22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
In this passage we find the Word of God is likened to a mirror. Stop for a minute and consider what a mirror does. As I understand it, a mirror merely reflects the object or person being observed. It is not a guide to help you achieve a goal.
Just a note.
(An interesting note: a mirror serves no purpose in darkness. If the devil can keep you in darkness, you will never see yourself as you really are. [4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not [comprehend it ]. Jesus is the Word and the “word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.”)
Back to the passage in James. The Bible is not an instruction book to help us be our best person. Nor is it a book of courses by which we can become the “best me” that I can be. Though it is not such a book as these, those results may be realized.
The Purpose of Scripture
There have been many big and prosperous ministries built by teaching people to follow the rules and structures set forth in the scriptures. But it is clear that James is not saying that this is the purpose of scripture. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says it this way:
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The “instruction in righteousness” in James 1 is that of allowing you to see what and who you are in Christ Jesus. “If anyone be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creation.” The Bible is the mirror into which you look to see who you are in Christ Jesus.
It is akin to “the fruit of the Spirit” which is addressed in Galations 5:22-23
Do you see that phase,”Against such there is no law”. That is “proper English” for saying that there are no rules, methods or instructions by which you can attain these. So it is with the Christian life. If you think that you can attain the Christian life by following 10 rules or guidelines sent out by your favorite TV evangelist, you may become frustrated and think the Christian life is impossible. All of the above may be helpful as you grow, but there is only one way to be a “new creation in Christ Jesus” and that is by letting Jesus come and live His life in you.
Colossians 1:27 says it clearly.
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Jesus is the only one who could fulfill the law. In Philippians 2 it says that it is He who is in you both to will and to do His good pleasure.
When you finally come to the understanding that it is Jesus who is in you and has made you a new creation, then you can relax and begin to enjoy the life you are now living in Christ Jesus. Then you can open up the mirror of the Word of God and begin to understand all the wonderful things that Jesus has instilled in you. Yes, it will take a lifetime plus eternity to realize it all. But, the abundant life He gives will take eternity to live out.