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January 20, 2019 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series: James

Topic: Blessings Verse: James 1:22–1:25

“Gaining Blessing From God’s Word”

James 1:22-25

Theme: Any response to the Word of God other than strict obedience is a form of self-deception.


  1. The Proof of Authenticity - 22
    1. Believers Apply the Word - “But prove yourselves doers of the word …”
      1. As James begins this section with “But …” evidences that he is contrasting the one who reacts to the Word with anger, self-defense, and rejection of the truth as described in vv. 19-21.
      2. The verification that you are one in whom the “word implanted” has been “received,” you are to “prove yourselves doers of the word.”
      3. The ability to “prove” [Γίνεσθε] this is through consistent and proper application of the truth through obedience - the present middle imperative demonstrates that we are to be constantly becoming “doers of the word.”
      4. “doers” [ποιηταὶ] refers to a person so closely associated with the obedience of the Word that it describes what you are, not merely what you occasionally do.
      5. In essence this is equated with believing - cp. John 3:36; 1 John 2:3-4
    2. Unbelievers Audit the Word - “… and not merely hearers who delude themselves …”
      1. Those who are not genuine are people who do not “obey,” but are “merely hearers” of the Word.
      2. The word for “hearers” [ἀκροατής] was used of those who sat passively in an audience and listened to a performance or a lecture.
      3. These are people who essentially “audit” the truth - they listen to it, but do not exercise themselves but do not do anything with it - it does not alter their lives in any way afterward.
      4. Such ones “delude themselves” [παραλογιζόμενοι] - that is, they “reason beside the point” or, they miss the point of the truth altogether.
      5. Their conclusion, that attentive hearing of the Word was the fulfillment of all that was required, had led them astray from the path of the truth.[1]
    3. The Problem of Apathy - 23-24
      1. The “Natural” Approach to Truth - 23
        1. Such people who merely “audit” the truth by failing to apply it are compared through a practical simile.
        2. James compares them to “a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror.”
        3. To “look” [κατανοοντι] refers to observe or contemplate something - indicating that he gives mental activity to it - pondering the truth, but only allowing it to remain superficial.
        4. “His natural face” [τ πρόσωπον τς γενέσεως ατοῦ] - refers to the face given to him at birth - or a superficial view that carries no spiritual insights or indications of anything supernatural at all.
        5. It suggests that he uses unregenerate perspectives and observations that are consistent with the way he was born.
      2. The Neglectful Abandonment of Truth - 24
        1. He sees himself, but “once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.”
        2. The reason he forgets is not given to us - whether he is distracted, apathetic, antagonistic, or unteachable, he has “forgotten” [ἐπιλανθάνομαι] the truth - that is, he “neglects” it or “overlooks” it.
        3. Clearly, it makes no impression on him - which is why is remains unchanged by the truth.
        4. What makes matters worse is that such a person essentially “inoculates” themselves to the truth .
  • The Promise of Attentiveness - 25
    1. The Energy of Study
      1. However, the person who is a “doer” - one who truly believes - “looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty …”
      2. “looks intently” [παρακύπτω] means to “to bend over for the purpose of looking, w. focus on satisfying one’s curiosity”[2]
      3. Their activity is intense - energized by their desire to comprehend so that they are able to properly respond to the truth.
      4. They study for the purpose of transformation, not merely for intellectual accumulation.


  1. The Endurance in Study
    1. Such a person “abides by it” [παραμένω] - remaining in a state of interest or to occupy oneself with something.
    2. It describes a comprehension that God didn’t give His Word for academic study, but spiritual application and obedience.
    3. Hence, this is not an isolated experience, but an enduring activity of constantly seeing to understand and apply God’s Word in order to become more like Christ Jesus.
  2. The Efficacy of Study
    1. In that sense, there is an appreciation of the Word of God (“Law”) - as “perfect” - that is, the inerrant, infallible, sufficient revelation from God to man for the purpose of enabling man to see Himself as He is and be transformed - cp. 1 Corinthians 13:8-12
    2. This constant exposure to the truth enables a sinner to find freedom - hence, it is called the “law of liberty” - cp. John 8:34-36
    3. As a result, this person is not “… a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer …” - the genuine believer sees himself in the Scriptures as they actually are and is transformed supernaturally into conformity to Christ and not satisfied with his “natural face.”
  3. The Endowment for Study
    1. James promises that “this man will be blessed in what he does.”
    2. God’s blessings fall consistently upon the believer who obeys - Joshua 1:8


[1] Hiebert, p. 133.

[2]William Arnet al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 767.

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