Introduction: How much advice do you get? It seems that I’m getting
advice from others all the time. Some is given without me asking for
it. Some I ask for and really want. Lots of advice comes my way just
in the day to day details of life. A few days ago, I was helping to
put together a toy car for my granddaughter that was big enough for
her to sit in. The manufacturer gave me advice about how to assemble
it, but I decided that some of the advice was wrong, and it turned
out I was right. On the other hand, when my phone GPS gives me advice
on driving directions, I take the advice very seriously. How we react
to advice reflects what we think about the source of the advice. That
is what our Bible study is about this week. Let’s jump right in!

  1. Deceit

    1. Read James 1:22. I often hear or read advice that I think
      is junk. Why does James say that merely listening is some
      sort of deceit?

      1. Because I try not to be deceived, I don’t accept junk
        advice. What is James’ point about the listeners?
        (His point is that the advice is not junk. James
        refers to “the word,” which is a reference to the
        Bible. The listeners don’t believe the advice is
        junk. However, they act like the advice is junk
        because they do not follow it.)

        1. Where is the deceit in that? (Apparently, these
          listeners are deceiving themselves. They claim
          that the Bible is giving them good advice, but
          then they fail to follow the advice. If they
          fail to follow the advice they are deceived
          into thinking they are good Christians.)

          1. Do you know people like that?

    2. Look again at James 1:22. What is the cure for this
      deceit? (James tells us to do what the Bible tells us to

  2. Mirror

    1. Read James 1:23-24. Why do you look at your face in a
      mirror? (I want to make sure that all is right.)

      1. How do you know if something is wrong? (You know how
        you are supposed to look.)

      2. Why would you “look” into the law? (The law is “how
        things are supposed to be” in your life. If you find
        that your life is not how it is supposed to be, you
        should change things – unless you are deceiving

    2. Consider again James 1:23-24. If someone told you that
      they look in the mirror and immediately forget what they
      look like, what would you think? (Something was seriously
      wrong with the person. Not only should we generally know
      what we look like (how can you forget?), but we look to
      see if everything is right. Since we are looking for what
      is wrong, how can we forget it?)

      1. Can you think of some other explanation for a person
        who forgets – other than something is wrong with that
        person’s brain? (If you immediately forget, it might
        be because you don’t care whether anything is wrong.
        If you don’t care how you look, why would it be
        important to remember?)

      2. What point is James trying to make? (If we look into
        the law and see that our life is not what the law
        suggests, but don’t do anything about the problem, it
        suggests that either we have something wrong with our
        mind or we don’t care.)

        1. Is there some other explanation you can give?
          (We don’t think the advice is any good. If we
          think the Bible contains junk advice, how can
          we claim to be Christians? This gets us back to
          James’ original point. If we think that the
          Bible contains good advice and we don’t follow
          it, we are deceiving ourselves about being

        2. What if we think the Bible contains good advice
          part of the time? In the introduction, I wrote
          about the directions to assemble the toy car.
          We followed most of the directions, but I knew
          some of it was wrong. Is that an acceptable
          approach to the Bible? (My attitude with the
          assembly instructions was that I would accept
          or reject any of the instructions. If we take
          that approach to the Bible, then we are our own
          god. We worship our own opinion, and have the
          arrogance to think that we know more than our

  3. Freedom

    1. Read James 1:25. What freedom do you find by looking into
      a mirror? (If I look into a mirror, and see that nothing
      is wrong, it gives me the freedom that comes from having
      confidence in my appearance. I don’t have to worry that I
      have something stuck in my teeth, or that my pants are
      unzipped, or I have dirt on my shirt collar.)

      1. James writes that the law gives us freedom, rather
        than the mirror giving us freedom. What does he mean
        by that? (When we studied the series of lessons on
        the law we determined that our Creator God loves us
        and knows what is best for us. The reason for His law
        is to tell us how to live to avoid harming ourselves.
        The law reflects God’s love for us. The law reflects
        God’s knowledge of how to avoid injury. That is

    2. Look again at James 1:25. Notice that James says that the
      person continues to look into the law mirror, does not
      forget what he sees, and acts on what he sees. What is the
      result of that? (A blessed life.)

      1. Read James 1:17. Why does obedience to the law result
        in a blessed life? (God gives us good gifts. The law
        is one of those good gifts that makes our life

      2. What about the people to whom James is writing?
        Aren’t these people who have had to leave their homes
        because of persecution? (Read James 1:12. James says
        that if nothing else, the blessing will come with
        eternal life. James 1:15 explains that the
        alternative outcome is death.)

  4. Tongues and Orphans

    1. Read James 1:26. Is James’ writing like the tongue of a
      frog, always darting in some new direction? What does
      speaking have to do with mirrors? (Read Proverbs 27:19 and
      Matthew 12:34-37. Proverbs 27 tells us that just like a
      mirror (in this case water) tells us what our face looks
      like, so our heart reflects what we are like. Jesus adds
      in Matthew 12:37 that our words so accurately reflect our
      heart that our words are the basis for judgment. Thus, our
      words are a mirror of our heart.)

      1. This raises a very serious practical question. James’
        solution ( James 1:26)is to “keep a tight rein on
        [your] tongue.” Will that work? Isn’t that like
        trying to modify your mirror so you look better?

      2. What does James say is the state of a person whose
        tongue reflects an evil heart? (That person is
        deceived and his religion is worthless. This idea of
        deceiving yourself is a familiar theme for James.
        This makes me think that James is more likely saying
        that your tongue should be a wake-up call that
        something serious is wrong with your heart. I trust
        he is not suggesting that merely holding your tongue
        will change your heart.)

      3. Re-read James 1:19. What does James suggest about the
        tongue here? (Think before you speak. Being more
        deliberate with our speech is a good starting point
        for keeping out of trouble and measuring our

    2. Read James 1:27. The religion that God accepts is to do
      good works for the distressed and keep from being polluted
      by the world? Hello, salvation by works! What do you think
      James might mean other than we are saved by our good
      works? (Assume that James is still on his theme of
      mirrors. The law is a mirror by which we compare our life.
      Our words are a mirror that reflect our heart. That would
      mean helping those who cannot help us (widows and orphans)
      is a mirror of our religious experience. Avoiding
      practicing the values of the world is also a mirror of our
      religious experience.)

    3. Friend, if you accept the Bible as an authoritative guide
      for life, how do you measure up on the mirror test? If
      this is a wake-up call for you, why not ask the Holy
      Spirit, right now, to begin the process of changing your

  5. Next week: Love and the Law.