Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
There is something inherently Christian about having your eyes opened to your own sin. The Bible tells us that sin is deceptive and blinding (I John 2:11 & Matt 15:14). It also says that the great deceiver, Satan, has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they will not see the truth of the gospel of Jesus (2 Cor. 4:4). So no man comes to God in faith seeking salvation unless God's Spirit first opens his eyes and reveals to him his need for salvation (John 6:44 & John 3:7-8). A good example here is the Pharisee Saul. He believed he was serving God faithfully. He was meticulous in preserving his righteousness and zealous about protecting his religious traditions from the new sect that was infiltrating it. Imagine his surprise when the resurrected Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus and said to him "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" (Acts 9:4). Even as his physical eyes were temporarily blinded by the light, the eyes of his heart were opened to see his own sin. All of us who have repented of our sin have experienced a similar (if less dramatic) moment in which our eyes were opened to our sin by the Spirit of God.
This makes it all the more sad to consider how many Christians walk through their daily lives completely blind to their ongoing sin. Too many of us are arrogant. Too many are hypocritical. Too many are easily angered. And far too many of us seem to think that the problem is with everyone else but ourselves. How can we combat this? How can we guard against it?
2 Tim 3:16 says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." The Bible is useful for correcting not only others but also ourselves. James puts it this way: when we read Scripture it is like looking at ourselves in a mirror. Scripture is sharper than any double-edged sword and it judges the attitudes of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12). The Spirit of God dwelling in us uses Scripture to reveal sin that is still present in our lives. In these moments when the Word casts light on our sin we have a choice to make. We can find any reason to excuse ourselves for our failure; we can find any distraction at hand to take our minds off of it and cause us to forget what we have seen; or we can "humbly accept the word planted in us" and act on it. We can repent of the revealed sin and put into practice whatever God prescribes.
So, what if we committed to run towards obedience in these moments? What if the next time Scripture reveals our sin we try hard not to make excuses, not to over think, but simply to look for what God would have us do, and then do it as quickly as possible. Don't be merely a hearer of the Word, put it into practice in your life. Don't work against the Spirit, work alongside Him as He strives to reveal and remove the sin that still entangles you.
For further reading...
- Check out the linked verse above.