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Pastoral 2013

Are You a Self-deceiving Hearer?


Sunday after Sunday, for many years, most of you have been hearing the preaching of the Word of God. Some of you listen to sermons as a matter of religious formality that you would like to customarily practise. Some others are curious to hear the preaching because they are interested in theology. Yet there are some who listen to the preaching because of their liking for motivating speeches. I also know of those who would like to learn one or two points of Christian doctrines so that they can enter into a discussion with others on those points of doctrine. But I would like all of you to take heed to what James 1:22 has to say, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”

If you hear the truth of God’s Word and would not yield yourselves to practise it, you are being a selfdeceiving hearer. James’ warning is to those who hear without any intention to apply the truth into their lives. He finds no fault with those who are hearers but with those who are simply hearers and “not doers”. He adds a strong word of caution to such that they are “deceiving your own selves”.

The necessity of good preaching is well understood among men that they might not be deceived. But the importance of good hearing is not so well understood. James here says that even when sound preaching is available, the hearer will end up being deceived because of his own false way of hearing. He, who listens to the Word without any intention to apply it in his life, is deceiving himself no matter how much pleasure he derives from his mere hearing of the preaching.

In the light of scriptural teachings, I would like to share with you the character of a self-deceiving hearer. He is one who refuses to let the Word of God transform him.

1. The inattentive hearer. He who never intends to be a doer of what he hears will probably have little regard for what he hears. The writer of Hebrews encourages us to be diligent listeners of God’s Word – “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip” (Hebrews 2:1).

2. The inconsiderate hearer. He never ponders what he hears to see whether those things are so in his life. James describes such a hearer in James 1:23, 24 – “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: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.” The unaffected hearer is like a rock and a stone under the preaching of the Word - nothing enters or gets into his heart.

3. The injudicious hearer. He never makes any judgment on what he hears, whether it be true or false; all things come alike to him. The apostle John tells us, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

4. The unapprehensive hearer. He hears all his days, but is never the wiser (2 Timothy 3:7). No light comes into him. 2 Timothy 3:7 describes such a one as “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

5. The prejudiced hearer. He hears with dislike, especially those things which relate to practice; he cannot endure such things as correction of his materialistic ways (cf. Matthew 13:22; Jude 18; 2 Peter 3:3-7).

6. The censorious hearer. He is a critical hearer. He comes not as a doer of the law, but as a judge. He can also be a malicious hearer who comes on purpose to seek an advantage against the preacher. Such hearers are like the Pharisees and Sadducees who came to hear the Lord with a critical mind (cf. Acts 7:54; John 8:40).

7. The raging hearer. He is an exasperated hearer because his sinful actions are condemned by the preaching of the Word. He is full of fury against the preacher, like Stephen’s hearers at his last sermon (cf. Acts 7:54).

If you, my dear reader, have been listening to the preaching of the Word to please your fancy, even if you would learn some kind of novel ideas from the message, you would end up deceiving yourself. Are you going to be like Solomon’s friends, the Tyrians, who helped him build the temple and yet went on worshipping their idols?



Brethren, pray for us
Prabhudas Koshy

Now I am much pressed in my spirit to ask of you this favour that you would pray for all the brethren and me in the Lord’s vineyard. My dear brethren, please pray earnestly and constantly for us. You must pray for us because:

  1. The work we do is of paramount importance; and we must do it for His glory. Pray that we will never become unfaithful or negligent in the glorious work of the Gospel.
  2. We can do nothing in His work without His empowerment. Our services, whether it be pastoral, didactic, or evangelistic, are the work of the Lord and it is impossible to fulfil them without His divine empowerment. So please pray for the Spirit’s strengthening.
  3. We need His wisdom to preach, warn, rebuke, correct, comfort, teach and counsel.
  4. We need His protection against the devil’s attacks as well as human opposition. Pray that we will not succumb to evil temptations of falsehood and sin.
  5. We need His provision in carrying out His work everywhere. Pray for God’s provision of funds for the sustenance of the missionaries, the mission work and the best equipping of various ministries for effectual dissemination of the Gospel.
  6. We need His enablement to be meek, patient, longsuffering and loving while dealing with disheartened Christians and also with backslidden ones. Our difficulties in dealing with people are many – arising from the complexity of issues that they face, their ignorance, their false beliefs, their misbehaviour and also our own imperfections and limitations.
  7. We need His abiding presence to advance his Kingdom. We must know where He is leading that we may follow Him to be fishers of men.
  8. We need His healing and strengthening to endure the physical, mental and emotional exhaustion that we often experience in the ministry.

Dear brethren, pray for us that the blessings of God may not be ours only but yours as well. We are called by God to be His labourers for your sake. We labour among you for your blessing. Hence your prayers for us will return to you for your own benefit and God’s glory. So, “Brethren, pray for us.”