James 1:26 – If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.

I believe this to be one of the most powerful Scriptures in the Bible. It goes right to the heart of “religious” matters. Religion is filled with words, but the real evidence of true religion is how those words are used. Around the world, religious words are spoken to kill and destroy people or put them into bondage to systems. This is true of every religion of the world.

The problem actually began in the Garden at the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” It was there that the Serpent initiated the religions of the world when he asked Eve, “Hath God said.” Religion, at its core, is a rejection of God’s commands to obey His Word. It is man trying to get to God on man’s terms rather than God’s established Word. Everything changed in that moment, when Adam and Eve submitted to the Serpent rather than the Word of God.

Words were used to affect the enemy’s plan. Instead of Adam and Eve listening to God’s Word and obeying, Eve chose to listen to the Serpent and Adam chose to listen to Eve. When God came in the cool of the day calling for Adam, He found both Adam and Eve hiding and then blaming. Adam blamed God for the woman God had given to him. Eve blamed the Serpent who beguiled her. Before God, the Serpent had nothing to say. From that moment on, mankind has tried to get back to God, but on man’s terms. It is called “religious systems.” The only way back to God is through the law of sacrifice, the innocent dying for the guilty. God sent His own Son to pay for man’s redemption.

The Son said to the Father, “not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). In order to receive God’s provision of salvation through Christ, we must confess with our mouth “Jesus as Lord, and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead” (Romans 10:9). As James implies, deception comes from saying too much. Bridle your tongue, listen to God’s Word and obey it, then experience more of God’s view of religion: His glorious liberty is given to those who will trust in Him.

Father, forgive me for speaking more than listening to Your Word. Protect my heart from deception by helping me to bridle my tongue. Holy Spirit, make me an instrument of Your grace, always living in truth and demonstrating pure religion.