Most of us would agree that we look a bit different depending on who we are with. When you approach someone you have never met before, you will probably respond to them a bit differently than you would to your sister. If you answer a phone as part of your job, you probably answer differently than you do when you’re off hours relaxing at home. You say things to your spouse you would never say in front of your children. You probably act a bit differently in front of the elderly ladies in your church than you do towards the young women in your Bible study.
Each of these situations calls for a different demeanour from us. A similar principle applies to God’s Word. We don’t approach God’s Word the same way we approach a book of fairy tales, our “beloved” math textbook, or the latest Christian nonfiction book. Because God’s Word is immensely different from each of those. God’s Word is true, authoritative, sufficient, inerrant, and perfect. The Bible is breathed from God. It calls for a different response than any other book we will read.
Last week we looked at some of the heart attitudes we have when we come before God’s Word. This week, we will finish off with the last three from James 1:19-25 (ESV):
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 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. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
Today we are focusing on filthiness and rampant wickedness, receiving the Word meekly, and being doers of the Word.
Put Away all Filthiness and Rampant Wickedness
When you approach God’s Word, it’s important that you put off sin. That is why prayer is crucial before you read the Bible; you must confess your sins and repent of them. The reason for this is because sin will hinder you from fully understanding God’s Word and applying it.
I recognize (and so does God) that none of us will be perfect until we go to heaven. So you will never be able to come to God’s Word sinless and without blemish. Often times the Word will reveal sins to us that we may have not been aware of. The goal is to put off our known sins and any sins we have yet to repent of.
If we are living in known sin, that means we are refusing to obey God’s Word and take it seriously. We have ignored it’s authority, and we have considered it lightly. You have chosen to “cherry pick” which commands are worthy of your obedience. If this is your attitude coming before Scripture, you cannot expect to cultivate true change from God’s Word. Putting off sin before investing in Bible study creates a willingness to learn and a humility to receive what God has to say.
Receive with Meekness the Implanted Word
Come humbly before God. Admit your sins and shortcomings to Him. Acknowledge your need for His help in order to understand the Bible. Put off any pride that says you are able to know and understand God’s Word all on your own. Put off any belief that you know it all or know enough. Humbly come to God and confess your sins as they are made clear to you.
Put off any pride that desires to prove God wrong. If you are reading or studying the Bible in such a way to find contradictions, prove that the Bible isn’t sufficient, or anything of the like, then you need to stop and confess your pride. “For though the LORD is exalted, yet He regards the lowly, but the haughty He knows from afar” (Psalm 138:6 NASB). Your pride will not benefit you, but rather turn God against you.
Thirdly, put off any pride that wants to force Scripture into your own worldview. Sometimes we come to God’s Word with this prideful attitude of proving ourselves right or jamming it fit into our beliefs. This is not the humble attitude God calls us to. Instead, you are to meekly submit to God’s Word for what it says. The Bible does not serve you, you serve the Bible.
Be Doers of the Word and Not Hearers Only
The Word of God is not just a philosophical book with great ideas and encouraging thoughts. The Bible gives commands and exhortations and principles for us to follow. James says that our religion is worthless if we read the Word yet never do what it says.
For those of us who love theology and love studying, this can be where we slip up. It’s easy for us to sit down and spend hours soaking in what God’s Word says, but it is more difficult to apply that Word and live it out. But when we read the Word, we are required to be obedient to it and apply it to our lives. This is how we glorify God and we show people that we are His followers. A disciple does not just study what his leader does, but rather follows what he does as well. This is our duty as believers.
Total Person Change
The Word of God calls not only for heart change, but also a change in our actions. We are to put off our pride, our sins, and become doers of God’s Word. This starts with heart change, but that change should be seen outwardly. Our theology should be evident by the way we walk, speak, react, and decide. And this should also be seen in the way we approach God’s Word.
QUESTIONS FOR HEART CHANGE
Am I holding onto certain sins that I know are wrong but refuse to repent of?
Do I have any pride that is keeping me from learning and growing in God’s Word? Am I approaching God’s Word with humility to learn, be corrected, and be shown wrong? Or am I pridefully coming as one who does not need to grow and learn? Am I coming with predetermined ideas rather than allowing God’s Word to show me the truth and determine my beliefs?
Am I coming into God’s Word to change and be obedient, or am I solely coming to grow my own knowledge? Have I been a doer of the Word or a hearer only?