Summary: We can have religion but no religiosity. Know what true religion that pleases God.
TOPIC: ACCURATE LIFE (PART 3)
(6th of a Series in the Book of James – A Life That Make a Difference Series)
Text: James 1:26-27
“26 If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
(ILL. First, Look in the Mirror - A man prayed complainingly to Almighty God about a neighbor, saying, "O Lord, take away this wicked person." And God said, "Which?") Our text for today is still in the context of listening and doing, hearing and doing, knowing and acting, learning and applying. Last two Sundays we learn about how our Ways should be, how our Walks should be in relation God’s Word should be in order to have an accurate life. Today we will see the last part of accurate life, what our Welfare (concerns or interest) should be? Let’s open our Bible in James 1:26-27 (read). From this verse we can see what should be our Welfare with regards to our religiosity. Two kinds of religion and its welfare:
1. Worthless Religion – v. 26
- Those consider themselves religious – The welfare of this people is outward. There are thousands of religions in the world today and everyone claim to be the only one true, making others as false. The Pharisees consider themselves as super religious and yet only in form, many in our times like the Pharisees that they consider themselves religious and yet their religiosity is just a form without the real essence. We can become religious because of what we do, we go to church every Sunday, every Wednesday, we do the penitence, etc. People consider themselves religious because of their religion, because they are part of a certain group or a religion. Many people consider themselves religious because of this, or because of what they do. Here James point out that if that is the case then you are just deceiving yourself and your religion is worthless. If your religion doesn’t bring change in your life it is really a useless one, if your religion doesn’t seen in practical way and feel by others then it is worthless. (ILL. Hitler’s religiosity – Hitler knew how to dissemble (magpaikot). One had to look very closely at his terrible book Mein Kamf very carefully to see the cloven (segment) hoof beneath the angel’s luminous robes. He made free use of the Christian vocabulary, talked about the blessing of the Almighty and the Christian confessions, which become the pillars of the new state; he rang bells and pulled out all organ stops. He assumed the earnestness of a man who is utterly weighed down by historic responsibility. He handed out pious (religious, devout) stories to the press, especially the church papers. It was reported, for example, that he showed his tattered (torn) Bible to some deaconesses and declared that he drew the strength for his great work from the Word of God. He was able to introduce a pietistic timbre (quality, character) into his voice, which caused many religious people to welcome him as a man sent from God. And a skilled propaganda machine saw to it that despite all the atrocities (murder, slaughter) which were already happening and despite the rabid (extreme, militant) invasions of the Nazis in the churches, the rumor got around that the good Fuhrer knew nothing about these things.”) (ILL. Some folks thinks if they wear their best clothes on Sunday they’re observing the Sabbath.”) There are people who are dedicated, sincere, self-sacrificing, well behaved like the Cheyenne Indians in Minnesota and yet they are not Christians. Being good is not necessarily being godly. To be godly, though is good.
- Those who do not keep a tight rein on his tongue – The welfare of this people is what they say. (ILL. Kinausap ng isang pastor ang isa niyang babaing miyembro sapagkat nagkakalat ito ng balita sa iba. “Kapatid bakit mo naman ipinagkakalat ang iyong mga nalalaman tungkol sa iba mong kapatid sa iba, hindi mo ba mapigilan ang iyong dila na gawin ito?” Tanong at paalaala ng pastor. “E pastor wala naman sa akin ang problema e, ang hindi po kasi makapagpigil ng kanilang dila ay iyong mga sinasabihan ko.) James stress out here that whether you consider yourself religious and yet you cannot control your tongue from gossiping or speaking words that contradict your religiosity then you are just deceiving yourself and your religion is worthless. That is why James reminds us in v. 19, “to slow to speak and slow to angry.” This is the word “tight rein” means to easily get angry, no self-control, easily become annoyed. Because he said in v. 20, “for this things does not bring about righteous life that God desires.” If there’s inconsistency between our talk and walk then we are living in inaccuracy and that our religiosity and religion is worthless. (ILL. The message is good news but the messenger is bad news) Many times we make our faith worthless because we don’t live by it. Many of us know what to believe but we don’t know how to behave as Christians. Christianity is good but many Christians are not good, then we are making Christianity worthless in the eyes of others and in the eyes of God. (ILL. Nehru said, “Christ I like. Christianity I like. Christians I don’t like.” Mahatma Gandhi said, “I would have been a Christian if it were not for the Christians.” Muhammad Ali said, “I love Christianity, it’s the Christians I hate.”) Actually Paul reminded Timothy about this kind of religiosity, 2 Timothy 3:1-9 (read). We can see these things in our time now, you can see them on TV, we can here this from songs of our favorite singers (parang maganda naman lyrics, may form of godliness and yet ano ang buhay, ano ang iba pang sisabi at ginagawa?), in our neighborhood (ILL May taga roon sa amin na marami na ang napatay, at tuwing mahal na araw nagpepenitensiya, pero pagkatapos na pagkatapos ng kaniyang penetinsiya sa hapon laman na uli ng inuman at barkada), in school, etc., even Christians can fall in this tragedy (we can go here from Sunday to Sunday and yet our lives are not change), as Paul said, v. 5, “-having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (ILL. General William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, defined it when he said: “I consider that the chief dangers which will confront the twentieth century will be: Religion without the Holy Spirit, Christianity without Christ, Forgiveness without regeneration, Morality without God and Heaven without hell.”) We can see that many people’s concerns and welfare now is not God and others but their own interests. And Paul warned us, v. 5, “Have nothing to do with them.”