Follow Through: Why Follow Through is So Important
Sermon Summary
This message is the first in a series on the follow through that should happen after a person encounters the Word of God! If we are hearers only and not doers of the Word of God then we cannot experience the benefits of the wisdom of God! Without the intent to follow through we deceive ourselves by thinking it’s ok to just listen rather than putting the principles of God into practice. It’s like attending church to check off a box on a page of religious duties, but never allowing the truth to impact your life! When we live out the principles of God we learn by doing! We also discover the freedom that comes from the truth of God, and we experience the blessings of God!

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. Have you ever participated in a sport that requires an understanding of follow through? Tell us about it.

2. Why does James say a person is self-deceived if they only hear the Word and do not follow through? See the first point of the message for an example of religious people who knew the Word of God but were deceived.
James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

3. Discuss the concept of learning by doing and how follow through helps a person actually remember the truths of God’s Word.
Psalm 119:9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.
Psalm 119:33 Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end.

4. Share some of the ways living according to the principles of God’s Word has brought you freedom and blessings!
James 1:25 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.

Bonus Question: Where do we find the power to follow through with God’s Word?
2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.


Follow Through: Why Follow Through is So Important

Full Sermon Notes

It really is all about the presence of God isn't it? We experience His presence...
In Worship ----as we come together
In Study ----as we hear His voice
In Life ----as we obey His voice

When we live by God's principles in our daily life we experience His presence in a very powerful and tangible way! Today we come to one of the most important principles of God's Word to us...

Follow Through

Let's pray and ask God to help us understand the reasons why follow through is so important!

Father God, Your Word, from the very beginning and through to the very end calls for us to follow through, for us to live according to Your truth, Your principles, Your precepts, Your wisdom, Your loving advice! Please help us to understand the importance of not only hearing Your voice but following through with obedience! The quality, meaning, purpose, and direction of our earthly lives and our eternal lives depend on follow through. If we only hear the truth of Your love for us and Your willingness to forgive us and do not act on that information by asking forgiveness and calling on Your Name then we remain in our lost and fallen state. If we hear Your call to become followers of Christ but continue to live according to our old selfish ways then we miss the glorious life You desire us to live and we simply exist rather than truly live! Speak through Your servant today and let Your precious Holy Spirit bring us ever closer to the spiritual renewal You so want to grant to Your children! In Jesus Name I pray and I believe!!

Take your Bibles and turn to James 1:22-25

Will you're turning there, let me remind you of some principles I taught last week. Exegesis is looking at the background and original meaning of a Biblical text. Hermeneutics is the discipline of taking that original meaning and context and applying the principles to current context and culture! Homiletics is preaching sermons or teaching lessons to teach the discovered truths.   

Last week, I was sick and on cold medicine and inadvertently used the word homiletics when I was talking about hermeneutics. I'm sure some of you have lost sleep over that blunder, sorry about that!  Anyway, just another reminder that your pastor is very human! Today I want to take our passage of Scripture and get us from the then to the now!

You should have found James 1:22-25 by now so let's read it together and then we'll do a little hermeneutics, applying the principles from then to now!

James 1:22-25
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
23 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
24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
25 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.

In other words, don't just listen, follow through! Don't just read the Bible, don't just study the Bible, don't just come to church and hear the Bible preached, follow through by doing what God's Word says you should do! Why is follow through so important? We're going to look at at least four reasons follow through is so important from a spiritual perspective.

But first I want to use a very physical illustration to explain to you why follow through is so important. The golfer on the front cover of your Current had already hit the ball with great force but his swing continued long after contact with the ball was made. Why? Because you can't physically just stop your muscles half way through a swing, a punch, a throw or a kick.

You actually find the greatest power at about the midway point. Why? Because you've reached your greatest velocity and it's just before the physical forces begin the inevitable slowdown. So if you think of the point of contact as the end, then in your mind, which controls the muscles, the midway point is backed way up and you don't have the time to generate the same amount of energy. It's like this. If in your mind the end of your swing is when you hit the ball, then halfway is further back in your swing and you've already started to slow down when you get to the ball.

So the mental intention of where you're going to end up impacts the place and power of the point of contact! And where you plan on going effects how you begin. So intentions matter! Where do you plan on ending up? Allowing your muscles to follow all the way through give the freedom to exert their greatest energy. One guy put it this way…"If a hundred yard dash ended two feet from a cliff, the world record would likely be slower!" Why? You would begin slowing down way before the finish line! Either that or you would only set the record once!!

Now how does this translate into the spiritual realm? If you decide before you even hear the voice of God not to follow through then the word of God will have little or no impact on your life! If you have no intent to put the word of God into practice then you miss out on the power of God's Word to transform your life! If, on the other hand, you determine to follow through by putting into practice the things God speaks in His Word your spiritual life will become extremely powerful and effective.
Now let me break this down into four reasons why follow through is so important in our walk with God. The first reason is...

Follow Through Prevents Deception

James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

People who listen to the word but do not follow through are deceived! They think they are fine because they know what the Bible says and they think that's all that matters. They somehow think "as long as I know the right stuff that's all that matters!" Jesus had His biggest problems with religious people who had studied and even memorized the Word of God, but they were deceived. They had memorized the letter of the law, but had not understood the purpose of the law. They used their knowledge of the law to put other people down and look for faults in others! Jesus made this statement in Matthew 23:1-4

Matthew 23:1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.
3 So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.
4 They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

In fact when Jesus used His power to help  an invalid on the Sabbath all the religious people could say was "You're not supposed to be working on the Sabbath," and they started persecuting Jesus and even tried to kill Him. Here's what Jesus said...

John 5:39 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me,
40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

The religious leaders once tested Jesus by asking Him what the greatest commandments were, and Jesus replied with an answer that required follow through. Matthew 22:35-40...

Matthew 22:35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

And this leads us to the second reason follow through is so important...

Follow Through Prevents Memory Loss

James 1:23 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
24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to know in your mind what other people look like, I mean it's easy to picture someone else in your mind, but when you try to picture yourself, it's just hard to visualize or categorize what I look like. I know I have a beard and no hair, but that's about it. It's the same way spiritually for someone who hears the word, but never does it. They forget it!

I mentioned this briefly last week, but practice makes perfect! I don't mean literally perfect, but when you practice living the principles and teachings of Jesus Christ found in the Bible they become a part of your life. It becomes a part of who you are!! It's like gaining spiritual muscle memory! In fact the Psalmist wrote this in the first part of the song we looked at last week. Psalm 119...

Psalm 119:9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.

And then in verse 33...

Psalm 119:33 Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end.

We learn by doing! You're not apt to forget something you've actually experienced by following through. Benjamin Franklin said this...

"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn!"

So learning and doing go hand in hand! You need both. Now I know someone here might say, but I just don't have the power to do the right things. I've tried to live right but it's just too hard! Here's a question for you: Has not living for Christ been easy for you? You might be surprised to hear me say this, but living right is just too hard! You and I don't have the power in ourselves to live right!

However, there is a power you will experience as you step out in faith and seek to follow through with His Word. 2 Peter 1:3-9

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;
6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;
7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

Peter says if you're not practicing those principles in your life then you are nearsighted and blind and have forgotten you were cleansed and forgiven! There are serious consequences to this memory loss. And this leads us to the third reason follow through is so important...

Follow Through Provides Freedom

James 1:25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard,

Ok, let's stop there for just a minute. James says when you look intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this…
When you look intently into God's Word and then follow through by doing what it says you will find freedom. Peter mentioned freedom from the corruption of the world caused by evil desires in the passage we just read.

But there are also those who, like the religious leaders of Jesus' day who try to make follow through a religious law and try to teach that salvation is by good works. That's not what follow through is all about. We are saved by grace, as you hear me say all the time. So bondage to sin or bondage to some legalistic law is not what God intends when He calls us to follow through by doing.

In fact Paul had this to say to the religious zealots who were pushing circumcision and following the letter of the law to try to out righteous every one else...

Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

When you understand the purpose, and the spirit of God's Word, His principles and His instructions you'll be on your way to finding real freedom. As you live out those principles, not because of some kind of legalistic requirement, but because you desire to live for His glory and honor freedom will become a reality. And what does that freedom look like? Paul gives a good description Gal.5:22ff

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Now that's freedom! And freedom is just one of the benefits of follow through. The forth and final reason follow through is so important is ...

Follow Through Provides Blessings

James 1:25 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.

You see, if we follow through with doing and not just hearing the door is opened for God's blessings. Let me explain something in a very practical way. When we are not following through and we are living lives that are in opposition and contradiction to the very words and wisdom of God, He's not going to bless that! He can't! To do so would be to encourage destructive behaviors!

There are times that God wants so badly to give, guide, help, provide and bless someone, but they have decided to live a life that puts God in a position of having to withhold these things. Sometimes people think God is punishing them for not living right and that's not the case. They are suffering consequences for the choices they've made and it's not that God is doing things to make their lives difficult, it may just be that they are experiencing what it's like to live a life absent of the blessing of God! James is not saying if you are following through by living the teachings of God you won't have difficulties in this life! We all have difficulties, but I can get through any difficulty as long as I am blessed to have God's presence, power and provision to fall back on! In fact James started off his letter with these words...

James1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Wait, did James say to be happy about trials and difficulties? He wasn't saying to be happy about the difficulties themselves, but to have joy because of the good that will come as a result! What good could come from troubles?He tells us the testing of our faith develops perseverance and that through perseverance we mature, and become complete and not lacking in our follow through!

And I love that last verse…

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

I can't tell you how many times I've had to say, "God, I don't have a clue what to do now!" "God, I don't have the answer, the words, the advice, the ability, the wisdom, the smarts, the talent, or the strength!" It's at those times God, even if He doesn't give me the answer, He gives me His peace, His power, His wisdom and most importantly His presence!

Following through by listening and then by doing has blessings inherent in the godly behaviors, but God adds extra blessing for His faithful ones. And the greatest blessing is knowing that no matter what I face on any given day, my God is with me and will never leave or forsake me!

So follow through is so important because...

Follow Through Prevents Deception

Follow Through Prevents Memory Loss

Follow Through Provides Freedom

Follow Through Provides Blessings

Let' Pray!