The word "religion" is found five times in the Word of God, and "religious" two times. Nearly all of the times it has to do with some type of worship, But, not necessarily worship of One True God.
Religion is a ceremonial observance. This is seen in native tribes around the world, and it is found in much of what we see in our country as well. It is the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
In most cases, religion is a deterrent to Christianity. A very high percentage of those who practice religion use their religion to take place of God. Their religion is god. Religion will send one to hell. If a person will follow religion, they will spend eternity in the lake of fire.
I. Vain Religion Vs. 26.
(James 1:26) "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain."
A. James is using the word "religious" in a positive manner here.
1. Let's look first at the word "bridle or bridleth".
a. In all of its various meanings it has to do with control of a certain object, whether it be the tongue, or an animal.
b. So James tells us that any religious person who is not in control of his tongue possesses vain religion. c. Vain means: empty, profitless, or an idol:--vain, vanity.
2. If we have no control over our tongue.
a. The person who claims religion and doesn't bridle their tongue is denouncing Christianity.
(James 1:19) "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:"
b. Oh, I just have a short fuse…
c. That may be an admission of personal weakness, but it isn't an excuse for sin.
d. Note: James 3:2-8
3. A religious person that has no control over (bridleth not) their tongue is denouncing Christianity.
B. A born again person will bridle his tongue.
1. Not just on Sunday!
2. What about while we are at the work place?
3. What about at home, or with friends?
C. An unbridled tongue is not just referring to taking the Lord's name in vain.
1. Most certainly, as Christians, our tongues should not be used to swear or curse.
a. This includes using so-called 'Christian' curse words.
1) Oh, God!
2) Good Lord!
4) And others…
b. We should not use the world's terminology either.
1) Gosh, darn, etc.
2) TV cursing: freakin' etc.
2. But the unbridled tongue is also evident in other areas of speech.
a. The manner in which we say certain words.
b. Pushing the buttons to irritate or anger someone else.
c. Using words that tear down or injure someone else.
(Eph 4:29) "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."
3. A person with an unbridled tongue is not reflecting an accurate image of Christ.
a. There is great harm in this.
b. People judge our Savior by what we do and what we say.
C. Hypocrisy = a pretense of having virtues, moral principles, or religious beliefs that one does not really possess.
1. A hypocrite is not a Christian.
2. A hypocrite is one who pretends to be religious.
3. Jesus referred to the Pharisees as hypocrites. Cf Mt. 23:13-15
4. Our speech will tell what we are.
(Mat 26:73) "And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee."
a. "Bewrayeth" means = Make manifest, or evident.
b. Our speech reveals our real character.
c. We may try to excuse our speech, but it reveals us for what we are.
II. Pure Salvation Vs. 21.
A. If we are going to have pure religion, we must first have pure salvation.
(James 1:21) "Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls."
1. We are not talking about salvation coming from doing what Vs. 21 says.
2. But this is the evidence of pure salvation.
3. Engrafted means to be implanted.
a. The Word of God implanted into our hearts brought conviction by revealing how wicked our hearts really were.
b. This implanting of the Word of God by the Holy Spirit brought about the repentance that is necessary to receive Christ.
(Acts 20:21) "Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."
c. When we repent, we repent toward God for having broken His law, understanding that in breaking His law we have sinned against God.
B. Pure salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ the Lord.
1. The "engrafted word" that brings conviction to the heart and the Holy Spirit brings the knowledge from that engrafted word that Jesus Christ, God the Son shed His blood on the cross for us.
2. It is the work of that engrafted word that brings us to salvation.
3. Salvation cannot be attained apart from the Word of God
4. cf Romans 10:13-15
III. Pure Religion Is The Result Of Pure Salvation Vs. 27.
A. Many teach that pure salvation is the result of pure religion.
1. That is backwards!
2. Religion without salvation will be impure.
3. It will be defiled.
B. Any religion that exalts self is a defiled religion.
1. The "I'm OK You're OK" philosophy is false.
2. The Bible clearly states that "All have sinned…"
3. Works based religion is false…because what we do takes the place of what Christ did for us.
4. Teaching that we can achieve some higher level of spiritual existence on our own is absolutely contrary to the Word of God.
C. Do we have religion, or do we have Christ?
1. The word "Visit" means to relieve, as to relieve a burden.
a. Real religion says, "I will give".
b. Real religion says, "others first".
c. Real religion says, "I will serve".
d. Real religion says, "I accept the burden of others."
e. Real religion says, "not I, but Christ."
2. Real religion knows no boundaries in this matter of serving.
3. If someone has to ask us to help serve, then we are not a servant!
Most all people are depending upon their religion to get them into heaven. That will not happen! Only faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ will assure us of heaven.
We must possess that which is real. The counterfeit will do nothing to preserve your soul. The only real part of religion is that Christ died on the cross for all sinners, and all who believe in Him will be saved for all eternity.
What kind of religion do we have?