1. Has anyone ever deceived you? Has anyone ever pretended to be someone they were not? Has someone told you they would do something when they had no intention of doing so?
2. As pastor I have often felt deceived. By person making vows and promises and with in days or months forgetting their own words. By those who have made confession of faith, promising to live out Christian faith in worship and service. And when I confront them, they somehow don’t understand what is bothering me. Perhaps my pride is hurt. I thought they were sincere. That what they said with their mouth and their outer worship of God came from a faith within them that was real. I may even have given my opinion that their faith was real to the board of elders. Now I feel betrayed and even foolish They stop coming to church, start living with someone, and live a life that does not care about what God says at all - so it seems to me. They pulled the wool over my eyes. I was deceived by them. Their profession of faith seems so false.
1. In the first chapter of James he uses the word deceived 3 times. But the deception he is talking about here is much more dangerous than being deceived by others. James warns us not to deceive ourselves. To think we are something we are not. He warns us not to be deceived into thinking we are believers or followers of Jesus Christ. Not to be deceived into thinking we are part of God’s kingdom, that we have been regenerated or converted. That’s scary.
2. We considered this when we looked at the sermon on the mount. To come before God, expecting His arms to be open to receive us. Instead he says "Away from me, I never knew you".
3. Is your faith sincere or will God say "I ever knew you" to you?" Is your religion worthless or is it pure and faultless? James offers us three litmus tests to see if our faith is real. And as we look at these three tests, look at yourself and ask God to convict you if it is not.
4. We may like to pretend all is well but that does little good. Only when we know we are sick, do we take steps to get well.
5. These three tests concern our religion. Our religion means our outer act of worship. We can stand before God and sing praise to Him, we can bow down before Him and we can raise our hands in worship. But is it worthless or is it pure and faultless? In other words is it real?
6. This evening we take the first of these three tests. Next week we take the last two and we see how we are to deal with the results, the marks we give ourselves. But please, do not be deceived.
7. What is important is that we are not just listeners, but doers. That the word of God has touched and changed our hearts in such a way that our lives are changed in such a way that we become doers of the word. And the three tests before us each are concerned about doing.
8. And so the first question or test. Do you keep a tight reign on your tongue?
9. As we go on through James he will talk more about the danger and the power of our tongues. It is so easy to quickly say something and say things that we either should not or wish we wouldn’t.