“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22 NIV
Being deceived by others is dangerous. We wouldn't want that to happen to us. So we guard ourselves against deceivers of various kinds, and there are many out there. But there's such a thing as self-deception. That is even more dangerous, and sometimes even fatal. When we deceive ourselves, we actually hurt ourselves. It's a kind of spiritual suicide that results in slow death -- for our souls anyway. We short-circuit the process of transformation that God wants to do in our lives. This happens when we only listen to the word of God, but not obey it. How could this be? It could happen in four ways. First, we misunderstand or not understand the word, and so we don't obey it. Second, we understand it but something gets in the way and so we don't obey it. Third, we misunderstand and obey it based on our misunderstanding. Lastly, we understand and obey it, but we do so in the flesh or by our own efforts. Thus, we nullify the purpose of the word. So in any or all of these situations we end up self-deceived. Application involves understanding what the original author wanted to say, processing it in light of what the rest of the Scriptures have to say, in order to hear what the Spirit wants to say to us now, and then applying it specifically in our context or life situation as the Spirit leads us. Only in this way can we be transformed by the word of God. Information without application only leads to constipation (i.e. a lot of head knowledge without application).
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