Hearing Versus Obeying

Hearing Versus Obeying

Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
–James 1:22

In Matthew 7, Jesus told a story about two builders who built on two very different foundations. First, Jesus talked about the wise builder. Verse 24 says, “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” The word “acts” is key to understanding this passage. The mark of a true disciple of Jesus Christ is obedience. In James 1:22, James said, “Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” In 1 John 2:4-5, John said, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected.” It is one thing to hear God’s Word and believe, but it is altogether different to believe and obey.

Charles Spurgeon once said, “The common temptation is, instead of really repenting, to talk about repentance; instead of heartily believing, to say, ‘I believe,’ without believing; instead of truly loving, to talk of love, without loving.”

I think perhaps the greatest delusion in evangelical Christianity is the idea that intellectual belief is sufficient. We have taught people that if you simply believe the right set of facts about Jesus Christ, you get to go to heaven. But that is a lie out of the pit of hell. Did you know Satan and the demons believe Jesus Christ was the perfect Son of God who died on the cross for the sins of the world? In fact, Satan and his demons witnessed it firsthand! Yet are they saved? Of course not. It is not enough to believe those facts intellectually; we have to believe it enough to kneel in faith one day and cry out, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner! Today I am clinging to the Lord Jesus Christ to be my Savior.” That is what saves a person–believing enough to obey.

There are many people in the church today who say, “I have trusted in Jesus as my Savior. I am building my life around Him.” But then they completely disregard what He said, for example, about divorce and remarriage. Or what He said about not building your life around money but building it around eternal things. Or what He said about how to respond when people mistreat you. Somehow, they have lulled themselves into thinking they are followers of Christ even though they disregard everything He said. The Bible is very clear: to hear and not obey is not to hear at all.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “How Firm Is Your Foundation?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

Charles Spurgeon, “On Laying Foundations,” January 21, 1883, The Spurgeon Center, https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/on-laying-foundations/#flipbook/.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org