Well, this morning I want to draw your attention to a portion of Scripture that I think is foundational for all of us, and I hope it’ll be an encouragement to you. It’s in the first chapter of James, James chapter 1, and I want to just open up for you verses 19 through 25. There’s a lot here. This could easily be a series, but I’m going to sum it all up in one brief message today because I want you to understand the principle and the truth that is here.
Let me begin by saying this: The distinguishing mark of true salvation, the distinguishing mark of true salvation is the desire to hear and obey the Word of God. That is the evidence of regeneration. That is the evidence of new birth. That is the evidence of new life. If you are a genuine Christian, you have a hunger for the Word of God; and I want you to hear that in scriptural terms.
And let me just remind you of what we read a few moments ago in Psalm 119. You don’t have to turn to it. But here are some of things we read in that passage, along with many more from that very long chapter: “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. . . . With all my heart I have sought You; do not let me stray from Your commandments.” Another one: “I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches.” This is what is rising out of the psalmist’s heart. Contrast that with verse 155 of that psalm: “Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek Your statutes.” That is the distinguishing mark: the attitude toward Scripture.
Jeremiah 6:16 says, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, “We will not walk in it.”’” If you walk in the Word, it’s evidence of a transformed life through salvation; if you do not, it’s evidence that you haven’t been transformed.
Listen to some other expressions from that 119th psalm: “I have chosen the way of truth. . . . My heart stands in awe of Your word.” “I delight in Your law.” “Your law is my delight.” I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings and will not be ashamed. . . . I hope in Your word.” “I seek Your precepts.” And even when the psalmist senses his failures, his desire is still to obey the Word of God, and he says, “Oh, that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes! . . . Teach me, O Lord, the way and Your statues.” “Make me go in the path of Your commandments. . . . Order my steps in Your word.” “Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! . . . Incline my heart unto Your testimonies.” “Revive me in Your ways, Cause Your word to be established.”
In verse 128 the psalmist said, “I esteem right all Your precepts concerning everything, I hate every false way.” And maybe the sum of that total commitment expressed so beautifully in all those verses is verse 112, “I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes forever, even to the end,” because, verse 97, “O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.” That’s the testimony of a transformed life. Godly, true believers are described also in Psalm 1 as those who “delight . . . in the law of the Lord, and in His law [they meditate] day and night.”
Again, the defining reality of true Christianity is a hunger for the Word of God; a love for the Word of God; a desire to hear the Word of God, to delight in the Word of God, and to obey it. And though that is the Old Testament, it’s not the only place where this is emphasized. In fact, I want to take you to the gospel of John and hear how our Lord essentially says the same thing, repeatedly, in the gospel of John—that true believers are identified by their commitment to the Word of God, the Scripture.
Let’s start out in John 5, and I’m just going to read you a few select portions out of John’s gospel, John 5:37 to 40; and these are all coming right out of the lips of our Lord. Verse 37 of John 5, “And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form.” There again is the distinguishing mark between believers and nonbelievers: One has heard His voice, the other has not.
In the next verse, verse 38, our Lord says, “You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” “You are searching the Scriptures; you are not listening to the Scriptures, you are not applying the Scriptures; and hence, you do not have eternal life.”
In the tenth chapter of John’s gospel, two verses, verse 26 and 27, our Lord again says, “My sheep”—“I’m talking about My sheep, those that are Mine”—verse 27, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give them eternal life.” “But,” verse 26, “you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.” The people who are not of Christ’s sheep don’t believe the Word even from the lips of the Savior; whereas the people who do believe in Him hear His Word. That is the distinguishing mark.
Again, in chapter 14, verse 21, this is our Lord speaking to the disciples: “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me.” That is a very clear statement: “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”
Down in verse 23, “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” Verse 24, “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.” Again, this is the distinguishing mark of a true believer.
In the fifteenth chapter and verse 7 in the gospel of John, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. For My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” The distinguishing mark, again, of a believer, the most notable evidence is love for Scripture and submission to that Scripture. So the true Christian lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
Back to Psalm 119 and verse 111, “I have inherited Your testimonies forever, for they are the joy of my heart.” It’s not a reluctance, it’s not fear that causes us to obey His Word; it’s love, it’s joy, it’s blessedness, it’s freedom. Jesus said also, “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
So we are the people of the Book. And if you’re a part of Grace Church, you understand that; you know that. We’ve been talking about that the last few weeks. All that God wants to say to His church, He has put inside the pages of the Bible. And so this is where we go for everything. We hear His Word, we understand His Word, we obey His Word, we proclaim His Word, and we rejoice in that and are blessed. And it’s how we express our love to Him.
So come back with me to James chapter 1, and James is going to give us a simple, very sort of primmer lesson on how to listen to the Scripture. You hear a lot of people in recent years talking about listening to the voice of God, trying to hear God. I’ll make it real simple: If you want to hear God speak, open your Bible because that’s where you’ll hear Him speak. You can sit in the corner and contemplate something forever and never hear the voice of God until you open your Bible.
So how are we to listen? That’s what this is all about. Verse 21 has the phrase “receive the word implanted.” How are we to receive the Word? How are we to receive that Word that implants itself into our hearts and produces fruit? Well, there are four essential attitudes, very simple. Four attitudes: submission, purity, humility, and obedience.
In Luke 8:18 our Lord said, “Beware how you listen.” “Beware how you listen.” Don’t be like those of whom Isaiah said, “You hear, but you don’t understand.” And our Lord said the same thing: “You are hearing, but you don’t understand.” You’re hearing in a superficial sense, but you’re not listening in the sense that you’re grasping it and applying it.
So how are we to listen to Scripture? This is just a very foundational lesson. First of all, we are to listen with submission. Verse 19, “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”
Now this is a very interesting little couplet of verses. It is addressed to “my beloved brethren.” So he’s talking to believers. He called them the same thing back in verse 16, “my beloved brethren.” So he’s talking to believers. This is instruction to Christians, and he says, first of all in verse 19, “This you know.” If you’re a believer, if you’re part of the “beloved brethren,” then you already know the power of Scripture. But he wants to make sure we have no lack of clarity on the fact that it was not only necessary to hear the Scripture to be saved, but it’s necessary to keep on hearing it to be sanctified.
This is critical instruction. This is the most important thing in anyone’s Christian life. This is the basic attitude toward the Word of God that determines your sanctification and your usefulness. And James is saying, “Look, I don’t think I have to prove to you the power of the Word; it is able,” as he says in verse 21, “to save your souls. But you already know that because you are in the beloved.”
So he begins in verse 19 with, “This you know.” “I’m going to build on what you already know,” and that refers back to verse 18. “You know that the Father, who gives every good and perfect gift, has brought us forth”—that is, regenerated us—“by the word of truth, [and so we are] a kind of first fruits of His creatures.” We are a new creation. We already know that because we know what we were, and we know how the Word of God in the power of the Spirit changed us.
So you have already had a life-transforming connection to the Scripture. Faith came by the gift of God when you were hearing the message concerning Jesus Christ. Or as Peter says in 1 Peter 1:23, “You have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.” You literally were born again by the Word of God. Just as He spoke at creation and created the whole universe, He speaks into the soul of a sinner, and He speaks of life and new creation. He speaks it into us through faith, believing in the gospel.
So you already understand the power of Scripture. “The law of the Lord”—said Psalm 19—“is perfect, converting the soul.” Paul told Timothy, “It’s the Scripture that makes us wise unto salvation.”
So since you know that, you want to continue in it. You already know that. So going forward, there needs to be a continual hearing, and he says it this way: “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” And those are very tightly connected to each other.
God had brought us into spiritual life by His Word. Hebrews 4 says the Word is alive and powerful; nothing equals its spiritual power. You already know that. You have already seen the power of the Word. You have experienced the power of the Word in your life, and you must continue to submit to it. And that submission is expressed in three statements: quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.
If we’re going to make the commitment the way the Lord wants us to make the commitment to hear His Word, it has to be an all-encompassing devotion. There’s a hymn that Charles Wesley wrote, and it has a beautiful way of expressing this: “When quiet in my [room] I sit, Your book be my companion still, my joy Your sayings to repeat, talk o’er the records of Your will, and search the oracles divine, ’till every heartfelt word is mine.” That’s a Psalm 119 attitude: “I never have enough. I can’t get enough. I want to search the oracles divine, ’till every heartfelt word is mine.” Well, you can do that if you are “quick to hear.”
It’s a general command. And the word tachus means just that: fast, speedily, readily. It’s the sort of default position of a believer. A believer will tend toward the Word of God. That’s the nature. Just as the psalmist said, Psalm 42, his heart panted after God. That’s what David is expressing in Psalm 119.
So if you’re a true believer, you hunger for the Word of God. It is your food, it is your meat, it is your milk, it is your bread. And you have to recognize rightly that even though that is true, it needs to be—if I can say it this way—more true, right? We waste so much of our time filling our brains with things that don’t matter, that bring us absolutely no satisfaction compared to what the true knowledge of the Word of God brings. This is the distinguishing mark of a true Christian: He is quick to hear.
Secondly, “slow to speak.” What does that mean? Well, it means you don’t rush into explaining the Scripture. That’s the context here, the implanted Word. You’re eager to hear it, you can’t get enough of it, you want all of it you can get; but because you understand it is the inspired wWrd of God and not to be tampered with or dealt with lightly, while you are swift to hear, you are slow to speak because you understand the seriousness of it.
There’s honestly far too little caution in our world about speaking and teaching—supposedly teaching the Bible. There’s a lack of reluctance where there should be reluctance. And James reminds us all in chapter 3, verse 1, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” Don’t be in a hurry to say, “Thus saith the Lord,” unless you are accurately reflecting His divine revelation.
And just to remind you, the Bible has to be interpreted correctly. The right interpretation is the message from God. So be slow to speak. That’s why Paul told Timothy, “Lay hands suddenly on no man.” Don’t be in a hurry to put people in positions of spiritual leadership. Verse 22 of 1 Timothy 5, “Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.”
One of the ways you can literally be responsible for sin is to rush someone into a responsibility to teach the Scripture who is not prepared. And Paul said to Timothy also, in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to show yourself approved unto God, a workman needing not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” If you don’t cut it straight, get it right, you bring shame upon yourself and a stricter judgment, as James 3 said.
There’s an old story about Socrates. There were always young men wanting to learn from Socrates, and supposedly a young man came to him one day and introduced himself, said he wanted to be a part of Socrates’s group and learn from him. But according to the old story, the moment that he met Socrates, he started talking, and he never stopped. And finally Socrates stopped him and said, “Young man, if I do teach you, I’ll have to charge you a double fee,” to which the young man supposedly replied, “A double fee? Why is that?” And Socrates said, “Because I have to teach you two sciences: how to keep your mouth shut and how to use it.”
Corresponding, then, to the positive command to receive the Word of God with submissiveness is this negative command as to the nature of that submission. The nature of that submission is you understand the serious of saying, “I’m telling you, this is the Word of the living God.” That’s a very serious thing to say. You don’t want to put words in God’s mouth, you don’t want to take words out, and you don’t want to misinterpret.
No less than the great Scottish Reformer John Knox, according to his biographer, when he was called to preach, was profoundly disturbed at the thought of speaking for God. And his biographer writes this about John Knox: “He bursts forth in most abundant tears and withdrew himself to his chamber. His face and behavior from that day until the day he was compelled to present himself in the public place of preaching did sufficiently declare the trouble and grief of his soul.” End quote. There was reluctance. There was reluctance.
And James marks the necessity to think like that. I told you what he said in chapter 3, verse 1: Teachers are going to get a stricter judgment. But he continues to talk about that all through the whole third chapter. Verse 8, “No one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” To get your tongue under control, you’ve got to have your brain under control.
And back in the chapter we’re looking at, chapter 1, verse 26, “If anyone thinks himself to be religious and does not bridle his tongue, [he] deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.” You may think you’re religious, but if you don’t know how to bridle your tongue and conform your tongue to the truth, you’re deceived, and your religion is worthless.
People love to debate religion, don’t they? Everybody thinks they have the answer. This causes no end of hassle in the church, as people quarrel over doctrines, quarrel over convictions.
Go over to chapter 4 of James: “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your [own] pleasure.”
There was plenty of wrangling, quarreling going on even about religion, about religion. So you need to be reminded to be—back to James 1—“quick to hear, [very] slow to speak”—and then he adds—“slow to anger.” “Slow to anger” attaches itself to “slow to speak.” The tendency when you hear something you don’t like is to have a certain amount of hostility. You don’t like what the preacher said. You don’t like what the Bible—what he said the Bible said and what the Bible meant. You don’t like that. You may not like his doctrine. You may disagree with him. And when you’re confronted with the truth, it can cause hostility.
So this also applies to our response to the Word. Submitting means we are great listeners, we are slow to speak, and we do not retaliate in anger when we hear something that we don’t like. The context is one of hearing and teaching the Word of God. It would imply anger toward the teacher. People are hostile to the truth.
I live a very public life, as you all know, and I couldn’t possibly keep up with all of the hostility generated by people who disagree with what I say; and often because they are convicted of the truth, and other times because they’re convicted of their sin. So you have to submit to the Word in such a way as you do not respond with anger.
Over in Galatians 4:16 you have an illustration of this in just one sentence. Paul says to the Galatians, “So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?” “Is that how this fight started: because I told you the truth? Am I all of a sudden your enemy because I told you the truth?” Jesus in John 7:7 said, “They hate Me because I tell them their deeds are evil.”
So submitting to the Word of God means being a good listener, slow to speak, wait until you’re ready. That’s why there’s a Master’s Seminary and a Master’s University and every other opportunity to study the Word of God so that you do not wrongly divide it and bring shame on yourself. And you don’t want to retaliate against somebody’s teaching of Scripture because you don’t like what they say. No, slow to speak, and very slow to anger; and that will be your attitude if you’re really listening.
And verse 20 he says, “For the anger of man”—it’s not thumos. Thumos is an outburst. This is a different word. This is a deep-seated, down-in-the-depth-of-your-heart kind of resentment. That doesn’t do anything to achieve the righteousness of God.
So if the Word of God is to produce the righteousness of God—which it is—and if you want to be a hearer who will demonstrate the righteousness of God, then you have to be ready to hear, slow to speak, and very slow to anger when you hear something that you don’t like or don’t agree with. You’d better be like the noble Bereans, that search the Scripture and see if those things are so.
So the first characteristic of hearing the Word of God effectively is to hear it with submission. The second one is purity, verse 21, “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness,” OK, so we’ll stop at that point. If you want to receive the Word—also in verse 21—to receive the implanted Word, which is able to do its marvelous, saving work in your life, you must receive it with purity. You have to “[put] aside filthiness and all that remains of wickedness,” all the overflow of your fallen, corrupt nature.
Peter says also in 1 Peter chapter 2, listen to his first verse, 1 Peter 2: “Therefore, putting aside all malice”—kakia, evil, “all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander”—all those sinful things, “like newborn babies long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” You should be desiring the Word like a baby desires milk. It’s a one-dimensional life for a baby—they want milk, and that’s it. They don’t care what color the curtains are; you might, but they don’t. All they want is milk. You should have that singular desire. But in order for that desire to be fulfilled in a way that brings blessing and the righteousness of God, you have to put aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness. It has to be put away.
It’s actually a verb that is aorist middle participle. It means you have put it off. If you’re cultivating sin in your life, if you’re harboring sin in your life, if you’re actively sinning in your life and you’re not dealing with it, setting it aside, you are in no position to hear from heaven. You will probably not like it; you may decide not even to come around; you may be angry.
The point is the only way the Word can produce the righteousness of God is if we put away the wickedness. And that verb “putting off” or “putting aside” really, literally means to take your cloak off, your coat off.
In order to fully yield to the divine influence of the Word of God, there must be a stripping off of all filthiness. That word “filthiness” is used of dirty clothes. It’s also used of any kind of filth that soils the body, and it became kind of a word that referred generally to moral vice. Very vivid word. You have to set it aside because you’re not going to be able to receive the Word if there’s sin in the way. Get rid of anything that stops your hearing. In fact, the word used, rhuparia, comes from a root of rhupos which means wax in the ear. If you don’t get the wax out of your ears, you’re not going to be able to hear anything; and that wax is “filthiness.”
The word is just sort of a general word that covers everything. But even more importantly is the little word “all filthiness.” If you want maximum impact from the word, you have to get rid of “all filthiness”—“all that remains,” all that is still there, that prevalent evil attached to your fallenness, must be confessed and repented of and removed, and then the word of God will produce the righteousness of God in you.
So in the matter of how you listen to the Scripture, you listen submissively, and you listen in purity. Thirdly, you listen in humility. Back to verse 21, “In humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.” This is a command. You are to have a heart that humbles itself. Beautiful word in the Greek; it actually means a gentle, meek, willing spirit. You could say teachable, teachable.
A heart that belongs to God is a heart that longs to be taught by God. “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things out of Your law.” This is the heart that comes to God and doesn’t say, “I’ve already made up my mind, I have my own convictions about all of this.” It’s a heart that bows low to the Scripture in a teachable spirit. It is a spirit that has been conquered—put it that way. It’s been conquered. It means that our pride and our self-will is set aside, and we come to the Word as it is being implanted into us with the purpose of bearing fruit in total humility, bowing completely to God’s will because this maximizes our salvation.
Why wouldn’t you do that, if it’s able to save your soul? And he’s talking about the full scope of salvation—past, present, and future. It is the Word that saved you. You heard the gospel; you were saved from the penalty of sin. It is the Word that is continuing to save you in sanctification, until you reach glory.
The power of the Word is indicated here. And so when the Word comes to you, you humbly receive it because when it’s planted in your life, it bears fruit. It’s just a marvelous promise from the Lord. You will be blessed.
This is Joshua 1:8. I know you know that verse, but it’s worth reading. Listen to Joshua 1:8, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it”—why?—“for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” And that’s spiritual success; it comes when you humble yourself before the Word of God.
The end of Psalm 19: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.” What words and what meditation are acceptable? What we just read in Joshua 1:8, meditation on the Scripture.
Scripture should dominate our thoughts, our hearts, our actions. And that leads me to the fourth simple principle. You have to receive the Word with submission, and purity, and humility, and then obedience. And he spends a little time on this, starting in verse 22: “Prove yourselves doers”—this is where obedience comes in and the actions start—“and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” It’s not enough to hear. It’s not enough to take a taste of a sermon or a Bible study or even the reading of the Bible. It’s not enough. If that’s all there is on your part, then you have been deluded. You are deceived. We have to take the Word and put it to work. “Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers.”
It’s a very dangerous thing to be nothing but a hearer. Same sun that melts the wax hardens the clay. Biblical truth can come to the heart of one who is a doer by characterization, and it is fruitful and brings blessing. And the same Word of God can come to a hearer who doesn’t apply it, and that hearer by constant failure to apply the Word of God hardens his own heart against it. While it melts the heart of the doer, it hardens the heart of the hearer.
Very dangerous to be used to hearing the Word of God without obeying it. That is a bad, bad habit. You need to be doers. That’s a noun rather than a verb because a noun brings the force of a characterization. It ought to be true of you like if you were a builder, somebody would call you a builder. If you’re a teacher, they don’t say you’re someone who teaches, they call you a teacher. If you’re in the military, you’re a soldier. And if you’re an obedient believer, you’re a doer; it’s who you are. It’s a favorite word of James, by the way—three times in this text, and once again in chapter 4.
“Not merely hearers.” You’re not an auditor. You’re not just auditing the truth. You’re not just sitting and listening, you’re taking it in; and in all of its promise and privilege and purpose, the Word of God is setting a fire on your heart, and it shows up in your actions. You don’t want to be deluded.
Very dangerous, in one sense, to sit under the teaching of the Word of God and ignore its application. You don’t want to train yourself in that way. You want to be like the Thessalonians. In 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Paul says, “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you received it—you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.” You weren’t just sermon tasters, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as the Word of God performing its work in you who believe. That is the culmination of how you listen. You listen with an eagerness to be obedient and put into practice everything you’ve heard.
And then we have an illustration of that, verse 23: “If anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.” You don’t want to take a transitory look at the truth. He likens the Word of God to a mirror. In those days mirrors were made out of some kind of metal; glass didn’t come until a long time after that. But you don’t want to be like a person who looks in the mirror—meaning the revelation of God—and you take a glance at yourself in the mirror, you get a look at your natural face, you see the true condition of your life; and then you, after that look, leave. You’re immediately forgetting the kind of person you were. This is going to be a delusion of your true condition. And what he’s really saying is here, “Stay, and keep looking into the Word of God.” Sentimental admiration of the preacher, enjoyment of the mental stimulation, good feelings, emotional exhilaration, discovery of truth—all useless deceptions, unless they’re reflected in your life; otherwise it’s just a delusion.
You, rather, verse 25, want to be like the “one who looks intently at the perfect law,” meaning Scripture—a law, which in sort of an oxymoronic way, a law which is the law of liberty, a law which frees you. “One who looks intently at the perfect law,” the liberating law of the word of God, “and abides by it, having become not a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.”
You can sum up your entire Christian life and define it accurately by asking yourself, “What is my relationship to the Word of God? Do I take a glance at it occasionally, turn away, forget the real truth about who I am; or do I look intently into that law, letting it sink deep into my heart, all of its commands and all of its convictions? Do I understand that the deeper I look into that law the more I am freed from sin, the more I am freed from the bondage of my transgressions to be blessed?”
The law of God frees us from sin’s bondage. The law of God brings us the glorious hope of eternal liberation in the future. The law of God frees us from the curse of death and hell. The law of God frees us from the search for the truth, because the search is over once we find the truth. It frees us to do what we originally were created to do, and it frees us to walk in the path that produces blessing.
So verse 25, looking at the law and abiding by it, staying in it. Could translate that “remaining in it.” This is where you’re going to find your life blessing. You can’t look at Scripture in some kind of momentary insight, you have to look intently and keep looking if you want to become an effectual doer, who is not forgetful and who is blessed.
To close, a portion of scripture comes to mind in Matthew chapter 7. As our Lord was concluding the Sermon on the Mount, He brought it all to a graphic illustration. Matthew 7, verse 24: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, the floods came, the winds blew and slammed against the house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”
The final chapter on your life, whether you have stood or whether you have fallen, is going to be determined by how you approach Scripture: Do you hear His words and do them? Here’s the path of blessing.
Our Lord, we thank You for such a wonderful morning, so rich on so many levels, including this sweet fellowship we have with one another just being together. We pray that You will cause these truths to sink deeply into our hearts. There are people who want to make the Christian life so complex; it comes down to concentrating on the rich, incomparable treasure of Scripture, and staying in the Scripture, looking intently at it, and by it being freed from sin and blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies. We are the people of the Book. We want to be ever more faithful, that we may bear fruit and experience spiritual success and joy and fruitfulness.
We thank You for speaking to us in Your Word. May we, like John Wesley, desire every part of it to be our own. We ask this because we find in it our joy, the joy of obedience, and because we desire to glorify You. Amen.
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