Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. ~James 1:27
The word “religion” has the connotation of worship and the practice of a belief. This word is used to describe all belief systems. Biblically, it is used to describe the worship and service of God by those who have a personal and saving faith in Christ. I prefer to use the word “spirituality” to describe a believer in Christ and his relationship with God. James uses “religion” to describe how we should live out our faith. There were believers in his day that made a mockery of the Christian faith through a disobedient life and the lack of right practices. This morning, let us see the essential elements of pure religion.
We see the sterility.
“Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness….” Pure religion is marked by a life that is under the cleansing power of the Word of God. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” He also said, “Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” God’s Word convicts us of filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness and moves us to confess and forsake our sin. Our first step in pure religion is a clean life before God and man.
We see the sincerity.
“…And receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” Pure religion is marked by sincerity. There is nothing more damaging to pure religion than pretension and hypocrisy. The Word of God is pictured as a mirror. It makes us see what we are. If we forget what we see and live an ungodly life, we are deceiving others and ourselves. Sincerity is being plainly transparent, real, and genuine about our faith in Christ.
We see the submission.
“But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” First, we must be submissive to the Word. This is described as “continuing therein” and being a doer. Second, we must be submissive with our words. “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.” Pure religion avoids complaining, gossip, swearing, and words that are contentious.
We see the sympathy.
“To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction.” Pure religion is rich in compassion towards others. It is compassionate to those who are unsaved and to those who are unfortunate. This is genuine spirituality. Our compassion for others stems from doing the will of God from the heart by serving others. It is proactive as well as spontaneous in visiting and serving those who are needy.
We see the separation.
“…And to keep himself unspotted from the world.” Pure religion is unadulterated and undefiled. James strongly tells us that we must avoid compromise with the world. This phrase has the idea of not contaminating one’s self with worldly behavior and involvement. Separation from the world testifies to the fact that we are the children of God (2 Corinthians 6:18). Do you measure up with God’s standard for pure religion? True religion is pure religion!
Have an unfeigned God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Exodus 7-9