|James 1:21-25 |
21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and residue of wickedness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.3 [If you humbly believe and obey the words that you hear Christ speak to you, they are engrafted into your heart, fulfilling the scripture: I will put my laws into their hearts, and I will write them in their minds (inward understanding). Heb 10:16. From the Word of the Lord within: "You must obey every law the Spirit establishes."]
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. [James is saying that if you fail to obey what you hear spoken by Christ to you from within your heart, you are deceiving yourself that obedience is not essential. Obedience leads to righteousness, and obedience leads to salvation; without obedience you will experience neither.]
23 For if anyone is only a hearer of the word, and not a doer,4 he is like a man looking at his natural face in a mirror,
24 Who looks at himself and goes on his way, immediately forgetting what he looked like.
25 But whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues looking into it, if he does not forget what he heard, but he does the work [obeys],5 this man will be blessed in his deed.
5 whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues looking into it, if he is not a forgetful hearer, but he does the work [obeys], this man will be blessed in his deed. So if Christ shows you something about yourself with His light that shines in your darkness, making it obvious that you need to repent, (change your behavior), and you "do the work" of change, then you will be blessed. This is describing works of obedience to the word of the Lord within you heart, which is obedience and the love of God; so here is a direct conflict with Luther's basic Protestant doctrine of "not by works, by faith;" the Protestants totally failed to understand the difference between dead works, works of the law, done by the will of man, and obedient works ordered by God, which are absolutely necessary for growth to salvation.
Note, after looking, don't forget what you heard. James is using a figure of speech, like looking into a mirror; but here you "look" at the Lord's teachings and commands, which show you things about yourself. By looking, you are hearing his voice, or sometimes seeing a vision with immediate, clear understanding of what he is showing you about yourself and why. If you remember what he has shown you, (keep his teachings), and then repent and obey, your works and deeds will be blessed to become free from the lusts and pride of the fleshly, old man.