A WORD for Believers

Bible Book: James  1 : 21-27
Subject: Bible; Word of God; Christian Living

A WORD for Believers

Dr. J. Mike Minnix
James 1:21-27:
“21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. 26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

Tonight we are looking at the subject of God’s Word. You will note that the term “Word” is listed in all caps in the sermon title. Those caps are to signify that the expression stands for more than a mere word of advice. The WORD actually speaks of the Bible, God's Word.

James is very much concerned with God's Word, and this is seen in the fact that he mentions the Law, the Word or the scriptures no less than eleven times in five short chapters. Interestingly, James is not concerned with the veracity or correctness of the Bible, nor is he concerned with the authors of the individual books. He is mindful of the responsibility of the individual believer for living-out the Word of God in practical ways.

Martin Luther is said to have studied the Bible the way he would pick apples. He would shake every tree. Then he would then shake every branch on every tree. Then he would then shake every twig on ever branch of every tree. Then he shook every leaf on every twig of every brank of every tree. Luther considered that the study of God’s Word required diligence. A cursory look at the Book will not do.

Even more important than a mere study of God’s Word is to act upon every truth which we discover as believers. That is the point James is making in our text.

I want you to notice three important truths found in the passage before us. These verities will lead us to a closer walk with God and a more effective witness in our world today.

I. The ACCEPTANCE OF THE WORD OF GOD  James 1:21-22

We must begin with accepting the Bible as God’s Word. It is not a book for self-help, but a Word directly for the Lord for us. Sure, the Bible will help the believer in every way, but the primary purpose of the Bible is to point us to God's grace, to lead us to salvation and to cause us to walk the path He has chosen forus. God has a purpose for us and He reveals His will and way for us in the scriptures.

First notice…

A. The Cleansing Effect

“Lay aside...”

When you accept God's Word with the determination that whatever it says you will do, cleansing is going to follow. Certainly God is concerned with moral cleanliness.

In Revelation we are told that the Bride of Christ is given a robe of pure white linen to wear.That while linen speaks of the purity that God provides for us in Christ, but it also speaks of the life we are to live as the Bride of Christ.

Paul speaks of the church as being bride adorned for her Bridegroom. We are reminded by Paul that we are to be pure for our Lord and to ready to meet Him when He appears.

John states in 1 John 1:9 that God not only forgives our sins when we confess them but He cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

In James 4 we are called upon to cleanse our hands before God. When I was a boy, it was a ritual for mom to ask my brother and me if we had washed our hands before we sat down to eat. It wasn't unusual for us to be rushed off to the sink to be properly cleansed before we sat at the table. One day in heaven there will be, what is called, a Supper of the Lamb. It is presented to us as an image of a great meal, where the Bridegroom meets with His Bride (the Church, the redeemed host) in heaven. Surely, we are to come to the table washed and clean.

Jesus told His disciples in John 15:3 that they were clean through the Word which He had spoken to them!

Do you see the principle being repeated here again and again? God is concerned with moral purity and He uses His Word to help us come to a point of purity in our daily living. Yes, we are clean through the blood of Jesus. This is a judicial act made possible through God’s Son. But, there is the practical side of purity! This involves living out through the indwelling power and person of the Holy Spirit that which God has told us in His Word. This is a message desperately needed in our time. The Word of God will make us clean, if we accept it properly and practice it faithfully.

Now, move on to

B. The Conforming Effect

“Able to save...”

The essence of the term "able to save" is that the Word of God saves us from marring what God has done. In other words, the Word of God is able to conform us into the image of Christ, if we practice it daily. God desires to conform us into the image of His Son.

It is true that the Word of God points people to the Son of God so that we might be saved from eternal judgment, but James is interested here in the Christian life. We not only need salvation, but we also need to live out that salvation. When a believer follows the teachings found in the Bible through daily living, he or she is kept from disfiguring the image that God seeks to show the world through the Christian life. The Word of God is able to save us from marring that beautiful image which God is working in us to produce.

How does God’s Word do this? His Word seeks to shape us and conform us to the image of Christ. When we adapt our lives to God’s Word and God’s Spirit we become more like God’s Son!

Let us consider also…

C. The Correcting Effect

“And so deceive yourselves, but do...”

As we seek to live for Christ, we will get off course at times. It doesn’t take much of an error to create a horrible result.

I love to play golf and it can be a frustrating game. One day a golfer may play a round of golf that is amazing, but the next day that same golfer can find it difficult to hit a decent shot. I’ve found the Christian life to be like that. A small change in thought or behavior can lead to disaster. A golfer must practice to remain effective, but there is one other thing that helps. If the golfer keeps a list of hints, including the proper way to stand, the correct way to grip the club, a swing thought for consistent speed and how to maintain balance, it helps repeat things effectively. The Christian life requires that we read and re-read God’s instructions so that we remain on course!

James is telling us that the Word of God is the element God uses to bring us to a corrected course. Do you see the transition here? God's Word cleansing us, conforms us to God's image and then corrects us when we get off course. This passage reminds us of 2 Timothy 3:16-17:

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Understand something about this passage. It is not the knowledge of the Bible that brings about this corrected, conformed, cleansed life - it is the practice of it that concerns James and should concern us. But we must admit that one cannot practice what one does not know. Thus we turn to...

II. The ATTENTION TO THE WORD OF GOD James 1:23-25

Giving attention to the Word of God means something specific. First, we must look at the Word of God…

A. With Intensity

Bible study requires energy. As believers we spend a lot of energy doing things we want to do and things that seem important to us. You can be sure that Satan would love for us to use up our energy on anything but the study and practice of God’s Word. The devil knows that Bible study requires intensity and thus he loves to encourage us to use up our energy on anything that will keep us out of God’s Word.

Also, we must look at God’s Word…

B. With Persistency

We must put frequency in our study of God's Word. This means that the believer must set aside time to faithfully study of God’s Word. One thing that has happened in our modern era is the decline in Sunday School – a place where regular Bible study is encouraged and meeting to study God’s Word is practiced. Whatever method you use, set aside time to be persistent in Bible study.

Also, we ought to study God’s Word…

C. With Memory

David said that He had placed God’s Word in His heart that he might not sin against God (Psalm 119:11). The Christian life demands that the Word of God be memorized in order to withstand the enemy. Jesus was tempted in the Wilderness, but He was victorious against Satan by quoting scripture to him in every temptation.

Create some memory cards and carry them with you. Use them each day and you will soon put numerous verses of scripture into your memory bank. At the right time, those verses can keep you from many sorrows.

But, that is not all we need to do. We also must give attention to God’s Word…

D. With Activity

Living out the Word is critical. Take the Word and live it. Someone said, the best Bible is covered with shoe leather! This means that we are to walk out the Word of God in our activities and daily lives.

Most importantly, we must be active in our study of God's Word so that we might have the right ...

III. ACTION FROM THE WORD OF GOD James 1:26-27

The Word of God will make a difference in our lives. In what ways will it change us?

First…

A. It will change your Words

Our conversation will change when Jesus is Lord and we apply His Word. What we talk about and how we converse will be totally different as God’s Word takes root in our hearts. You can talk to a person for a few minutes and often tell if that person is a Christian with a love for and knowledge of the Bible.

Also…

B. It will change your Works

The Bible teaches how to minister and serve God by serving others. In James 1:26-27 we see this emphasized. The Christian life is not just about belief, it is also about behavior. Studying the Bible will cause a person to desire to be a servant!

Also…

C. It will change your Walk

You will conduct your life differently as you stay in the scriptures. I think it is nearly impossible for a person to deeply study God’s Word and go out and live an ungodly life. Sure, you can study God’s Word and still fail at times – perhaps even fall into some trap of Satan – but you can’t stay there! Staying in the Word will not let you stay in the world!

Conclusion

Someone wisely said, “Study the Bible to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy.”

There is the story of a small factory that had to cease operations when a small but important piece of equipment broke down. No one at the plant could get the machine to work, so they sent out for an expert to fix it. The expert arrived, looked at the situation for a couple of minutes, took out a hammer a hit a certain spot one time. The machine started up perfectly. Later the company got a bill for $1,000.00 for the repair. The manager of the factory called to complain, saying that the man had only been there for 10 minutes and surely the company didn’t charge $100.00 a minute for service. The mechanic who repaired the equipment said, “No, I don’t charge $100.00 a minute, I charge about $100.00 for the trip to check on a request. However, I do charge $900.00 for knowing where the hit the right spot to fix something!”

God knows how to hit the right spots in your life and mine to keep us working correctly in His kingdom. He has given us that information in His Word. We must read it, study it, memorize and practice it for it to accomplish all that God intends.

Many books are written to inform us, but only God’s Word is given to transform us – let us renew our commitment to God and His Word.