Points Covered: Power of the word of God. How the Word of God makes our life productive? Attitude towards the word of God. Right response to the Word of God.
Do you regularly read God’s word? If you say yes, how is your attitude and response to His word? Do you find your life in line with God’s word or in contradiction to His word?
Wisdom through the Word!
Let’s turn in our Bibles to James. James 1:18-22 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.
Listening and Doing
19My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
Now the nonbelievers do not read the word. They are disinterested in the way of God, the word of God. Psalm 119:155 Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek out your decrees.
Believers are supposed to read the word of God and walk in his law.
Psalm 119:1 Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.
Believers like the psalmist would say: Psalm 119:33-40 33Teach me, LORD, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end.34Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. 35Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. 36Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. 37Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. 38Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared. 39Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good. 40How I long for your precepts! In your righteousness preserve my life.
Psalm 119:127-128 127Because I love your commands more than gold, more than pure gold, 128and because I consider all your precepts right, I hate every wrong path.
It is characteristic of a true believer to be obedient to the Word.
Psalm 119:97 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.
Psalm 1:2 But whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
The godly person can be described then in simply understanding their connection with the law of God. But it is so sad that believers don’t devote time to read God’s word. Survey says 80% of the church goers do not read the Bible. So the first place to start is to systematically read and study God’s word.
See what James says about God’s word:
1. We were transformed by the Word.
James 1:18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. James says, “Our salvation started with the word of truth.” That’s what made us new creation. It was the word that did it. We heard the word and the word gave us the mind of God and the Holy Spirit excited faith in our hearts, and we believed the word and were born again.” It all began with the word.
Peter essentially said the same thing: 1 Peter 1:23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. Say the Gospel:
2. Our continuance is in the word.
James then reminds us that once we are born again, what keep us in faith, what keeps us in God’s will is his word. So a believer should be constantly fed by the word of God.
John 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” (KJV If you continue in my word.)
If you wanna know whether you’re truly a Christian, a disciples or not, here’s the test. Are you continuing in the word? Is the word of God a part of your life daily where you read, mediate, and live out the Word of God?
2 Timothy 3:16-17 16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Hebrews 4:12 12For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
For such people, who have been born again by the word, and the word has become a daily part of their life James is tell here 3 features to respond rightly to the word you read to become productive and life transforming.
3. Right attitude to the Word.
a. Submission to the Word.
Receive the word with submission. To put it another way, it is a willingness to receive the word without resistance, without rebellion. James 1:19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
For a believer who already has been saved or regenerated by the word, then continues to read and study the word with an attitude of submission. James describes submission to the word:
i. Quick to hear.
James 1:19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen. He’s not just talking about being good listeners when people come and tell you their problems. He’s not talking in that generic sort of category. He’s talking in the context of the word of God, which is the subject of verse 18-22. What he is saying is be eager hearers or listeners to the word. The idea is here that someone who is truly regenerate is going to be eager to grasp every opportunity to increase their hearing of God’s word because.
Such people never get enough. Literally it says, be quick to hear the message, be swift to read the word, be swift to use every opportunity to get to the word.
James 1 from v2-12 talks about trials of a believer. Trials that are difficult, trials that demand wisdom from above, that demand that wisdom beyond this world, a wisdom which only the word of God can provide. When there are trials in life, well, you went to be swift to hear, you want to run to the word where you find there the truth of God that meets the trial.
And then v2-13 talks of temptations of a believer. And the only way to deal with lust, and the only way to deal with being drawn away into temptation by your own desires and enticed, the only way to overcome sin is to read the Word of God. Have more of the word in you. David said the only way to avoid sin is: Psalm 119:11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. David said: Psalm 119:111 Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.
When there are trials, a believer runs to the word, which provides the comfort. When there are temptations, the believer turns to the word where there is strength to resist.
ii. Slow to speak.
James 1:19 Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak.
That also is not just some generic command that is telling you keep your mouth shut. Quick to listen to the word of God, slow to the speak. What does that mean? Eagerly pursue hearing every word from God, but cautiously, slowly, and with some reluctance you become the speaker.
James 3 says it is a very serious thing to speak the word of God. James 3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. Don’t be in a big hurry to be the teacher. It is a positive command to submit yourself and receive the word with and then another way to submit is reluctance to speak the word so that you do not misrepresent the truth. A reticence that holds you back until you really grasp it.
It may have been some in the fellowship there that James was addressing who wanted not to listen but like to preach, teach, and minister. He tells them you need to listen submissively to the word of God and be silent until such a time as you are prepared to speak accurately in right representation of the divine truth.
iii. Slow to anger.
James 1:19 Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. The word wrath or anger in Greek means a deep seeded resentment. It mean rebellion. It means rejection. It refers to being hostile. And the context, again, is the context of hearing the word of truth. And this implies that there are some people who get hostile against the word. They don’t like what they hear. When the truth is presented they don’t want to hear it. They are angry with the preacher and the Bible.
That kind of anger, that kind of human anger, called the wrath of man, that kind of deep resenting resistance to the truth of God does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires
So receive the word with submission; listen to it, take every opportunity to hear and read the word of God. Then, must be slow to speak until you have come to a full understanding and can rightly represent what God is saying. And you must never develop hostility toward the truth of God because it runs counter to your own desires.
So true believers are known by an attitude of submission to the word. And guess what? V20 says the word of God received in submission produces the righteousness that God desires. We become righteous when we receive the word with submission.
Moving on, James says there is another feature to respond to the word.
b. Purity of life.
True believers not only receive the word with submission but also with purity. James 1:21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
James is talking about getting rid of, simply means to put off or having already put off all moral filth. The point is before the word of God can be received productively to produce the righteousness of God, it must be received submissively and it must be received with purity.
A putting off has to occur; a putting off of sin. Peter talks about that: 1 Peter 2:1-2 1Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.
Romans 13:12 So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. There is a putting off before there is a putting on of the truth. James says of putting off of all filthiness. The Greek word means take out your old dirty clothes. You go out and come back, you take off the old clothes and put on new ones, likewise put off your old nature, put off all filthiness and then read God’s word.
It also means, like taking off ear wax to hear properly. Get rid of any dirt that hinders your hearing. You cannot hear because of the accumulation of wax, deaf because of the accumulation of sin. Get rid of it. Unload it. Clean it out. James 1:21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth (All of it. Not just some of it. All filthiness. And then he adds:) and the evil that is so prevalent.
KJV Superfluity of naughtiness. Overflow of wickedness. Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? The whole filthiness of heart must be confessed, repented of and dealt with before you read the word.
So if one is true Christian, there will be a willingness to receive the word with submission. There will be a willingness to listen, a reticence to speak and no anger toward what God says. There will also be a willingness to receive the word with purity.
And then lastly, James says, “There will be a willingness to receive the word with:
c. Humility to learn.
James 1:21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Receive with meekness, humility the implanted word. That basically means to have a teachable spirit. A heart that longs to be taught by God and is a willing student.
The idea here is a teachable spirit, shapeable, moldable. That’s humility. Now that’s a challenging thing to do because every time we sit with the Word of God, we need to do so with a heart to learn something, every time we hear to a message we need to sit with an attitude to learn something from God. This is a challenge for most teachers and preaches because we deal with the word every time and we often cease to look it at for our benefit or learning. The right way to read the word is to have a teachable spirit.
d. Practice the Word.
James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. It’s not only important how you receive the word but how you react to the word. Am I a believer that just comes and listens to the word or am I a believer that is eager to live the word that I hear?
Do not just be a hearer, that’s really not enough. There are a lot of people who are curious about the truth, who are fascinated by it, they love to hear the word. The picture is not complete until they are living it. Those who don’t, he says, deceive themselves.
Is it that you would do the word? Not only do you long, do you pursue, do you hunger to hear its truths with submission, purity and humility, but there is a parallel eagerness to live it out. That’s evidence of the work of God in a transformed life.
4. Fruit of having the right attitude to the word.
James 1:21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Submission, purity, humility, and practice of the enables the word to be implanted into our hearts. Once a seed is planted, it can take root and be productive.
Isaiah 55:10-11 10As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
b. Saves us.
James 1:21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Word is able to save your souls.
c. Produces Righteousness.
James 1:20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
The word continually delivers your soul from sin, and someday present you faultless, will someday present you faultless before God.
How is our response to the Word of God? Whatever situation you are going through, there is wisdom in the word of God. So we all ought to be then like Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word: Luke 10:39 Mary sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.
Many people are like the crowd when Stephen was stone in Acts 7. Acts 7:56-58 56“Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58dragged him out of the city and began to stone him.
A true believer is like the Berean Jews: Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Let’s us commit ourselves to have the right attitude or response to God’s word and make use of God’s wisdom in his word for us and transform and make our lives productive.