers of the Word, not just hearers.

The Word of truth gives us spiritual life and brings us to maturity. Freedom and blessing come to the one who does what the Word of God says to do. Are you glancing at the Word or are you gazing into it?