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You can look at the New Year that lies ahead and move into it with boldness and confidence knowing that you will finally begin to become all that God intends you to be.
Since the fall of mankind, man has had to struggle with the effects of the curse that fell upon the earth. But thank God, Jesus delivered us from the curse through His work on the cross.

Yet, the curse is still being evidenced in the lives of many believers. Why is that? Didn't Jesus obtain for us all power over the enemy? Why then are Christians still in bondage?

The truth is, in many cases, it's not the devil who is holding back God's abundant provision. It's the fault of the Believer! It's true. The Bible says Christians deceive themselves by failing to act on the Word of God.

Open Doors To Deception
In the first chapter of James, the Word of God reveals a major doorway through which Satan can come to deceive us. In the verse 22 we read: "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."

Every time some portion of the Word of God is quickened to your heart and you fail (or refuse) to act on it, you leave a door wide open for Satan to enter your life with some form of darkness. In fact, as this verse indicates, in such a case you are actually the agent of your own deception!

Every time you fail to act on the Word, you are saying by your actions something you would probably never say with your lips, i.e., "I don't believe God's Word is true and I have a better plan."

At that point, the devil's work has been done for him. He doesn't need to try to sow doubt in your heart about the authority of God's Word and the truth of His promises. You have done it yourself. You have actually made it easier for Satan to bring the effects of the curse into that area of your life because he doesn't have to overcome your faith in that Word.

Easy Prey
As James 2:17 declares, "Faith without works (corresponding action) is dead." Thus, with no shield of faith standing between you and Satan, you become easy prey.

Yes, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Hebrews 11:6). But without corresponding action, that faith is powerless to help you. In fact, the word translated "hearers" in James 1:22 is the same Greek word translated "hearing" in Romans 10:17.

So, James is not talking about hearing with your natural ears but rather hearing with your heart, which is precisely how faith comes. Yet, by not "doing" that Word, you can still be deceived.

The Barrier of Lust
The first reason is simply the resistance created by something the Bible calls the lust of the flesh. Lust is defined as any powerful desire of the flesh. Most people usually attach a sexual connotation to the word, but it really encompasses anything your flesh strongly craves.

Addictive behavior is a form of lust that illustrates this truth quite well. I'm sure there is not one Christian person who has been addicted to drugs or cigarettes for any length of time who doesn't know deep down in their hearts that they are slowly killing themselves. They may even believe what the Word says about their bodies being the temple of the Holy Spirit and that it is to be presented as a living sacrifice to God.

Still, for most, the desire is so powerful they can't overcome it.

Not all lust is physical, however. Others may hold onto a grudge and refuse to forgive someone who hurt them. It feels good to their flesh to nurse their bitter feelings and to try to repay the wrong that was done, even though they know in their hearts they are to walk in love and forgive as Christ forgave them.

Selfishness is another area where a person's flesh can give them trouble. If, for example, they have received the revelation they should tithe and be a giver, but their flesh has other things it wants to do with that money to satisfy itself, the cravings of the flesh may keep them from being a "doer of the Word."

The Barrier Of Fear
The second reason people don't do the Word is fear. Perhaps I should say more specifically the fear of man.

God has called all of us to share the Gospel, lay hands on the sick, and, in general, be ministers of reconciliation. But most Christians simply won't tell folks what Jesus has done for them because they are afraid of being mocked, rejected, or persecuted.

Many don't walk in love because they are fearful of being hurt in some way. And how many millions are missing out on the blessings of the baptism in the Holy Spirit simply because of what their family and other church members might think?

The Barrier of Time
The third and possibly most prevalent reason for not doing the Word is procrastination.

If you have ever said, "Yes, Lord, I'm going to do what I see Your Word says about this&tomorrow," then you have fallen for this deception. It is always easier to say, "I'll quit smoking tomorrow," or "I'll start tithing, next month," or "I'll go witnessing next week." And the thing is, you'll always have a seemingly good reason to put off being obedient.

The Amplified rendering of James 1:22 makes it more clear as to how this happens. It says:
Be doers of the Word (obey the message), and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves (into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth.
(AMP)
When a sincere believer fails to act on the Word, his conscience begins to bother him. In order to silence that guilty conscience, he must engage in something called self-justification. (Or as the Amplified version of the verse we just read calls it, "reasoning contrary to the truth").

Such a person says, "I can't do that now because&." And then gives some rationalization that keeps them from feeling too bad about it.

The moment you do that, you've opened a door of deception that Satan will quickly begin to use as an entry point for negative things in your life and home.

These things, however, seldom become evident overnight. Therefore, the longer you reason against the truth, the more comfortable you will become with it. By the time the seeds of destruction begin sprouting in your life, you may not make the connection between your failure to act on the Word and the harvest of destruction you're presently reaping.

That's when Christians find themselves asking questions such as, "Why is this happening to me? Why do bad things happen to good people? Maybe this faith stuff doesn't really work all the time. Is God trying to teach me something? Did I do something to make Him angry with me?"

And thus the deception grows deeper.

The belief that you can consistently hear the Word and fail to act on it without experiencing some negative consequences is a serious form of deception.

How To Do The Word
"All right, Mac, I can see that I need to close this doorway to deception by acting on the Word I hear but, come on, this is easier said than done. Just how do I deal with lust, fear, selfishness and procrastination?"

Without a doubt, things such as psychological or chemically addictive behavior, selfishness, fear, and a tendency to rationalize can be powerful forces in someone's life. Even secular studies demonstrate that most people change these kinds of behaviors with great difficulty—if at all.

And from them we can see, simply trying to exercise greater will power or self control is not going to effect permanent changes in most lives. (The 10 percent long-term success rate of most government drug rehab programs clearly bears that out.)

As always, the answer to this conundrum is found in the Word of God in this case in Ephesians 1:18-19:
The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power….
The same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead is certainly more than enough to overcome any paralyzing fear or contrary behavior in our lives.

I should say here that since none of us have achieved perfection, until Jesus returns we are all going to have to deal with these issues from time to time. What you must learn to do is to not just exercise your will power, but rather to tap into the power that is available to "us-ward who believe."

Don't ever let Satan deceive you into thinking your faith isn't important. When you're among those "who believe," great power is available to you.

How do you tap into that power? Let's go back to James 1:22 and read on to verse 25 to find the answer:
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
In verses 24 and 25, the Greek word translated "forgetteth" and "forgetful" literally means "to put out of mind." Here you're being told that if you are going to be a doer of the Word, you're going to have to do something about what's in your mind.

That verse says, "Being not a forgetful hearer but a doer." A hearer of what? A hearer of the "perfect law of liberty" or in other words, God's Word. Thus, you could say, "Being not a forgetful hearer of God's Word, but a doer."

Bridle That Tongue
Now let's look at the next key to doing the Word. We find it in the very next verse:
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.
(James 1:26)
Here the Bible warns us of another source of deception. First it told us that deception comes when you hear the Word but don't do it. Now it adds this truth: If you think you have it all together spiritually but don't keep your tongue from speaking things contrary to God's Word, then you're fooling yourself.

Satan will try to deceive us into believing that thoughts and words are inconsequential. Don't we all eventually say what we've been thinking? Jesus said we do:
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
(Luke 6:45)
The two principle factors which determine whether or not you become a doer of the Word are
  1. What you think upon
  2. What you speak
If you meditate on God's Word and then speak God's Word, you will tap into the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe. And that power can and will change your behavior. You will become a doer of the Word, not by your own strength and resolve, but by the power of God that resides in His Word.

Consistent doing is always preceded by consistent thinking and consistent speaking. A failure to do the Word, however, leads to deception. And as we've seen, deception leads to something very different from prosperity and success.

Think It. Speak It. Do It.
You have the God-given capacity to imagine, or mentally image, your life being experienced in a particular way. The way in which you see or imagine your life has a big impact on how you will experience it. This isn't magic, however. Your imaginations will simply tend to prompt and motivate your behavior.

This is why Satan wants you to have vain (empty and foolish) imaginations. He wants you to fantasize about sinful things. The devil wants you to see yourself as defeated, sick, and broke. He wants you to think only about yourself and your needs. Because, as you dwell on those kinds of thoughts, it influences the direction of your life.

If you are in difficult straits now, Satan will try to keep you there by promoting vain imaginations consistent with that negative situation. Let me remind you again of what the Word says in this matter: "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Prov 23:7).

See Yourself As A Conqueror
Don't let thoughts contrary to God's Word stay in your mind. Cast down vain thoughts and bring them captive to the obedience of Christ. Begin imagining yourself doing mighty works for God. See yourself as being more than a conqueror and able to do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

Pray in the Holy Spirit and yield your life to His ministry and, as 1 Corinthians 2:9 suggests, God will begin to show you things your eye hasn't seen, your ear hasn't heard, and your heart has even pondered. He'll show you what He has prepared for you who love Him.

Not only can you imagine the promises in God's Word being fully operative in your life, but God will also, by the Holy Spirit, give you a grand image or vision of what He has specifically planned for you.

Make This Year Your Best Ever
As you meditate and talk about God's plan for your life, you'll begin tapping into that exceeding greatness of His power and the things in your life that would stand in the way of God's purpose for you will begin to fall away.

You'll be delivered and set free from all of Satan's hindrances and, most importantly, you'll become an immediate doer of the things you've heard and believed. And when you do, a major door to deception in your life will be closed.

That means that you can look at the New Year that lies ahead and move into it with boldness and confidence knowing that you will finally begin to become all that God intends you to be.

Copyright © Mac Hammond Ministries
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Mac Hammond
Web site: Mac Hammond
 
Mac Hammond is senior pastor of Living Word Christian Center, a large and growing church in Brooklyn Park (a suburb of Minneapolis), Minnesota. He is the host of the Winner’s Minute, which is seen locally in the Minneapolis area and can also be viewed at winnersminute.com. He is also the host of the Winner’s Way broadcast and author of several internationally distributed books. Mac is broadly acclaimed for his ability to apply the principles of the Bible to practical situations and the challenges of daily living.
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