Helping men and women find hope, help, healing, restoration and redemption
leading to lasting victory over sexual addiction through a growing, vibrant, powerful relationship with Christ.
Every time you sit in a Sunday service and listen to the sermon, every time you attend your Bible fellowship or Sunday School class and hear a lesson taught, every time you go to small group Bible study, every time you have your personal devotions or turn on the radio to hear your favorite preacher—every time—you are listening to the Word of God. Are God’s words “going in one ear and out the other”?
What you do with what the Holy Spirit reveals to you is critical at this point. If you are not applying to your life what God is showing you, then you are merely listening, and God says you are being deceived.
Welcome to The Point of Purity Podcast. I’m your host, Steve Etner, Author, National Speaker, and Purity Coach for The Pure Man Ministry. Welcome to episode #46 as we dive into part 8 of our mini-series on How to live FOR Christ entitled “The Deception Connection.”
When you look in a mirror, what do you see? James 1:22-25 says “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 a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.”
When you choose to merely listen to God’s Word, then choose to do nothing about what you’ve read or heard, God says you will be deceived.
To deceive means to lie to; to cause someone to believe something that is untrue. Have you ever been deceived before? I’m sure you have. In fact, I’m fairly positive you’ve probably even been a deceiver as well.
Never forget that God’s Word is absolute truth, and no lie ever comes from God’s truth. Jesus declares in John 17:17 that God’s word IS truth. David writes in Psalm 119:151 that all of God’s commandments are truth. Nine verses later, in Psalm 119:160 he says, “the very essence of your words IS truth.” And the prophet Samuel cries out “O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true” (2 Samuel 7:28).
With all of that in mind, let me repeat James 1:22. “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” What James is warning us about is this: just hearing the Word of God, whether it’s through listening or reading, when you take only a brief moment to consider what God is saying, then choose to dismiss it as irrelevant, or unimportant, or not applicable to you - you are being deceived.
When you choose to ignore the Holy Spirit’s prompting in your life, choosing to believe, “I’ve got this,” and “That doesn’t really apply to me,” you are deceived. You are duped by the enemy into believing something that is untrue.
Every time you sit in a Sunday service and listen to the sermon, every time you attend your Bible fellowship or Sunday School class and hear a lesson taught, every time you go to small group Bible study, every time you have your personal devotions or turn on the radio to hear
your favorite preacher—every time—you are listening to the Word of God. Are God’s words “going in one ear and out the other”? What are you doing with what you heard?
You see, what you DO with what the Holy Spirit reveals to you is critical at this point. Jesus said in John 14:15 that “if you love me, you will keep my commandments.” In 2 John 6 we read, “this is love, that we walk in obedience to his commands.” Listen closely my friend. Watch this now. If you are not applying to your life what God is showing you, then you are merely listening, and God says you are being deceived.
Let me repeat this point. Let the Holy Spirit drill this into your long-term memory banks. We must not “merely listen” to God’s Word and then go merrily on our way, choosing to do nothing about it.
Have you ever looked in the mirror and noticed your hair all messed up or a glowing red zit strategically stationed on the end of your nose? What do you do about it? Do you shrug your shoulders thinking, “Eh, no biggie,” and then walk away having done nothing about it? Of course not.
In James’ example, the person who is listening to Scripture has seen in the mirror of God’s Word that a problem exists. He acknowledges it’s there. He fully understands there’s a problem that needs to be dealt with. Yet, for some unknown reason, he makes the choice not to deal with it right then and there. He goes on his way, fully intending to take care of the problem—later. The funny thing is, “later” rarely comes. Other things such as the everyday activities, pressures, and demands of life step in to capture his full attention.
The result? He forgets the problem is there and so doesn’t deal with it. By not immediately dealing with it, he runs the high risk of it growing into an even bigger problem. By not addressing it when the Holy Spirit revealed it to him, he risks developing a hard heart toward that issue and never dealing with it at all.
Don’t misunderstand. He takes the time to consider it. He not only understands what God’s Word is telling him, he agrees with God that it’s an issue in his life that needs to be dealt with. But it just isn’t as important right now as (whatever is currently crying out for his attention). Instead of immediately addressing the issue, he chooses to walk away. And because the issues of life are all around him, constantly vying for his undivided focus, he promptly forgets what the mirror has revealed to him.
The result? He was deceived. He came to a wrong conclusion, which is proven by his lack of action. To drive this point home, I want you to consider the following two questions:
Just like an open sore that is left unattended - it will fester and grow. It will become larger and harder to deal with later. It will begin to impact and affect other parts of your body. It will begin to influence how you behave and conduct yourself. In the same way, it is vital that you face head-on whatever God reveals to you. Whatever it may be, don’t wait!
James speaks of the man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. (James 1:23-24) The verb “look” here means “to perceive, to observe in such a way that you understand what you’re looking at.” In other words, you are considering the thing you’re looking at so attentively that you are fixing your gaze upon it.
James’ point? You see the problem that God is pointing out. You are fully aware it’s there.
Consider this: The trouble lies not in the identification of the problem but in the execution of the solution. Let me repeat that. The trouble lies not in the identification of the problem but in the execution of the solution.
I think it’s fairly safe to say that if you looked in the mirror and saw a big zit glowing at the end of your nose, you would immediately address the issue. It wouldn’t even cross your mind to walk away until it was dealt with. The man James is talking about sees something much more severe than a little spot of acne, yet he still turns and walks away without dealing with it.
In James 1:24 James points out that the moment that man walks away from the mirror, he “immediately forgets what he looks like.” James uses a very specific word here for “forget.” It’s a word that means you are intentionally neglecting something. You no longer care for it.
Now take a moment and think about that. The fact that he no longer cares for it suggest that at one point he did care. However, something else came in and drew his attention away from the problem. He then chose to focus on it instead of the problem that was revealed to him. By putting his attention on that other thing, he began to care more for that than for the imperfection he saw in the mirror.
Let’s take this principle and make it practical. What things in life tend to draw your attention away from God and His Word? And why do you let them?
It’s important to note that although James says this man no longer cared for the problem, he’s not saying that it was unimportant to him. This man didn’t look in the mirror, see his problem, and say, “Eh, no big deal.” It’s not that he didn’t care about it, but that he didn’t take the time right then and there to care for it—to attend to it. Action is the key. Do it now; don’t delay!
When you read your Bible, and the Holy Spirit reveals an area of your life He wants you to work on, I’m sure you don’t shrug your shoulders and say, “No biggie.” No. You agree with Him that it’s something you need to take care of. But if you don’t care for it right then and there, you’re coming to a wrong conclusion. That is how merely listening to the Word can deceive you.
When God speaks to you, please don’t just walk away. I urge you to deal with it right then and there. Whatever appointment you may need to keep, whatever thing you are planning to do, whatever show is on TV that you’re dying to watch, it can wait! In the whole scheme of things, they pale in importance compared to the high priority of having your heart right with God. Don’t chance it. Don’t risk walking away from the mirror and forgetting what God showed you in His Word. Later may be too late.
If you would like to learn more about today’s study, or if you’re interested in learning more about our ministry, be sure to visit our website to see the multitude of resources we’ve made available to you – you can find our website at ThePurityCoach.com (repeat)
One of those resources I would like to highlight for you here is my book entitled “Extreme Mind Makeover: How to transform sinful thoughts and habits into patterns of life pleasing to God.” This powerful book takes you on a journey through the Bible to examine what God has to say about how your thoughts, words, and actions influence and impact your heart.
Jesus said, “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.” (Matthew 12:33) Your thoughts bear fruit: your behavior. When you train your mind to think godly thoughts, the fruit of your life – the things you do day in and day out – will be godly.
On the flip side, when you allow your mind to think sinful, fleshly, ungodly thoughts, the fruit of your life (your daily attitudes and actions) will be ungodly. So, how do I change the way I think? How do I change the things I do? How do I successfully and effectively guard my heart? This book, “Extreme Mind Makeover" takes you into God’s Word to help you answer those questions.
So go to our website, ThePurityCoach.com , and check out our resources page, or go directly to Amazon.com and purchase your copy of “Extreme Mind Makeover” today.
And if you have not yet subscribed to this podcast, let me encourage you to do so today so you won’t miss any of our upcoming episodes!
So, until next time this is Author, Speaker, and Purity Coach Steve Etner reminding you that if you are going to glorify God in your everyday living, He must first be glorified in your every moment thinking.