How many times have you read the Bible? How many times have you read certain passages of Scripture? I know that I have read certain passages of Scripture multiple times. What does this mean if I do not apply them?
In this passage, James was speaking to Jewish Christians. He was speaking to those who knew Christ. He was speaking to us! What is the message?
James tells us that we should not only be hearers of the word. Notice that He did not say that we should not hear the word. We should listen to the word of God and pay attention, take notes, and think on it. However, we are not to listen, then fail to participate. We must act on the word.
James points out that there is a consequence to failing to apply the word of God. He makes it clear that the natural consequence is that we deceive ourselves. When we hear the word, but fail to apply it, we come to the point where we believe that we are doing something. After all, we are reading our Bibles, right? However, this is only half of the picture.
When we read that we are to love God with all of our hearts (Luke 10:27), we must apply it. We must love God. The same goes for loving our neighbors.
Notice here that we are also not given any conditions that would negate this responsibility. There is no excuse for those who call themselves Christians to fail to apply God's word. When we come up with excuses, we end up in the same trap again--we deceive ourselves.
So, today we can all choose to obey God's word. Read it. Study it. Apply it. Let's not deceive ourselves.