Arcing—Assignment 9
James 1:26-27
Beware of deceptive, worthless religion. Strive for compassion and holiness.
Published November 30th, 2016
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Main point summary
Main point summary
Worthless religion is self deceived due to an unbridled tongue, while pure religion is full of compassion and holiness.
James 1:26-27
If you think you are religious and you don't bridle your tongue, you deceive yourself in your religion.
I see no subordinate relationship here. Instead, it seems like two distinct things to do, with the latter being more general.
Worthless religion is one that involves an unbridles tongue.
Religion that is pure and undefiled is full of compassion and holiness.
Worthless religion is self deceived due to an unbridled tongue, while pure religion is full of compassion and holiness.
If anyone thinks he is religious
If anybody thinks himself to be religious
q and does not bridle his tongue
and yet he does not watch over his words
but deceives his heart,
he thereby deceives his very self
this person’s r religion is worthless.
and then his religion lacks any real worth.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:
On the other hand, pure religion before God--our Father--is:
s to visit t orphans and widows in their affliction,
1) visit those in affliction, namely, compassion
and u to keep oneself v unstained from the world.
2) keep unstained from the world, namely, holiness.
It is frightening that there can be religion that lacks any worth. It lacks worth in reference to self--it is not beneficial to the worshipers. It lacks worth in reference to others--it does not benefit them in love. Yet most importantly, it is without worth in the sight of God. And it is surprising that one of the key features of having a worthless religion is that one does not watch over what one says. This shows how close our words are to our heart, and how we can see what is in our hearts by what we say (cf. Luke 6:45). Yet not only that, the saddest and scariest part of the text might be v. 26c, where James makes it clear that someone with worthless religion deceives his heart. Heart here meaning his very, inner self. So not only is the religion lacking worth, but the person thinks that their religion is fine, is beneficial, is godly. That is why the contract starting in v. 27 is so important. There is religion that is worthy in the eyes of God. Not worthy in the sense that we are worthy in ourselves, but worthy in that we look like the Father. Worthy in the sense that it is 'pure and undefiled.' What then is this religion? It is showing compassion and holiness. It, therefore, is a love for people and a love for God. The love for people leads one to genuinely care and act when others are in affliction. The love for God (cf. 1:12) leads one to fight off temptation (cf. 1:13-14) and live a life full of holiness in the midst of the world.
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.