James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.
27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
James was directed to remind us that there has been a problem with hearing the truth and not acting on it. While Jesus was on earth, the Pharisees and their cohorts claimed to know the law. They would come to Jesus and tempt Him from their twisted view of the law. As Jesus would correct them on their wrong theology, they grew to hate Him more and more. They had no interest in doing what the law actually said.
James is writing to the brethren among the twelve tribes who are scattered abroad. This problem of false religion was a major problem. God did not want people to be deceived by false professors. He also knew that our minds are powerful and we can convince ourselves that wrong is right.
In verses 23-24 God warns that being just a hearer does not work. Head knowledge without a heart change is worthless. There are many people who deceive themselves because they have heard the Word of God but they do not believe it in their heart and they cannot do what the Word says. Self deception is a dangerous thing. There are those who claim to love the Lord, but they do not do what He says.
Mark 7:6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
Matthew 7:26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
God directed James to use a human analogy to show the foolishness of hearing and not doing. It is strange to look in the mirror and walk away not remembering what the person looks like. That is certainly a strange thing.
In verse 25 we see that the real mirror is the perfect law of liberty. It is more important to look at our spiritual nature, than what we look like in that glass or metal mirror. God looks at the heart. He knows the heart.
It is foolish to pretend to be saved and interested in spiritual things when it is not real. A person can convince themselves that they are saved, but they will never fool God. In their heart they also know there is something not right. They will avoid the truth and take offence when challenged with their fraudulent ways.
God’s Word will reveal things in a person that would not otherwise be known. It does not generally take that long to see who a person truly is if we take God’s perfect law of liberty as our authority. An actor will grow weary of acting soon.
The person who is a true brother, is not forgetful of what God has provided for him. The true believer cannot sit back and keep God’s truth to himself. Jeremiah tried to remain silent regarding God’s truth. He was suffering for his faith. Even though he was suffering, he had a message that was of greater importance than himself. He could not remain silent. He was motivated by his true and intimate relationship with God. Jeremiah was blessed in his deeds. He eventually died and his soul went into the place of rest. His body will be changed and resurrected one day and he has an eternity of peace and blessing in heaven.
So too, the New Testament saint is blessed both now and in eternity for being faithful to the Lord. God is faithful and He honours those that are truly His children and are obedient to His law.
In verse 26 we see also that the person who presents himself as a religious person, but does not bridle his tongue, is again deceiving himself. We have already seen how important it is to think Biblically before you speak. The person who is only an actor is not going to allow his tongue to be bridled. He is going to fight for his deceived rights. God says this man deceives his own heart. He also says this man’s religion is vain.
God is not impressed with words that have no credibility. Jesus knew the hearts of the Pharisees and He called them out as hypocrites. God has a way of revealing the facts. God does not want others to be chasing after a false religion. He wants people to be able to see the facts. He wants people to place their faith in the truth.
In verse 27 we see that pure religion is undefiled religion in God’s sight. It is God’s words that matters. Man’s opinions don’t matter. What God says is important. Those who are truly saved have a love in them that is not motivated by any personal benefit. They are motivated by the love of God. They want to see others know the truth. The fatherless need a godly man to be able to show them what a true man looks like. Widows need to have the help of a sincere man who can assist them with those pure things that they need a man for.
The faithful brother will keep himself unspotted from the world in his thoughts and actions. He is truly saved and his heart is right with the Lord and he is not motivated by any selfish or ungodly desires.
Genuineness is important. Salvation is a gift of God that is only there for those who truly repent toward God and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. God’s gift of salvation is not designed to be a “feel good” thing. It is pure and it penetrates to the heart and changes the heart of the repentant sinner. True salvation changes the inside which then produces godly fruit on the outside. True salvation is why the true saint can say with the apostle Paul:
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Paul was not an actor. He had been an actor. He had been a Pharisee. He had a zeal but not according to knowledge. He was changed by God on the road to Damascus. He never went back to his former life. He rejected that and chose truth. He looked into the perfect law of liberty and his life was genuine. Others were blessed by his faithful testimony. True churches were established because the power of God was at work through the Word of God. That is what God directed James to write about here as well.
The Word of God is interconnected. One book of the Bible does not contradict another book. It all builds and compliments the rest. It is all God’s perfect law of liberty. Believe It and submit to It. Be real.