The Hearing Test

Main Scripture: James 1:22-25

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does."

Sermon Summary

God’s Word promises and history confirms that revivals and spiritual awakenings have been sparked, and entire generations have been affected as a result of the people of God implementing one basic spiritual component of the Christian life.  It is the one thing that sets us apart from the rest of humanity that follows the ways of the world.  The principle is summed up in James 1:22, which says, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."  

Community Group Discussion Guide

Icebreaker: The title of the message is the hearing test.  Sometimes we don't hear very well or misunderstand other people because we aren't paying very good attention.  Describe a situation where you thought you heard someone correctly, but found out later that you completely misunderstood. Also, in what ways has not listening to another person gotten you into trouble or an undesirable situation?

1. It is so advantageous for us to put ourselves in a situation to hear from God's Word because that is the catalyst for life change. In what ways do you position yourself to hear God's Word?  If you struggle in this area, what changes can you make in your situation and in your environment to hear from God’s Word better?

2. Our passage today showed us that we deceive ourselves if we only listen but don't respond by doing God's Word (James 1:23). In what ways can you respond in action to the Word of God that you have been hearing?  

Use this Quote for further discussion:  "Most of us are educated far above the level of our obedience. We have a knowledge surplus and an obedience deficit. We have a lot more revelation than our current level of application. Our problem isn’t access to the Word, but rather doing something with the Word we already have." -Pastor Steven Furtick, Elevation Church, Charlotte, NC.

3. The chorus of a song entitled "Dawn to Dusk" by the group All Sons and Daughters says, "Tomorrow’s freedom is today’s surrender." In what ways have you experience blessings and freedom from being obedient to God's Word? (James 1:24-25).

Sermon Notes


The Hearing Test (James 1:22-25) 

Good morning. I am humbled once again to come before you to present this message to you today. I am always thankful for the opportunities that our Pastor gives to his staff to share in his preaching ministry.

Our text for today is James 1:22-25. I invite you to turn there now in your Bibles. James 1:22-25. As I have prepared this message, I just want you to know that God’s word has hit me at the core. I believe that, in some way, the truth of it will touch every heart here.

The reason I believe this is because this passage of scripture points out the most basic spiritual component of the Christian life. It is the one thing that sets us apart from the rest of humanity that follows the ways of the world.

God’s Word promises and history confirms that revivals and spiritual awakenings have been sparked, and entire generations have been affected as a result of the people of God implementing this one basic truth.  It is summed up in James 1:22.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Let's take a moment and pray together we continue.

I have entitled this message "The Hearing Test" because I believe God is putting our congregation to the test to see how well we hear His Word. And the first thing that he wants us to take away comes straight from this verse, and is simply this:

1. Hear the Word

We must hear the word. I want you to understand some context surrounding this passage. The original recipients of this letter did not have as much access to the Scriptures as we do today. It would have been a rare privilege for a common man to have access to the written word of God.

There was no printing press, and scribes had to physically write copies of the scriptures onto scrolls which were then read aloud to the people in the temples. This was especially the case in the early church that was scattered about, outside of Israel, in various Gentile regions.

Access to the Word of God would have been even more difficult in these areas.
And, these are the people to whom James was writing this letter, Jews that professed Christ as Messiah, whose access to the word of God was mainly as a hearer only.

Now, in our context today, we have limitless access to the word of God. The Bible, is in fact, the number one best-selling book on the market today. We don’t have to rely on opportunities to merely hear the word spoken. We can read it for ourselves.

I looked on my bookshelf at home and realized that I own 15 Bibles in different translations. How many do you own? And even if you don’t own one, and want one, we can help you obtain a copy very easily.

My point, is that we also hear God speak to us when we read his word, and in our setting today, we do not have the excuse of having no access to it. So, just as the praise song says, “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” the ears of our hearts can be opened to hear God speak when we read his word.

I know that many of you come on Sunday’s and hear us preach God’s Word, but on a daily basis, are you taking advantage of the privilege that you have to hear God speak to you by reading his word? If not, let me just give you some reason why it be advantageous. Just listen to what the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching,


rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

The Psalmist writes of the guidance the word gives to us.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

In the book of Ephesians, we see that God’s word is our weapon for spiritual warfare:

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

In Matthew, we find God’s word as a necessity for life:

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone

but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."

The prophet Isaiah wrote of the enduring nature of the Word of God:

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”

When I ask people if they are spending time reading God’s word, they usually respond that they are too busy. They just forget. Other things have their attention: ballgames, working out, Netflix, relationships, hobbies.

These aren’t necessarily bad to do or be a part of, but when that is the excuse for the chaos in your life that disables you from hearing from God, then there is a problem.

Illustration: When you get a hearing test, an audiologist will normally put you in a sound proof room and put headphones on you. They know that any distractions, or other competing sounds, will hinder your ability to do well on the test. They want your environment to be as quiet as possible.

In a similar sense, it is very difficult for my children to hear my voice when they are running around the house, yelling and screaming. So, I have to sometimes physically stop them, and help them to eliminate all other distractions, by telling them to look me in the eye.

Here's a question for you...Do you spend any time in your day, focusing your attention to God’s Word, to prayer, and just being quiet to hear from Him? Because we just read that God’s word fuels us, empowers us, directs us, gives meaning to this life, and shares God’s heart with us.

It is SO advantageous for us to put ourselves in a position to hear from him because that is the catalyst for life change. So, “What changes can you make in your situation and in your environment to hear from God’s Word?

But, as vital as it is to hear the word of God, the deception is that merely hearing it is good enough. James says at the end of verse 23 and through 24, that merely hearing the word is

...is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself,

goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

I’m not judging anyone here, but I just want to state a fact: Church attendance spikes on all of the special Christian holidays during the year, especially Easter and Christmas.

And I just wonder if the perception of people who do this, is that the Christian life is just a couple of worship services to attend. And I fear that some believe that this is all God wants--to just to be heard twice a year.

But there are also some folks who come almost every Sunday and listen to God’s Word. They may even do intensive Bible study and have great knowledge of what it says.

But if there is only hearing God’s word, and that is the end result, then there is really no difference if you just hear the word twice a year. A friend and fellow Pastor of mine, named Robby Gallaty always used to say,

Don’t merely get into the Word, but let the Word get into You

To those who think of God’s word this way, James says it is like you look in a mirror and then immediately forget what you look like.

Show of hands...How many of you looked in the mirror today? I did too. And I realized that I am bald! A mirror has a good and sometimes scary function. It is a reflecting surface that is most often used by people to see what they look like.

The mirror is not biased, it does not choose sides, and what I have found, is that unless they are intentionally designed to do so, they just show what stands before it.

When I look in the mirror, I used to see that I was losing hair, so I shaved it all off. Now, I can see the white hairs in my beard, but I haven’t figured out what to do about that yet.

Mirrors show the imperfections, the spots that we need to touch up. And in this passage, we find that the Bible is like a mirror. When we look into it, we see our spiritual imperfections in view of God’s perfections. We see our unrighteousness in view of his righteousness.

When Job, an Old Testament Bible character, saw himself in view of God’s truth, he said:

My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
(Job 42:6)

The prophet Isaiah had a vision of the holiness of God. And look at what he says as a result of his experience:

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips,

and I live among a people of unclean lips,

and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

Have you viewed yourself in the mirror of the Bible lately? If you stood there and looked long enough into God’s truth, what would it show about you?

Some of you ladies take such a quick glance that you don’t grasp the fact that you are a beautiful daughter of God and therefore you spend your life trying to look, or act like someone else.

Some of you men take such a quick glance in the the mirror of God’s word that you miss that God has plans and purpose for you, so you allow a career to define your life.

All too often, we as a church take such a quick glance and we miss that we are the body of Christ and his representatives to the world, and instead of working together, we sometimes spend more energy inflicting damage upon ourselves.

If we only hear God’s word, it is like glancing at a mirror, and immediately after, forgetting what we look like. We have hear the Word, but it cannot stop there. In verse 25, it goes to say:

But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom,

and continues in it-not forgetting what they have heard,

but doing it-they will be blessed in what they do.

So the second part of the hearing test is doing what the Word Says.

2. Do What it Says

I want you to look at someone next to you and say, hear the word, do what it says. There is your two points for the sermon. Hope you remember them.

If we only hear without doing, then it’s like catching a football, with a chance to win the game, and not running for the touchdown. If you were to take a hearing test, and didn’t respond by raising your hand or pushing the button when you hear the noise, then they would think you are deaf.

As a church, we recently went through a series on the family. We preached what the Bible says about the various roles of the family. If you are a husband, you heard that you should love your wife as Christ loves the church, but would you not be doing the Word if you continue to verbally or physically abuse her.

We taught that children should honor and respect their parents, but you children would not be doing the word if you continued to lie to them, curse them, or willfully disobey them.

You get the picture! You can study the Bible all day long, come to numerous church services, be involved in a small group, but if you don’t apply what you hear to your life, you are deceiving yourself. Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church, in his sermon series the Essential James, says it this way:

"Most of us are educated far above the level of our obedience. We have a knowledge surplus and an obedience deficit. We have a lot more revelation than our current level of application. Our problem isn’t access to the Word, but rather doing something with the Word we already have."

He goes on to offer a very practical step that we can take to do what the word says. Listen to this...When you come to a worship service, a Pathway 201 class, a community group gathering, ask God to help you hear at least one thing that you can take away and apply to your life.

Imagine how much the life of our church and community would be altered if each one of us was always working through at least one thing that will make us be more like Jesus.

Here is the reason why...The verse we just read says that if you look into the mirror of God’s word, and continue in it, you will be blessed. This word “continue,” means to “stay on course.”

Now, keep in mind, it says, you will be blessed, but it doesn’t say that it will be easy. You won’t get it right every time and there will be bumps along the way, but God is gracious and will bless you if you stay on course.

One of those blessings, is freedom. The verse says that you are looking into the perfect law that gives freedom. The perception of many who don’t follow Christ, is that Christianity is a religious system that effectively takes away your freedom to live your life as you want.

As a result, there are those who live there lives based on the "You only live once" mentality. Therefore, indulge in the things of the world now, no matter how destructive, and then, maybe one day, give Christianity a chance. Live now, settle down later.

You probably heard some people say, “I don’t know if I can to give my life to Jesus, because I will have to give up whatever.” Listen to the how Jesus responds to this way of thinking:

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. (John 8:31-36)

Instead of being a slave to sin, which leads to no part in God’s family, you can be a Son or a daughter of God, set free from bondage, living in his family forever.

IT IS TRUE, you only live on earth once. IT IS TRUE, you may look into God’s word and see that there are things that you need to give up. But, in doing so you will experience God’s best and receive his blessing as a member of his family.

One of my favorite songs right now is called "Dawn to Dusk" by the group “All Sons and Daughters.” The chorus of the song says,

Tomorrow’s freedom is today’s surrender

However, in today’s culture, we hear “today’s freedom is tomorrow’s surrender.” It is sad, but I’m sure that you have some dear friends and family, as I have, that have made choices that show that they are not willing to surrender to God’s Word, because they feel in doing so, they will be restricted in a lifestyle that they want to live.

HEAR THIS, tomorrow’s freedom is today’s surrender. If you look into God’s Word and are unwilling to surrender to God today, then you are deceiving yourself. That word deceive, also means cheating yourself. You are cheating yourself out of freedom and blessings.

CONCLUSION: In a moment, the band is going to come back up, and we are going to sing a song called Word of God Speak. It is a song that asks God to speak to us through his word, washing our eyes to see his Majesty, his perfection. In one verse, it says, “the last thing I need is to be heard, but to hear what you would say.”

For some of you, this your first time here. You may not know much the Bible, but you have heard today about surrendering to Christ to find freedom, and realize that you have never received his gift of rescue.

Romans 10:17 says, “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Now you have heard, and to respond as a doer of His Word would mean that you confess your belief in Him, thereby receiving his gift of salvation from your sins.

Then there are those here today, and you believe in Jesus. You are saved, but you have been resisting his call to surrender something to him. Ephesians 5:8-11 says,

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
(Ephesians 5:8-11)

Then there are those who are thankful to be living in the blessings of the Lord. You understand more and more what it is like to live in the freedom of the Lord, because you are living out what author Eugene Peterson describes as a "long obedience in the same direction." I just want to encourage you to continue in it and as Matthew 3:8 says,

Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.

God is giving us a hearing test today. He is this question of us as a church, “As you continue to position yourself to hear my word, will you do what I say?”

He promises abundant blessings to come, and I believe, the next great revival and spiritual awakening is on the horizon in our community if we declare to the Lord, “Yes, we most certainly will!”