Temple Baptist Church - 9-29-2021
A. As we come to the end of the first chapter of the Book of James, the Holy Ghost ties up all loose ends. He gives us the example of one religious man and one man with pure religion.
B. Last week, I erroneously said that there were nine mentions of religion in one form or the other in the Bible. There are only five! It behooves us to look at these five mentions to get an understanding of how they are used.
1. The first three mentions speak of the Jew's religion. These three could be classified as false religions.
Acts 26:5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. (Saul of Tarsus lived a life above reproach yet was unsaved!)
Galatians 1:13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: (Saul's deception.)
Galatians1:14 And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. (Saul's zeal.)
Though these three mentions speak of God's covenant people, Israel as a nation had rejected the Messiah and fell into spiritual darkness.
Matthew 4:16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. (There were a few, when Christ was born, who sat in light—awaiting His coming. All these people, sitting and looking, had the same Word of God. Some chose darkness over light while others chose light over darkness. Personal choice.)
2. The fourth mention speaks of vain religion. The word "vain" means to no avail.
James 1:26 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.
3. The fifth mention speaks of pure religion.
James 1:27 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.
C. Types of "religion" mentioned in these two verses, 26-27: one vain or "religious" verses one pure and undefiled before God "religion." We will look at the difference between the two words and their manifestations.
1. Religious. Verse 26 uses the word "religious." Religious is worship done before man and not necessarily before God.
a. The word "religious" only occurs once in the Bible and it is used in a bad light. Religious comes from a root word meaning "to wail" or "clamor." It is an outward expression in a bad sense because it is not backed up with an inward reality: all show.
b. Religious: demonstrative or pious. Ceremonious in worship. Liturgical or sacramental in tradition. People within local churches who always must be seen, be in charge, receive praise.
c. Religious: the result given is both vain and vocal. Vain: to no avail. It does not impress either God or man. Vocal: it manifests itself in self-glory and praise: I, me, my, or myself. It is simply show.
2. Pure and Undefiled before God Religion. Verse 27 is the only place where "religion" in any sense of the word is found to be pleasing to God and man. Pure means to be clean or clear. Undefiled means to be uncontaminated and is an expression of continuation. Pure and undefiled religion are done "before God," Who looks upon the inward, not the outward man.
a. The example of Pure Religion is an interesting one. To visit the fatherless (orphans) and widows (widows indeed) in their affliction. To come to the aid of those who can neither pay nor reward your services. By visiting! Spending his or her time to relieve the suffering or loneliness of those who are helpless and needful. JOY – Jesus first, Others second, and You last.
b. The second example of Pure Religion is to keep oneself unspotted from the world. A love of Christ that compels one to live righteously, holy, pure, unspotted from contact with the world (we must live in this sinful world) and also unspotted before the world so as to have a delightful testimony.
Conclusion: This all goes back to the context of either "enduring temptation" in verse 12, or giving in to temptation in verses 13-15. Either being "doers" of the word or being "hearers only," deceiving ourselves but not deceiving either God of man.