The General Epistle of James (Part 10)

vs. 26-27. A. James here contrasts vain religion and pure religion. From these verses, we observe: 1. 2. 3. 6. B. This is 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. One may seem to be religious but not truly religious. An unbridled tongue “vanitizes” religion; it makes for a defiled religion. Pure religion is more about godly benevolence and godly living than outward show or words. Benevolence is not the sole definition of pure religion. a. One may give goods to the poor but not have true charity. 1CO 13:3. b. One may be big on relieving the poor but spotted from the world. JOH 12:4-6. a continuation of James' earlier words concerning speech and active godliness. vs. 19, 22. The hearer who is a non-doer deceives himself. v. 22. The doer with an unbridled tongue deceives himself. v. 26. James' words were very relevant to the Jewish churches which were spotted with self- deceivers among them. c/w 2PE 2:13. The apostles in general had much to say about self-deception. 1CO 3:18; GAL 6:3; 1JO 1:8. The man with an unbridled tongue does to himself and his religion what a false prophet or teacher can do to believers and religion. c/w 2PE 2:1-2. a. Corruption in religion may come from external deception working in. ACT 20:29. b. Corruption in religion may come from self-deception working out. REV 3:17. c. Paul told Titus to guard against both. TIT 1:10-11; 2:7-8. James has much more to say about bridling the tongue in JAM 3:1-14. a. The unbridled tongue defiles the whole body. JAM 3:6. b. The unbridled tongue defiles the whole religion. c. Bridling the tongue would have had a special relevance to the poor believers who were being oppressed by the wicked rich. PSA 39:1-2. (1) Bridling the tongue would have prevented the breakout of words of strife and envy which cause great trouble in the church. JAM 3:14-16. (2) Bridling the tongue would have been better than cursing persecutors who should have been blessed instead. JAM 3:10 c/w MAT 5:43-44. “If any man among you SEEM to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue...” a. seem: With infinitive: To appear to be or to do something. b. religious: Imbued with religion; exhibiting the spiritual or practical effects of religion; pious, godly, god-fearing, devout. c. One may appear to be religious when he is not really so. c/w GAL 6:3. d. (LUK 8:18) Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he SEEMETH to have. C. God rejects vain religion. JOB 35:13; ISA 1:13-14. 1. The reception of the engrafted word (v. 21) should be reforming speech as well as deeds. EPH 4:24-25, 29, 31. a. The law of liberty by which we examine ourselves (v. 25) sits in judgment upon our speech and deeds. JAM 2:12. b. Carefully consider MAT 12:35-37. 2. While we are waxing bold against man's commandments which “vanitize” worship (MAR 7:7), let us not forget to wax bold inwardly where corrupt speech is sourced. James 8-24-14 Page 24 MAT 12:34 c/w JAM 4:8. 3. Our appearance before God in public worship should not be a venue for blurting out rash words. ECC 5:1-2. 4. We should pray for the church to be purged of those whose religion is vain. PSA 144:11. D. Contrary to vain religion, James shows the substance of pure and undefiled religion. v. 27. 1. This is religion that is pure and undefiled before God. It meets with His approval, unlike the religion of the unbridled tongue. 2. Undefiled religion is Bible religion. PSA 119:1. 3. Pure and undefiled religion is to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction. c/w MAT 25:35-40. a. visit: To make a practice of going to (persons in sickness or distress) in order to to comfort or assist them. c/w JOB 29:12-13. b. It was a deficiency in visitation of widows that caused some unbridled murmuring in the early Jerusalem church. ACT 6:1. c. God takes particular notice of the fatherless and widows. EXO 22:22; PSA 68:5; DEU 27:19. d. Covetous exploitation of the fatherless and the widows was a longstanding problem in Israel. PSA 94:6-7; ISA 1:23; 10:1-2; EZE 22:7; ZEC 7:10; MAL 3:5. e. Recall that the Pharisees (masters of vain religion) had wormed their way into the Jewish church (ACT 15:5) and they had a penchant for devouring widows' houses. MAT 23:14. f. Paul ordered widows to be first supported by family, “...for that is good and acceptable before God” (1TI 5:4), an example of pure and undefiled religion. 4. Pure and undefiled religion is also keeping ourselves unspotted from the world. a. unspotted: Not marked with spots; free from any spot or stain. 2. Not morally stained; unblemished, pure: a. Of persons, the mind, etc., b. Of character, qualities, etc. b. This is not a forbidding of the lawful use of this world (LUK 16:9; 1CO 7:31) or of all association with sinners of this world. 1CO 5:9-10. c. The things that are in the world are “...the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life...” (1JO 2:16). d. The corruption that is in the world is through lust. 2PE 1:4. e. We must put off the manner of life lived according to the deceitful lusts. EPH 4:22-32. f. We should hate “...even the garment spotted by the flesh” (JUDE 1:23). (1) Garments that reflect and accommodate fleshly lusts should be despised. 1TI 2:9. (2) Allusion may be made here (JUDE 1:23) to O.T. laws pertaining to lepers and other defiled persons (LEV 13:52-57; 15:4-17) whose garments were held to be polluted. (3) Christians who have received a spiritual white garment from Christ are not to defile it by approach to what is defiled. REV 3:4, 18. 5. James is treating of the same issues as did Isaiah. ISA 1:10-20.
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