Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Book of James Part 8: Pure & Undefiled Religion

 

James Epistle Part 8: Pure & Undefiled Religion

Previous messages by Rev. B. A. Shields found here

 

Book of James

Part 8: Pure & Undefiled Religion

By Rev. Bruce A. Shields

 

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SERMON TIMELINE

1.      Introduction to the Book of James

2.     Trials and Temptation

3.     Gaining Wisdom

4.     Poverty & Wealth

5.     Dealing with Temptation

6.     Slow to Anger

7.     The Implanted Word

8.     Pure & Undefiled Religion

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Today is Sunday. July 7th, 2024

          We are continuing our series in the Book of James, and before we read today's verse, I want us to take a quick look at what James has revealed to us so far, because the important thing about James is context.

          

 

SCRIPTURE REFERENCE

James 1:26-27

“If anyone thinks himself to be religious while not controlling his tongue but deceiving his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

 

Pure and undefiled religion must be…

 I.            A PRACTICING RELIGION

a.   It MUST involve us “doing” something

                                  i.    Clearly implied in the phrase “to visit…” in James 1:27

                                ii.    Also, IN CONTEXT

1.    Previous verses, James 1:22-25, we must be “doers” and not “hearers” only

                              iii.    Jesus tells us the same thing

1.    Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” Matthew 7:21

2.   “Now why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Luke 6:56

 

b.   If we are not “doers” we are deceiving ourselves (James 1:22)

                                  i.    We are not deceiving Satan, nor God

                                ii.    We may deceive others…for a while, anyway

 

c.    We become useless if we deceive ourselves

                                  i.    If you believe you do not have to have works because of your faith, you will have no works and accomplish nothing for the Lord

1.    Doing nothing is not “doing the will of the Father” Matthew 7:21

2.   Doing nothing is not doing what Jesus says to do (Luke 6:56)

3.   “…faith, if it has no works, is dead by itself.” James 2:17

Putting pure religion into practice is essential to your faith being “alive”. This is later emphasized in James 2:14-17; James 2:26.

 

ILLUSTRATION:

“I am an Indy 500 race car driver.”

 But I have no car, no sponsors, never been to the track, or even been inside a racecar.

 

“I am a Christian.”

 But I don’t study the bible, or read the word every day. Don’t go to church, or even support it. I don’t witness or share the gospel, help those in need or pray.

 

That’s how that works.

 

Pure and undefiled religion must be…

II.          A PRACTICAL RELIGION

a.   God did not call us to be pew warmers

                                  i.    Worshiping God in church with other believers is important!

                                ii.    We are called to congregate together in His name! But there is more.

                              iii.    We are to extend our hand to man in service to God, and keep ourselves undefiled from the world

1.    “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27

 

b.   The New Testament emphasizes “doing good”

                                  i.    From Paul’s writing

1.    Galatians 6:10 “So then, when we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”

2.   Titus 2:13b-14 “…Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all lawlessness, and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good works.”

a.   GREEK: eager (good, worthy) (work, labor, action, deed)

b.   “IF” you have been redeemed by Jesus Christ from lawlessness (SIN), and are His possession, then you “should be” EAGER to do good/worthy deeds.

c.    Are you eager?

 

3.   Titus 3:8 “…those who have believed God will be intent to lead in good works. These things are good and profitable for men.”

4.   Titus 3:14 “our people must also learn to lead in good works to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.”

a.   Are you fruitful in your works of faith?

 

                                ii.    Hebrews 13:15-16 “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess His name. 16 And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

1.    Are we continually offering up a sacrifice of praise to God?

a.   The fruit of our lips confessing His name

2.   Are we neglecting doing good and sharing?

a.   These sacrifices please God

 

                              iii.    1 John 3:17-18 “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”

 

Until we “live out”, or practice, the Word of God by showing kindness and compassion for the poor and helpless, all the preaching, teaching, and studying we do cannot make our religion “pure and undefiled.”

 

Pure and undefiled religion must be…

III.       A PERSONAL RELIGION

a.   Personal is implied by use of singular pronouns in the text

                                  i.    Anyone, he, hisJames 1:23

                                ii.    Himself, heJames 1:24

                              iii.    He, this oneJames 1:25

                               iv.    Anyone, he, his, this one’sJames 1:26

                                 v.    OneselfJames 1:27

 

b.   There is a place for corporate giving

                                  i.    Supporting your local church. Working with others to meet a need

                                ii.    For example

1.    1 Corinthians 16:1-2 “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. 2 On the first day of every week each one of you is to set something aside, saving whatever he has prospered, so that no collections be made when I come.”

                              iii.    Churches are to take a collection on the first day of each week (Sunday)

1.    Why do Christians gather and worship on the first day of the week (Sunday)?

a.   Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week (John 20:1)

b.   First day of the week is called “the Lord’s Day” in Revelation 1:10; 1 Corinthians 16:2

c.    The first day of the week, Sunday, was the day the Holy Spirit was poured out onto the church in Acts 2:1-36

d.   Just as on the first day of creation God made light and separated it from the darkness, we gather on the first day of the week to celebrate the light of the gospel in Jesus Christ, who has separated us from the world of the darkness of sin (John 1:5, John1:9; John 3:19; John 8:12; 2 Corinthians 4:1-6).

 

                               iv.    So, churches also take collections on the Lord’s Day, the first day, Sunday, as well.

 

c.    Corporate giving was never intended to remove personal responsibility

                                  i.    Too often people think because they give to the church they don’t have to be “doers” because that’s what they give money to the church for

1.    Giving money to the church ONLY fulfills their obligation to care for the local church and its needs

                                ii.    God intended corporate giving to meet certain needs only…not all

                              iii.    We still have a personal responsibility to the poor, widows, to brothers and sisters in need, whenever the ability and opportunity arises!

 

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"!

 

Pure and undefiled religion must be…

IV.        A PURE RELIGION

a.   Our society is immoral, materialistic and lovers of money

                                  i.    This trap is capturing many of God’s people

                                ii.    Money, not God, is the first (and sometimes only) consideration when making decisions.

                              iii.    The book of James began with the dangers of the sin of loving money

 

b.   Our religion means NOTHING, unless

                                  i.    It is pure without blemish

                                ii.    Undefiled and unstained

                              iii.    Capable of keeping us undefiled from this world

 

c.    Can we be pure and undefiled?

                                  i.    It is possible, only BY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST!

1.    Which can cleanse us and make us pure if we walk in the light with God – 1 John 1:7

                                ii.    It is possible only BY THE HELP OF GOD!

1.    Who not only provides the blood of Christ to cleanse us from sin...

2.   But also a way of escape in times of temptation – 1 Corinthians 10:13

                              iii.    With Christ's blood and God's help, it is possible to be pure, undefiled, and unspotted by the world!

                               iv.    And this is what makes the religion of Jesus Christ UNIQUE!

1.    Other religions may be "practicing, practical and personal"

2.   But only the true religion of Jesus Christ can present one "pure" in the sight of God! -  John 14:6

CONCLUSION

          So, today, ask yourself, What kind of religion do I have?

 

1.    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?

 

2.   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?

 

3.   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?

 

4.   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"?

 

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!

 

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