If a person thinks that he is religious but can’t control his tongue, he is fooling himself. That person’s religion is worthless. Pure, unstained religion, according to God our Father, is to take care of orphans and widows when they suffer and to remain uncorrupted by this world.James 1:26-27 GW
Religion, the outward expression of our inner life, is simply observable behaviors. Science is the study of what humans are capable of observing, testing and measuring. We can apply science to our religion to see what works and what doesn’t work. They are not mutually exclusive and can, in fact, work together for better outcomes.
I give religion a bad rap. And I apologize for that. The Apostle James, the Lord’s brother, even explains that there is good religion in the eyes of God the Father. What I hate is religious legalism and hypocrisy. Basically, it’s going through all the correct motions devoid of the presence and heart of God. It divorces the practice from the purpose behind the practice and becomes what I call empty, or worthless, religion.
Religion is taking a back seat in this next move of God. Who likes a back seat driver? You know, someone along for the ride that thinks they know better than the one operating the controls. They’re annoying. Don’t let your religion become a back seat driver.
Religion is the cart, full of good works. Faith is the horse that pulls the cart. Jesus is the rider of the horse. He is the author and perfecter of our faith. We’re the horse. We walk out the journey, while obeying the commands and gentle leading of our Master.
With that metaphor in mind, if a person thinks that he is religious but can’t bridle his tongue, he deceives his own heart and his religion is worthless, of no benefit to anyone, including himself. Our tongues guide the course of our lives. What we say matters. What we say reveals what’s in our hearts. Let the Lord lead you. Let the Holy Spirit put the words on your tongue. Submit to God and walk in faith.
If you have not surrendered your heart to Jesus, you will not have self-control and will be unable to control what comes out of your mouth. We’ve been through an extended season of trial and testing. Did you use your words to bless others or curse others? Did you speak the truth in love or did you repeat lies that are from the evil one? What you say shows the condition of your heart.
Perhaps you’re realizing that you participated in the devil’s business by accusing, judging and condemning other people. That’s not the purpose God created you for. You were created to be an ambassador of Christ, representing the Kingdom of God here on this Earth. Have you been saying the words that God gives you? Or have you been letting your carnal flesh control your life and spit out words that cut and devour?
Repentance is always in season. That’s why we preach and teach the truth of God’s Word. God’s kindness leads us to repentance. Why does the Holy Spirit convict our hearts when we sin in thought, word or deed? Is it to judge us and condemn us? To disqualify us from a life of service? No, that’s what the devil wants you to think.
God convicts us of sin. He points it out because He knows it is toxic to our hearts, minds and bodies. Sin is what kills us. Sin is what robs us of peace, love and joy. Sin is what is destroying all the nations of the world. Can we simply outlaw sin and enforce the law for a better world? We know that doesn’t work. God gave Moses the Law and the Hebrews turned it into a religion.
God’s Law is the schoolmaster. It shows us what love in action should look like. However, no matter how much you try to control your own or someone else’s behavior, if their heart hasn’t changed, they are simply an actor, pretending to be something they’re not.
What is pure and undefiled religion? Taking care of the vulnerable, those without an advocate, provider and protector. Those who don’t have someone in the role of loving husband and father in their life. That’s what the Church should be about. A Church unstained by the world, uncorrupted by worldliness, will walk in the Father’s Love to those most desperate for it. That’s what Jesus did and He’s the Bridegroom of the Church. We are to be married and become one Spirit and one Body.
The religious leaders of His day did not recognize Jesus as the Son of God even though He said and did exactly what His Father in Heaven directed Him to. He fulfilled the very Law that the scribes and Pharisees had turned into an idol. He healed the sick and set the captives free from demonic oppression. Yet, they wanted Him dead. Why? Because they were jealous. They desired to rule an earthly kingdom instead of serve in the Kingdom of Heaven.
To summarize, I’m not saying throw away all your religious traditions. I am saying make sure they line up with what God’s Word teaches and with where God’s Spirit is leading.
How many of our religious teachings and traditions are the precepts of man or the doctrine of demons? Is our tradition advancing the Kingdom and spreading the Gospel? Is the Lord confirming His Word by moving in power as we preach? Or are we lost children pretending to be a church while we implode as we turn a cold shoulder to everyone outside of our clique?
It’s time to get real.
Religion takes a back seat. Let Jesus take the wheel. Sit alongside of Him, learn from Him, emulate Him, become just like Him, in regards to love. If we have not love, we are a clanging cymbal. Useless and annoying. Don’t be that guy. Be the change that this world needs. Be the light in the darkness. God is with you. God is for you. God is all you need. God will provide for all your needs. Trust Him and bow to no other.
May God complete the good work He began in you. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.