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 observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
Listen to the "Verse by Verse" episode covering this scripture.
Hearing the Scriptures at Church is a great blessing. Studying the Bible is an essential part of the Christian life. Meditating on the Word of God is pleasing to God. But these things are not enough. Christians must not only hear, but do.
James gives a vivid word picture of a man glancing into a mirror, but then not doing anything about the messed up hair or the dirty face shown in the mirror. Forgetting what he saw is the same as a would-be Christian forgetting that God tells us to change.
James describes God’s law as “the perfect law of liberty.” This liberty requires repentance (a U-turn from going Satan’s way to going God’s way) and forgiveness of past sins. Jesus Christ’s sacrifice paid our penalty for sins and sets us free from bondage to sin and guilt. Then we are truly free to obey God’s perfect and beneficial law of liberty through the help of God’s Holy Spirit.
For more about examining ourselves in the mirror of God’s law, see “How to Repent.”