“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves”
The word “deceiving” means to misreckon, miscalculate. It comes from two Greek words: along side or beside and to account or reason. It conveys the idea of deceiving ourselves with false reasons and arguments. We deceive ourselves when we reckon wrongly that we live consistently with the principles of God’s Word. It is possible to delude ourselves into believing that we are better than we are.
“Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words” (Colossians 2:4).
If we consistently neglect or disobey God’s Word while purporting to walk with the Lord, we deceive ourselves. This is a sure sign of spiritual deadness. We have no sense of accountability to what we hear. We make the worst deception possible – self-deception. We convince ourselves by sophistry.
Self-deception occurs when we come to believe there is a virtue in hearing the principle of the Word without applying it to our experience.
The Christian who fools herself actively participates in Christianity by attending church and listening to Bible teaching just kids herself. Self-deception is one of the worst forms of deception. A Christian who puts into practice what she hears preached has fully engaged the Word of God. She puts the principles of the Word to use.
We greatly miscalculate the idea of Christianity if we constantly absorb divine truth but never live it out. The most blessed Christian is the one who knows he walks with God.
There is no such thing as a passive Christian.
Tom, you are right. In fact, the central argument of James is genuine faith produces works. Faith is the cause and works are the effect.
The opposite is not true–works do not produce faith. A person cannot become a Christian by works (the argument of Romans and Galatians) However, a person who genuinely becomes a Christian will begin a life of sanctification.