Tuesday, August 28, 2012


26 If any one thinks himself to be religious-piously observant of the external duties of his faith-and does not bridle his tongue, but deludes his own heart, this person's religious service is worthless (futile, barren).

27 External religious worship (religion as it it expressed in outward acts) that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world. (James 1:26-27).

26 Verses 26-27 point out three specific areas where truth should be put into practice. (1) The first is speech. James introduces a hypothetical case. The person involved "considers himself religious". This word describes a person who performs external acts of religion, such as public worship, fasting, or giving to the needy, but he exerts no controlling restraint on his speech. Exactly how his speech offends is not indicated, whether it be by cutting criticism of others, by uncleanness, by dishonesty, or by other ways. His uncontrolled tongue reveals that "his religion" is an external sham. In living like this, "he deceives himself" (cf. v.22).

27 (2) The kind of "religion that God our Father accepts" is the kind that exerts a positive influence on one's life. This verse does not give us a definition of religion. Instead, it presents a concrete way of insisting that genuine religion is a life-changing force. One's religion should be more than external; it must spring from an inner spiritual reality that expresses itself in love to others and holiness before God. James then describes a specific example of love-the care of "orphans and widows." "Look after" also appears in Matthew 25:36, 43 with reference to visiting the sick; it is not merely making a social call, but caring deeply for their needs. This is "faith expressing itself through love" (Galatians 5:6).
    (3) One whose religion is genuine will also aviod "being polluted by the world." "Worls" here describes the total system of evil that pervades every sphere of human existence and is set in opposition to God and to righteousness.
    To summarize, vv.22-27 insist that a person's religion must consist of more than superficila acts. It is not enough to listen to the statement of spiritual truth (vv.22-25), nor is it sufficient to engage in formal religious activity (v.26). The person whose religious experience is genuine will put spiritual trtuh into practice, and one's life will be marked by love for others and holiness before God.
[NIV BIBLE COMMENTARY Volume 2: New Testament].



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