Sunday Worship at 11AM | 4967 Fincher Rd., Canton, GA 30114

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (James 1:22 ESV)

As we begin day 17 of our 40 days of prayer and fasting, we’ve read 16 focal Scriptures and more than a dozen other Scriptural references. I’d like to share a hard truth with you: no matter how many Scriptures we read, if you don’t apply them, you are deceiving yourself.

Today I’d like to ask you a simple question, are you being faithful with what you already know about God? Are you taking the knowledge you do have and consistently putting it into practice in your life? I’ve often heard people say something like this: if I knew as much about Jesus as you, then my life might look more like yours. First, the goal isn’t for your life to look like mine, it’s to look like Jesus. Second, if you aren’t being faithful with what you do know of the Word of God, why would you think you’d be faithful with more knowledge? Knowledge is important. Putting what you know into practice is just as important.

In the New Testament over and over again we see Jesus clashing with the Pharisees. Although today the Pharisees get a bad rap as the bad guys of the New Testament, their devotion and knowledge was second to none. To be a Pharisee meant that you had memorized the first five Books of the Bible. Imagine, not just a few verses but being able to recite Genesis , Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy from memory, completely. These guys knew more about God intellectually than anyone else… so why did they clash so much with Jesus?

I’d challenge you today to read the Gospels to find the answer. But I want to give you a simple, practical answer: the Pharisees had the knowledge, but they didn’t always put it into practice. They were hearers (and teachers) of the Word but they didn’t practice what they preached. Jesus explained it this way: Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. (Matthew 23:1-3 ESV)

Question: do you practice what you preach? If not, that’s called hypocrisy. Any guesses what sin Jesus corrected in the Pharisees over and over again? You got it, hypocrisy. Merriam-Webster defines hypocrisy this way: behavior that contradicts what one claims to believe or feel. Does your behavior contradict what you claim to believe? If you are willing to humble yourself before God and ask Him to open your eyes to the ways you are hypocritical in your own life, I have confidence He will.

I once heard of a church that hired a new senior pastor and the excitement the entire congregation had as he transitioned into his new role. The pastor was on fire for Christ and preached fearlessly from the pulpit. His first message was filled with great illustrations, practical application, and a deep sense of grace and truth. As the pastor gave the altar call, many went forward to rededicate their lives to Christ in repentance. Some surrendered their life to Jesus that day. The church was buzzing with excitement at what the Holy Spirit was doing.

The next Sunday the church gathered with anticipation to hear their pastor’s second message. As the pastor began to preach, the church watched with a sense of confusion as he used the same Scripture, he used the same illustrations, the same practical application, his sermon was identical to the first week! Still the Holy Spirit moved, some came to the altar during the response, and even though it was identical to the first week, many were amazed at how God was moving.

The third Sunday the church almost held its breath to see what the pastor would preach. Again the call to turn to the same set of Scriptures came from the pulpit. The same illustrations. The same practical application. The same exact message for the third week in the row. Concerned, the deacons and elders gathered with their new pastor. They said to their new pastor, “pastor, for three weeks you’ve preached the same exact message. We are concerned… what are you doing?” The pastor looked fiercely into the eyes of his brothers and replied, “when you begin doing what the Scriptures say, I’ll begin teaching something else.”

If it seems like I’m beating the proverbial dead horse here, it’s because as a teacher we often repeat something when it’s important. I’d like to share a hard truth with you: no matter how many Scriptures we read, if you don’t apply them, you are deceiving yourself. Did you see what I did there? Stop pretending. Stop deceiving yourself. It’s time for us to get serious about reading the Scripture and doing what it says.

Father, please forgive me for knowing what the Scripture says but not always doing it. I confess Lord it is far easier to read it than it is to apply it. Jesus, I am thankful that You know my weakness and Your grace is enough for me. Holy Spirit, please reveal any hypocrisy in my life and give me the strength to turn away from it. Lord, I want what I practice and what I preach to align. I want to apply the lessons You are teaching me. Help me be more like Jesus and less like the old, dead me. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Categories: Devotion