“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.”
One can only imagine how much of men’s religion is vain, empty, or without profit. Of course, they would not consider it vain; but the Word of God calls it such. The majority of people claim to be religious in some form or another, though many are not active. A large percentage of those who are at least somewhat active are committed to observances that have little meaning, or produce no genuine change in character or conduct. James tells us that they may “seem to be religious,” but their “religion is vain.”
If our religious activity and expression does not affect our attitude and activity, how meaningful is that worship? The Scripture tells us that if a man appears to be a religious person and “bridleth not his tongue,” his religion is worthless. Being able to control our words is only one of our many God-given responsibilities. But, the lesson of James is clear; if our spiritual habits and religious activities do not influence our words, our religion is unprofitable.
God intends for our entire lives to be influenced by our relationship with Him. It seems that many want a form of religion that is socially respectable and soothing to the conscience, but has little affect on our daily lives. The Word of God says that the man with this mentality “deceiveth his own heart.” He makes himself believe that he is a religious person; when in reality, his form of religion is not God-ordained, but man-centered. Much of modern religion could be characterized in this way: It has a form of godliness, but it does not in any genuine way change the way one thinks or lives. It is not pure religion, but vain; and those who practice it are deceiving themselves.
Genuine Christianity includes a transformation of values, attitudes, and actions that proceed from a converted heart. When a person is born again, the process of sanctification begins, which should result in new behaviors, including our words. Anything less is vain religion. Thank God for the power of the Gospel and the indwelling presence of the Holy Ghost. Praise His holy name that we become new creatures in Christ! The words of James should be heeded by all, including those who are in Christ. If our relationship with the Lord is not having an affect on our language and general conduct, there is something missing in our walk.