Doers of the Word and Not Hearers Only

[Editor’s Note: The following is the conclusion of Rev. Decker’s exposition of James 1:22-25. Space did not permit publication of the entire article. The exposition of James 1:26, 27 which also appears in this issue is Rev. Decker’s final contribution to this department for this volume-year. So we say farewell and thanks to him for the time being; and in the May 1 issue we welcome back to this department the Rev. George Lubbers, who will continue his exposition of Hebrews 11.] 

This is the doer in distinction from the one who merely hears the Word. The question is: do we do the Word? Can we? How thankful we ought to be for the gospel: “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, least any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:8-10). It’s exactly because that is the gospel that James comes with the exhortation, “But be ye doers of the word and not hearers only . . . ” God uses means to lead us in the good works which He has before ordained, that we should walk in them. And the means is the word preached. Keep on becoming doers of the Word, more and more let that Word be evident in all your living. The child of God hears, and he does that in the way of daily conversion. 

He is blessed in his deed! This man, the doer, and most emphatically not the one who only hears, is blessed. The hearer deceives himself, James says. That word “deceive” means “to deceive by false reasoning.” What this mere hearer does is circumvent the Word. He “goes around” the Word by all kinds of false reasonings. This is the way he talks: “I go to church, I pay the budget and make my contributions, I send my children to the Christian school.” “No,” he says, “my life is far from perfect . . . but after all even the holiest of God’s saints have only a small beginning . . . no one is perfect.” Or, he says, “I’m young . . . I’ve got to have my fun . . . there’s plenty of time for religion when I get older”, or, “it isn’t all that serious . . . one cannot be that strict or that narrow-minded . . . God is a God of love Who always forgives . . . it doesn’t matter what church you go to . . . we’re all going to the same place anyway . . . God has his people in many churches . . .” Hearing the Word he doesn’t care, but deceives himself. It’s that kind of self-delusion that lands a person in hell. 

But the doer of the Word—”this man shall be blessed in his deed.” In his doing of the work of the Word he shall be happy. Genuinely happy now, he shall be. He has the joy of forgiveness and the hope of everlasting life. No matter what his life’s circumstances may be, he is happy, because this man knows that all things work together for good to them that love God, who are the called according to his purpose. 

And he shall be happy in that great day when Jesus returns in glory. Then he shall sin no more; his tears shall be wiped away, and he will be with his God. 

This cannot fail! Christ has come and fulfilled the Law of liberty. Our sins are forgiven, our death is conquered, and our victory is sure. 

Are you ready for the judgment day? The hearer who refuses to do the Word will hear, in spite of all his saying “Lord, Lord,” “Depart from me ye worker of iniquity, I never knew you,” The doer will hear from that same righteous Judge; “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord; well done, good and faithful servant.” 

What will you hear?