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 observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 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.
When we hear the Word of God in our hearts and allow the enemy or the world to snatch it away, we lose the power of God’s Word to change us. And when we choose to not follow what the Holy Spirit calls us to do, we don’t deceive God or anyone else. We deceive ourselves. We rob ourselves of the abundantly spiritual life Christ wishes to give us.
Our faith is dead without works. Each time we choose to not live the truths the Holy Spirit teaches, we harden our hearts to Him. If we hear the Word and don’t allow it to change us, we are like a man who looks in a mirror and then forgets who he is. Our minds are not renewed by God’s truth, and we cannot remember who we are in Christ’s grace.
To see what your physical face looks like, you have to look into a physical mirror. You can’t see what you look like without a mirror. You see a reflection of what you look like in a mirror, but it is impossible to look directly at your face. When you need to change something in the image you see in the mirror, you make the adjustment.
When you look into the Word of God, it is like looking into a spiritual mirror. You can’t see your spiritual self, but you can look into the mirror of God’s Word and see who you are spiritually in Christ. You cannot directly see your spiritual image just like you cannot directly see your physical image. You must look directly into the mirror of the Word of God to see who God says you are. Just as you must take by faith the physical image you see in the mirror, you also have to take by faith the spiritual image the Holy Spirit reveals in the Word.
A person who doesn’t do what he hears in God’s Word is like someone who looks in the mirror and doesn’t change anything. He doesn’t allow the truth of who he is in Christ to change him. He goes the way he chooses and forgets what he has seen. We need to know the truth of our spiritual image revealed in God’s Word and yield to it. We choose for it to mold us into the image of the new person we are in Christ.
When we know the spiritual image of our new identity in Christ and act upon its truth, we live by faith in who we are in Christ. What we do is born out of our faith in Him. We never make living a holy life about our work. Living a holy life is the fruit of the work of Jesus in us. We choose to live His righteousness within us when we have allowed “the perfect law of liberty” to become our identity.
“The perfect law of liberty” James refers to is the New Covenant and the freedom from sin bought by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus has paid the debt for our sins and has purchased our right standing and our freedom to come to God. He has purchased the righteousness of God for us so that we have the power to live a holy life. But when we don’t know who we are in Christ, we don’t understand the new life His grace has given us. When we don’t understand the difference His righteousness means in our lives, we can end up trying to prove our own righteousness instead of trusting in the righteousness that He died to give us.
Our faith in Jesus is not “do this and you will get that.” Our faith in Jesus is receiving His humble obedience to His Father’s will. God doesn’t bless us based on anything we do. God has already blessed us with the life of His Son.
It is only through the New Covenant grace of Jesus that you can know the new person you are in Him. The grace of Jesus sets you free from the old man you once were and empowers you to follow Him. When you have a spiritual understanding of His Word in your heart, your desire is to follow him. “Being a doer of the Word” flows from hearing and knowing His love—not from trying to earn the righteousness of God that Jesus gave His precious blood for you to receive. You are blessed by what you do when you look into the perfect love of Jesus and trust His work instead of your own.
Never set aside the grace of God. If righteousness had come through what we do, Jesus’ life would have been given for us in vain. But His life wasn’t given in vain.
“But by the grace of God,” Paul said, “I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 5:10).
Just as Paul said about himself in I Corinthians 15:9, we are nothing within ourselves. But when we allow God’s grace to empower us, our work becomes His work. It is born of His Spirit and His life. Our flesh—our works profit us nothing.
Look into the spiritual mirror of the “perfect law of liberty.” Seek to know this new creation Jesus gave His life for you to become. Learn who you are in Christ, and let His truth change you. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, who correctly understands His word of truth. Don’t just hear the Word with your mind. Believe the Word in your heart.
You are blessed because Jesus’ work for you was blessed by God. Be a doer of God’s Word. God blesses what you do when you allow the perfect work of Jesus Christ to change your life.
(James 1:22-25, Matthew 13:19, James 2:20, John 6:63, Hebrews 3:8, 2 Timothy 2:15, 3:15, 1 Corinthians 2:13-14, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 5:21, Galatians 2:21).
© 2023 Lynn Lacher