“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, AV)
In the previous devotion, we looked at the witness of the person who attempts to practice religious worship. I mentioned that one’s language would testify to the validity of one’s outward expressions of worship. There are many sitting in churches every Sunday, going through worship experiences that throughout the week discredit the God they worship through their unwholesome and unedifying speech. The issue is that what comes out of the mouth of men proceeds from the heart and only the regenerated heart will produce speech that is seasoned with salt.
Now James continues to speak of the nature of pure religious worship. When I worked for a company that manufactured printing equipment, one of the things I had to do was set up and work a booth at a printing trade show. I would leave my home early in the morning, take the train to Chicago and get everything ready for the day. One of the first things I would do was to go get a cup of coffee. One morning, I was not paying close attention and I drew the coffee cup to my mouth with the lid on and the opening was off to the right side of the cup, not where my mouth was. Well, the coffee poured out the right side of the cup and down on my tie.
I immediately panicked since I was supposed to meet customers and I knew that to have a big brown stain on my tie and possibly my white shirt would not make a good impression. So, I ran to the bathrooms and soaked my tie in the water, in the hopes of getting the stain out. I didn’t get the stain out, but was successful in getting the entire tie the same tint of brown. Fortunately, I also had a sports Jacket that covered up some of the other potentially unsightly problems.
James here states that there are outward expressions for religious worship and keep one from being seen as unclean and soiled. In addition to avoiding unwholesome speech, pure and undefiled religious expression must be caring for those that cannot care for themselves, namely the orphans and widows, and to keep from being stained by the world system.
We must remember the context of this. James is writing to Jewish Christians to understand the place of faith and works. They needed to understand that good works do not justify a person, but that good works validate one’s faith before others. Much like the attire of a business man validates his professionalism before the customer, the believer’s works validate his or her faith before others.
Many who profess Christ, unfortunately do not demonstrate a walk of faith. Their speech is one huge problem. Yet another is their lack of compassion for others and thus, James speaks of the orphans and widows. However, one huge and overlooked area is that of being stained by the world system.
The world system is that which Satan has instituted. It is a system that seeks to please the flesh at all costs. It is characterized by appeasing all sorts of fleshly appetites in ways contrary to faith. Paul listed many of these in Galatians Chapter 5 under the lusts of the flesh. This world system is contrary to the priorities of God and His purposes. They include drunkenness, dissentions, lusts, cravings, sexual sins, coarse talking, materialism, etc. Too often, I have seen a person attend worship services on Sunday and being stained by the world system later in the week. Is this person a true believer? Gods will judge. This person should examine themselves to see if they are truly in the faith.