The Bible – The Mirror

James 1:22-25 (KJV)

22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

The Bible is not a law

How often have we considered James 1:22, and stopped there. But, the thought being conveyed does not stop there. What do I mean by this?

We read, “be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” That is usually where we stop in our memorization of this passage. But, we should not.

The one who is deceived is not the one who does not do the work, it is the hearer that is deceived. Why is that possible? The following three verses tell you who and why he is deceived.

24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

The Word is the word of God, the Bible. For too long Christianity has promoted the idea that a good Christian will strive to live up to the standards set in the Bible. Of course, we always have the caveat that we all sin, so no one will measure up completely. That is probably why we do not like to memorize verses 23-24. Too many who call themselves, Christian, bear no resemblance to the Biblical definition of a Christian. Why is that? Could it be that they are not a Christian? We must not rule out this possibility. Jesus, Himself, pointed out that many “in that day” will declare, “when saw we thee….and did not help?” These people considered themselves very religious and worthy. But Jesus replied that He never knew them.

The reason that so many good people, who are very religious are deceived is because they do not “rightly divide the word of truth”. None of us has all the truth. But, the Word of God will confirm what is truth.

Understanding the Bible

To understand why we are doers of the word and work, we need to rightly divide(or understand) the scripture.

For instance, do you see what the writer(inspired by the Holy Spirit), likens the Word of God to. He calls it a mirror(a glass). I do not know about your mirrors, but my mirrors only reflect what is put in front of them. My mirror cannot shave my face or comb my hair or straighten my shirt. It can only reflect.

For some reason we have been taught that the Bible is a set of rules that we are to follow so that we can be a Christian. I have heard many times preachers and teachers set forth plans of ten or more steps to the successful Christian life. If we could live the Christian life by successfully completing certain things, Jesus did not need to come and die for us. The Bible is quite clear that “none shall be declared righteous by the keeping of the law.” In other words, there are no ten steps to achieve the Christian life.

The Ten Commandments

You may think that I am making this too simple or not lining up with the scripture.

The Bible is not a guide book, but it is a mirror of what the Christian is. Some like to liken the normal Christian to old testament characters. The only problem with that is that the old testament people were not “born again” creatures. They are there to show us what trying to attain righteousness by the law will do for us.

Galatians 2:21 Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

The New Testament describes the Christian as a “new creation”.

2 Corinthians 5:17. “If any man be in Christ Jesus he is a new creation. Old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new.”

So, how is the “new creature” suppose to know what he looks like? He will look into the mirror.

A New Creation

When I was truly born again and became a new creation, the change was radical. I was treading a totally different path. Whereas I had been impatient, belligerent, obnoxious, unkind and unloving; I now wanted to be kind and considerate of others and helpful. The people who knew me were somewhat shocked at the difference. I knew that I was different, but I was eager to learn about this new person. The real fact of the matter was that this new person was the very spirit of Jesus, Himself. I am not saying that I was Jesus, but I am saying that Jesus was living in me. I found that by looking in the mirror.

In Colossians 1:27 it says this:

27 to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

The job of the mirror

The mirror showed me that it was not me, but Jesus.

This is just the beginning. True Christianity brings about a “new creation”. If someone remains the same except for some self willed modifications, that is not Biblical Christianity. When one follows a “preacher” that keeps laying out plans of how to achieve the Christian life, one should stop and get into the Word of God for himself.

It is the Word of God that brings faith by which the seed of the “New Creation” is planted in the heart of those who are “born again”.

The mirror of the Word works both ways. It will convince of sin and the need of redemption. Just as it is a mirror to show you who you are in Christ, so it will show you who you are before you are born again.

Romans 7:7

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

Some rebel because it shows just how ugly they are when trying to achieve their own salvation. Many refuse to surrender to the Word and receive the blessing of a new life in Christ Jesus. Then there are those who earnestly desire to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus.

Romans 10:8-11

The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Those who have “died to themselves” and have received the Lord Jesus by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, experience life that only the Creator can give. The wonderful thing about it is, you no longer have to work at being religious. In fact, you don’t have to work at being a Christian. You may think me a heretic for saying that. But like I said, the Bible is not a handbook on how to be a good Christian. It is a mirror to show you what you are.

Galations 2:20

This is how Paul the apostle described it in Galatians 2.

20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Paul even declares that the faith that he is saved by and lives by is not his own. It is the faith of Jesus. Here, again, we see the life of Jesus being lived through the “new creation” in Christ Jesus. It is God’s grace that brings this about. It is not my following certain rules or practices that brings God’s amazing grace into action.

Isaiah 42:8

am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.

Isaiah 48:11

For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.

Nothing that humans can do can produce what His grace can do in the life of one created in His image. If we try to mix our “goodness” with His glory(grace) we would be devoured. Do not ever think that you can add to the work that the Holy Spirit will do in your life. He will direct you perfectly through the mirror of God’s word.

If you notice in verse 25 of the above passage from James 1, it calls the Word of God the “perfect law of liberty”. It is almost an oxymoron. Law restricts what can and cannot be done. Liberty is total freedom. In essence, a doer of the Word(work) is not compelled by a law but moves in liberty because what he does is an outgrowth of who he is. It is not a law of what he cannot do but a freedom of what he does because of who he is.

The motivation of the child of God is not one of measuring up to a list of rules or a checklist. Rather, it is a natural outflowing of what he or she is. A child of God exudes the character of God. It is only normal that he or she should do that.

Genesis 8:22

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvestand cold and  heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

The above scripture is a wonderful and comforting word. It is true for every person alive or who has ever lived, or ever will live. Most often we hear it addressed from the believing Christian’ viewpoint. But, it is true from any viewpoint. While the Christian typically sows the seed of the Word of God, the sinner sows the seed of sin and destruction. Each will get what they sow.

Many Christians have taken this concept and have built a law for their own lives. It is already a law. The Child of God practices this because it comes from within by the Holy Spirit. The “pseudo christian” will do it as a law. And it will work for them because God’s word is true and it always works. But, when it is practiced as a law, they will get what they say. Because they are exercising a law, that does not make them righteous (having right-standing with God). The scripture says,

Galatians 2:21

I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the lawthen Christ is dead in vain.

If we access the grace of God by building a law, then we nullify the sacrifice of Jesus death and ressurection.

The lifestyle of the Child of God is not a law that they practice. Rather, it is the very life of Christ within them doing what He does because of Who He is. Let us not by a law belittle the work of grace which God has accomplished in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Matthew 5:1-16

5 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

To Be

In the above passage from Matthew 5, I invite you to check the verb that is used most often. If you remember your high school English grammer, you recognize the verb to be a form of the infinitive, “to be”. This verb denotes something that already is in a state of existense.

Jesus describes a person who is a Child of God. They are not striving to attain these characteristics, they already have them. They have them because these are the characteristics of Jesus, who lives in the “born again child of God”.

Let us look at one other scripture which mirrors what a Christian is.

In Galatians 5:22 we read this:

Galatians 5:22-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Isn’t that an amazing scripture. Most of us just blithly skip over this verse and hope that we can develop these traits. But if you read the verse in context we find that it speaks of a contrast of law and liberty.

The concluding phrase of verse 22 uses the terms, “against such there is no law”. That is Shakespearean English for “there are not laws than can help you develop these fruits.” In other words, there is not set of instructions that I can give you to help you to attain these attributes.

Then, how does the Christian get these fruits. He, or she, cannot develop them. They are “the fruit of the Holy Spirit”. They belong to Him. When the Child of God becomes a New Creation in Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes to live in him or her. The Holy Spirit produces His fruit. The “born again new creation in Christ” is the avenue through which He bears it. This releases a liberty for the Child of God because he is freed from having to measure up to a law.

Verse 18 of this same chapter describes the Child of God.

Galatians 5:18

18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

The law is no longer our standard. We have died to the law. We are now under the Lordship of Jesus, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is He Who bears His fruit through us.

The Christian life

There is more to come. Being “born again” is just the beginning of an eternal adventure which God has prepared for those that love Him.

We shall be sharing more of what He has in store for His children.

God bless you!

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