We live in a polluted, irreligious, narcissistic, culture ruled by the idolatry of self. God has little place. Others are only a means to exploit. The needy are bypassed and of small concern to us. The intensely practical nature of real godliness calls us to a cross, to death of sin and self, that the love of God, which freely falls on saints, might govern our mouth, mind and moral acts towards those made to bear His stamp.
In His book practical religion, Anglican bishop of Liverpool, JC Ryle, extols the virtues of powerful practical evangelical Christianity.
In this little section of James chapter 1:26-27, the apostle lays bare what genuine godliness looks like.
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world – James 1:26-27 ESV
1. The Contradiction of True Religion – an Unbridled Mouth
Whoever does not control their tongue is self-deceived and not truly religious. How many bless God on Sunday but tear stripes off others on Monday.
2. The Character of True Religion – Truly Religious Folk Are Pure and Undefiled by the Taint of Intemperate Speech
Instead of boasts and empty talk, their religion is uncontaminated by what flows from their lips. Only in Christ does true religion peak – but Jesus gives more grace.
3. The Arena of True Religion – Living to Please God
Those born again, who are really children of God, live to please their Father – to show His family likeness, is what they desire most. Driven by His love, intent to win His eye, they live and move before the Lord. True religion is not the hypocritical man-pleasing performance of those who do not know God.