“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
This is one of my favorite Bible passages of all time! It contains a precious “Truth” that is not only beneficial for the Christian’s walk with God, but it is actually an absolute necessity! We cannot be Christians without it! I will explain more about that in a minute but first I want us to take a look at some other important verses: the first one being Romans 3:20, which says this:
“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.”
You see, in our humanity, we tend to just view God’s Word as a list of rules that we all fail to follow faithfully but it’s so much more than that. We don’t get to heaven or earn a relationship with God by being good and doing what He asks. So if it’s not a list of rules, then what is it? It’s God’s holy and perfect standard. It shows us what perfection looks like. When we take the time to compare ourselves to that standard, we realize how short we fall of it. If there was no standard, we would have no way of knowing right from wrong, and there would be no way of realizing our own sin or the depravity of our souls. Only after we have been made aware of our sin and need for a savior, can we truly be saved. The Moral Law of the Old Testament has always been there pointing us to the one who would become our answer to the problem of sin and death… Jesus! You see, God knew that He designed Heaven to require righteousness and perfection… all of which we lack! So in His mercy and grace, He became the answer…and because of His actions on the Cross, at our asking, He forgives us of all of our sin, entering in and clothing us in His righteousness and perfection! Galatians 3:24 says,
He has paved a new way! James 1:22-25 paints for us the picture of a man gazing into a mirror (the Bible) but then walking away from it, forgetting what the mirror (the Bible) said he looked like. In other words, he heard/read the Word of God, but never received it with a willing heart.
I wonder if you might be willing to self evaluate with me for a minute?? Do you think you are a “good” person?’ Most of us would say yes. I’m certainly prone to do so. It’s funny how quickly my own pride surfaces! The truth is that none of us are “good” according to its truest definition because that standard is Christ Himself and we all fall short (Romans 3:23-24)! We wouldn’t have needed a savior if we were truly “good”. To our benefit, God looked on our struggles and imperfections with love and compassion. Romans 5:6-8 says,
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
He didn’t just see us where we were, He met us here where we are! The payment for sin has always been death; but now because of Jesus, the mortal death that we face as Christians is nothing but the enemy’s final attempt to deceive us! Jesus paid our debt in death and then overcame that death in resurrection! Now that’s what I call power but most importantly, that’s what I call love! It wasn’t His cross to bear, it was ours!
The reason that my previous question is so important is because if we live our lives under the delusion that we are “good” by God’s standard and thus deny that we even need a Savior, then it becomes impossible to say that we are saved. To truly be saved, we must first agree with God that we are in need of salvation!
Maybe you’re like me and though you grasp the concept, you are a striver for good; you do your best to “do” and “do well”, and then figure your good will just outweigh the bad in the end. Unfortunately, ever since sin entered the world, it only takes one sin to mark us as unclean for God and Heaven; but with Christ, we are cleansed and made righteous. When God looks at Christians, He sees the results of His cleansing blood, which has made us white as snow! Realizing this truth gives us rest and peace because it’s no longer about what we are doing, its about what God has already done! And for the record, I’m not saying that we never have to do good things or refrain from doing bad things; but rather, we let grace change our motivations… instead of it being about earning God’s love and approval, we simply do it as an expression of love and gratefulness to the One who gave everything for us!
In the spirit of self-evaluating, I want to challenge you to ask yourselves the following questions based on the Ten Commandments:
Have you ever followed or believed another God (other than the God of the Bible)? Or have you ever put people, places, or things in a place of greater importance than your relationship with Him?– I sure have, but this makes us idolaters!
Have you ever tried to create God into your own image? In other words, have you ever made Him into what you want Him to be in your mind simply because you found who He is to be inconvenient?– This too is a form of idolatry. God’s thoughts about something should change who we are and how we think, not the other way around. God is who He is, He never changes. We are not His creator, He is ours!
Have you ever taken the LORD’S name in vain? Have you ever used the name of God as curse word? Even once?– God says in Deuteronomy 5:11 that He will not consider anyone guiltless who misuses His name! I know that we in our human understanding think that this is low on the totem pole of sins but consider something with me: God’s name in all of its forms is more than just something He’s called; it literally defines who He is and His love for mankind and carries a power that moves mountains and shuts the mouth of the accuser! You cannot abuse the name of God without hurling an insult at His admirable character and love for the world! (Try looking up some of the names of God and what they mean!)
Have you always taken one day a week (the sabbath) to rest AND worship God?– I doubt there’s a single person alive today that hasn’t violated this one, especially in western culture! It was given for our benefit.
Have you always honored your mother and father?– Again, all of us have fallen short on this one!
Have you ever murdered someone?– 1 John 3:15 says that if we hate others in our hearts we are murderers because murder doesn’t start with the act, it begins in the heart. Ouch! That one stings a little doesn’t it?
Have you ever committed adultery?– We know that physically stepping out on our marriage is wrong in the sight of God but Jesus said in Matthew 5:27-28 that if we even look upon others lustfully, then we have already committed adultery in our hearts. There’s a reason for the pain caused when a spouse engages in pornography, attends strip clubs, takes notice of other prospects (even if it is on a screen), etc. In God’s eyes, the person has already engaged in adultery. Its not the first sight, its the continued gaze and the second look. We can’t always control what we see, but we can choose look away! In this way, most of us have failed!
Have you ever stolen anything? Even if it was something small or seemingly insignificant?– Many of us are guilty here as well. For example, if I realize that a cashier gave me too much money back and then I don’t return it… that’s still considered stealing in the eyes of the LORD.
Have you ever lied? Even if it was just a “white lie”?– Yes, we all have.
Have you ever coveted (desired with envy) something or someone that someone else had?– Its hard to be guiltless in this area considering the culture that we live in!
Well, did you fall tragically short like I did? Going back to James 1:22-25, God has given us His Word as a mirror of the most valuable kind! It never lies, it shines a light on all of our darkest places, our sin and short-comings! It brings us to a point where it becomes impossible to live in denial and ignore the reality of who we are in sin and our need for Jesus. It shows us the depravity of our past and the inconvenient truth of the present; but most importantly, it shows us the hope we have been given for the future. When we, seeing our genuine need for a Savior, surrender our hearts, our minds, and our lives to Jesus Christ, our hope is secured in His Righteousness and His work on the cross. Grace doesn’t just excuse us from punishment and death, it changes us from the inside out by the power of the Holy Spirit, giving us victory over sin!
I don’t know about all of you but I don’t want to be like the man in James 1:22-25 who looks in the mirror of God’s Word and then walks away, forgetting what he looks like. Be willing with me to genuinely gaze at your spiritual reflection. However, don’t stop there! God’s word not only spurs us to see and accept our own short comings for what they are, it gives us the remedy to our problem… which, is Jesus and His grace! We should always approach God’s Word with enough vulnerability to be changed by it and may we accept the fact that it’s not about what we do, it’s about what He’s already done! We can strive and do all we can to please God, but it will never earn us His approval; the only way to achieve it is through recognizing our sin in repentance and accepting the free gift of God’s grace! Our works should be the fruit of what He’s doing in us! Therefore, our only option dear friends and family, is to admit our failure and trust in Jesus! May God’s Word be your mirror today and everyday; and may what He’s done for you give you peace and a grateful heart! Be blessed! I love you all!