Religion; false and true **
Religion; false and true **
I recall reading these verses in the past and thinking I wasn't religious, at least not in whatever sense James is referring to, because I had not then or ever visited an orphan or a widow when in their misery. Oh, how I missed the point. James begins by revealing the counterfeits. If my claim to religion is how I can talk about God then I am lying to myself. Talk here is really a means of covering for my lack of religion. Religion is not about how I perceive myself. Religion is not about me feeling better about myself. Religions is not about me. John Calvin said we cannot know ourselves unless we have first contemplated the face of God and then come down to scrutinize ourselves. Religion is how God sees me. God looks on the heart, he is not fooled by my tongue therefore true religion is the result of a life lived consciously in the presence of God. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism says, our chief end is to glorify and enjoy God. There can be no greater satisfaction than being used of God to bless another and no greater peace than maintaining an inward reflection of the glory and wonder of my loving Father. Pure and undefiled religion is the worship of God not me.
Main point summary
True religion has results! That person knows is focused on worshiping God by outward care of others and inward care against sin. Big talk and no results is not true religion.
If anyone thinks he is religious
If he sees himself as religious
q and does not bridle his tongue
yet he is known for his big talk and no resulting action
but deceives his heart,
and thereby he lies to himself as his religion is only pretense
this person’s r religion is worthless.
then his religion accomplishes nothing
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God,
Religion that God judges as holy, in worship of him
that is the one who cares for us as our Father
is this: s to visit t orphans and widows in their affliction,
that is it helps the helpless
and u to keep oneself v unstained from the world.
and the truly religious mortifies sin in his/her life.
I believe we can see here a ground in the law of Loving others as ourselves and loving God with all our heart, mind, and soul.
I think of John Owen's piety in killing sin and encouraging holiness in our personal/private life before God.
This person "sees" should be compared to verse 27, "before God". It is not about how I see myself but it is all about how God sees my religion.
Religion which accomplishes nothing more than puffing up the ego of the person claiming it is a false religion.
Religion which is certified true before God reveals itself in its care for others and by a holy life, a life lived for God, by the religious person.