22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
23 For if any man is an hearer of the word, and not a doer, this shall be likened to a man that beholdeth the face of his birth in a mirror [this shall be comparisoned, or likened, to a man beholding the cheer of his birth in a mirror];
24 for he beheld himself, and went away, and at once he forgot which he was. [for he beheld himself, and went away, and anon he forgot what manner man he was.]
25 But he that beholdeth into the law of perfect freedom, and dwelleth in it, and is not made a forgetful hearer, but a doer of work, this shall be blessed in his deed.
Imagine the cheer of your birth. Your mother is relieved and over-joyed simultaneously, glad to be rid of the pain of childbirth and overwhelmed at the sight of your existence. Your father is glowing with pride and happiness. Everyone is thrilled to greet you as you enter the world.
Imagine God’s cheer when you are born again. James says, Don’t forget the cheer of your birth. Don’t see it, then turn and forget the Word who brought your freedom to you. Don’t be “a forgetful hearer.” Don’t forget who you are, and so deceive yourself.
Jesus says, “heaven and earth shall pass, but My Words shall not pass.” What’s permanent in the universe? Jesus says that God’s Word is everlasting, unchanging, permanent just as He is everlasting, unchanging, permanent. Although parts of God’s Word are difficult to understand; nevertheless, they are not going to disappear. These Words of God can not be removed from the rest because they are inconvenient or hard to accept or a mystery to us.
What’s remarkable to me is how at one time in life a passage of God’s Word might be inscrutable and later become clear as crystal. Why the difference? Experience? Or perhaps blessing? Maybe a little of one, and a lot of the other? The eventual illumination of a previously obscure and even impossible statement in God’s Word makes Jesus’ promise even more precious to me. I realize that eventually God’s Word will be made fully known to those He loves. We will no longer see through a glass darkly, but we will know as we are fully known.
After comparing flesh to grass which “withers” and to flowers which “fail,” Peter writes that “the Word endures forever.” Unlike flesh — which is subject to death and decay — the Word of God stands eternally.
Recall that “man does not live by bread alone but on every Word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 8: 3)
The psalmist asks God, “How can a young man keep his way pure?” And answers his own question, “By keeping Your Word.” (Psalm 119: 9) He says to God, “I treasure Your Word in my heart so I may not sin against You… I do not forget Your Word.” (Psalm 119: 11, 16) “Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” (Psalm 119: 105)
The psalmist recognizes that God “gives [him] hope through [His Word].” (Psalm 119:49) God’s Word “is [his] comfort in affliction; [God’s] promise gives [him] life.” (Psalm 119: 50)
The psalmist declares, “I put my hope in Your Word.” (Psalm 119: 81) “Lord, Your Word is forever; it is firmly fixed in heaven.” (Psalm 119: 89)
“For the Word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.”
The Word of God tells us that “the Word of God is living and effective!” Why is the Word of God alive? Because “the Word is God.” (John 1: 1) Through the Word of God, “all things are created.” (John 1: 3) “Apart from Him [the Word] not one thing is created.” (John 1: 3)
“Life is in Him [the Word], and that life is the light of men.” (John 1: 4)
The Word of God is life; it is “the light of men.” The Word of God gives us life and light.
The Word of God is “sharper than any double-edged sword.” The Word creates our life in Christ. “It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.”
“Every inspired Scripture has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, or for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind.”
The Word of God enables us to “be efficient and equipped for good work.” The Word teaches us the Truth and shows us error; it reforms and disciplines us. “The Word of God is alive and active. It cuts more keenly than any two-edged sword, piercing as far as the place where life and spirit, joints and marrow, divide. It sifts the purposes and thoughts of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12-13)
The Word is not just written information on pages in a book; it is the very breath of God. The Word enters us through sight and hearing and changes us through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit who enables us to comprehend its truth and amend our lives.
Stay in the Word of God. Don’t rely on your memory of sermons, of commentaries, of secondhand exposure to it. Rather, read it for yourself. Study the Word; allowing God to transform you from the inside out.
I look off into the distance to where the horizon blends into the sky — the tops of the mountains shimmer in the sun. “Where does my help come from?” I ask. And as usual, I answer my own question. “My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”
The mountains whisper to me that they are made by God — that a perfect mind conceived and created them out of nothing through the Word, who is Jesus Christ.
My help does not come from the created, but from the Creator.
“If the Lord is not on [my] side, when men attack [me], then they swallow [me] alive in their burning anger against [me]. Then the waters engulf [me]; the torrent sweeps over [me]; the raging waters sweep over [me]. Praise the Lord, who does not let [me] be ripped apart by their teeth. [I] escape like a bird from the hunter’s net; the net is torn, and [I] escape. [My] help is in the Name of Yahweh, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 124: 2 – 8)
“My very bones say, ‘Lord, who is like You, rescuing the poor from one too strong for [her], the poor or the needy from the one who robs [her]?’ ” (Psalm 35: 10)
Jesus says, “If anyone loves Me, he keeps My Word. My Father loves him, and We come to Him and make Our home with him.”
“As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be committed and repent. Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me. The victor I give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I also won the victory and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Revelation 3: 19 – 21)
Belief, commitment, endurance, repentance under discipline, listening, opening, communing — these are the keeping of God’s Word of which Jesus speaks.
Jesus commands us to listen. We are reminded to be still and know God. His Word speaks to us in stillness and silence. “If anyone hears My voice,” says Jesus. Without hearing, how can we believe? Open the door when He knocks; let Him come in. Sit at His feet, and listen.
“You [O Lord] keep in peace men of constant mind, in peace because they trust in You.”
Daily, we renew our minds through the Word, prayer and the presence of the Holy Spirit. As our minds are changed, our trust grows. As our trust in God blossoms, peace is our fruit.
Jesus tells us that we “are strangers in the world” just as He is. He prays to the Father, “Consecrate them by the truth; Your Word is truth.” (John 17: 16 – 17) Jesus tells us that He gives us His “own peace, such as the world cannot give.” He commands us to “set your troubled hearts at rest, and banish your fears.” (John 14: 27 – 28)
The author of Hebrews calls us “that household of [Christ’s], if only we are fearless and keep our hope high.” (Hebrews 3: 6) We know that perfect love banishes fear, for fear has to do with punishment. If we fear punishment, we do not fully recognize the extent of God’s love of us.
God keeps us in perfect peace because we trust in Him.
“We, however, possess the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2: 16)
Having the mind of Christ, we “have the Spirit” of God. ” ‘Things beyond our seeing, things beyond our hearing, things beyond our imagining, all prepared by God for those who love Him,’ these it is that God reveals to us through the Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2: 9 – 10)
The Spirit of God knows “the depths of God’s own nature.” (1 Corinthians 2: 11)
If we possess the Spirit of God, then we “can judge the worth of everything.” (1 Corinthians 2: 15) As we judge the worth of everything, we are not “subject to judgment by [our] fellow-men.” (1 Corinthians 2: 16) No one of the world, that is — is able to advise us.
Rather we must be advised by one who “declares the attested truth of God… of nothing but Jesus Christ — Christ nailed to the cross… the Word… the gospel [which] sways [us not] with subtle arguments; [but with] conviction by spiritual power. so that [our] faith might be built not upon human wisdom but upon the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2: 1 – 5, selected)
And without the Spirit of God, a person “refuses what belongs to the Spirit of God; it is folly to him; he cannot grasp it, because it needs to be judged in the light of the Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2: 14)
Hence, our salvation is by the will of God our Father who generously gives us His Holy Spirit so that, by grace, we may discern the truth — the good news that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, dies for us — once for all. He lives eternally at the right hand of His Father where He always intercedes for us. This is the mind of Christ — He is our Savior.
Paul tells us to “be strengthened by the Lord.” Our strength is not our own, but comes from “His vast strength.” We are to “put on the full armor of God” in order to withstand “the tactics of the Devil.”
This armor is to be taken up, carried; and consists of: truth, righteousness, readiness for the gospel, faith, salvation, the Word of God — and is sustained through prayer in God the Holy Spirit.
God sustains us; He strengthens us and enables us to stand. Through Him, we persevere.
The Christian walk is akin to a marriage, says Paul. We are Christ’s bride, and He is our husband. As husband, Christ loves His wife, the church, the body of believers. He keeps His bride safe. He enables her to stand victorious. If she falls, He picks her up in His mighty arms and washes her face; He cleans her, and sets her on her feet once again. If she should fall again, again He rights her. He has a love for her that no one fully comprehends. After all, He died for her. Why should He leave her? Never! She belongs to Him, for He paid an enormous price to call her His own. She is His, and His alone.
“Chris loves the church and gives Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the Word. He does this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5: 25 – 27)