James begins to look at the input and output of our religion. He reinforces the idea that whatever a person allows to rule inside of them will naturally flow through them. There is a natual expression of the change in our identity that occurs with Jesus Christ. Whlie James isn’t claiming that it is works that save us, he does state plainly that it is the works that show our faith, for good or bad. Whatever we allow in to shape our identity will be the thing that is expressed through what we do. Furthermore, this is not a passive process but an intentional shaping and molding as we allow the word of God to become implanted deep into our spiritual DNA.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
We indulge in various things throughout the span of our life. Some of these indulgences are good for our spiritual health and well being. Others are destructive to the soul of a person. When a person indulges in the actions that are destructive to the soul, that filth takes residence within. Furthermore, whatever we have within us denies who we are as a person. James exhorts the believer to rid themselves of the moral filth within them while simultaneously allowing the word of God to take root within a person. Transformation occurs from the inside coming outward. The goal of this is not to be restrictive of people but rather to save them. Moral filth feels oddly enjoyable at the time, yet at its core chisels away at the soul of an individual. It is only the word of God and His might Gospel who saves.
James would not make the argument that you are saved by your works. However, James makes it obvious that works are the result of an authentic faith. Thus, when the word of God is implanted in a person, it overflows out of them to what they do. This is the religion that God finds faultless. Outward expressions put the fullness of God’s transformative nature on display for the world to say. With God being greater and larger than we ever could dream of attaining, it goes without saying that when God resides within us, there will be a natural overflowing out of us. This is the religion that God accepts as pure and faultless, a religion that spills out into every facet of our life.