Summary: This sermon is from James 1:26-27 and 2:14-26 as they both seem to be talking to the same topic of deeds and how those deeds proceed from true faith.
“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.
“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.”
One of the things we as Christians need to be careful about is to know the Scriptures.
Cults that want to appear to be Christian love to use Scriptures from the Bible.
By taking them out of context they make them say what they want them to say.
For instance, a cult might take these verses and say that in order to be a religious person you must take a vow of silence and that in order to be holy all you need to do is take care of orphans and widows (only the distressed ones) and don’t swim in polluted water or breathe polluted air or eat non-organically grown food.
Now, we know that the people to whom James is writing are Christians who have been scattered throughout the known world of that time and to all Christians who have lived in the 2,000 years since that time.
We know this from James 1:1
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.”
Here James is speaking to Jews who have recognized Jesus as the Messiah and have placed their faith and trust in Him for salvation. The entire letter is built upon this understanding.
In the book of James the word “faith” is used 11 times in the NIV and each time it is used in a way that assumes that the person reading the letter understands what faith is and that they have already placed their faith and trust in Jesus for salvation.
Now, the words religion on the other hand is only used 5 or 6 of times in the Bible. That’s not a lot for such a “religious” book!
So, if faith is something that these believers already have what is this religion that James is talking about?
Let’s make a premise here and see if we can prove and disprove it from Scripture.
Faith is the human response to God’s grace that establishes our relationship with Christ as our Savior and true religion, or “deeds” are the outpouring that comes from that relationship with God.
First, does faith save us? What do the Scriptures say?
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.
“Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.
“For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”