"THE EPISTLE OF JAMES" Pure And Undefiled Religion (1:26-27) INTRODUCTION 1. What kind of religion do we have? Is it like a... * SPARE TIRE (used only in the case of an emergency)? * WHEELBARROW (easily upset and must be pushed)? * BUS (ridden only when it goes your way)? 2. Whatever kind of religion we have, it is of no value unless it is pleasing to God in heaven 3. In James 1:27, we find a definition of what constitutes "pure and undefiled religion before God" 4. To be sure that our own religion is acceptable before God, let's notice some attributes of "Pure And Undefiled Religion" as indicated in this verse and its immediate context [First, "Pure And Undefiled Religion" must be...] I. A "PRACTICING" RELIGION A. IT INVOLVES DOING SOMETHING ON OUR PART... 1. This is clearly implied in the phrase "to visit" 2. The context prior to this verse also makes it clear that we must be "doers" and "not hearers only" - Jm 1:22-25 3. This echoes the teachings of Jesus Himself - Mt 7:21; Lk 6:46 B. IF WE ARE NOT "DOERS", WE ARE DECEIVING OURSELVES (Jm 1:22) 1. And usually, it is ONLY ourselves we are deceiving! 2. We are certainly not deceiving God, nor Satan 3. And it unlikely that we fool others, especially our children [Having "a practicing religion" must be important, for later in his epistle James emphasizes again the necessity of our faith working
Ja 2:14-17,26). In fact, we can conclude that a religion which is not a practicing religion is a DEAD religion! Next, "Pure And Undefiled Religion" must also be...] II. A "PRACTICAL" RELIGION A. GOD DID NOT INTEND FOR OUR RELIGION TO CONSIST SOLELY OF "GOING TO CHURCH"... 1. Extending OUR HEART TO GOD IN WORSHIP is certainly important 2. But so is extending OUR HAND TO MAN IN SERVICE! - Jm 1:27 B. THROUGHOUT THE N.T., MUCH EMPHASIS IS PLACED UPON DOING GOOD... 1. From the writings of Paul - Ga 6:10; Tit 2:14; 3:8,14 2. From the author of Hebrews - He 13:16 3. From the apostle John - 1Jn 3:17-18 [Until we apply the Word of God by showing kindness and compassion for the poor and helpless, all the preaching, teaching, and studying we may do cannot make our religion "pure and undefiled"! A further attribute of "Pure And Undefiled Religion" is that it is...] III. A "PERSONAL" RELIGION A. IMPLIED BY THE USE OF "SINGULAR PRONOUNS" IN THE TEXT... 1. "anyone" - Jm 1:23 2. "he", "his" - Jm 1:23 3. "himself", "he" - Jm 1:24 4. "he", "this one" - Jm 1:25 5. "anyone", "he", "his", "this one's" - Jm 1:26 6. "oneself" - Jm 1:27 B. NOW, THERE IS A PLACE FOR "CORPORATE" GIVING... 1. That is, where we give in conjunction with others to meet a need 2. For example, in helping needy Christians - 1Co 16:1-2 C. BUT IT WAS NEVER INTENDED TO REPLACE OUR INDIVIDUAL AND PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY! 1. Some might think... a. That their giving on Sunday fulfills their responsibility to the poor, the widows, and the orphans b. That it fulfills their obligation to preach the gospel 2. But God intended for "corporate" giving to only meet certain needs 3. He still expects us to fulfill our "personal" service to the poor, widows, and orphans as we have the ability and opportunity 4. Just as we find in the Old Testament... a. Though the third year tithe was for the widows and orphans b. They were to always help them whenever they had the opportunity! [To practice "Pure And Undefiled Religion": * We must make it personal; we can't pay someone else to do our work for us! * We cannot excuse ourselves by saying "I gave at the church"! One last point I wish to make concerning "Pure And Undefiled Religion";it must be...] IV. A "PURE" RELIGION A. THIS SOUNDS REDUNDANT, BUT IN OUR DAY IT MUST BE EMPHASIZED! 1. Our society has become increasingly immoral and materialistic 2. Such is wreaking havoc upon many in the Lord's church 3. What we hear and see may only be the "tip of the iceberg"! B. OUR RELIGION IS FOR NOTHING, UNLESS IT IS... 1. PURE - without blemish 2. UNDEFILED - untainted 3. Capable of keeping us UNSPOTTED from (by) the world C. BUT IF WE ARE SINNERS (as affirmed in 1Jn 1:8), HOW CAN WE EVER BE PURE, UNDEFILED, AND UNSPOTTED? 1. It is possible, only BY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST! a. Which can cleanse us and make us pure if we walk in the light with God - 1Jn 1:7 b. This involves keeping the commandments of God - 1Jn 2:3 1) For example, experiencing the INITIAL CLEANSING of the blood when we obey the commands to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins - Ac 2:38 2) And, experiencing the CONTINUOUS CLEANSING of the blood when we confess our sins to God - 1Jn 1:9 2. It is possible only BY THE HELP OF GOD! a. Who not only provides the blood of Christ to cleanse us from sin... b. But also a way of escape in times of temptation - 1Co 10:13 3. Yes, with Christ's blood and God's help, it is possible to be pure, undefiled, and unspotted by the world! 4. And this is what makes the religion of Jesus Christ UNIQUE! a. Other religions may be "practicing, practical and personal" b. But only the true religion of Jesus Christ can present one "pure" in the sight of God! - cf. Jn 14:6 CONCLUSION 1. What kind of religion do YOU have? a. Is it a PRACTICING religion? 1) Does it go beyond the walls of a building? 2) Does it go beyond the printed pages of the Bible? 3) Does it go beyond a superficial hearing of the Word? b. Is it a PRACTICAL religion? 1) Does it consist of more than JUST "going to church, reading, and praying"? 2) Does it reach out and manifest itself in compassion to those in need? c. Is it a PERSONAL religion? 1) Going beyond what we may do in conjunction with others? 2) Including our personal involvement apart from what others may do? d. And is it a PURE religion? 1) Involving our initial cleansing from sin by the blood of Christ as we in faith repented and were baptized? 2) Involving our continual cleansing by the blood of Christ as we confess our sins and repent of them? 3) Does it include a putting away of sin with the help of God so that we might be "unspotted by the world"? 2. If not, then whatever religion we have is USELESS and we are simply DECEIVING OURSELVES! Let's always encourage one another to be sure and have a "Pure And Undefiled Religion" before God!