April 22, 2021

Real Religion... The Book of James Bible Series


Hello again, Friends!

We are back for another installment in our Book of James Bible Series and we're wrapping up James Chapter One today! Our verses are James 1:23-27!

We wrap up Chapter One today by going over JAMES 1:23-27! 

We're starting off using The Passion Translation Bible:

"If you listen to the Word and don’t live out the message you hear, you become like the person who looks in the mirror of the Word to discover the reflection of his face in the beginning.You perceive how God sees you in the mirror of the Word, but then you go out and forget your divine origin. But those who set their gaze deeply into the perfecting law of liberty are fascinated by and respond to the truth they hear and are strengthened by it—they experience God’s blessing in all that they do!

If someone believes they have a relationship with God but fails to guard his words then his heart is drifting away and his religion is shallow and empty.

True spirituality that is pure in the eyes of our Father God is to make a difference in the lives of the orphans, and widows in their troubles, and to refuse to be corrupted by the world’s values." (The Passion Translation)

I think we are familiar with this portion of Scripture and often we sort of laugh at the thought of forgetting what we look like.  This made me think of a new 'filter' on TikTok that flips your image rather than mirroring it.  So basically it lets you see yourself the way others see you. (--only in a purely physical way, though, of course! lol!)

My daughter was telling me about this just the other day and she was saying how so many really don't like it.  This is not how they think they look. 

In our minds we can laugh and think, it can't be THAT different, right? It's not like it's changing anything --but it's enough of a change in perception that many users are not fans of it!  Reading this verse made me think of that app and how we can think we know something (i.e. what we look like!) and yet even just a tiny shift in perspective can create havoc in how we see ourselves!

I like the Footnote for the end of vs. 23. It says that "discover the reflection of his face in the beginning" could also be translated: “realizing his beginning [genesis] face” or “studying the face he was born with.” It also goes on to say, "For the believer, seeing the man “in the mirror” is seeing how God sees us from the beginning, even before the fall of Adam which resulted in sin’s devastation to human hearts. The man in the mirror is the new creation man." 


What a GIFT it is to catch even a glimpse
of HOW the Father sees us before sin!

If (read: When!) we can hold on to that understanding of how He sees us and loves us --well, we really can experience God's blessing in all we do!


Next, let's look at the ever trusted NASB:

"For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who has looked intently at the perfect law, the law of freedom, and has continued in it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an active doer, this person will be blessed in what he does.

If anyone thinks himself to be religious, yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." (New American Standard Bible)

We've all heard this, right? That we are to be hearers AND DOERS of the Word! This translation is more in line with what we're familiar with.  Here, in the New American Standard Bible, it seems it tells us HOW to be Hearers AND Doers and how to be blessed and that is by looking intently at the perfect law --the law of freedom, and continue in it. 

So what IS the 'perfect law' or the 'law of freedom'? We must know what it is in order for us to put action to it and actually DO it! 

Plainly stated, it's the Gospel, right? 
  It's Jesus... Jesus is the perfect law... the law of freedom...
    --Jesus is, as Bill Johnson puts it, perfect theology!

If we purpose to look intently at Jesus and walk in the ways that He walked... we truly will be blessed!


In The Voice, our Scriptures read like this:

"If some fail to do what God requires, it’s as if they forget the word as soon as they hear it. One minute they look in the mirror, and the next they forget who they are and what they look like. However, it is possible to open your eyes and take in the beautiful, perfect truth found in God’s law of liberty and live by it. If you pursue that path and actually do what God has commanded, then you will avoid the many distractions that lead to an amnesia of all true things and you will be blessed.

If you put yourself on a pedestal, thinking you have become a role model in all things religious, but you can’t control your mouth, then think again. Your mouth exposes your heart, and your religion is useless. Real, true religion from God the Father’s perspective is about caring for the orphans and widows who suffer needlessly and resisting the evil influence of the world." (The Voice)

Let's just take a minute here and give a shout-out to James! I just love all the visuals he uses in his writing! It makes it easier for us to understand!

The imagery for verse 26 is undeniable and in this modern world of movie stars and social influencers... yikes?! In our humanness, we can scramble for the spot on the pedestal without hardly noticing! Everyone wants to be an expert... and listen, we should be learning from each other! Oftentimes, it's when we are on a pedestal that we find it the hardest to learn from other (non-pedestal) people! In our Western world, we value education for knowledge sake and having letters behind your name or an important title can get you an immediate sense of honor or respect --however, James makes it clear!  If you cannot control your tongue or how you speak, all of that adoration means nothing! 

He goes on to say that REAL religion --the kind that flows from knowing and loving and following Jesus, is this: 

Caring for Widows and Orphans and Resisting the Evil Influence of the world!

I wonder if we would all take a moment to be honest with ourselves and reflect on whether or not we are actually DOING these two things? One is a Pouring Out and One is a Holding Off...
Both are vital if we want to be true Followers... true Lovers... true Representatives of Jesus!


Let's see how the Amplified Bible expands these verses:

"For if anyone only listens to the word without obeying it, he is like a man who looks very carefully at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he immediately forgets what he looked like. But he who looks carefully into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and faithfully abides by it, not having become a [careless] listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he will be blessed and favored by God in what he does [in his life of obedience].

If anyone thinks himself to be religious [scrupulously observant of the rituals of his faith], and does not control his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religion is worthless (futile, barren). Pure and unblemished religion [as it is expressed in outward acts] in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit and look after the fatherless and the widows in their distress, and to keep oneself uncontaminated by the [secular] world." (The Amplified Bible)

I mean... what words stand out to you in that version?  

For me, a few were highlighted as words that challenge us. It seems we have issues with words like Obey/Obedience, Uncontaminated, & Secular.

These are not bad words... maybe old-fashioned in today's world --but so very vital in living our faith out loud!

Hear me, friends... I am a grace girl. I am a full believer in it and needer of it. And I also hate religion. So words like Obey and (Un)contaminated and Secular can cause me to want to press hard on the breaks because --yikes, right? 

But this is the Word and it is talking about how we live a blessed life and how we follow and represent Jesus well and while Jesus was super cool and hip to the outsiders (and not so much to the church leaders, per say!) He DID NOT FIT IN with the sinners.  

He was peculiar... strange... and it was BECAUSE He was obedient and uncontaminated by the secular world! 

He was --wait for it-- In the World, but not OF it! 

I think we have tried so many versions of this... but now is the time to try THIS version... to actually attempt to be IN it, but NOT of it!


I tend to leave The Message Bible for the end so it is fresh on our mind when we pray. So, let's see Eugene Petersons' take on our verses:

"Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world." (The Message)

Come on! 

You want that Real Religion, too, right?  We all do... we want to love and serve a God who we know is good... who is kind and gracious and loving... who is forgiving and powerful and who somehow holds all the cards but doesn't force our hand! 

I think we have all been hurt by church or religion (or both) and I know we can be gunshy.  I also know many among us are now calling things good that God does not call good... and it makes me wonder what in my life or my beliefs or my faith may have been contaminated by the secular world and I'm not aware? 

I've said it so many times... James can come across harsh --but he speaks the truth unapologetically.  I'm not sure we even know how to do that with grace anymore? I won't presume to speak for God to you... but I am asking that each of us really slow and ask the Lord to show us what we may be thinking or believing or teaching that really is contaminated and watered down... 

I don't want to be hot air or self-deceived. I know you don't either!


Let's pray: 

Father God, 

We love you, Lord! We are so grateful for your kindness and your patience! We're so thankful that even when we forget who we are and where we're from and what we're to be about --You never do! You always know us... You are always at work in us and You are always, always, always speaking! Father God, we ask You to help us be better listeners... to retain what we hear You saw and to actually put action to what you show us! Help us -equip and empower us to be both Hearers AND Doers! Holy Spirit --sing over us songs that remind us who we are!  Help extend and refine our memories so we are no longer such a forgetful people!

Jesus, thank You for the gift of free life ---for showing us what the law of freedom really looks like and for enabling us to follow hard after You! Help us to find delight and affirmation in putting what we hear to action and living our faith out loud!

Lord -- protect us against ourselves and the enemy and help us to not be self-deceived or religious... help us to not build our own pedestals or think too highly of ourselves, but instead --INSTEAD!!!-- help us to reach out to the homeless and loveless... to those who are hurting and lost... blind and unaware... wounded and worn out... and let us love them the way You do! Right where they are at, yes... but also - pointing them to the Truth and letting the Truth do the heavy lifting! 

Lastly --or maybe this should have been first, Lord!-- help us to guard against the corruption of this world... give us eyes to see and ears to hear and a heart that breaks when yours breaks.  Give us hands that heal and lift up, rather than shake fists and tear down... Give us a Generosity that goes above and beyond, rather than justifying or rationalizing what's 'ours' and what's 'theirs'. Help us to live and love and lead like You did... like You do, still!

In Jesus' Name!


We'll be back in a couple of weeks to dive into the first few verses of Chapter 2 together!

Until then, let's remember to:

Lastly, we will be linking each post in this series over on the Series Landing Page. This way if you are coming in late to the game, or simply missed a post for some reason, you can still play catch up by clicking HERE
You can also fill in the Subscribe Here bar at the top and you will be subscribed to a weekly email that will send each post to you there, as well as a monthly newsletter that comes out around the first of each month!

It took a WHILE to get through Chapter One! What has stood out or impacted you so far? What are your thoughts on the verses we covered today? Comment here or head over to our Facebook Page and Comment or Message me there! I'd really love to know!


  1. I love this scripture in the voice translation. It is so easy to get distracted.Distraction does lead to soul amnesia. There is so much truth in this passage. I hope you have a wonderful day Karrilee! -Jolene

    1. Thanks, friend! I appreciate your steadfastness in reading/studying with me and taking the time to comment!



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