The Dangers of Self-Deception - James 1:19-27

Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.

We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.
How often have we heard that in our lives? But how hard is it to put into practice? Super hard! And that's putting it mildly sometimes. But James doesn't stop there, he has to go and add that we are to be slow to anger too. That means that sometimes keeping our mouths shut isn't quite enough—especially if you're like me and emotions are often raging behind sealed lips. If we think that just because it isn't spoken we're safe, then we're deluding ourselves.

Thankfully, James gave us a reason to put the brakes on our mouths and our anger—because it doesn't accomplish the righteousness of God. In his commentary on James, David P. Nystrom said...
  • Anger—the result of our reluctance to listen—is at odds with God's righteousness.
  • Outbursts of anger do not produce the kind of righteous behavior God desires.
  • Righteous action doesn't come from anger.
  • Claiming “righteous indignation” is about like claiming to speak for God—something we need to think and pray about long and hard before doing!
  • Venting is not righteous indignation.
  • “The righteous anger of the prophets was directed at injustices that others were experiencing, not an injustice that they personally experienced.”
  • Anger, even if left unspoken, influences our thoughts, what we do say, and our actions.
James 1:19-27.  Click so you can read it.

Anytime we see the word therefore in the Bible, we can stop and think “What's that there for?” We need to look at what the writer was just talking about so we're ready for how he's going to build on it.

How to prepare ourselves for God's word.

Put aside means to get rid of, the idea of total conversion, a complete change of life pattern.

What are we to get rid of? All filthiness and all that remains of wickedness. Every little speck of wickedness and filth in our lives.

Humility is meekness.
Meekness is not weakness. Meekness is a condition of the mind and heart which demonstrates gentleness, not in weakness, but in power. It is a balance born in strength of character. (The Word Study Dictionary)

Think of a stallion—strength under control and submitted to its master's will. (LoL, Patty's paraphrase.)

We are to receive the word implanted in us with humility. We aren't to argue with it, nor try to twist it to say what we want, but we are to simply accept it. Humility allows the word of God to flourish within us, producing fruit.

How to avoid delusion.

In today's information age we know a lot. But does knowing change our lives?
It is not the hearing but the doing that brings the blessing. Too many Christians mark their Bibles, but their Bibles never mark them! If you think you are spiritual because you hear the Word, then you are only kidding yourself. ~Warren W. Wiersbe

James 1:22-24 in The Message
Look in the mirror. They tell us things about ourselves. As Christians, God's Word is our mirror. A quick glance and it seems everything is all right. But when we stop and really look, we see that there are flaws—plenty of them. So then we have a choice. If we walk away, shrugging our shoulders and forgetting about it, we have deluded ourselves.

The only one we're kidding is ourselves. We certainly aren't fooling God!

But there's good news. If we stop and really look at God's Word, at “the perfect law of liberty,” and obey it—do what it says—God sets us free.
Like Jesus, James does not have in mind a new law, but rather the fuller expression or more perfect distillation of the Jewish law. For the Christian this law is still the will of God, but a more refined apprehension of that will. This is a law for which a purer cannot be imagined. The perfect law, the word implanted and allowed to take root, is, then the very teaching of Jesus. ~David P. Nystrom

Knowing is not the same as doing!
Blessing does not come from simply looking at the perfect law of liberty, nor from knowing it.
Blessing comes 
in the doing of it. 
Obedience leads to blessing.

Bridle your tongue. There are times when we just need to rein in our tongue. Thinking we do, when we don't is self-deception because the mouth shows what's in the heart. (Matthew 12:34-35)

So you think you're religious?

James ends this chapter by telling us what pure religion is: Seeing others and their needs. He reminds us to care for the orphans and widows—people who are often at the edge of society.

But he doesn't stop there. James reminds us that we need to be in the world without being polluted or stained by it. We are to live and work with those around us with intelligence and great thought so that we can keep our lives, our reputations, and our faith pure. Yes, we are to enter the surrounding culture but remains free from the evil to be found there.

Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.
Digging Deeper:
  • Amos 4:1-3; What was Amos angry about?
  • Keeping in mind how Jesus was treated by men, what was He mad about? John 2:13-17; Matthew 21:12-13.
  • More for the trash can: Ephesians 4:25; 1 Peter 2:1
  • How did these men respond when they looked in the mirror of God's Word? Job 42:6; Isaiah 6:5; Luke 5:8. How does my response compare to theirs?
  • Read Psalm 19:7, 119:45 and John 8:31-32. How do they mesh with James 1:25?

Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.
Let's Chat:
  • Stop and think about anger. Do you vent or stuff? What effect does stuffing have and does it make it okay since it's not verbalized?
  • How does spending time in the Bible help us see ourselves?
  • What happens when we continue to delude ourselves?
  • How is it that the blessing is in the doing, not just the hearing?

For next week:

Read through James 2:1-13 several times.


  1. Anonymous12:15 AM

    Soooo good, Patty! Thankyou for sharing this. God bless xxoo

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by, Karen!

  2. Fabulous stuff, Patty - I'm a venter AND a stuffer, depending on the situation.

    And reading without doing is another one. GREAT thoughts.

    1. LoL, Jo. I do some of both too, but primarily I stuff--but that sure doesn't stop the peanut gallery in my head. Sometimes I can practically smell the sulfur from my anger and angry thoughts. It affects how I act and what I DO let out my mouth. Very sobering.

  3. This is becoming the "Ouch" book...I used to say that James was the "How-To" book for Christians. LoL! I am a venter AND a stuffer as well, depending on the situation and to whom is closest to me (are they a listener or enabler?) See what I mean? *eye roll* Good, GOOD study, Patty! Thanks for keeping us on our toes...or stomping on them anyway. *wink* Hugz! =D

    1. I'm with you, Shelley. James has been stomping all over my toes, convicting me about so many things, and even though it hurts, it's so good!!

      Thanks for following along!

  4. God has a way of placing what we need within our reach, and - boy - do I need this lesson from James. I keep my eyes open for studies to use in my mentoring group at the women's correctional facility, Patty. Would you mind if I print this series to take to them. I'll remove people pictures (required for security purposes). If not, that's perfectly OK. Thanks so much for the time and prayer you're pouring into this. We are certainly blessed with the results! God Bless.

    1. Nancy, I was thrilled when this book was chosen for our Tuesday night Bible study. Thanks for contacting me about using this with your group in the correctional facility, it's been fun emailing over the weekend about this project.

      You've been such a blessing to me, my friend. Thank you. Keep me posted--I'm praying.


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