Monday, October 8, 2018


If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:26-27

Many Christians today are confused about the topic of religion.  We sometimes try to make religion whatever we need it to be – maybe to allow ourselves feel like we have done enough to please God.  Whatever kind of religion we have, it is of no value unless it is pleasing to God in heaven and effective for His purpose on earth.  Religion has been defined as “the outward expression of an inward faith.  Our religion is more than the way we worship on Sundays, but the way we conduct our daily relationships and business in life.  God speaks about the kind of religion that pleases Him throughout His Word. Repeatedly He rebukes actions that have no heart and prayers that have no purpose.  He calls for concern for the poor along with our sacrifices of praise. 
What do you view religion?
·      Is it used only in the case of an emergency?
·      Is it easily upset and must be pushed?
·      Is it useful only when it goes your way?
James challenges us to take a look at the practice of our faith to see if it truly expresses the heart of God.  This brief passage is a summary of the practical side of faith.  
He begins with the words, If anyone thinks himself to be religious...  
Do you feel that you are a devout Christian?  While the word “pious” has developed some negative connotation, is it not a good thing to be? In spiritual terminology, piety is a virtue.  While people may vary in their understanding of its meaning, it is generally used to refer either to religious devotion or to spirituality, or often, a combination of both. A common element in most conceptions of piety is humility.  But piety in the negative connotation seems to speak of the person James is describing; one who is a religious “legend in his own mind.”
James targets the tongue as the evidence of an insincere religion with the words, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless.  (That is, if the man who thinks he is religious does not restrain his tongue, his other evidences of religion are worthless.)  Jesus said, "But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. (Matthew 15:18).  James has a pretty strong endorsement here.
But wait.  Was it not James that said, But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison? (James 3:8)   How can anyone ever be truly religious when we can’t control the tongue?  Maybe that’s why he chose the tongue as the illustration; for the only way you can control the tongue is to control the heart and the heart is the seat of true religion.  
The secret of pure religion is revealed. It is a changed heart that brings the whole man under control and subdues every faculty of the body and mind to its demands. Today, instead of trying to be “religious” in doing all the right things in your own power, yield your heart to God and let Him “bridle” your words and steps. 

Scripture to Claim:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.  Psalms 19:14

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