Pure Religion

                                                                                 (James 1: 19 – 27)

Jas 1:19  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 

Jas 1:20  For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. 

Jas 1:21  Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 

Jas 1:22  But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 

Jas 1:23  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 

Jas 1:24  For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 

Jas 1:25  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. 

Jas 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. 

Jas 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. 

The first part of James Ch 1 dealt with the two marks of what it means to be a mature believer. One who has an active vibrant faith. In the first 18 verses we see what the first two marks are.
1. They are joyful in trial. They can maintain a joy, even when they are going through trials.
2. They are  able to  actively persevere in times of temptation. To go on in the faith without falling into the trap of complaint and grumbling.

 

This passage of scripture, vv19—27 is dealing with the third mark of a a mature believer.

3. They are doers of the Word and not hearers only.
 

V19: Wherefore  or in some translations, Therefore.
If there is a Wherefore or a therefore, we should pause and see what it is there for.
If we back up one moment we see why James uses Wherefore.


Jas 1:18  Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. 
 

God begat us with the Word. We were saved through the Word, we were regenerated, born again through the Word.

John 15:3  Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.


So James is saying here, Since you are regenerated, because you are born again, because you are in Christ, this is what you should do. By the word of God, therefore let every man be swift to hear.
What James is exhorting here, is the way that we should act if we are in Christ.
The results of being in Christ should be right living. Having control of our emotions and passions.

Col 3:1  If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 

“Swift to hear and slow to speak”.

For all these cautions are required in the building up of the new life. “The quick speaker is the quick kindler;” and we are told later on “how great a matter a little fire kindleth” (
James 3:5).

Proverbs 29:20 Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

If we speak out of turn or before we should, we may come a cropper, as it were.
Normally we don’t get into trouble for being quiet but often because we opened our mouth.

The old adage says. “Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread”.
The worst thing we can bring to any dispute, is anger. 


Proverbs 29:11 A fool utters all his mind: but a wise man keeps it in till afterwards.
Ecclesiastes 5:2 Be not rash with your mouth, and let not your heart be hasty to utter …

Proverbs 25:8 Do not go out hastily to argue your case; Otherwise, what will you do in the end, When your neighbour humiliates you?


Very often the case with us is that we jump in before we have heard the facts.
We should be quick to listen and then to give our comment.
We can only apply wisdom when we have the correct knowledge.

The ancients have some sayings on this subject which are well worthy of our attention.
"Men have two ears, and but one tongue, that they should hear more than they speak." "The ears are always open, ever ready to receive
instruction; but the tongue is surrounded with a double row of teeth, to hedge it in, and to keep it within proper bounds."
We should listen twice as much as we speak.
We should be like the Bereans that received the Word with readiness.


Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

The last part of this text is sometimes overlooked.
“Slow to wrath”
That is, we are to govern and restrain our temper; we are not to give indulgence to excited and angry passions.

This does not only apply to our relationships with other people.
The particular point here is, however, not that we should be slow to wrath as a general habit of mind, which is indeed most true, but in reference particularly to the reception of the truth.
We should lay aside all anger and wrath, and should come to the investigation of truth with a calm mind, and an unperturbed spirit.
A state of wrath or anger is always unfavourable to the investigation of truth. Such an investigation demands a calm spirit, and he whose mind is excited and enraged is not in a condition to see the value of truth, or to weigh the evidence for it.

We may be debating a portion of scripture with a brother or sister in the Lord.

We should be slow in becoming heated by debate. This can cause lasting damage to a relationship.

Someone may be a challenge to our way of life, or highlighting something we have done.
We should not be angry at the word, or at the one who is challenging us, even though it comes close to our consciences, and discover our secret sins;
The word is like salt, do not quarrel if it make our sores smart, it could keep them from festering.
Don’t be angry or prejudiced against those that dissent from you. Those that may disagree with your interpretation of scripture or seem to disapprove of certain things that you do or say. 
Listen first and then make your comments but do it in love.

 

Why is this necessary?

The answer is in
James 1: 20: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. 
 

This kind of action does not produce in the life that righteousness, that which God requires.
We are never sure of doing right under the influence of excited feelings; we may do that which is in the highest sense wrong, and destructive and which we could regret all our life. 
This is God’s way of telling us how we should act to truly show His righteousness.

James tells us later in
Jas 3:18  And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. 
 

Jas 1:21  Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 

Again, we see this word wherefore, because of. Because of who we are, this is what we should do.
Mathew Henry puts it like this:
Here is an exhortation to lay apart, and to cast off as a filthy garment, all sinful practices. This must reach to sins of thought and affection, as well as of speech and practice; to everything corrupt and sinful. We must yield ourselves to the word of God, with humble and teachable minds. Being willing to hear of our faults, taking it not only patiently, but thankfully.
It is the design of the word of God to make us wise to salvation; and those who who do not heed it, dishonour the gospel, and disappoint their own souls.


2 Tim 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
 

Jas 1:22  But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

The Bible is God’s way of Him revealing Himself to us through Christ.
Notice the emphasis that is placed on hearing and receiving the Word.


V19. be swift to hear.

V21. receive with meekness the engrafted word.
V22 not hearers only.
V23  For if any be a hearer of the word.


If someone says I am a mature Christian but they do not read the Bible, they are fooling themselves.
If they read the scriptures and then ignore what they have read, they are fooling themselves.


V22 deceiving your own selves.

If we know the truth, we should do what it says. A man would rather see a sermon any day than hear one.
The truth is the truth but it has more impact on the hearer if the one who is speaking is living up to what he is saying.
We must guard against hypocrisy. We often hear the phrase, “He says one thing and does another”, this is not a good advertisement for Christian life.
This is bringing reproach to the name of Christ.
We must remember that we are Christ’s ambassadors in a fallen world.
We are to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.


Romans 2:13 “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers shall be justified”

Jas 1:23  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 

Jas 1:24  For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 


This is like a man who looks in a mirror and sees his defects, he sees his pimples, he sees the imperfections, he may not even be clean. He realises that he needs some cream or some treatment or even a good wash. He sees and knows what he must do to remedy these problems but as soon as he leaves the mirror, he forgets what he looks like and continues without putting them right.

We read the Word of God, we understand the things that we must do to remedy those things that need changing in our lives, however, we put the Bible down and do nothing about it.
We are hearers of the Word and not doers.

 

Jas 1:25  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. 
 

If only the man had heeded his image, he could have remedied the problem and been happy with the result.
To be blessed in the Lord, we must not put down the Word without applying the remedy.
We must heed the Word, following its instructions, putting into practice its precepts and therefore
“being blessed in our deed”.

 

Jas 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. 
 

If we claim to be in Christ, if we profess Christianity, we should not claim to be religious but recognise that being in Christ is a way of life. We are to walk in Christ, being obedient to the Word.

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

We must get a hold of our tongue, we must speak in love.
This is the only proper proof of love to Jesus, just to say it is no proof of love; but that love for him which leads us to do all his will, to love each other, to deny ourselves, to take up our cross, and to follow him.
The true proof that shows that a child loves its parents is when that child is willing, without hesitation, or complaining, or for gain, shows obedience out of respect and love.


Jas 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. 
 

Pure religion. It will be observed that by using the term, pure religion here, really is meaning religious service. What we do in the name of Christ. True religion teaches us to do every thing as in the presence of God.

Col 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Col 3:17 Whatever you say or do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, as you give thanks to God the Father because of him. 


No one word can express this obvious interpretation of the original, in light of the verse before; and certainly “religion” in its ordinary sense will not convey the right idea.

Real worship, we may say, pure and undefiled, is born out of service to God, it is a way of life and this life is in Christ.

 

James here, is not talking about religion, but about its expression, ‘worship.’ And he says that ‘ true worship, pure and undefiled. This is “Pure Religion”.

Jas 1:27b To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. 

This is religion such as God approves. James does not say that this is the whole of religion, or that there is nothing else essential to it; but his general design clearly is, to show that religion will lead to a holy life, and he mentions this as an example, or an instance of what pure religion will lead us to do. The things which he specifies here are in fact two:
 

Pure religion will lead to a life of practical benevolence; and, Pure religion will keep us unspotted from the world. If these things are found, they show that there is true piety. If they are not, there is none.

The words of Jesus:

Matt 12:50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction. To go to see, to look after, to be ready to aid them. This is an example of what true religion will do, showing that it will lead to a life of practical benevolence in the name of Christ.

This is emulating the Father.


Psalm 68:5 A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.

Deut 24:17 Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow's raiment to pledge:


A mature Christian is one the reads the Word and puts the Word into practice.
This is what works the righteousness of God.
This is what brings blessing to our lives and the lives of others.
This is what pleases God.

 

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