If any man among you seem to be religious - Pious, or devout. That is, if he does not restrain his tongue, his other evidences of religion are worthless. A man may undoubtedly have many things in his character which seem to be evidences of the existence of religion in his heart, and yet there may be some one thing that shall show that all those evidences are false. Religion is designed to produce an effect on our whole conduct; and if there is any one thing in reference to which it does not bring us under its control, that one thing may show that all other appearances of piety are worthless.
And bridleth not his tongue - Restrains or curbs it not, as a horse is restrained with a bridle. There may have been some reason why the apostle referred to this particular sin which is now unknown to us; or he may perhaps have intended to select this as a specimen to illustrate this idea, that if there is any one evil propensity which religion does not control, or if there is any one thing in respect to which its influence is not felt, whatever other evidences of piety there may be, this will demonstrate that all those appearances of religion are vain. For religion is designed to bring the whole man under control, and to subdue every faculty of the body and mind to its demands. If the tongue is not restrained, or if there is any unsubdued propensity to sin whatever, it proves that there is no true religion.
But deceiveth his own heart - Implying that he does deceive his heart by supposing that any evidence can prove that he is under the influence of religion if his tongue is unrestrained. Whatever love, or zeal, or orthodoxy, or gift in preaching or in prayer he may have, this one evil propensity will neutralize it all, and show that there is no true religion at heart.
This man‘s religion is vain - As all religion must be which does not control all the faculties of the body and the mind. The truths, then, which are taught in this verse are:
(1) That there may be evidences of piety which seem to be very plausible or clear, but which in themselves do not prove that there is any true religion. There may be much zeal, as in the case of the Pharisees; there may be much apparent love of Christians, or much outward benevolence; there may be an uncommon gift in prayer; there may be much self-denial, as among those who withdraw from the world in monasteries or nunneries; or there may have been deep conviction for sin, and much joy at the time of the supposed conversion, and still there be no true religion. Each and all of these things may exist in the heart where there is no true religion.
(2) asingle unsubdued sinful propensity neutralizes all these things, and shows that there is no true religion. If the tongue is not subdued; if any sin is indulged, it will show that the seat of the evil has not been reached, and that the soul, as such, has never been brought into subjection to the law of God. For the very essence of all the sin that there was in the soul may have been concentrated on that one propensity. Everything else which may be manifested may be accounted for on the supposition that there is no religion; this cannot be accounted for on the supposition that there is any.
Seem to be religious - The words θρησκος and θρησκεια, which we translate religious and religion, (see the next verse), are of very uncertain etymology. Suidas, under the word θρησκευει, which he translates θεοσεβει, ὑπηρετει τοις θεοις, he worships or serves the gods, accounts for the derivation thus: "It is said that Orpheus, a Thracian, instituted the mysteries (or religious rites) of the Greeks, and called the worshipping of God θρησκευειν threskeuein, as being a Thracian invention." Whatever its derivation may be, the word is used both to signify true religion, and superstition or heterodoxy. See Hesychius, and see on James 1:27; (note).
Bridleth not his tongue - He who speaks not according to the oracles of God, whatever pretences he makes to religion, only shows, by his want of scriptural knowledge, that his religion is false, ματαιος, or empty of solid truth, profit to others, and good to himself. Such a person should bridle his tongue, put the bit in his mouth; and particularly if he be a professed teacher of religion; ho matter where he has studied, or what else he has learned, if he have not learned religion, he can never teach it. And religion is of such a nature that no man can learn it but by experience; he who does not feel the doctrine of God to be the power of God to the salvation of his soul, can neither teach religion, nor act according to its dictates, because he is an unconverted, unrenewed man. If he be old, let him retire to the desert, and pray to God for light; if he be in the prime of life, let him turn his attention to some honest calling; if he be young, let him tarry at Jericho till his beard grows.
Guard your thoughts. In these closing days of earth's history Satan is working with desperate effort to seduce souls into sin. Keep your tongue as with a bridle. Keep your thoughts upon the Word of the living God. The same spirit that prompted rebellion in heaven is at work in our churches.... We are living in the last days of this earth's history, and Satan is making determined efforts to subvert the mind.—Letter 66, April 10, 1909, “To Those Assembled at Camp Meeting.” UL 114.6Read in context »
Men and women in ----- who profess to be Christ's followers, why do you not follow Him? Why do you exhibit such insanity to acquire an earthly treasure, which misfortune can so easily remove, and neglect the riches of heaven, the immortal, imperishable treasure? 2T 185.1
I was shown the case of Brother U's wife. She has a desire to do right, but has failings which cause herself and her friends much trouble. She talks too much. She lacks experience in the things of God, and unless she is converted and transformed by the renewing of the mind, she will be unable to stand amid the perils of the last days. Heart work is needed. Then the tongue will be sanctified. There is much talking which is sinful and should be avoided. She should set a strict watch before the door of her lips and keep her tongue as with a bridle, that her words may not work wickedness. She should cease talking of others’ faults, dwelling upon others’ peculiarities, and discovering others’ infirmities. Such conversation is censurable in any person. It is unprofitable and positively sinful. It tends only to evil. The enemy knows that if this course is pursued by Christ's professed followers, it is opening a door for him to work. 2T 185.2
I saw that when sisters who are given to talk get together, Satan is generally present, for he finds employment. He stands by to excite the mind and make the most of the advantage he has gained. He knows that all this gossip, and tale-bearing, and revealing of secrets, and dissecting of character, separate the soul from God. It is death to spirituality and a calm religious influence. Sister U sins greatly with her tongue. She ought by her words to have an influence for good, but she frequently talks at random. Sometimes her words put a different construction upon things than they will bear. Sometimes there is exaggeration. Then there is misstatement. There is no intention to misstate, but the habit of much talking and talking upon things that are unprofitable has been so long cherished that she has become careless and reckless in her words, and frequently does not know what she is stating herself. This destroys any influence for good she might have. It is time there was an entire reform in this respect. Her society has not been prized as it would have been had she not indulged in this sinful talking. 2T 185.3Read in context »
Angels of God will not abide in your family until there is a different order of things. It is not your means that is wanted. Yet when reproved you have thought it was your means that the church wanted. You are deceived here. You have been too liberal with your means, for the very reason that you have thought this was to obtain salvation for you and buy you a position in the church. No, indeed! it is you that is wanted, not the little means you possess. If you would be transformed by the renewing of your mind and be converted, deal truly with your own soul. It is all that the church require. You have deceived yourself. If any man seemeth to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, that man's religion is vain. Treat your family in a manner that Heaven can approve, and so that peace may be in your dwelling. There needs to be everything done for your family. Your children have had your bad example before them; you have blamed, and censured, and manifested a passionate spirit at home, while you would, at the same time, address the throne of grace, attend meeting, and bear testimony in favor of the truth. These exhibitions have led your children to despise you and the truth you profess. They have no confidence in your Christianity. They believe you to be a hypocrite, and it is true that you are a sadly deceived man. You can no more enter heaven without a thorough change than could Simon Magus, who thought that the Holy Ghost could be bought with money. Your family have seen your overreaching spirit, your readiness to take advantage of others, your penurious spirit toward those with whom you sometimes deal, and they despise you for it; yet they will too surely follow in your footsteps of wrongdoing. 2T 86.1
Your deal is not what it should be. It is difficult for you to deal justly and to love mercy. You have dishonored the cause of God by your life. You have contended for the truth, but not in a right spirit. You have hindered souls from embracing the truth who otherwise would have done so. They have excused themselves by pointing to the errors and wrongs of professed Sabbathkeepers, saying: “They are no better than I; they will lie, cheat, exaggerate, get angry, and boastingly talk of their own praise; such a religion as this I do not want.” Thus the unconsecrated lives of these shortcoming Sabbathkeepers make them stumbling blocks to sinners. 2T 87.1
The work now before you must commence in your family. You have tried hard to improve outwardly; but the work has been too much on the surface, an outside work and not a work of the heart. Set your heart in order, humble yourself before God, and implore His grace to help you. Do not, like the hypocritical Pharisees, do things to make you appear devotional and righteous in the eyes of others. Break your heart before God, and know that it is impossible for you to deceive the holy angels. Your words and acts are all open to their inspection. Your motives and the intents and purposes of your heart stand revealed to their gaze. The most secret things are not hid from them. Oh, then, rend your heart, and be not overanxious to make your brethren think you are right when you are not! Be circumspect in your family. You are watching to see others’ wrongs, but do this no more. The work you have now to do is to overcome your own wrongs, to battle with your strong internal foes. Deal justly with the widow and the fatherless. Do not throw over your acts the flimsy covering of deception, to influence those whom you greatly wish would think you right, while your motives and acts will not bear the construction you would have put upon them. 2T 87.2Read in context »
Dear friend, an entire transformation must take place in you, or you will be weighed in the balance and found wanting. The church at -----, especially talking women, have a lesson to learn. “If any man [or woman] among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.” Many will be weighed in the balance and found wanting in this matter of so great importance. Where are the Christians who walk by this rule? who will take God's part against the evilspeaker? who will please God, and set a watch, a continual watch, before the mouth, and keep the door of the lips? Speak evil of no man. Hear evil of no man. If there be no hearers, there will be no speakers of evil. If anyone speaks evil in your presence, check him. Refuse to hear him, though his manner be ever so soft and his accents mild. He may profess attachment, and yet throw out covert hints and stab the character in the dark. 2T 54.1
Resolutely refuse to hear, though the whisperer complains of being burdened till he speak. Burdened indeed! with a cursed secret which separateth very friends. Go, burdened ones, and free yourselves from your burden in God's appointed way. First go tell your brother his fault between you and him alone. If this fail, next take with you one or two friends, and tell him in their presence. If these steps fail, then tell it to the church. Not an unbeliever is to be made acquainted with the slightest particular of the matter. Telling it to the church is the last step to be taken. Publish it not to the enemies of our faith. They have no right to the knowledge of church matters, lest the weakness and errors of Christ's followers be exposed. 2T 54.2
Those who are preparing for the coming of Christ should be sober and watch unto prayer, for our adversary, the devil, goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour; whom we are to resist steadfast in the faith. “He that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers.” 2T 54.3Read in context »