A Refection that can
Change your Life
April 1, 2007
Pastor Michael Mehring
Full Gospel Church
Life and death
Blessing and cursing
Joy and sadness
Peace and despair
The most famous mirror - mirror mirror on the wall
1 John 4.17
….As he is, so are we in this world
James 1:21-25 (NKJV)
21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
Notes for Verse 22
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
Qualification of the precept, "Be swift to hear": "Be ye doers . . . not hearers only"; not merely "Do the word,"
but "Be doers" systematically and continually, as if this was your regular business. Mt 7:21-29
Deceiving your own selves. It is implied here, that by merely hearing the word but not doing it, they would deceive their own souls.
The nature of this deception was this,
that they would imagine that that was all which was required, whereas the main thing was that they should be obedient.
Notes for Verse 23
23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;
http://www.crossbooks.com/book.asp?Ref=Jas+1%3A23*For* -- the logical self-deceit (Jas 1:22) illustrated.
not a doer -- more literally, " The true disciple, say the rabbis, learns in order that he may do, not in order that he may merely know or teach.
his natural face -- literally, "the countenance of his birth": the face he was born with. As a man may behold his natural face in a mirror, so the hearer may perceive his moral visage in God's Word. This faithful portraiture of man's soul in Scripture, is the strongest proof of the truth of the latter. In it, too, we see mirrored God's glory, as well as our natural vileness.
For if any be, etc. The ground of the comparison in these verses is obvious. The apostle refers to what all persons experience, the fact that we do not retain a distinct impression of ourselves after we have looked in a mirror. While actually looking in the mirror, we see all our features, and can trace them distinctly; when we turn away, the image and the impression both vanish. When looking in the mirror, we can see all the defects and blemishes of our person; if there is a scar, a deformity, a feature of ugliness, it is distinctly before the mind; but when we turn away, that is "out of sight, and out of mind." When unseen it gives no uneasiness, and, even if capable of correction, we take no pains to remove it.
So when we hear the word of God. It is like a mirror held up before us. In the perfect precepts of the law, and the perfect requirements of the gospel, we see our own short-comings and defects, and perhaps think that we will correct them. But we turn away immediately, and forget it all. If, however, we were "doers of the word," we should endeavour to remove all those defects and blemishes in our moral character, and to bring our whole souls into conformity with what the law and the gospel require.
Notes for Verse 24
24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
beholdeth -- more literally, "he contemplated himself and hath gone his way," that is, no sooner has he contemplated his image than he is gone his way (Jas 1:11).
"Contemplate" answers to hearing the word:
"goeth his way," to relaxing the attention after hearing -- letting the mind go elsewhere, and the interest of the thing heard pass away: then forgetfulness follows
Notes for Verse 25
25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
looketh into -- literally, "stoopeth down to take a close look into." Peers into: stronger than "beholdeth," or "contemplated,"
perfect law of liberty -- the Gospel rule of life, perfect and perfecting, and making us truly walk at liberty
Christians are to aim at a higher standard of holiness than was generally understood under the law.
The principle of love takes the place of the letter of the law, so that by the Spirit they are free from the yoke of sin, and free to obey by spontaneous instinct
The perfect law of liberty. Referring to the law of God, or his will, however made known, as the correct standard of conduct. It is called the perfect law, as being wholly free from all defects; being just such as a law ought to be.
It is called the law of liberty, or freedom, because it is a law producing freedom from the servitude of sinful passions and lusts.
continueth therein -- to stay beside; stand by; stand fast
contrasted with "goeth his way,"
continues both looking into the mirror of God's word,
and doing its precepts.
The idea is taken from women spending much time at the mirror decorating themselves to the greatest advantage, not leaving one hair or the smallest ornament out of place.
Thus, if one will be as careful to take every advantage of the Word of God to keep his soul and his life conformed to the gospel, he will "be blessed in his deed."
—Dake's Study Notes
And continueth therein. He must not merely look at the law, or see what he is by comparing himself with its requirements, but he must yield steady obedience to it. John 14:21.
doer of the work -- rather, "a doer of work", an actual worker.
blessed in his deed -- rather, "in his doing"; in the very doing there is blessedness
If he gets away from the Bible, a man soon forgets the real picture of himself, "what manner of man he was.
—Dake's Study Notes
As believers, we are free to live as God created us to live. Of course, this does not mean that we are free to do as we please
We are now free to obey God.
—Life Application Bible Notes
The Word -- A Mirror
He sees his blemishes and imperfections and is moved by what he sees. As long as he sees his deformities, spots, and ugliness he tries to do something about them. But when he turns away from the mirror, he forgets and his imperfections no longer bother him. So it is with the Bible. As long as one studies it, he sees himself as he really is and constantly seeks to improve himself and conform to its teaching (v. 25).
Who is this -------US?
He is like the person who looks in a mirror to see if he needs to do anything to his appearance, then walks away and thinks of something else and forgets the rustled hair that needed to be cared for.
Thought 1. How much like what happens so often. We hear the Word and are convicted of some defect, some shortcoming, some failure that we need to clean up. But as soon as we walk out from under the Word, we are distracted by the world and its affairs and we soon forget to do what the Word of God told us to do.
—Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible – Commentary
"There is a story of a missionary in Korea who had a visit from a native convert who lived a hundred miles away, and who walked four days to reach the mission station. The pilgrim recited proudly, without a single mistake, the whole of the Sermon on the Mount. The missionary was delighted, but he felt that he ought to warn the man that memorizing was not enough—that it was necessary to practice the words as well as to memorize them.
"The Korean's face lit up with happy smiles. 'That is the way I learned it,' he said. 'I tried to memorize it, but it wouldn't stick. So I hit upon this plan—I would memorize a verse and then find a heathen neighbor of mine and practice it on him. Then I found it would stick.'"
—Teacher's Outline and Study Bible – Commentary
Notes for Verse 21
21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
with meekness -- answering to "as new-born babes"
Meekness, I think, includes also a childlike, docile, humble, as well as an uncontentious, spirit
On "receive," applied to ground receiving seed, compare
Engrafted –implanted- word -- the Gospel word, whose proper attribute is to be engrafted by the Holy Spirit, so as to be livingly incorporated with the believer, as the fruitful shoot is with the wild natural stock on which it is engrafted.
The law came to man only from without, and admonished him of his duty. The Gospel is engrafted inwardly, and so fulfils the ultimate design of the law
able to save -- a strong incentive to correct our dulness in hearing the word: that word which we hear so carelessly, is able (instrumentally) to save us
Which is able to save your souls. It is not, therefore, a weak and powerless thing, merely designed to show its own feebleness, and to give occasion for God to work a miracle; but it has power, and is adapted to save.
Jonathan Edwards-- whatever the Bible says, God says.
The power of the Word
James 1:21 (AMP)
So get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted [in your hearts] contains the power to save your souls.
1 Peter 1:23 (NIV)
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
Romans 1:16 (NKJV)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (AMP)
16 Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), 17 So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Peter 1:21 (NKJV)
for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
Hebrews 4:12 (AMP)
For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 (AMP)
And we also [especially] thank God continually for this, that when you received the message of God [which you heard] from us, you welcomed it not as the word of [mere] men, but as it truly is, the Word of God, which is effectually at work in you who believe [exercising its supernatural power in those who adhere to and trust in and rely on it].
Mark 7:13 (NKJV)
"making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do."
2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (NKJV)
2 You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.
2. The Bible Contains in Itself the Absolute Guarantee of Our Inheritance in Christ.
Suppose we should come to you some day and call in question your ownership of your house, and demand that you give it up—a homestead bequeathed to you by your father. "Why do you make such a demand upon me?" you ask. "Because," we reply, "it is not your house; you have no right to it; at least you do not know that it is yours." "Oh, yes," you reply, "I am quite sure it is my house." "How do you know? What is your reason for believing it is your house?" "Why, because my father lived here before me." "That is no good reason." "Well, I have lived here undisputed for five years myself." "It does not hence follow that the house is yours." "But I am very happy in it; I enjoy myself here." "Well, but my dear sir, that you may do, and still have no right to it." At last, pushed to the wall, you take us with you down to the court-house, and show us your father's will, duly written, signed, sealed and recorded. This may serve to illustrate the point.
A great many Christians are at a loss where and how to ground their "title." It is not in the fact that you are a descendant of a saintly father, a child of believing parents, for, as old Matthew Henry says, "Grace does not run in the blood;" nor is it that you have membership in the visible Church of Christ; nor is it to be found in delightful frames and feelings—in a word, not even a genuine Christian experience constitutes your "title-deed." Where then are we to bottom our hope?
Why, just in the naked bare Word of God.
It is written, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My words, and believeth on Him that sent Me hath everlasting life," etc. (John 5:24). Straight to the record do we appeal for a final test as to our possession in God. "This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" (1 John 5:11,12).
Our faith lays hold on the Son of God, in whom we have redemption (Ephesians 1:7) by means of and through the recorded Word of promise, for this record was "written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name" (John 20:31). The Scriptures are the covenants, old and new, in which God has guaranteed to us, by word and oath (Hebrews 6:17,18), sealed with the blood of Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:28), an inheritance among the saints.
We do not emphasize this point in any wise to underrate Christian experience (for it is most blessed and true), or undervalue the blessing of believing parents, or the Church and her ordinances, but only to draw your attention to "the more sure Word of prophecy" (2 Peter 1:19), which is better to us for confirmation than visions and voices, frames and feelings, parental benedictions, and church sacraments.
2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV)
18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
The personal application
This verse is the climax of the chapter, and it presents a truth so exciting that I marvel so many believers have missed it—or ignored it.
You and I can share the image of Jesus Christ and go “from glory to glory” through the ministry of the Spirit of God!
Under the Old Covenant, only Moses ascended the mountain and had fellowship with God; but under the New Covenant, all believers have the privilege of communion with Him.
Through Jesus Christ, we may enter into the very holy of holies (Heb. 10:19–20)—and we don’t have to climb a mountain!
But we all—
We all ---. All of us Christians, not merely ministers.
with open face—
Translate, “with unveiled face” (the veil being removed at conversion): contrasted with “hid” (2Co 4:3).
Beholding as in a glass—
in a mirror, namely, the Gospel which reflects the glory of God and Christ
With open face beholding as in a glass. As though looking at a clear reflection in a mirror.
As Heinrici observes, beholding expresses the fact from which the process of change into God’s image proceeds. When Moses beheld Jehovah’s glory, his own face reflected that glory. The mirror is the Gospel, which is called the Gospel of the glory of Christ, 4:4.
Reflecting as in a mirror
The point that Paul is making is that we shall not lose the glory as Moses did. But that is true if we keep on beholding or keep on reflecting (present tense). Only here in N.T.
The “mirror” is a symbol of the Word of God (James 1:22–25). As we look into God’s Word and see God’s Son, the Spirit transforms us into the very image of God. It is important, however, that we hide nothing from God. We must be open and honest with Him and not “wear a veil.”
are changed into the same image—
namely, the image of Christ’s glory,
However many they be, believers all reflect the same image of Christ more or less: a proof of the truth of Christianity.
Yet there is more. For Moses the glory eventually faded away, but under the New Covenant the believer is changed into the same image.
Paul has already established that, “… as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (I Cor 15:49).
The word translated changed is the same word translated transfigured in the accounts of our Lord’s transfiguration (Matt. 17; Mark 9).
It describes a change on the outside that comes from the inside. Our English word metamorphosis is a transliteration of this Greek word. Metamorphosis describes the process that changes an insect from a larva into a pupa and then into a mature insect. The changes come from within.
from glory to glory—
from one degree of glory to another. As Moses’ face caught a reflection of God’s glory from being in His presence, so believers are changed into His image by beholding Him.
The glory of the Lord. As Moses’ face reflected God’s glory at Sinai the face of every believer radiates the glory of Christ.
That which was reserved for only the highest under the old covenant is made available to all in the new.
&c.—Just such a transformation “as” was to be expected from “the Lord the Spirit” -- “who receives of the things of Christ, and shows them to us”
Even as by the Spirit of the Lord (“as from the Lord the Spirit”). This transformation takes place by the abiding presence of the Spirit of God.
Moses reflected the glory of God, but you and I may radiate the glory of God.
When we meditate on God’s Word and in it see God’s Son, then the Spirit transforms us!
We become more like the Lord Jesus Christ as we grow “from glory to glory.” This wonderful process cannot be achieved by keeping the Law.
The glory of the Law faded away, but the glory of God’s grace continues to increase in our lives.
The goal of Old Covenant ministry is obedience to an external standard, but this obedience cannot change human character.
The goal of New Covenant ministry is likeness to Jesus Christ.
Law can bring us to Christ (Gal. 3:24),
but only grace can make us like Christ.
The means for Old Covenant ministry is the Law, but the means for New Covenant ministry is the Spirit of God using the Word of God.
Finally, the result of Old Covenant ministry is bondage;
but the result of New Covenant ministry is freedom in the Spirit.
Ezra 7:10 (MSG)
Ezra had committed himself to studying the Revelation of God, to living it, and to teaching Israel to live its truths and ways.
How about you!
Will you look at the Word and see yourself like it portrays?
Will you believe it and allow it to transform your life?
Will you ---
Your heart to His Word?