|If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.|
|If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.|
|If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless.|
|James 1:26 |
In keeping with the author's emphasis upon genuine faith and its consequent good works, James defines pure religion in terms of one's ability: (1) to control his tongue; (2) to perform ministry to those in need, i.e., to orphans and widows; and (3) to strive after and achieve moral purity. This is not intended to describe the full essence of the Christian faith. Indeed James will go on to address Christian virtues of avoiding partiality, providing for the physical needs of a fellow believer, devoting oneself to God and rejecting worldly enticements, handling financial resources correctly, and cultivating consistency and fervency in prayer. These verses are an affirmation of the nature of Christian ministry and the moral posture which inevitably results from faith.
Believer's Study Bible. 1997, c1995. C1991 Criswell Center for Biblical Studies. (electronic ed.) (Jas 1:15). : Thomas Nelson.
This refers to ceremonial public worship (cf. Acts 26:5). James chose this term, instead of one referring to internal godliness, to emphasize the external trappings, rituals, routines, and forms that were not followed sincerely.
MacArthur, J. J. (1997, c1997). The (electronic ed.) (Jas 1:26). : Word Pub.