James 1:26

James 1:26  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 7
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CERTAINLY the believer is not said to be blessed for his doing, but in it. The true light already shines; as it did perfectly in Christ when here, so now the Holy Spirit effects this in those begotten of God. He will have reality, now that the day of shadows and forms is past, grace and truth having come through Jesus Christ. If He is not here to maintain all, the Holy Spirit is sent forth and abides for this express purpose to the glory of Christ. No doubt, it is a day of knowing what God has revealed, and He has revealed nothing more fully than Himself in His Son. But it is a day of obedience for the faithful, no less than of life and peace, and of fellowship with the Father and the Son. Knowledge without obedience is a sad and shameful reproach. “If ye know these things,” said the Savior, “happy are ye if ye do them.”
But there is another way in which we may glorify God, or do Him great dishonor; not by our activity, but by our speech. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. As our Lord added, “The good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things; and the wicked man out of the wicked treasure bringeth forth wicked things. But I say unto you, that every idle word which men shall say, they shall render an account of it in judgment-day; for by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matt. 12:35-3735A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. 36But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (Matthew 12:35‑37)). On scarce anything are men, and even Christians, more distant practically from the mind of God than on the use and in the license claimed for the tongue. On the other hand who does not know the dead and gloomy and resentful silence when the name of the Lord Jesus is brought into any general company? It matters not how reverent be the spirit in which it is uttered, or how apt the application, or how necessary and conclusive for the truth's sake: man cannot forgive it. The name is inopportune, save from a pulpit; it is an offense to the world, high or low, which cast Him out and crucified Him. Notwithstanding the desperate effort to make out that all is changed for so many ages, and that the adornment of the tomb, the picture, or the sculpture, proves the heart's homage in our day, the implacable enmity underneath does not fail to betray itself; and God is not deceived by a vain show. With the heart it is believed unto righteousness, and with mouth confession is made unto salvation. God will have his Son honored as Himself where He was rejected; and those who honor Him by hearing His words and believing Him Who sent Him have life eternal; while those who disbelieve Him must perish, their ways being as bad as their words to His dishonor.
The same principle applies all through. “If anyone thinks he is religious, not bridling his tongue but deceiving his heart, this [man's] religion is vain” (ver. 26). The word “religious” here used refers to the manifestation. It is neither εὐσβὴς, pious or godly; nor is it λατρεύων rendering a religious service or worship to God. It means religious practice outwardly paid. Compare Acts 26:55Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. (Acts 26:5), Col. 2:18, 2318Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, (Colossians 2:18)
23Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh. (Colossians 2:23)
Again, the form is hardly “seemeth” but “deemeth,” or “thinketh himself.” It is not what appears to others that is in question, but his thought of himself. Wyclif and the Rhemish are right, following the Vulgate; Tyndale misled Cranmer, the Geneva V. and the Authorized. The very fact that it is not deeds but only the indulgence of speech gives occasion to self-deception. But he who calls on the Lord's name is bound to follow His steps, and not to misrepresent Him, Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth; Who, reviled, reviled not again, and, suffering, threatened not. On the contrary as He was fairer than the sons of men, so grace was poured into His lips: therefore God blessed Him forever. But each of us has imperative need to “bridle his tongue “; for we have an old man which was wholly absent from Him. If we do not, the evil of fallen nature finds a ready exit there; which, if we fail to judge, deceives the heart. And this man's religion is as vain, as his is faithful who abides close to the perfect law of liberty.