Being a Doer of the Word

John MacArthurby John MacArthur

“Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22).

A doer of the Word obeys what Scripture says.

Effective Bible study is built on three key questions: What does the Bible say? What does it mean? How does it apply to my life? Each of those questions is important, but applying the Word must always be the highest goal. Knowledge without application is useless.

Both the Old and New Testaments emphasize the importance of applying Scripture. For example, just prior to leading the Israelites into the Promised Land, Joshua received this message from God: “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Josh. 1:8). That’s a command to be a doer of the Word—one who receives, studies, and understands Scripture, then applies it to every aspect of his or her life. That was the key to Joshua’s amazing success.

James 1:22 is a New Testament counterpart to Joshua 1:8 and is directed to every believer: “Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” It’s not enough to hear the Word; you must also do what it says.

The phrase “doer of the word” doesn’t refer to the person who obeys periodically, but the one who habitually and characteristically obeys. It’s one thing to run in a race; it’s something else to be a runner. It’s one thing to teach a class; it’s something else to be a teacher. Runners are known for running; teachers are known for teaching—it’s characteristic of their lives. Similarly, doers of the Word are known for their obedience to biblical truth.

Never be content to be a hearer of the Word only, but prove yourself a doer in the Christian life. Your claim to love Christ will mean something only if you obey what He says.

by John MacArthur

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