(i) THE RULE OF THE TONGUE.
Pure religion expresses itself in the rule of the tongue. James reveals this in the somewhat negative approach to the subject in verse 26: for here he describes explicitly of what pure religion does NOT consist. The 26th verse stands in contrast to verse 27. He shows in verse 26 what is characteristically true of the pure religion, by unmasking the false and vain. It does not consist in a “sham” or a “seeming”; not a “sanctimonious solemnity “or in “highly pretentious talking,” but in Christ-like deeds. Previously, James has been discussing one of his leading principles, which logically leads up to the present matter. He has been describing the whole truth of “How we should receive the Word of Truth,” but that its proper reception leads to this practical religious life. He says, “It is when we obey the truth that blessing comes.” Therefore, a right hearing and doing of the Word foremost touches my speech; and what a blessing, to be in control of the tongue! Note his striking and forceful words, “If any man AMONG YOU … .” We must each search our hearts; we must guard against any “hypocritical show “as touching our fellowship with one another in the assembly. “A seeming to be religious, and an unbridled wagging tongue,” does not so much deceive others as oneself. There is no deception so tragic and deplorable as self-deception.
But the “bridling of the tongue” refers to the abstinence of the tongue from all manner of evil speaking. Not only the “great swelling, words” of which Jude speaks, but also those privy defamations, whisperings, back-bitings and tale-bearings prejudicial to the spiritual welfare of any assembly. To preserve the unity of the local church, we must rule our tongues with heavenly wisdom. Heavenly speech – speech seasoned with salt and grace – is indicative of a pure religious character. (1 Pet. 3. 8-12).
(To be followed by “Pure Religion is a Service of Love.”)