Seeing Yourself in Scripture – Part 2

James 1:19-27

June 6, 2021

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.     Introduction (James 1:22-25)


A.   One of the main reasons why God wrote the Scriptures was to show us OURSELVES – As we really are


1.    To show us our nature – our ways – all our flaws and bad habits and sins

2.    It was not written to honour us, but to show us as we really are – to expose us

3.    This Book of books goes deep, into the hearts and thinking and backgrounds of both the greatest and most wicked men and women in history, and shows us not how people USED to be, but it shows us OURSELVES AS WE ARE! How people still are today!

4.    Even though we are living so many thousands of years after Sarah lived, and after Moses and David and Jonah and Peter and Mary and Judas lived, we are no different.

5.    And the worst part is, people today actually believe we are more moral, and better people, and more evolved that people 2, 3, 4 thousand years ago!

6.    But the truth is, we are not!

7.    So God gave us 21st century men and women something to show us what we really are like – He gave us the Bible


B.   And the Bible is like a Mirror


1.    A 3D mirror, that sees us from every side, and even sees IN us

2.    It is kind of like going into a house of mirrors at a fun-fair and being able to see what you look like from behind

3.    It is also kind of like going to a doctor and being shown the inside of your chest or stomach or arm

4.    One thing about the Bible though, is that is never twists and warps our view – it is as straight and flat as can be – like a proper mirror!

5.    It shows us what we ARE


C.   How does God’s “Mirror” Work?


1.    It shows us living, breathing examples of people living by faith, and examples of those who live by folly – foolishly and without God (thousands of people and their lives are recorded in this Book, from Adam to Aaron, from Eve to Esther, from Noah to Nimrod, from John to Jesus)

2.    This Book is full of people who lived and failed in the very same ways that we do, so that we can learn


a.     The consequences of Adultery

b.    The benefits of patience

c.     The power of loving God and loving His people

d.    The joy of winning souls

e.     The heartache of loving this world

f.     The destruction that comes from rebelling against God’s way and God’s will


3.    It exposes not our skin, or our height or our hair, but our HEART!


a.     These are the words of Almighty God about the human condition – the heart

b.    The words in this Book are not the words of doctors or psychologists

c.     And they are not the opinions of writers and authors

d.    They are not even the words of Moses, or Peter or Paul

e.     They are the words of almighty God to sinful men


4.    These words, as cutting as they are, actually bless us, and changes us


a.     Psalm 1:1-3  Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.


D.   But only if we make the effort to see ourselves, as we truly are, in the mirror of God’s word… no matter how messy our lives may really be!


II.   Review – Seeing Yourself in the Pages of Scripture…


A.   Starts with Hearing what the Bible Says… (James 1:19)


1.    James 1:19  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear…

2.    James tells us to HEAR… to listen.


a.     Not arguing, and not fighting with what is written, but letting God speak. Not pre-judging, or assuming, but carefully considering what God says

b.    Because HEARING is the MOST important thing to do with this Bible for everyone saved or lost

c.     I know DOING what God says do is important, but you can’t DO what you do not know needs to be done!


3.    So, start having a dedicated QUIET time where there are no interruptions – not even from you!


a.     Reading every word in a chapter – at least 1 if not 2 chapters at a time

b.    Sometimes reading the words ALOUD

c.     Nita has been doing that for us as we have travelled nearly 14,000 miles

d.    I love it! She is better than Alexander Scourby!

e.     Read it aloud as a family, to one another


B.   Listen to every word, as if written to YOU, about YOU – more about this in a moment…

C.   Then, Resist doing what you normally do (James 1:19,20,23,24)


1.    Resist arguing, interrupting, being too busy to even stop and listen

2.    Stop ignoring and quickly forgetting what this book is saying!

3.    Take a good long look in every page instead of quickly forgetting what we see

4.    Be SLOW to speak when God is speaking

5.    Let GOD speak!


D.   So That We Can Start DOING What God Says Do Differently – that’s the goal!


III.         Message


A.   The Bible Shows Us What is Inside Us


1.    Look at what James points out that is in every one of us… (James 1:19-21)


a.     Impatience

b.    Wrath – not just anger, or frustration, but the fiercest wrath

c.     Filthiness of mind and lusts

d.    Superfluity of naughtiness

e.     And that is just the beginning – it is not a nice place in our hearts!


2.    Remember how Jesus told everybody in Mark 7 that we are all filled with sins in our HEARTS… Mark 7:21-23 


a.     Mark 7:21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

b.    Mark 7:22  Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:

c.     Mark 7:23  All these evil things come from within, and defile {RUIN] the man.


B.   The command in James chapter 1 is to get cleaned up on the inside – great Goal


1.    That is the purpose of this Book in our hands – to save us and clean us up – not leave us the same as we always have been

2.    But it is NOT easy to change for the better when we are usually quite blind to how we are in the inside

3.    EXAMPLE: I won’t fix my collar if I don’t know it is sticking up

4.    EXAMPLE: I won’t get a haircut if I don’t see how long it is getting


C.   The answer to our dark lives and hearts and minds (that maybe no one else knows about) is…


1.    Hearing the words of God – all of them from start to finish


a.     Did you know even just hearing it is like a good wash on the inside?

b.    That is why it is GOOD to come to a Bible preaching church!


2.    But more than that, the answer lies in DOING what God says do – as commands from God, and not suggestions, or opinions

3.    Joshua 1:8  This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.


D.   Then James gives a simple yet very powerful example of what we need to do – he describes someone passing in front of a full length mirror – a looking glass…


1.    And seeing himself – seeing what everyone else can see


a.     James calls it “seeing your natural face” – his nose, eyebrows, chin, neck, ears, hair, and so on

b.    What you look like on the outside

c.     What you and I are like naturally, visibly,


2.    James describes a man passing in front of a mirror and not really looking hard, not looking for flaws, ignoring what is there, and just continuing to live like nothing is wrong with him


a.     When we look at ourselves with a mirror, we may notice a bit of toothpaste on the side of our lips, or a bit if hair sticking up, or a bit of food stuck in our teeth

b.    Most guys won’t care – they see only what they imagine!!!

c.     But, Girls and ladies will care deeply if anything is out of place!


3.    A mirror has one purpose – to show what we ACTUALLY look like on the outside

4.    But you and I have to take time to NOTICE what it is showing us!

5.    James points out that so many Christians, are like men who see themselves in passing, and don’t care what they are shown


a.     We are like peopple who do not notice what they really are like, and just keeps going along their way

b.    We generally do not end up doing what the Bible says do to correct flaws and bad habits and sinful attitudes

c.     And instead Quickly forget what kind of man or women we are


E.   What is James getting at – what is his point?


1.    We cannot ignore what we see when we read this Book… when we hear them preached and taught

2.    These words are GOD’S mirror, that shows us the “MANNER” of a man…


a.     A normal mirror shows us what we are like on the outside

b.    God’s word shows us what we are like on the inside – our character


3.    Manner means


a.     The KIND of man he is – what sort, class of man he is

b.    A regular mirror can’t show you that!

c.     Our manner means our way of living - our habits - our nature - What kind of person we are like


1)    Angry? Lustful? Carnal? Proud? Uncaring?

2)    Arrogant? Inconsistent? Worldly? Impatient?

3)    Abusive? Lazy? Foolish? Hyper-critical?

4)    Shall I go on?


d.    Did you know that the entire Bible is filled with biographies of hundreds and hundreds of people who represented every one of those “manners” – those characteristics? Why?

e.     To show you and me three important things:


1)    What WE are like

2)    The consequences of continuing to live that way

3)    And the ways that God saves and change anyone to be more like Jesus Christ!


4.    Did you notice that God’s words are called, “The Perfect Law of Liberty” in 1:25?


a.     Not described as a law of rules and bondage

b.    But perfect laws that produce liberty for those that follow them!

c.     These words are like the words of a perfect COACH


1)    That sees our limits and our flaws and our bad habits…

2)    He exposes those flaws

3)    And then points out what we should be doing to be better

4)    What we can do to be more like we should be, to be successful

5)    And what will be the consequences be if we DON’T change


5.    We are called to “Continue therein” (1:25) – continue looking, searching for flaws and failures, not forgetting, but committing and continuing to do what God says do


a.     It amazes me that people want pills, and quick fixes for every problem in life

b.    I hope you know that Marriage is not about a wedding day, it is about a constant effort loving and sacrificing and submitting, and forgiving and carryiing and forgiving some more and repenting, and praying, and serving

c.     The same is true in the Christian life – it all began the moment we repented and believed the Gospel that day we got saved, but we MUST continue in our effort to do what God says do so that we actually CHANGE for the better as Christians

d.    Paul in Romans chapter 6 calls it YIELDING to the work of God’s words and to the life-changing power of God’s Holy Spirit


6.    By the way, “Doing” in 1:22 means WORKING at accomplishing what God says do


a.     Whatever God commands us to do will take effort – often hard work

b.    James 1:25  But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

c.     Matthew 7:21  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.


7.    James promises that God blesses what you do, when what you do, is the right thing (REPEAT)


a.     So, If you are struggling with any sinful habit, or attitude, or depressive thinking, God promises that if you will just start doing the right things, He will help you

b.    But if you continue to ignore God’s commands, and ignore God’s words, then you are on your own and you will never change – you WILL just wax worse and worse like society is, and THAT is not something ANY of us should want for our kids to inherite from us!


F.    James then gives a few examples of good things to work on…


1.    Like Bridling our tongues – whoa! That is a big effort!


a.     Controlling what we say

b.    James dedicates the entire first half of chapter 3 to describing all the problems with our tongues and our way of talking, and how to transform our words and our speech

c.     How could we ever learn to tame our tongue?

d.    By watching God confront and transform the tongue of Saul of Tarsus, the prideful speech of Nebuchadnezzar, the bitter words of Sarah


2.    Like Visiting, caring for, seeing, and supporting fatherless children, and widows


a.     How could we ever step down and step out of our busy schedules and start doing that?

b.    By watching God humble men like Peter and John in Acts 3 and get them to care about cripples and blind people

c.     By wtaching God get the entire church in jerusalem to start actively caring about the widows in their midst in Acts 6


3.    How about keeping ourselves unspotted from the culture and fashions and attitudes of the world we live in?


a.     It was hard back then, and it is even harder now – yet it is still commanded

b.    And it is possible by taking good long looks in Scripture for what WE are like and how God changes us into His likeness!


4.    You see, This entire Bible is a book of mirrors, showing men and women no matter where they live, no matter what time or century they live in, the manner of people we really are

5.    So that it can embarrass us, and then CHANGE us from


a.     Sinner to saint

b.    From lustful to loving

c.     From hard and harsh to helpful and kind

d.    From impatient to contented

e.     From angry to joyful

f.     From fearful to faithful


IV.So, What Do We HAVE to Do?


A.   Start Listening to every word, as if written to YOU, about YOU (James 1:19)


1.    Not about anyone else!


a.     Not your wife, or your husband, or your kids, or your parents, or your employer

b.    But about YOU!


2.    James 1:19  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

3.    The religious priests and Pharisees of Jesus’ time loved to criticize and point out all the sins and problems of OTHERS, but never saw themselves in the Scriptures…


a.     Then Jesus came along

b.    Matthew 21:45  And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his [JESUS’] parables, they perceived that he spake of them.

c.     That was a good thing!


4.    God wants people TODAY, in 2021 to HEAR this Book spoken, talked about, preached, pondered, debated, discussed, tested, explored, but most of all HEARD

5.    Because if God was ever allowed to get a hold of YOUR heart, He could change your family, your world!


B.   See YOURSELF in the Pages


1.    Some Examples


a.     While reading Genesis 3


1)    Watch Eve get tempted by the devil and see if you can see the devil working on YOU today like he did with HER – see if you ever get convinced that your life stinks, and God has not been good to you, and you need to take matters into your own hands

2)    Watch Adam choose Eve over God and lose everything, and then blame God for making that wrong decision!

3)    Watch as Adam decides to run away from God instead of closer to Him when he sins and tell me that you don’t do the same thing when YOU sin!

4)    See if you ever blame other people, and even God for the messes you live in!

5)    Shall I go on?


b.    While reading 2Samuel chapter 11


1)    Watch as David going LOOKING for a chance to see a naked woman bathing, and tell me that you haven’t done the same while channel hopping, or youtubing

2)    See if you don’t mind flirting with handsome and powerful men, ladies like Bathsheba did, and tell me the temptation wasn’t there for you to see how far you could go

3)    See what such sin leads to, and the cost, and the coverups, and the ruin of your family and, and, shall I go on?


c.     While reading Ephesians 5


1)    And hearing the command for us husbands to sacrificially love our wives as Christ loved us, do you take a good long look to see how you REALLY are doing? Do you stop and ask God to help you do the word? Or do you always think all the problems in your home are your wife’s?

2)    How about you ladies? When reading Ephesians 5 and it says to submit to your own husbands, do you race over the words, or do you continue looking and looking until you see your OWN rebellious spirit exposed and your own bad attitudes and your anger and bitterness defiling your home?

3)    Shall I go on?


C.   Fear The Consequences That People Previously Ignored


1.    David ignored the consequences of adultery and its coverup even though he clearly knew them

2.    Hezekiah ignored the consequences of pride even though he knew them, but didn’t fear those consequences on his family for generations!

3.    Adam knew the consequence of his disobedience, but didn’t fear it

4.    That bit of fear will save your marriage, your children, your sanity, and our nation!


D.   Start DOING Whatever the Bible Says as You Read and Hear It! (James 1:22-25)


1.    Do what the Bible says…


a.     James 1:22  But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

b.    James 1:23  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:

c.     James 1:24  For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

d.    James 1:25  But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.


2.    That means


a.     When you read about praying for your enemies in Matt 5, you stop right then and there and pray FOR (not against) them, asking God to humble them and save them from hell, and touch their heart and show kindness to them, and be patient with them

b.    When you read or hear about the command to be witnesses of Christ’s saving power in your life, you decide right then and there to start taking Gospel tracts with you, and start giving them out everywhere you go and to whomever the Lord brings your path across

c.     When you read about assembling together as a church on a given designated day like Hebrews 10:25 says for us all to do), you not allow anything to be more important and you come and assemble together as one body of believers!

d.    When you read Psalms and the Bible says, “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord” you stop and bow your hear and raise your hands and praise and worship God

e.     When you read how Jesus told the most religious man of the day named Nicodemus to get born all over again on the inside, in his heart, then, if you haven’t been saved yet, and are still drowning in your sins, you had better decide that today is the day and bow your head and repent of your own sinfulness, and cry out for God to save your soul!

f.     When you read in Matthew 4 where Jesus says for men to “Follow Me” then you stop and decide that THAT is what you are going to do from now on – follow Jesus instead of the world!

g.    In other words, START DOING whatever God says do!


V.   Conclusion


A.   Here is the biggest question… where will you go when you die?


1.    Only two destinations according to God: Heaven, or hell

2.    It is up to you – whether you hear what Jesus says, or ignore it all!

3.    Jesus in John 3:3 said Ye MUST be born again. He died to make it possible. Will you believe right now that He did enough to forgive you and save your soul?


B.   Dear Christian, here are Some questions for us…


1.    Do YOU have a dedicated QUIET time where there are no interruptions – not even from you, where you listen to God speak to YOU? You need that time every day

2.    Do you make church the CENTRE of your week? To hear this book preached and taught? You, and I, and ALL our society NEEDS Bible preaching!

3.    Why? So God can show us OURSELVES in the mirror of the pages of this Book…

4.    And so that He can change us! We only have a short time in this life. Make it count!