In churches, you will find two types of folks. You’ll find those that are hearers of the Word, and you’ll find those that are doers of the Word. What James wants us to understand is that those who are hearers only are deceiving themselves in thinking that they are Christians when they may not be. It is only those who are doers of the Word that really understand real saving faith.
In other words, there are a lot of people, that if they die today, people that are members of churches all throughout our land – there are a lot of people that think they are going to heaven because they believe the right things about Jesus, but if they died today they would wake up in hell separated from God. They are living with self-deception. I would venture to say the percentages would absolutely shock us if we all died today to see the number of people here that are going to be in heaven and the extraordinary number of people here who are going to be hell.
Now why is that? Why are they self-deceived? That’s what God’s word is going to explain here in James verse 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; and once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he is.
The Word of God is like a man looking in a mirror. He sees dirt on his face and his hair unkempt. He notices what the problems are and how he needs to improve his looks, but by the time turns from the mirror, he can no longer remember what he saw in the mirror. So, how does that connect to the Word of God? The Word of God in our quiet time, convicts us of areas in our life that we need to get right with God. But so often, people come and even may feel convicted in the worship experience and by the time they get to the parking lot, they’ve already forgotten what the sermon was about. Do you get the connection?
The Word of God when studied intently, when we mediate on it, not only convicts us, but by spending time there, we really allow the perfect law of God to convict us. And we realize that we’ve fallen short. It won’t be like we’ve just looked in a mirror for a short time, turned away and forgotten what we saw. God’s Word will be imprinted on our hearts in such a way that we won’t forget. We’ll be eager to share our faith and be the kind of person God intends for us to be.