Setting

In the opening of the epistle, James encouraged believers to rejoice in various trials, emphasizing God’s abundant grace and goodness. In this lesson, we will study the importance of responding to God’s grace by doing the word of God.

Key Verse

(1:22)

Did You Know...?

1. Observe (1:23, 24): This word is used to describe the attentive scrutiny of an object. James uses this strong word to illustrate the irony that anyone who hears the word but does not do it is like a man who studies his appearance carefully in a mirror and immediately forgets what he looks like when he walks away.

Outline

General Analysis

  • 1.

    How does verse 18 serve as an introduction to this lesson?

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    Verse 18 describes the rebirth through God’s word. The passage of this lesson continues this thought by exhorting us to practice the word and let the word of life take effect in our daily lives.

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  • 2.

    Record what this passage teaches about the believer and the word of God.

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    Believers need to receive the word of God with meekness (21). The word is able to save our souls (21). We should be doers of the word, and not hearers only (22). We need to look into God’s word (25). We need to continue in God’s word (25). We will be blessed if we do the word (25).

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Segment Analysis

  • 1:19-21

    1.

    Based on this paragraph, what is the right way to receive the word of God? Explain your answer.

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    1. We need to be swift to hear (19). This means that we should be attentive to the Lord’s instructions and accept them readily.
    2. We need to receive the word with meekness (21). Meekness means a gentle and submissive spirit. We should humbly accept the word of God and not be stiff-necked.

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  • 2.

    Why does being a swift listener and a slow talker help us control our anger?

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    When we listen to and meditate on the word of God, we are yielding to God’s guidance rather than our emotions. We will have a clear mind to gain a spiritual perspective as well as the strength to control ourselves.
    Anger often comes from misunderstanding or an unforgiving attitude. But if we give others a chance to explain themselves, we will be more understanding and forgiving, and perhaps even realize that our anger is not justified.

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  • 3.

    What reason does James give for being slow to wrath? What does it mean?

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    We should be slow to wrath because “the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (20). Sometimes we may justify our anger with the intention to correct the wrongdoings of others. But since the wrath of man itself is contrary to the fruit of the Spirit, we should not use our anger as a means to bring about God’s righteousness. Even if someone is clearly in the wrong, we should restore him gently (Gal 6:1).

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  • 4.

    What do we need to do in order to receive the implanted word?

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    We need to “lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness” (21). This means removing anything in us that is contrary to God’s nature and will, including “the wrath of man” (20). Only then can God’s word have room to grow and take its effect in our hearts.

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  • 1:22-25

    5.

    Why would we be deceiving ourselves if we are hearers of the word only?

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    If we think that reading or hearing God’s word is enough to please God or grow spiritually, we are fooling ourselves. The blessings of God’s word come to us when we carry it out (25). Those who hear the word of God but do not put it into practice is like the man who builds his house on the sand (Mt 7:26-27). Such faith may appear strong and beautiful on the surface, but it will collapse when trials come. Furthermore, if we know God’s will but do not carry it out, not only will we not benefit from God’s word, we will also come under judgment (Lk 12:47, 48).

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  • 6a.

    If we only hear the word but do not do it, how are we like the man who forgets his appearance?

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    We will only be temporarily aware of our spiritual blemishes and shortcomings but do nothing to correct them. In fact, we may deliberately forget about them in order to remove a sense of guilt (cf. 2Pet 3:5).

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  • 6b.

    James uses the word “observe” to liken a person who is only a hearer to a man who scrutinizes his appearance in a mirror but immediately forgets what he looks like. So even an attentive and serious hearer immediately forgets the word if he does not do it. Why is doing God’s word the best way to remember the word?

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    It is when we carry out God’s word that we can truly know God and understand His word (cf. 2Pet 1:5-8). With the comprehension that comes from experience, the word of God will stay in our hearts permanently (cf. Heb 5:14).

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  • 7.

    Are you a hearer only, or also a doer? Why do many people enjoy being hearers but do not like to be doers?

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  • 8.

    Why is God’s word “the perfect law of liberty”?

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    God’s word is the perfect law (Ps 19:7) because it is faultless. It is a law of liberty because when we abide by the word of Christ and depend on the Spirit of Christ, we are no longer condemned or bound by the desires of our sinful nature (Rom 8:1, 2). We have the freedom to turn from sin and submit to God.

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  • 9a.

    What does verse 25 teach us to do?

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    1. We are to look into God’s word through diligent study and constant meditation.
    2. We are to continue in God’s word by carrying it out consistently and persistently.

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  • 9b.

    What promise can be found here?

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    We will be blessed in what we do if we do God’s word.

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  • 9c.

    Think of some teachings in the Bible that you have heard many times but have not yet put into practice. Then make an effort to carry them out today.

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  • 1:26-27

    10a.

    What is the difference between false religion and true religion?

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    False religion consists of superficial piety (cf. Mt 6:1, 2, 5, 16, 15:8, 23:27, 28) or a false sense of religious sincerity. True religion is characterized by a renewed life that manifests God’s righteousness and love (cf. Eph 4:20-24).

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  • 10b.

    How does someone who practices false religion deceive himself? (26)

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    A person may feel that he is a sincere worshiper because of his regular church attendance or offering. But if God has little place in his heart, or if he does not obey God from his heart in his daily life, his feeling of being religious is but a false sense of security because he is still in fact far from God.

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  • 11.

    Based on this paragraph, what are three specific areas where we can practice true religion?

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    1. Bridle our tongue.
    2. Take care of orphans and widows in their
    trouble.
    3. Keep ourselves unspotted from the world.

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  • 12.

    What does it mean to keep ourselves “unspotted from the world”?

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    It means being free from any thought, speech, or conduct that comes from the desires of the sinful nature (1Jn 2:15-16). It means not conforming to the pattern of ungodly living (Rom 12:1-2).

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