Old-Fashioned Pure Religion
October 18, 2009
INTRODUCTION: In this passage, James' teaching is an expansion of that which he just presented. Three times already James has mentioned the danger of being deceived: 16, 22, 26. It is possible, according to James, to think you are living the Christian life when in actuality, you are just fooling yourself. James has referred to the Bible as a mirror, here one goes to the mirror to see a reflection of pure religion, and there he finds it. James, as we have already seen, is an intensely practical-minded Christian; he reduces everything to the terms of practical daily life. Remember, he is a creative doer, he did not come to audit the course but to take the test, and his thoughts are on the day of graduation.
The word "religion" is used three times in two forms. Paul used the word in Acts 26:5 when speaking of his former life before he was converted. Josephus, an early church historian, used the word to describe worship in the temple at Jerusalem.
By contrast, the word most commonly used in the New Testament for genuine, God-honoring, and God -pleasing worship is (eusebeia), whose basic meaning is that of godliness and holiness.
This passage has been referred to as the "test" of true religion: test of conversation, compassion, and conduct; talking, acting, doing. James is saying that a true believer will control the tongue, care for the afflicted, and live an unspoiled life. This passage calls for the kind of life that God accepts.
I. RELIGION OF THE UNBRIDLED TONGUE. 26
James is reminding us that the tongue is quite an indicator of a person's life.
Matthew 12:34b, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."
Matthew 12:37, "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
James 3:2, "For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole ...
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