James wraps up the 1st chapter by commanding us all to NOT just be hearers of the Word, but to be doers. I have to confess, there was a time in my life where I was striving to learn, learn, learn God's Word with no real desire to walk it out. Of course I had the season of complete and total disobedience as I have said before, but this was a season of just having a desire to know God's Word for the sole purpose of having an “intellectual” foundation of His Word. That is NOT being a “doer” of the Word, that is simply being a hearer. Forever learning, but never walking it out. Yes, we all need to meditate on the Word, learn from solid teachers, and study the Word continually...but we also must walk it out. Today we are going to look at what it means to walk it out, “practicing” Christianity if you will, demonstrating a true saving Faith, showing the world that you belong to and are surrender to Jesus Christ. Not just telling the world, but showing the world....not for your glory, for His Glory.
The Word. The Perfect Law of Liberty, Jesus Christ, The Way, The Truth and The Life:
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
I think we can easily say that being doers of the Word (as James puts it) could easily be defined as being obedient to Christ:
James 1:22-25 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 who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 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.
Take a look at what James talks about as being a pure and undefiled religion. But, before we do, DO NOT confuse James' talk about religion with the false religions that run rampant today. We are talking about true saving faith in Jesus Christ, a pure religion:
James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Why does James put so much emphasis on orphans and widows? In that culture the two groups of people that end up totally dependant on the compassion and love of others (and often times strangers) were widows and orphans. They would have had no means to “pay anyone back”. An act of love and compassion toward a orphan or widow would be completely self-less. Showing love to the hopeless and helpless, without the need for attention or a pat on the back is an indicator of the true love of Christ flowing out of a person.
The second indicator of a pure and undefiled religion manifesting itself in the life of a believer is repentance. Some of you might be thinking; “again with the repentance, is every chapter in the Word about repentance?!?” May be not every chapter, but it sure seems to surface quite a bit. How else would you define the command to “keep oneself unspotted from the world”? Everywhere you look in the Word we are commanded to “leave our life of sin”, “put to death the deeds of the flesh”, “not to walk in the flesh”, "seek first the Kingdom of God”, and the list goes on and on.
James strips all the noise away and makes it about as simple as it gets; “love as Jesus loves and do not fall prey to the lusts of this world” Certainly easier said than done. As a matter of fact, on your own, forget about it.....it's not going to happen. There are people that are certainly trying real hard to at least pretend like they love as Jesus loves, and trying to stay unspotted from the world, but the truth is, in the flesh it is impossible, but with Christ all things are possible. In Christ there is victory. Victory over sin and death; victory over the cares of this world; not because of anything we've done, but we He did.
Romans 8:8-19 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.