Main point summary
Don't deceive yourself by thinking you are religious while you do not bridle your tongue. True religion means visiting people in their afflictions and guarding yourself from sin.
If anyone thinks he is religious
Εἴ τις δοκεῖ θρησκὸς εἶναι
If anyone considers himself a religious person
q and [yet] does not bridle his tongue
μὴ χαλιναγωγῶν γλῶσσαν αὐτοῦ
and nevertheless he is not careful in what he says
but deceives his heart,
ἀλλʼ ἀπατῶν καρδίαν αὐτοῦ,
in this he therefore deceives himself,
[then] this person’s r religion is worthless.
τούτου μάταιος ἡ θρησκεία.
then his religion is of no value or purpose, i.e. false religion.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:
θρησκεία καθαρὰ καὶ ἀμίαντος παρὰ τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρὶ αὕτη ἐστίν,
On the other hand true religion (i.e. pure and undefiled) in God's eyes, is this:
s to visit t orphans and widows in their affliction,
ἐπισκέπτεσθαι ὀρφανοὺς καὶ χήρας ἐν τῇ θλίψει αὐτῶν,
to go and see orphans and widows in their affliction,
and u to keep oneself v unstained from the world.
ἄσπιλον ἑαυτὸν τηρεῖν ἀπὸ τοῦ κόσμου.
and to guard oneself from the world's vices.
God defines what true religion is, so make sure you judge yourself by what He says, not what you think.
Our words defile us, because they reveal our heart (our thoughts, desires and affections). ( see Matt. 15:18, Matt. 12:34 )
Affliction due to their bereavement: their needs remained unmet.
What you speak reveals what you value and what preoccupies your mind, so if you think your are religious - that you worship and fear God - but you do not watch over your mouth to keep yourself unstained from its sins, you are but deceiving yourself about your religion, it is worthless - of no value in the sight of God. Rather, what God is approving as pure and undefiled worship is contained in two things: one is visiting weak people, which cannot support or defend themselves ( orphans and widows ) and meeting their needs; the other is keeping oneself unstained from the corruption that is in the world ( including tongue sins ). By doing so, you prove yourself to be truly religious and are not deceiving yourself about your status before God, who sanctifies all those whom he justified. These things are the evidence of your justification, not the cause thereof. Some sins related to the tongue are as follows: 3:5 - boasting 3:8 - deceiving 3:10 - cursing Ps. 52:2 - destruction Ps. 120:2 - lying Prov. 6:14 - sowing discord Rom. 1:29-30 - strife, gossip, slander Ps. 73:8 - scoffing and many other All these tongue sins reveal what is in the heart, as it is written in Matt. 15:18 and Matt. 12:34. So Jacob is not advocating an external bridle on your desires to commit these sins, but a change of heart which naturally flows in a bridled tongue. Instead of letting our tongue run loose with all manner of unrighteousness (3:6) we should watch over it (Ps. 39:1; Ps. 34:13) and ask for God's help in doing so (Ps. 141:3).