“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.”
---End of Scripture verses---
In chapter 1 James lists three things that we can deceive ourselves about: that God is at fault when we are tempted to sin (verse 16), that God will bless us if we hear His word without doing it (verse 22), and that God will accept our worship when we refuse to control our tongues (verse 26). We may consider ourselves to be “religious” people who actively engage in outward expressions of reverence and homage toward God, but our language can belie the true inward condition of our hearts.
A sinful disposition of heart renders our “religion worthless” to God. The Lord chastised Israel through the prophet Isaiah because they rendered worthless worship unto God from evil hearts. “Bring your worthless offerings no longer, incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly” (Isaiah 1:13). James tells us that our tongues can be “a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell” (James 3:6).
The corrective action that God demands is to “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:16-17) Our worship will be a sweet-smelling savor to God when we purify our hearts, control our words and actions, and assist (visit) the poor and defenseless people within our sphere of influence with their needs.
“The world” is a very dirty and dangerous place for a Christian to live. We dwell in the midst of evil and immorality in this godless society, so we must be careful to remain “unstained by the world” (verse 27). The Apostle John explains to us what “the world” consists of in 1 John 2:16: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” Jesus prayed that His father would help His followers to not be “of” the world while we are forced to live “in” the world (John 17:14-16).
Please let us not deceive ourselves. If we speak like the world speaks, obey our lusts like the world does, are filled with pride and arrogance like the worldly are, then we are lost like the world is. Let us come before God with humble, obedient hearts, confessing our sins, begging His forgiveness, ready to worship and serve Him according to His perfect will.
Please read James 2:1-7 for tomorrow.
Have a blessed day!
- Louie Taylor