But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.  For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.  But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
Imagine this scenario: A person says they are a health food nut. They talk about all the foods people should be eating. Are always spouting off facts about how processed our food is in this country. And they can even tell us all the best places to get all the right kinds of organic and healthy foods.
But despite all of their rhetoric there seems to be something troubling about them. When push comes to shove they always are getting a burger and fries when you go out to eat. They rarely eat healthy foods when you are around them. Also, more often than not, you see them eating chocolate or some kind of candy.
Can they really be a health food nut? The answer is most definitely no. They don’t live out the lifestyle they espouse. Or as one of my favorite slogans would say “they are all talk, but no rock.”
This is the same kind of person that James the apostle is talking about in the verses above. There are Christians in the early church who are great at talking about God and what it means to be a Christian. They can spout off a lot of theological terms and truth, and will be the first ones to call out false teaching or error when they hear it. But functionally there is something wrong with them. They can talk a lot about God and theology, but when you look at their life it is clear that they are not living it out.
They don’t practice what they preach.
The apostle lets us know that these kind of people are deceiving themselves. For if we say we believe in God and in his Son Jesus Christ, yet we don’t actually live out what he says we are like a person who looks at themselves in the mirror and then a second later forgets what they look like. We look at God’s Word and see that he calls to be like him and live like Christ, but then we close the Bible and choose to live however we would like. We forget God’s commands and who he calls us to be.
James has a stern warning for these Christians and for us if we choose to live this way. He says in James 2:17:
 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
If we say we are Christians, we know God’s Word, yet we don’t live like Christ, doing the good works he has prepared for us according to Ephesians 2:10, our faith is not real and we are not, nor can we claim to be, God’s people.
We are not saved.
Am I now saying that salvation is by works? By no means. Instead, I am affirming what James says in James 2:18:
 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
Our works are a confirmation of what we believe. Likewise, our lack of good works, or living the way God says is also a conformation of our unbelief.
Therefore, let us not only heed the warning from James that faith without good works is dead, but more than that let’s live in the reality that when we see and know God, and we follow him we will be blessed. He will bless us with the joy of knowing him, following him, and showing the world who he is through what we do. He will become our greatest treasure and delight, and our greatest purpose for living and acting in the world. And we will do all of this with the knowledge that he loves us, cares for us, and has secured a perfect eternity for us that will be ours one day when he returns.
In short, let us know God, read his word, and talk about all the rich theology that it contains. But let that lead us to act in ways that confirms what we believe, as we receive the joy of knowing and doing his will until he returns.