Obeying presupposes listening. Without listening to the law, we can never obey correctly; but without obedience, listening is also useless. James tells us that merely listening to the law is deceiving oneself. To only listen is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror and soon forgets what he looks like. Though he knows his unsightliness and shortcomings, he does not want to do anything about them.
The law is the basis upon which God rewards good and punishes evil. In God's sight, it is not those who hear the law who are righteous, but those who obey the law. When God wields his judgment, He does not judge how much of the law one has heard, but how much one has done.
Before believing in God, no matter how earnestly we keep the law or do good, we cannot be called righteous in God's sight. Even the best of people make mistakes. Therefore, whoever wishes to become righteous by the law ends up being condemned by the law. But after becoming Christians, with Christ's grace, we can obey His instructions and manifest true faith. Faith without deeds is dead. A Christian is called righteous, not only by simple faith, but by faith in action.
Whoever hears the word and does it builds their faith on Christ-a faith that endures whatever trials and temptations beset it. Let us be like the wise man who builds his house on the rock and is able to withstand the wind and rain because of its solid foundation. Those who listen to the word of the Lord and do not do it have houses built on sand that fall at the slightest of tests.
To obey Christ's teachings is not as difficult as one might think. From his inability to do what he knew was right (Rom 7:18), Paul progressed to proclaim, "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free" (Rom 8:2). If we determine to live according to the Spirit, then we, too, can have the victory.