Testing for Authentic Faith and Religion
Testing for Authentic Faith & Religion
Authentic Christianity is living the expression of your truly redeemed life.
26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:26-27 ESV)
First, a disclaimer: religion could keep you estranged from God.
Second, don’t fall for the rhetoric that Christians must be anti-religious.
James is not against Christian religious practices. However, he attests that Christian religious activities, including being devoted to the practices of the Bible, have no value in and of themselves apart from saving faith and a desire to honor and glorify the Lord.
Christ-centered religion should be an outward expression of an inner transformation. It is the practice of faith.
Someone saved by Christ shouldn’t discount any biblically instructed religious practice, and someone unsurrendered to Jesus Christ shouldn’t think that religious practices will save them.
Jesus warned people who were religious but not transformed by faith. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:27-28 ESV)
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. (Matthew 23:13 ESV)
James’ test for authentic Christian faith and religion:
- Do you tame your tongue? (James 1:26)
Someone practicing religion could be deceived in their heart about salvation and their religion, thereby worthless. What is an indicator? An unbridled tongue.
The purpose of a bridle is to control the movements of an animal like a horse. It is a good analogy for controlling our tongues. As Christians, we submit our hearts and lives to the lordship of Jesus Christ and live under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
What we say, what we post, what we share matters because our words reveal our hearts. See Matthew 12:34-37
As political, ideological, and racial divides prove more evident in our country, every word spoken, written, and posted by Christians is immensely important. We must tame our words to reveal the nature of God and the word of God that he implanted in our hearts.
Christians must be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20 ESV)
- Do you actively care for the afflicted?
In James’ day, the most vulnerable of society included widows and orphans. We, too, should show authentic Christianity by caring for them and be attentive to all vulnerable people.
God has taught us to care for the needy because his heart is for them. See Isaiah 1:11-18
We should be active in such ministry collectively as a church and individually as Spirit-filled Christ-followers.
- Do you keep yourself clean from the world?
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: …to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27 ESV)
Jesus prayed: 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. (John 17:14-18 ESV)
We are commissioned to the world while being sanctified by God’s truth shared by Jesus Christ.
An in-depth study of the book of James.