“And why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luk 6:46). Reality in life, not glowing words from the lips, is what Christ requires. What a searching and solemn word is that in James 1:22: “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves!”
There are many “hearers” of the Word, regular hearers, reverent hearers,
interested hearers; but alas, what they hear is not incorporated into the life: it does not regulate their way. And God
says that they who are not doers of the Word are deceiving their own selves!
Alas, how many such there are in Christendom today. They are not down-right hypocrites, but deluded. They suppose
that because they are so clear upon salvation by grace alone they are saved. They suppose that because they sit under the
ministry of a man who has “made the Bible a new book” to them, they have grown in grace. They suppose that because
their store of biblical knowledge has increased they are more spiritual. They suppose that the mere listening to a servant of
God or reading his writings is feeding on the Word. Not so! We “feed” on the Word only when we personally appropriate,
masticate, and assimilate into our lives what we hear or read. Where there is not an increasing conformity of heart and
life to God’s Word, then increased knowledge will only bring increased condemnation! “And that servant, which knew his
Lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to His will, shall be beaten with many stripes” (Luk 12:47).
“Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2Ti 3:7). This is one of the prominent characteristics
of the “perilous times” in which we are now living. People hear one preacher after another, attend this conference
and that conference, read book after book on biblical subjects, and yet never attain unto a vital and practical acquaintance
with the Truth, so as to have an impression of its power and efficacy on the soul. There is such a thing as spiritual
dropsy, and multitudes are suffering from it. The more they hear, the more they want to: they drink in sermons and addresses
with avidity but their lives are unchanged. They are puffed up with their knowledge, not humbled into the dust before God. The faith of God’s elect is “the acknowledging [in the life] of the truth which is after godliness” (Tit 1:1), but
to this the vast majority are total strangers.
God has given us His Word not only with the design of instructing us, but for the purpose of directing us: to make
known what He requires us to do. The first thing we need is a clear and distinct knowledge of our duty; and the first thing
God demands of us is a conscientious practice of it, corresponding to our knowledge. “What doeth the Lord require of
thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Mic 6:8). “Let us hear the conclusion of the
whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecc 12:13). The Lord Jesus
affirmed the same thing when He said, “Ye are My friends, if you do whatsoever I command you” (Joh 15:14).