The picture of a man in full color may leave a very good impression of him. He does not look cruel. He may appear to be a believer. And a pleasant smile may seem to reveal a kind nature.
But the important question is, What does he say? He may look like a man keeping the second table of God's law. He may be singing beautiful songs of praise to God. In a choir he may be singing enthusiastically. He may be rendering a solo enthusiastically and beautifully. The question, however, is, what does his heart say?
In James 1:26 we read, "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain."
The question is not, "Whose words is he singing?" Rather, the question is, "Does what he is saying, or singing, come out of his soul?" For a man can commit more sin with his mouth than with any other part of his body. He may seem to be religious, and even deceive himself into thinking that he is religious, as a child of God. But if his confession is the lie, a false doctrine, he deceives his own soul, and his religion is vain.
With our lips we must confess Christ, and what He did for us. We must confess that He saved us by God's grace, not because of our works, but as a gift of God which we do not of ourselves deserve.
It is important that our hearts believe the truth of God's grace. For there is so much preaching which denies this truth. Salvation is presented as that which is realized because of man's work of "accepting" Christ. Let us hold on tightly to the truth that our salvation is not because we believe, but because God caused us to believe.
Let us bridle our tongues and confess that we did not earn our salvation, but were given all of it because of what Christ did and does in us. We must thank God even for the desire for salvation.
Read: James 1:19-27
Quote for Reflection:
John Calvin on Psalm 87:2: "Here we are taught that all the excellence of the holy city depended on the free choice which God had made of it. With this agrees what is stated in Psalm 77:60, 67, that God rejected Shiloh, the tribe of Ephraim, and the tabernacle of Joseph, that he might dwell in Zion which he loved. The prophet then points out the cause why God preferred that one place before all others; and the cause which he assigns is, not the worth of the place itself, but the free love of God. If it is demanded why Jerusalem was so highly distinguished, let this short answer be deemed sufficient, Because it so pleased God."