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Summary: Message 13 in our exposition of James. This message focuses on three characteristics of a true follower of Jesus Christ.

Chico Alliance Church

Pastor David Welch

“True Religion”

This is our thirteenth excursion in front of God’s faith-exposing mirror. James’ letter provides pointed instruction evaluating the true nature of our faith. James’ mirror exposes the reality of faith by showing us the character of true faith. The first category has to do with faith’s response to trials and tribulations.

I. Faith’s response to trials 1:2-18


A. Considers it all Joy knowing trials produce endurance.

B. Continues enduring knowing endurance produces maturity

C. Confidently asks God for wisdom knowing He will give it.

D. Focuses on your spiritual riches. (Instruction #4)

E. Considers how God rewards endurance 1:12

F. Doesn’t blame God but yourself for temptations 1:13-18

The key component to enduring trials is our interaction with the Word of God. We cannot consistently stand up under trial and grow in our faith without God’s word continually flowing into our lives and directing our lives.

Our interaction with God’s word must go beyond exposure.


G. Receives AND practices the implanted word of truth. 1:18-27

1. God’s truth is the foundation of new birth. 1:18

2. Prepare to receive the implanted truth 19-21a

3. Receive the implanted the truth 1:21b

4. Perceive and Practice the implanted truth 22-27

a. Instruction to hear and obey the word

b. Description of the deceived forgetful hearer

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.

c. Description of the enlightened blessed doer

But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and having remained there, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

James urged his readers to stand in front of God’s mirror. He even included a few flaws to look for in the mirror. God preserved the entire book of James to expose phony faith.

He suggested three examples of genuine faith.

The arena of our words – supervise your tongue

The arena of our works – serve the needy

The arena of our walk – shun the world system.

A bridled tongue.

A compassion heart that serves others.

A life unstained by the world.

Earlier James differentiated between the one who thought they were spiritual because of interaction with the word but demonstrated otherwise by their lack of obedience to the word. The word “religion” referred to acts of ceremonial worship. specific actions motivated by a love for God. Thinking something to be true that isn’t is the definition of self-deception. Many people think claiming something equal doing something. Some regard intention as action.

Here, James focused on three areas where people thought or claimed to be someone truly devoted to God but lacked specific action to back it up. Interaction without action. Ceremony without service. Words without heart.

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:16-17

d. Characteristics of the true follower of Jesus.

(1) A Bridled tongue (speech)

James focused on a clear indicator of a broken and contrite heart.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless

To think or supposed to be true. He used the present tense verb to indicate a continual mind set that I am a spiritually mature. James expands on the power of the tongue later and so will we.

He went so far as to boldly assert…

We all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. James 3:2

The tongue is an accurate barometer of one’s spiritual maturity. What comes out of our mouth during trials exposes what is in our heart. Most sins against others addressed in the Bible relate to our speech. Of course, the tongue is not really the problem. Words of the tongue only reveal the condition of the heart.

What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. Matthew 15:18-19

The tongue discloses bad attitudes, impure motives, unaddressed bitterness, impure thoughts leading to evil actions. Don’t claim spiritual maturity when you fail to bridle your tongue. James asserted that our failure to bridle our tongue actually renders our testimony useless, empty, vain. The only way to bridle the caustic tongue is to cleanse the contaminated heart.

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