Sunday, 22 February 1998 00:00

The Real McCoy

James 1:26-27 (KJV)

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. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Satan is a great counterfeiter. He will do his best to cause people to fall for an imitation of the real thing. How do we know that someone possesses genuine Christianity? How do we know if we have received "The Real McCoy" or a counterfeit? James gives to us a test...

  1. The evidence of false Christianity... (v.26)
    1. There is a lack of restraint... "he bridleth not his tongue."
      Jesus said, "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34).
      The falsity of one's faith is seen by the terribleness of one's tongue.
      Our speech is to be always gracious, for the good of others (Eph. 4:29; Col. 4:6).
    2. There is a lack of reality... "he deceives his own heart."
      The person who deceives himself is he who "seems to be religious" and "bridleth not his tongue." The word "religious" is used only here in the entire New Testament. "Religious" is an outward observance of a worship ceremony. "Seem to be" means, literally, "he considers himself religious." "You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead" (Revelation 3:1). How often are you moved by the presence of God?
    3. There is a lack of results... "his religion is vain."
      "Vain" is the Greek word mataios which means "empty of result." It is the word used by Paul in Acts 14:15 when he says "turn from these vanities."
      1. It is worthless to man... for it never truly satisfies.
      2. It is worthless to God... for it never is accepted (Isaiah 1:10-15).
  2. The evidence of true Christianity... (v.27)
    A man is saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Though justification never results from good works, justification always results in good works.
    1. A truly saved person will give practical help... "care for the fatherless and widows"
      "Caring love for the helpless is not an accidental or optional manifestation of the new nature, but part of its very essence" (Alec Motyer). "In their affliction"—refers to distress or pressure brought to bear by circumstances.
    2. A truly saved person will display personal holiness... "unspotted from the world."
      "The whole world is under the control of the evil one" (I John 5:19). World—humanity at large which is in a state of sinful rebellion toward God. "If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (I John 2:15).
      You may say, "But wait! Won't God keep His people unspotted?" God possesses the power, but calls man to be responsible! (Ex. Jude 21 and Jude 24)
  3. How do we keep ourselves unpolluted by the world?
    1. We reject her standards and accept God's (John 17:17).
    2. We recognize Lordship is the essential ingredient of salvation (Colossians 3:5).
    3. We hold each other accountable to the truths of God's word.

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