James warns his readers about the possibility of them failing to continue as doers of the word of God. In giving this warning, James makes two serious points.
First, he says that a failure to obey the word of God indicates that we have been deceived – he does not say that such are in danger of becoming deceived. No doubt, the first readers of this letter would have faced situations in which it would have been difficult to obey God’s commandments and disobedience would have seemed suitable. Yet if they failed to obey, they have been deceived. The same goes for ourselves whenever we fail to obey what God requires.
Second, James’ illustration of a man looking into a mirror tells us that the best way to remember God’s word is to practice what it says. He points out that it is possible to read the word intensely, similar to how a man checks how he looks in a mirror.
We can imagine a man looking into a mirror and noticing that he had a black mark on his face. He knows that he should wash his face, but on leaving his mirror he forgets about his black mark and makes his way along the road. Although he has forgotten his black mark, everyone he meets can tell he has not washed his face.
Similarly, if we forget to practice the commandments, then everyone we meet can see very easily that we are not obeying them. It does not matter how friendly the man is, those he speaks to see his black mark. So we can be nice to people, yet they will see if we are disobeying the demands of the Bible. We cannot hide it.
It is important that we ensure that we practice what the Bible tells us to do in all situations. The path of obedience is the only one that is safe for a believer to walk along. Obedience tells us where we are going.