James 1: 22-25 speak of a scenario that is truer than what most Christians would care to concede.
This passage speaks of a type of believer that will read Scripture and/or listen to sermons on a regular basis, but is no further along the road to spiritual maturity than where he was on the day he was born again.
In 1 Cor. 3 1, 2 (NASB), Paul referred to such believers as “babes in Christ;”still in need of milk and unable to digest (take in and apply) the more advanced teachings of the faith.
Granted, born again believers can never be any more or any less saved than they became at the moment of salvation, but born again believers are never-the-less in a continuous state of progression or regression along the road to spiritual maturity.
To reach and maintain a higher level of spiritual maturity, one must continue to take in (2Pet. 3: 18) and better apply (James 1: 22) new, or more accurate Bible Doctrine.
Born again believers here on Earth remain to be a “work in progress” when it comes to learning, and especially applying the Word of God.
Beware of success. It has been when at the higher stages of spiritual maturity that many, many Biblical characters have made their greatest mistakes.
Believers may be entertained (Ezekiel 33: 32) and even enjoy experiencing an occasional tug on the heart strings that a sermon may provide. But unless the sermon is followed up by reflective self-examination (2Cor. 13: 5) that results in making changes for the better, there will be no forward progress.
James 1: 24 speak of believers immediately forgetting the self-image that the convicting (John 16: 8) Word of God brings to our conscious minds.
The answer, in part, as to why this is so can be found in the parable of the seeds recorded in Matthew 13: 3-8.
This passage is usually applied to proclaiming of the Gospel Message to unbelievers, but in principle, it can also be applied to the post salvation spiritual growth (1Cor. 3: 7) of born again believers.
The different responses to a sermon are recorded in the Matt. 13 parable of the seeds.
Some of the seeds are taken away by the birds (diabolical agents) before they have the chance to take root. Other are received for a brief period of time, but do not take deep root and potential plant dies. Some of the seeds grow deep roots and eventually produce a crop.
With spiritual perception, one can see the diabolical activity of the Eph. 6: 12 forces of evil when the opportunity to hear the Word is made available, or when it is being taught. Their objectives are to distract our attention when the Word is being taught, and to offer alternatives when it comes to making application.
These distractions can come in the form of undeserved suffering (Job 1: 1); from what appears to great opportunities (Matt. 16: 26); or by diverting our attention to the cares and/or interests of everyday life (Matt. 13: 22) when the Word of God is being taught.
Like submarines, the Eph. 6: 12 forces of evil pose the greatest threat when their presence goes undetected. It is difficult for many Christians to acknowledge demonic activity within the walls where God’s people gather, but Scripture (Ezekiel 8/Matt. 7: 15/1Timothy 4:1/1Cor. 11: 14, 15/) say otherwise.
Every had an evil thought come to mind when seated in Church? Where do you think that came from?
It would be convenient to blame the devil (Gen. 3: 13), demons (Eph. 6: 12, other people (Gen. 3: 12), or other things (Matt. 13: 22), but the truth is that our James 1: 24 forgetting is a choice that WE make!
We choose to listen or to allow our minds to focus on other things. We choose to apply what we hear, or to dismiss it.
Everything we do (or fail to do) is the result of either conscious or subconscious choices that we make (Proverbs 23: 7).
People, especially when under stress, will do what they have been trained to do.
Born again believers are trained through the ongoing hearing and the ongoing experiential application of the Word of God. This is what makes these activities the focus of attention of the devil and his forces of evil.
We can’t forget what we do not know, and remembering too late can be painfully disastrous (Luke 22: 61, 62).