The Expository Files

Knowing and Doing

It takes more to serve God faithfully than having correct ideals. It takes more to being a moral and spiritual man or woman of God than to simply know the right things. Those who love God are not those with high and morally correct ideals unless those ideals are put into action. We can know the right things to do and not do them. A man by the name of Edmund Burke once said, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

A person who truly loves God is dedicated to righteousness. The Bible says, "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good" (Romans 12:9). James has quite a bit to say about putting knowledge to action, and negatively, the wastefulness of knowing but not doing. Note these points:

We must do what the law of liberty tells us to do to be blessed. "But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. "( James 1:22-25).

We will be judged by what we say and do. "So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty." (James 2:12).

We are not justified by faith alone. "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone." (James 2:24).

It is not enough to merely know the right thing to do. "Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin." (James 4:17).  Talk is cheap. There is more to godliness than looking down on immorality. Discipleship is active and positive in that which is good.


By Jon W. Quinn
The Front Page
From Expository Files 9.10; October 2002