A Mistake as to Religion
James 1:26-27
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridles not his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is vain.…

We must not be deceived by our own profession. If any member of our body be an instrument of sin, it shows that our hearts are still unconquered by the grace of God. And no member more quickly shows this than the tongue. And few things are more injurious than an unbridled tongue. A fool's tongue wanders everywhere, into fields lawful and unlawful. Men have no right to talk heedlessly. It is no excuse that a speaker did not mean to do wrong, or that he "meant nothing by it." We are bound to mean something every time we speak, and we are bound to mean something good; the tongue must have on the bridle of thought, and that must be held by the reason, which is the right hand of religion. It is of those words which were not intended by the speaker to be profitable, words uttered when he "meant nothing," that Jesus said (Matthew 12:36). It may be a question which does most harm, a false tongue, or an unbridled tongue. In the case of the former, it may so soon be discovered that it is the instrument of a liar that all men can guard themselves against it; but the unbridled tongue may belong to a man who has some pleasing qualities, or to a woman who but for her wild tongue would be a charming person, and so people are thrown off their guard, and the secret poison of the bitter and bad word may work disastrously. The man who professes to be a believer, and possesses an unbridled tongue, is utterly useless to the cause of all true religion. He may be very punctual in attendance on all forms of public worship; he may even take part in them, exhibiting great gifts in prayer, and great zeal for religion; he may be a very genial and companionable person, witty and bright; he may seem to take great interest in others, and give of his own income or substance to promote what are considered the interests of religion; all that and much more may he do; with the industry of a gambler striving to cheat from himself the verdict that he is a truly religious man; and yet all the while that man's religion may be as empty as a bubble, vain and unprofitable to others and unhelpful to himself; idle, foolish, useless, trifling, thoughtless, wanton, irreverent, profane, for the word translated "idle" means all these things.

(C. F. Deems, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
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.

WEB: If anyone among you thinks himself to be religious while he doesn't bridle his tongue, but deceives his heart, this man's religion is worthless.

A False and a True Religious Ritual
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