Husband to Suzanne. Father of two beautiful children. Pastor in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
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True Religion
James 1:26-27
The piety which God values is shown by controlled speech, compassionate conduct, and godly living.
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#truereligion
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Published December 21st, 2018
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James 1:26-27
ESV
Main point summary
Arc of James 1:26-27
Notes
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James 1:26-27 ESV
NT
James 1:26-27
esv
26 If anyone thinks he is religious q and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s r religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: s to visit t orphans and widows in their affliction, and u to keep oneself v unstained from the world.
notes
Main point summary
The religion that has value in the eyes of God shows itself in controlled speech, compassion, and godliness.
Arc of James 1:26-27
editing
James 1:26-27
mine
If anyone thinks he is religious
If a person thinks that he is a religious [or pious] person,
q and does not bridle his tongue
and yet does not control his tongue,
situationresponse
but deceives his heart,
but instead lies to his own heart [by his self-assessment]
negativepositive
this person’s r religion is worthless.
then this person's religion [or piety] is utterly worthless.
conditional
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:
Instead, you must understand that the religion/piety that is pure and without blemish before God the Father is this:
s to visit t orphans and widows in their affliction,
to visit the helpless orphans [who do not have families to protect and nurture for them] and the helpless widows [who do not have husbands to provide for them]
and u to keep oneself v unstained from the world.
and to keep your moral conduct from being polluted by the world [that stands apart from Christ].
series
ideaexplanation
The religion that God accepts cares for the helpless and strives for godliness.
A person who thinks he is religious but does not control his tongue is self-deceived.
An uncontrolled tongue reveals a religion that is counterfeit and worthless.
The religion that has value in the eyes of God shows itself in controlled speech, compassion, and godliness.
discourse
Notes
What matters is not so much what we think about our religion or piety, but what God thinks. So what is the religion which God finds acceptable? While there is more that can (and must) be said about true religion, this passage speaks to some of the basic evidences of the type of religion which is pleasing in God's sight. First, by way of negative example, we see that true, God-pleasing religiosity/piety will be accompanied by a guarded speech. The person who claims that he is religious but who does not control the things he says is trusting in a counterfeit religion. It is not the real deal. We see this theme captured throughout the Scriptures but particularly in the proverbs. There wisdom and the fear of the Lord are marked by holding the tongue and using it for healing purposes (i.e. Proverbs 11:12; 17:28). While even Christians will not obtain perfect mastery over their tongues in this life (c.f. James 3), a necessary condition of true piety is someone who is striving to bring their mouth under the control of the Spirit. Second, religion that is truly acceptable to God also is manifested by a compassion toward the helpless. That is the sense of v. 27b. Both orphans and widows are those who lack an obvious champion of their care (either a husband or a father). True religion is not merely a certain self-assessment (like the deceived person in v. 26) or about not doing certain things, but it also is evident through a positive concern for those in need. This, of course, reflects God's own conduct toward helpless sinners such as us. Third, God-pleasing religion will be shown as a person strives for obedience to God's Word and seeks to avoid the defiling influences of the world which opposes Christ. This person does not want to have their conduct corrupted by the world which refuses to submit to Christ. Elsewhere, the Scriptures make clear that self-control (which includes bridled speech), compassion/mercy, and holiness are fruit of the Holy Spirit who is given to those who are untied to Christ. These qualities are not what make us religious but they are fruits that come from our being indwelt by the Spirit and united to Christ.
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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.