This sermon is based on James 1:19-27. Click here to read the text.
The Scripture teaches that all who are in Christ are born again. We are new creations in Him. James says as much in v. 18 when he writes, “Of His own will He brought us forth [caused us to be born spiritually] by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creation.” This word of truth, implanted by the Holy Spirit, has regenerated us such that we are
justified by the grace of Christ, according to the will of God, through no merit of our own.
Hearers of the Implanted Word
As justified people before God we are then called to “be quick to hear” the Word and “slow to speak, slow to anger” (v. 19). By implication James is saying that the person who is slow to hear the Word of God but is quick to speak his own word is likewise quick to get angry with God and with others. For the person who talks more than he listens to God is not really
interested in getting to know the Lord and His ways. Rather, he is more interested in being right in his own thinking. So, he is going to be prone to anger as the error of his ways is made more and more clear. Such “conversing” with God and others does not produce righteousness. Talk show host, Celeste Headlee, says this about having conversations with other people, “I keep my mouth shut as often as I possibly can, I keep my mind open, and I’m always prepared to be amazed.” This is good advice for interacting with one another, and it is even better advice for engaging God through His Word and through prayer in such a way that produces righteousness (v. 20).
Holders of the Implanted Word
James says that we should “put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word,” (v. 21). The image here is of a field where weeds are pulled and rocks are removed so that the seed which is implanted can best grow. Maturing believers will come to the Word – in personal devotions, in worship, in small group Bible study, etc. – with an attitude prepared to put away all of the filthiness and rampant wickedness of our hearts (the rocks and weeds). The growing Christian will be one who is looking to receive the Word daily, in all that it teaches, as a good gift from God that is able to increasingly bring salvation to our souls in the present.
Doers of the Implanted Word
The growing Christian will not only hear the Word of God and humbly receive it on a daily basis, but she will also do what it calls her to do vv. 22-25, see also Matthew 7:21-27). James says that someone who professes faith in Christ but does not obey the Word is deceiving herself. In fact, the word “deceiving” could be translated with the stronger term, “defrauding”. Such a person is like one who looks intently into a mirror, but then goes away and forgets what she looks like. Her intentional look is for nothing if she does not act upon what she saw. When we gaze at the mirror that is God’s Word we see who He is and who we are in Him. We see that we are created in His image. It is necessary not only to see but also to live by this revelation lest
we forget Whose we are and live as if we ourselves are God. When we fix our eyes on the Gospel of Christ we also see that we are sinners saved by grace through faith in Jesus. We see that though we have been washed by His blood, we continue to sin and so need to regularly have our “feet washed” (John 13:10) through ongoing confession of sin and repentance. If we walk away from the Word unrepentant then we defraud ourselves of its power to free us from sin and to lead us to joyful life in Christ.
In vv. 26-27, James instructs the Christian further by writing that true religion (Wordbased spirituality), which is pure and undefiled, is that wherein (1) the tongue is under Gospel control (see also 3:1-12), (2) the weak and vulnerable are cared for (see also 2:1-26), and (3) believers are pursuing holiness (see also 3:13-5:6). This triad points us to Christ who is the word
of truth by which the Father brought us forth out of our weak and vulnerable estate to make us a holy people, set apart for God.
Discuss and Pray – James 1:19-27
- Why is it important to live according to the knowledge that both our justification (v. 18) and our sanctification (vv. 19-27) are good gifts from God, accomplished through the Spirit’s ministry of the Word?
- How can we grow in being “quick to hear” the Word of God?
- In what ways have you seen anger arise from your own heart when you are not being so quick to hear? In what ways have you seen meekness exude from your spirit when you have received (taken hold of) the Word implanted within you?
- Which aspect of “true religion” do you most struggle to live out (speech control, care for the weak/vulnerable, or personal holiness)? How can we grow in not only being a hearer of the Word but being a doer of it as well? How can we grow in doing so by grace, from a heart that is pursuing God’s glory, rather than merely from our own human effort?
- In what ways have you experienced the perfect and liberating natures of God’s law?