“Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:9.
A. W. Tozer once said that “Unused truth becomes as useless as an unused muscle.” He is right. Information is good, but application is everything. It’s like an app on our phones – they can get us organized, they can monitor our health and track our diet, but they are useless unless we use them.
James says we should not merely listen to the word, we have to put it into practice. If we don’t we deceive ourselves. We are deceived because just listening to God’s word is like joining a health club and never actually going. Just coming to church doesn’t make our faith stronger. Staying awake through the sermon isn’t living a life that pleases God. Even being part of a small group learning all we can doesn’t make the difference. If we listen and learn and think that we are growing in our faith and living the life God wants for us – we are being deceived.
God has always been interested in how His people apply His word. If we go back to the Old Testament we see that just listening and being in worship brought God’s people a false sense of security, in other words they were deceived. God was not calling His people to listen –he was calling them to obey and be faithful. Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22)
But the people weren’t faithful and they didn’t follow the principles God gave them or apply the word of God to their lives. Their deception eventually led to the destruction of the Temple and the defeat of their nation. What happened to them is exactly what James is talking about here; they only listened and so were deceived. They forgot the one thing we can’t forget and that is that application is everything.
Listening is not enough, we have to live out God’s word if we want to experience the blessing of freedom and life. Application is everything. Jesus said it best in Matthew 7:24-27: “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. “But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”
- What are some of the ways that we can apply God’s truths in our lives?
- What can we do this week to make the Bible more actionable?