No one likes to think they have been deceived. We frown on it if someone tries to deceive us. But what about when we deceive, delude ourselves? To live in a habitual state of spiritual deception, and not know it and be convinced otherwise that you are “fine.” James writes of how this self deception takes place and it has to do with those who are “in the Word,” they “hear” the WORD. It is not speaking of someone who has never heard God’s Word but the danger of those who merely hear His Word and do not have the right application. Let’s heed this warning and make sure we ourselves are not there or fall into that category. James writes…

” But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.“-{James 1:22-24}.

The word “hearer” {akroates from akroaomai, to listen to hear} is mentioned three times in v 22, 23, 25. The word was used of  those who attended a class, they were “auditors” of a lecture. They were allowed to attend the class and assignment and exams were optional! And this is how the one who “merely hears” the Word treats it. Indeed not to obey James shows is the same as unbelief, rejecting it. -{Read James 1:23-27}.

“One source notes that “In Classical Greek, the alternate akroázomai, to hear and the derivative akróama meant something heard, especially with pleasure, such as a piece read, recited, played, or sung. In the NT, it has the meaning of one just listening without practicing what one hears. (Zodhiates, S. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: NT).”

Merely” (only) (monos) means without accompaniment. Hearing is the only reaction. Hearing  as the end without being accompanied with the Doing of His Word.

These people hear God’s Word. But is hearing His Word enough? James says – No! No, if that is where it begins and ends. For such hearing only ends in to “delude” yourself!

The word “delude” {paralogizomai} from “para” beside, alongside and “logizomai” to  count, to reason beside, alongside the point. To reason against the truth! To misjudge, miscalculate, skewed logic. To reckon, reason wrong and so to deceive by false reasoning! It is to come to the wrong conclusion based on wrong thinking. It is not that you start with the truth and somehow vere off the road. But you begin in the wrong place at the start and end up in the wrong place. Faulty reasoning leads to wrong conclusion, and it is not a matter of how “sincere” you are, for if this is what you hold to you are “sincerely” wrong the Scriptures teach.

Delude” is in the “Present tense,” which means they are in a habitual state of spiritual deception. They live in a spiritual darkness as a way of life and do not know it. Content to hear the Word, perhaps able to recite it, explain it and being content and confident this is sufficient when James says not so. They live deluded and the process to living deluded is to be a hearer of the Word of God only and through faulty reasoning remain in that terrible state. To be in such a state of delusion is such a frightening reality. To reckon wrong and be deceived by false reasoning. To sit under the Word, hear the Word regularly or think of children who at Sunday school over the years memorize and stand up and recite the Word and get some reward for their ability to memorize and yet there is no change in their character, they have heard it and yet in adulthood are “deluded,” self deceived, through false reasoning, equating hearing the Word as the end, enough, sufficient, of what God desires. They have been taught that memorizing IS ENOUGH, they have not been taught that it needs to be submitted to and obeyed. At times the goal is to memorize s many as you can the end? To win a prize and can breathe pride. For what about the child who has difficulty learning, who will never receive the prize, who is disheartened, or may not have an adult in their life to help them memorize, but who have labored on their own and  have got one down and is obeying it, but is overlooked by the driven adults whose goal or the child’s goal is the “prize” and the “winning” through the accumulating of verses and the application is completely ignored. Does this sound familiar? Even from a young age we are setting children up with false reasoning that leads to delusion, reinforcing that hearing is enough. Substituting hearing, even speaking about The Word as enough without obeying it. They wrongly think, that “knowing,” being familiar with principle from the Word, hearing it, is the same as Doing it, which it is not.  The outcome is to live as self deceived! It is to miscalculate by faulty reasoning and leads to being self-deluded!

The word “paralogizomai” was also used as a mathematical term to speak of a miscalculation! And to hear His Word and not be a does is a gigantic miscalculation of what God desires and pleases Him, which is application to His Word. To not do so is to be deluded! Self deceived!

Spurgeon said, ” What did they deceive (delude) themselves about? Why, probably, they thought they were considerably better for being hearers: much to be commended and sure to get a blessing. They would not have been happy if they had not heard the word on Sunday, and they look with disgust upon their neighbors who make nothing of the Sabbath. They themselves are very superior people because they are regular church-goers or chapel-goers. They have a sitting, and a hymn-book, and a Bible: is not that a good deal? If they stayed away from a place of worship for a month they would be very uneasy; but though they do not believe that going to a place of worship will save them, yet it quiets their conscience, and they feel themselves more at ease… perhaps, the deceit; runs in another line: you foster the idea that the stern truths which you hear do not apply to you. Sinners? Yes, certainly, the preacher addresses sinners, and may they get good out of it; but you are not a sinner, at least not in any special sense, so as to need looking after. Repentance? Most people ought to repent, but you do not see any reason why you should repent. Looking to Christ for salvation? “Excellent doctrine,” you say, “Excellent doctrine!” But, somehow, you do not look to Him for salvation. Here is the scriptural verdict upon this opinion of yours – “Deceiving your own selves.” The gospel does not deceive you; it tells you “Ye must be born again, ye must believe in Jesus Christ, or be lost.” The preacher does not; deceive you; he never said half a word to support the notion that coming to this place would be of any service to you unless you would yield your hearts to Christ. No, he has learnt to speak plain English about such matters. You deceive your own selves if, being hearers and not doers, you derive comfort from that which you hear.”

Andrew Murray wrote, “What a terrible delusion to be content with, to delight in hearing the word, and yet not do it. And how prevalent the sight of multitudes… listening to the Word of God most regularly and earnestly, and yet not doing it! If a servant were to hear but not do, how quickly the judgment would be given… Why are we deluded in this way? For one thing people mistake the pleasure they have in hearing the Word of God for Christianity and worship. The mind delights in having the truth presented clearly; the imagination is gratified by its illustration; the feelings are stirred by its application. To an active mind knowledge gives pleasure. A person may study some branch of science—say electricity—for the enjoyment the knowledge gives him, without the least intention of applying it practically. So people go to church, and enjoy the preaching, and yet do not do what God asks.    ”

The “delusion” is great, as Hearers  often can feel superior to others because of their consistency to hear it. They derive comfort from it. They find pleasure in it. They equate hearing as sufficient to satisfy God when it does not!

To HEAR the Word of God and not put it into PRACTICE is to DELUDE yourself!

Hearing, affirming His Word and yet not applying it is to be deluded! To reason with yourself that it is enough, sufficient. This was true of the Pharisees in Matthew 23:1-3 we read, “Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.

“Hearing with Doing – A “Titanic” Mistake – This anecdotal story concerning the great praised ship Titanic reminds of the vanity (and tragedy) of hearing without doing. It was 1912 and the mighty seemingly invincible Titanic was on her maiden voyage. The ships radio man received a message from another ship that there were icebergs in area. Unfortunately the radio operator placed the message under a weight next to his elbow and went on with his work. And thus the word of imminent danger never reached the captain, and this small miscue led to the loss of 1500 lives when the Titanic struck an iceberg and suffered a mortal bowl. Information without action can result in destruction.” {preceptaustin}

The tragedy was not that the radio man did not know the truth but failed to act upon it!

Jesus said,”Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?“-{Luke 6:46}. He speaks with those who had the right teaching, knew who He was but would not do what He said. It is not enough to know the truth about the LORD Jesus, affirm it and yet not do what He says.

Indeed the deception that hearing alone saves without application is what Paul addressed in Romans 2:13” for not (ou = absolute negation = no exceptions!) the hearers (akroates) of the Law are just (dikaios = rightly related to God) before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified (declared righteous).”

To believe hearing alone is enough is to be Deluded! Hearing His Word, Heralding and affirming who Jesus is and yet not doing His Word is to live in a state of self deception!

The Way of ESCAPE from self delusion?

“Prove yourselves to be a Doer.”

The word “Prove,” {Ginomai}  bring into being. It is in the “present imperative” which means  that we are to continually, habitually be doers of His Word.

Doers” – {Poietes from Poieo = to do, to make, to accomplish}. It describes the occupation of a person. Doers are described in who they are and not just what they do. They are habitual practicers of doing God’s Word! Never stop being a doer of HIS WORD. This is the lifestyle and keeps from being deluded. Hear and Heed His Word! What you hear, submit to and put into practice. The one who continually hears and does not put into practice does not have the life of God within. It reminds of Matthew 3 of the 4 soils and three do not do His Word and produce no spiritual fruit of obedience, compared to the one who heard and did the Word! Jesus in Matthew 7 compares the two people who hear the Word of God , one practices it and is compared to a wise-man, the other who hears but does not do it is compared to a “foolish” person. Do you want to be “foolish, deluded?” then be merely a hearer of the Word and not a Doer! To be “wise,” is to hear and continually be a doer of His Word and in doing so experience the liberty His Word brings-{v 25}.

Who makes it to Heaven? The DOER of His Word! Those who “profess” and hold that Jesus is LORD and who appeal to their own self works, and do miracles in His Name, do not make it in. Indeed it is because of their disobedience, they “practice lawlessness.”That is the bent of their lives! Jesus  says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” -{Matthew 7:21-23}.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,  for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,“-{2 Cor 10:3-5}. These false reasons that bring to a wrong conclusion, are “strongholds” built up in our mind and need to be dismantled which His TRUTH does when applied. James tells us the way of deliverance is through hearing and OBEYING His Word, and the walls come tumbling down of self deception! This begins with out “MIND.”  How we are to “think.” Remember the purpose of the mind is to “Love the LORD your God with all of your… MIND.”-{Luke 10:27}. And the way to do so is to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”-{Rom 12:2}. So we have to change the way we think in order to align up with God’s will for usas revealed in His Word and ultimately lead to loving Him, which is expressed through obedience to Him.”He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who Loves Me.”-{John 14:21}. Obedience is a means to loving Him. Obedience to His Word delivers us and keeps us from being deluded. Hear His Word, with the intent of being a serial Doer of HIS Word! In light of this truth we can help and warn others also, less they live deluded in a state of delusion, wrongly believing that the hearing of  God’s Word is enough.

 The antidote to being deluded? Is Practice, be a continual, serial Doer of God’s Word!