A Few Thoughts: I. Counterfeit Christianity is easy. It requires nothing more than lots of talk and saying the right things. It is evidenced by self-deception and lack of attention to obedience. Questions for reflection: 1. How might I be self-deceived? 2. Do my words and works agree? Or does one outweigh the other? Are my doctrine and my doing in holy harmony? 3. What do I look to when I consider my assurance of salvation: feelings or fruit? The Bible gives us a variety of ways to evaluate whether or not we are in the faith and the fruit of obedience is one of those ways (Others include: the church, belief in the gospel, belief in God's promises, witness of the Holy Spirit, fruit of Spirit growing character). II. Genuine Christianity is hard. It requires dying to oneself daily and caring for those who have no one to care for them. It involves entering into the suffering and pain of others as Jesus entered into our suffering. Just as Jesus entered our suffering with the purpose of bringing us salvation, so too we enter the suffering of others not only to meet temporary needs, but to bring the message of salvation. The Christian is devoted to the mission of the church: Preaching the gospel and to adorning the gospel with the good works which ought mark the faithful. Questions for reflection: 1. How am I currently caring for (directly or indirectly) those who are in distress within the church? How might I better care for those who have no one to care for them? 2. How does my proximity to suffering increase my responsibility to care for those in trouble? Is every possible good work something a Christian is responsible for? 3. Is it possible to deceive yourself with good works in the same way you might deceive yourself with good words? 4. Does receiving God's word lead to doing God's word? 5. What does it mean to be unstained or distinct from the world?
Main point summary
Christians can live (a) in self-deception or (b) righteously before God the Father.
If anyone thinks he is religious
If anyone considers himself a Christian
q and does not bridle his tongue
That is a person who thinks himself a Christian yet doesn't rule his speech (talking a lot. not listening to the word. not doing the word.)
but deceives his heart,
but instead lies to himself,
this person’s r religion is worthless.
Then this person's Christianity is counterfeit - worthless.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:
On the other hand, real Christianity - the religion that is holy and acceptable to God the Father - is this:
s to visit t orphans
and widows in their affliction,
and widows in their troubles,
and u to keep oneself v unstained from the world.
and to keep oneself distinct from the world.
Lack of control over speech is an indicator of self-deception. The one who speaks wildly/quickly hears his own voice rather than the (implanted) word (of truth) (cf. James 1.18-19, 21).
True Christianity has compassion and acts to care for those who have no one to care for them. Christians, like Jesus, enter into the suffering of others.