In his book The Disciple-Making Church, Bill Hull makes the comment, “I already know more than I’m ever going to do; I need to learn to do what I know about Christ.” Often as Christians, we have a disconnect between what we know and how we actually apply it in our lives. James says a very similar thing in James 1:22, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” What we do with our knowledge matters as much as what we know in the first place.
The foundation starts with knowledge. Action without knowledge leads to wrong application and chaos. James doesn’t discount the value of knowledge. He doesn’t tell us not to hear the Word of God at all; he simply tells us not to hear only. We very definitely do need to hear God’s Word and know what it says. We can’t live the way that God wants us to if we don’t first know what that life looks like. That’s why we cannot afford to neglect hearing God’s Word. That’s why we need to be in church hearing what is taught. That’s why we need to be in the Bible ourselves, reading and seeing what God has said.
But the point that both James and Bill Hull are making is that we cannot stop at learning. Our knowledge of God’s Word is meaningless unless it is applied in our everyday lives. If we think that we are ok because we went to church and heard God’s Word or opened our Bible and read it for a few minutes, then we deceive ourselves. We deceive ourselves into thinking that we have done all that God expects of us. But God expects us to do more than just hearing; He expects us to apply what we have learned. He expects us to become a doer of His Word.
Suppose you were sitting comfortably in your living room when someone ran in and screamed, “The house is on fire! We need to get out now!” You jump up and say, “Yes, I smell the smoke. I see the fire through the kitchen door. The house will soon be destroyed, and we need to leave!” But then you sit back down on the couch and go back to what you were doing. In this scenario, all the hearing and learning in the world wouldn’t help you if you don’t do something as a result of it.
The Bible teaches us a good many things about Christ. It teaches us what the Gospel is, that Christ is the only way to receive eternal life and spend eternity with God. It teaches us that Christ died to pay the penalty for our sin and that all we need in order to receive this gift of eternal life is to believe on Him and accept His free gift of salvation. But that knowledge does nothing for us if we don’t actually do something by believing on Christ and trusting Him. Knowledge of the gift doesn’t help us if we don’t accept the gift.
But after we accept the gift, freely receiving eternal life, then God tells us how we should live. We can know that Christ teaches us to love God more than we love ourselves, but we can still struggle to do that in our lives. We can know that we should be humble before God and others, but we can still be proud in our lives. We can know what God says is right and wrong, but we can still follow our own ideas of what we want to do or how we think that things should be. The foundations starts with knowledge, but then we need to apply that knowledge in our lives. “I already know more than I’m ever going to do; I need to learn to do what I know about Christ.”