Main point summary
Worthless religion and pure religion
If anyone thinks he is religious
If anyone thinks of themselves as being religious,
q and does not bridle his tongue
bridling not their mouth
but deceives his heart,
but rather deceiving their own heart
this person’s r religion is worthless.
then this person's faith is devoid of any purpose
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:
but faith that is pure and not defiled before God is as follows:
s to visit t orphans and widows in their affliction,
it is to visit and look after orphans and widows who are in affliction
and u to keep oneself v unstained from the world.
and it is to guard yourself from becoming corrupted by the world
Evidence of a true conversion is seen in changes both externally and internally. Caring for those in affliction who are unable to care for themselves (external) and living a life of a clean conscience before God (internal)
A worthless religion is characterized by reckless speech and a self-deceived heart
Pure religion remains undefiled by the world and is evidenced by action in caring for the needy and afflicted.
What we say matters. It is always a reflection and indicator of the heart, what we are thinking. James said if you are not presently controlling the tongue, you are also presently deceiving your heart. Don't get caught up in the sequence, which comes first the speech or the deceived heart. Just here the warning that they happen simultaneously. They are joined at the hip so-to-speak. And if this is the case, then your religion is worthless, vain, useless, devoid of any force or purpose. Faith must translate into how we live. When it doesn't, you can see the evidence. In contrast, a true religion is what which impacts a person inwardly and outwardly. A change occurs in the heart leading to a heavenward cry, "Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness...make your way straight before me." Psa 5:8. The concerns of God for the afflicted and needy become their own. (Psa 140:12) and they respond accordingly. It doesn't think of itself as religious, it simply lives as one humbly and joyfully practicing righteousness. When you encounter it, you will know it. It is purposeful, full of meaning, flavored with grace, established in hope, and useful for the Lord and His Kingdom. May this be the encounter others experience with me.