“Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. Be doers of the word, and not hearers only. Otherwise, you are deceiving yourselves.” James 1:21-22
So many throughout American evangelicalism know so much and yet practice so little. We can fall into the trap of thinking that somehow knowledge alone will suffice. We feel that somehow God will be pleased with our recognition or acceptance of the truth. Yet, even the devils believe and tremble. Satan knows a vast amount of truth, but remains the devil still. True understanding produces change. As Thomas Watson once said, “The Word will be effectual one way or the other. If it does not make your hearts better, it will make your chains heavier.”
Think of the example given to us in Pilgrim’s Progress of the man called Talkative. After Faithful had engaged Talkative in conversation, he is rather impressed with the man’s knowledge. Christian then takes Faithful aside and warns him of Talkative’s ways.
Christian says, “Remember the proverb, ‘They say, and do not; but the Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.’ He talks of prayer, of repentance, of faith, and of the new birth; but he only knows to talk of them. I have been in his family, and have observed him both at home and abroad; and I know that what I say of him is true. His house is as empty of religion as the white of an egg is of taste. There is there neither prayer nor sign of repentance for sin. He is the very stain, reproach, and shame of religion to all that know him.”
True Christianity is much more than knowing, it is living, living unto God our Savior. Every time we hear a Biblical sermon and every time we read our Bibles, we should aim to implement what God has spoken into our lives. We aren’t hearing sermons, reading the Bible and other good books so that our heads grow, but so our hearts grow and our fruitfulness grows.
There is a story of Scottish minister who came home to his ill wife one day after the Sunday morning meeting and she said to him, “Is the sermon over already. Is it done already?” And he replied, “No, my dear. It’s been said but it has yet to be done.”