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The Appearance of Religion (James 1:26)

Introductory Thoughts

Many people have the appearance of being religious, but few seem to truly love God and follow His word. As a rule, men want to feel and look religious. They want to appear as though they are submitted to some higher authority. They do not want others to look down upon them as though they are godless and vile. This inner desire has, unfortunately, been the source and cause of much of the hypocrisy among men. The appearance of religion is of no help to mankind. If a man does not love God and follow His holy words, no amount of religion can help him. Other men may marvel at another man’s goodness, but God does not judge simply based upon the appearance (John 7:24). If a man’s religion cannot change his heart, it is a vain religion making most religion vain.

Devotional Thoughts

  • (For children): The Pharisees were religious people who made a show of their supposed faithfulness, but their hearts were not right. Jesus likened them to a cup and platter that were clean on the outside but dirty on the inside (Matthew 23:5-7, 23, 25-26). Sadly, many are like this today (2 Corinthians 5:12c; 2 Timothy 3:1-5).
  • (For everyone): Do you appear religious to those around you? If so, why? Is it because you have the outward form of being religious or because you genuinely love God?
  • Has your faith made any changes to your inner man? Has what you believe changed your heart or merely your appearance?

Prayer Thoughts

  • Ask God to change you on the inside.
  • Ask the Lord to help you to be real with Him.