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"The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts."
-John Locke

In the first chapter of James, the Word of God reveals a major doorway through which Satan can come to deceive us. Verse 22 says, "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."

Every time God quickens some portion of the Word of God to your heart and you fail, or refuse, to act on it, you leave a door wide open for Satan to enter your life with some form of darkness. In fact, this verse indicates that in such a case you are actually the agent of your own deception!

You see, every time you fail to act on the Word, you are saying by your actions something you would probably never say with your lips: I don't believe God's Word is true, and I have a better plan.

At that point the devil's work has been done for him. He doesn't need to sow doubt in your heart about the authority of God's Word and the truth of His promises, you have done it yourself. You have actually made it easier for Satan to bring the effects of the curse into that area of your life because he doesn't have to overcome your faith in that Word.

As James 2:17 declares, "Faith, if it hath not without works, corresponding action, is dead." Thus, with no shield of faith positioned between you and Satan, you become easy prey. Yes, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). But without your corresponding action, that faith is powerless to help you. In fact, the word translated "hearers" in James 1:22 is similar to the Greek word translated "hearing" in Romans 10:17.

So James is not necessarily talking about hearing with your natural ears but rather hearing with your heart, which is precisely how faith comes. Yet by not doing that Word, you can still be deceived.

This form of deception has a close relative. It comes when Satan is able to plug people's spiritual ears with religious tradition.

Deafness by Tradition
Jesus told the religious leaders of His day - the scribes and the Pharisees - that their traditions had made the Word of God ineffectual: "Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition" (Matt. 15:6).

Since the Word of God is intended to bring the awesome force of faith to bear on your circumstances, Jesus is saying here that the tradition of man will stop faith from coming. Why? Because those bound up in tradition don't have ears to hear what the Spirit of God is saying.

People steeped in religious (as opposed to scriptural) thinking have no capacity to receive revelation knowledge from the Word. As a result, faith can't come to them.

Jesus defined tradition as the commandments of men (Matt. 15:9). You will find that such commandments have no solid root in the Word of God and often even contradict Scripture.
A good example would be a doctrine taught by many churches - one that proclaims being sprinkled as an infant makes your salvation secure as an adult. Those who hold to that tradition have a difficult time embracing the truth of Jesus' words in John 3 - that they must be born again. They simply don't have ears to hear that vital truth because their tradition keeps them from hearing it.

Still, there are many others who hear the Word of God, believe it, and yet won't do it! I believe that the Lord has shown me three reasons why many believers hear but don't do His Word, even though they truly believe that it would be best for them to obey it.

The Barrier of Lust
The first reason is simply the resistance created by something the Bible calls the lust of the flesh. Lust is any powerful desire of the flesh. Most people usually attach a sexual connotation to the word, but it really encompasses anything your flesh strongly craves.

Addictive behavior is a form of lust that illustrates this truth quite well. I am sure there is not one Christian who is addicted to drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes who doesn't know deep down in his spirit that he is slowly killing himself. Such people may even believe what the Word says about the body being the temple of the Holy Ghost, that it is to be presented as a living sacrifice to God. Still, for most the desire is so powerful, they can't overcome it.

Not all lust is physical, however. Unforgiveness can be a lust; Christians may hold on to a grudge and refuse to forgive someone who hurt them because it feels good to their flesh to nurse their bitter feelings. They may want to try to repay the wrong that was done, even though they know in their hearts that they are to walk in love and forgive as Christ forgave them.

Selfishness is another area in which people's flesh can give them trouble. If, for example, they have received the revelation that they should give tithes but have other things they want to do with that money to satisfy their flesh, then the cravings of the flesh may keep them from being doers of the Word.

The Barrier of Fear
The second reason people don't do the Word is fear - or perhaps I should say more specifically, the fear of man. God has called all of us to share the gospel, lay hands on the sick, and in general reach out to the lost as ministers of reconciliation. But most Christians simply won't tell folks what Jesus has done for them because they are afraid of being mocked, rejected, or persecuted.

Many don't walk in love because they are fearful of being hurt in some way. And how many millions are missing out on the blessings of the baptism in the Holy Spirit simply because they are afraid of what their families and other church members might think? Untold numbers of Christians are not doers of the Word simply because of fear.

The Barrier of Time
The third and possibly most prevalent reason for not doing the Word is procrastination.
If you have ever said, "Yes, Lord, I will do what I see Your Word says about this - tomorrow," then you have fallen for this deception. It is always easier to say, "I will quit smoking tomorrow," or "I plan to start tithing next month," or "I will go out witnessing next week." The problem is, you will always have a seemingly good reason to put off being obedient.

The Amplified Bible's rendering of James 1:22 makes it more clear as to how this happens. It says, "Be doers of the Word, obey the message, and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth."

When a sincere believer fails to act on the Word, his conscience begins to bother him. In order to silence that guilty conscience, he must engage in something called self-justification (or, as the verse we just read calls it, "reasoning contrary to the Truth").

Such a person says, "I can't do that now because ..." and then gives some rationalization that keeps him from feeling too bad about it. The moment you do that, you open a door of deception that Satan quickly uses as an entry point to bring negative situations into your life and home.

These things seldom become evident overnight, however, and so the longer you reason against the truth, the more comfortable you become with deception. By the time the seeds of destruction begin sprouting in your life, you may not make the connection between your failure to act on the Word and the harvest of destruction you are presently reaping.

That is when Christians find themselves asking questions such as these: Why is this happening to me? Maybe this faith stuff doesn't really work all the time. Is God trying to teach me something? Did I do something to make Him angry with me? And thus the deception grows deeper.

The belief that you can consistently hear the Word and yet fail to act on it without experiencing some negative consequences is a serious form of deception.

How To Do the Word
"All right, Pastor," you might be saying at this point, "I can see that I need to close this doorway to deception by acting on the Word that I hear. But, come on - this is easier said than done. Just how do I deal with lust, fear, selfishness, and procrastination?"

Without a doubt, psychologically or chemically addictive behaviors, selfishness, fear, and a tendency to rationalize can be powerful forces in people's lives. Even secular studies demonstrate that most people change these kinds of behaviors only with great difficulty, if at all.

We can also see from the results of these studies that trying to exercise greater willpower or self-control is not going to effect permanent changes in most people's lives. (The ten percent long-term success rate of most government drug rehabilitation programs clearly bears that out.) As always, the answer to this conundrum is found in the Word of God - in this case in Ephesians 1:18-19:

"The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power."

The same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead is certainly more than enough to overcome any paralyzing fear or contrary behavior in our lives.

I should say here that since none of us has achieved perfection, until Jesus returns we all have to deal with these issues from time to time. What you must learn to do is not just exercise your willpower, but rather tap into the power that is available to us-ward who believe. Don't ever let Satan deceive you into thinking that your faith isn't important. When you are among those who believe, great power is available to you.

How do you tap into that power? Let's go back to James 1:22 and read on to verse 25 to find the answer: "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholds himself, and goes his way, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was. But whoso looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed."

In Verses 24 and 25, the Greek words translated "forgetteth" and "forgetful" literally mean "to lose out of mind by neglect." Here it tells you that if you are going to be a doer of the Word, then you are going to have to do something about what is in your mind.

Verse 25 says, Being not a forgetful hearer but a doer. We are hearers of what? We are hearers of the perfect law of liberty, or in other words, God's Word. Thus, it could say, "Being not a forgetful hearer of God's Word, but a doer."

Add the Greek definition of forgetful and you have, "not putting out of mind God's Word, but being a doer." Or to say it yet another way, "Keeping God's Word in your mind and being a doer of the Word."

Source: Doorways to Deception by Mac Hammond
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Mac Hammond
Web site: Mac Hammond
Mac Hammond is senior pastor of Living Word Christian Center, a large and growing church in Brooklyn Park (a suburb of Minneapolis), Minnesota. He is the host of the Winner’s Minute, which is seen locally in the Minneapolis area and can also be viewed at He is also the host of the Winner’s Way broadcast and author of several internationally distributed books. Mac is broadly acclaimed for his ability to apply the principles of the Bible to practical situations and the challenges of daily living.

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