Three Men You Will Preach To This Sunday
by Dennis Michelson
The Mean Dean Has Mellowed
Introduction: Several years ago I was preaching in Sherwood, Tennessee. I took a bike ride in the afternoon and came upon an old drunk man nestled under the bridge with his bottle under his arm. As I started to witness to him he listened carefully.
When I began to quote Scripture he would complete every verse I started (in perfect Elizabethan English too)! He informed me that he was an "ordained Baptist preacher." Of course, he had heard it all before and his god was now a half-empty bottle of Wild Irish Rose.
James explains precisely how this kind of thing can happen. He introduces us to three men:
1. The Deceived Man (1:22)
He listens, and listens, and listens . . .but does not do anything in response to what he hears. The word for "deceiving" in this text is the Greek term paralogizomai and it means "to set reason (or the Word) aside." The deceived man is the one who has heard it all many times but applies it to everyone but himself.
He can behold the toothpick in someone else's eye but not the 2 by 4 in his own eye. He has not received with meekness the engrafted word which is able to save his soul. He may have attended church all of his life and never once worshipped God.
He may have even walked down the old Romans Road but sadly did not meet anyone on the road. Salvation comes when you receive a Person not simply agree to a Plan.
2. The Dirty Man (1:23-24)
This man does not merely listen but takes a good, long, hard look at himself. He spends a lot of time looking in the mirror and the Word of God - much like a looking glass - shows him all of his flaws. He takes note of them. He can locate them.
He can quote Scripture about them but then "goeth his way, and straightway forgetteh what manner of man he was." By the time he gets to your parking lot the Devil has already distracted him away from what he saw in the mirror. It is interesting that the term "straightway" is the same as "immediately" used in the Parable of the Sower. Read it carefully.
The Devil cannot snatch the Word you have acted upon but he can grab the Word that was simply sown and not obeyed (Mark 4:15).
3. The Diligent Man (1:25)
The Bible states that "this man shall be blessed in his deed." This sounds like an echo of the first three verses of Psalm 1. This man not only listens and looks, he lives it! A deceived man will always think he is right and will cause trouble for you and the church. A dirty man will be hard to help because you will not be able to tell him or show him anything he has not already heard or seen.
The diligent man will love it when you preach the Word strong and deep and when others call it legalism or harshness, this man will call it the "perfect law of liberty." The heart of the matter is always the heart.
Conclusion: All three of these men will "seem" to be religious but James tells us in 1:26 to listen to the tongue and you will get a glimpse of what is in the heart. It is not the "tongues" movement that will disrupt your ministry. It is the "tongue" movement of those with religion James labels as "vain."