Pure And Undefiled – Sermon on August 1, 2020

Scriptural Reading: James 1:22-27 (focus on verse 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”

James 1:27

THE WORLD’S DEFINITIONS

1. Purity isthe quality or state of being pure”, and something (or someone) that is pure is “(1) unmixed with any other matter (e.g. pure gold); (2) free from dust, dirt, or taint (e.g. pure spring water); (3) spotless, stainless” [1] [2]

2. Undefiled is not made corrupt, impure, or unclean, not defiled, untainted, uncorrupted” [3]

3. Religion is “1 a) the state of a religious (i.e. relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity) 1 b i) the service and worship of God or the supernatural, 1b ii) commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance. 2) A personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices; a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith” [4] [5]

The word religion is interesting. It comes from the latin word, religio; although ancient people varied in their opinions on the etymology of the word. Ultimately, etymologists of this modern era believe the word’s root was “lig, to bind, whence also lic-tor, lex, and ligare; hence, religio sometimes means the same as obligatio” From there, the definition of the word became “Reverence for God (the gods), the fear of God, connected with a careful pondering of divine things; piety, religion, both pure inward piety and that which is manifested in religious rites and ceremonies” [6]

The word (religion) may have initially meant relating to a deity, but many scholars differ on their definition of this word and some even believe it cannot be defined.

Also, if you mention religion, you should also mention spirituality, because in this modern era, there are some who call themselves spiritual but not religious.

4. Spiritual  means “of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit : incorporeal spiritual needs;  2a) of or relating to sacred matters (spiritual songs) 2b) ecclesiastical rather than lay or temporal spiritual authority;  3) Concerned with religious values, 4) related or joined in spirit; 5a) of or relating to supernatural beings or phenomena” [7]

We see how the world defines these words, but how does the Bible define them?


THE WORD’S DEFINITIONS


1. PURE

First Mentioned in the Old Tesatment: Exodus 25:11  And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about.

Hebrew word: taw-hore’ (H2889) ~ from H2891 – it means “clean, fair, pure (-ness). Total KJV occurrences: 95

First Mentioned in the New Testament: Matt 5:8  Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Greek word: Kath-ar-os’ (G2513) ~ Of uncertain affinity; clean (literally or figuratively): – clean, clear, pure. Total KJV occurrences: 28


2. UNDEFILED

First Mentioned in the OT: Psa 119:1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.

Hebrew Word: taw-meem’ (H8549) ~ From H8552; entire (literally, figuratively or morally); also (as noun) integrity, truth: – without blemish, complete, full, perfect, sincerely (-ity), sound, without spot, undefiled, upright (-ly), whole.  Total KJV occurrences: 91

First Mentioned In NT: Heb 7:26  For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens…

Greek Word: am-ee’-an-tos (G283) ~ From G1 (as a negative particle) and a derivative of G3392; unsoiled, that is, (figuratively) pure: – undefiled.Total KJV occurrences: 4


3. RELIGION

No mentioned in the OT. First Mentioned in the NT: Act 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

Greek Word: thrēskeia {pronounced thrace-ki’-ah} (G2356)~ From a derivative of G2357; ceremonial observance; religion, worshipping. Total KJV occurrences: 4

Side Note: There are only 4 places in the Bible where the word religion is mentioned: Acts 26:5, twice in James (James 1:26-27) and Col 2:18. It was interesting that the translated word in this last verse is ‘worshipping’. So if you were to re-word Col 2:18, it would read  Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping/religion of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind

Now let’s spend some time looking at RELIGION in depth:

As you may recall, one of the definitions of the word Religion is  a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices. There are different thoughts and words that arise in people’s hearts when the word ‘religion’ is mentioned.

For some, religion is a good thing and brings great memories from their past or present. There are those who accepted a religion because it’s what was practiced at their homes when they were growing up. There are others, who grew up with one, but have convert to another, and of course there are others still who have left whatever faith they once knew.

Some create their own religion; giving it a name at times, or not giving it one, picking and choosing from other established ones; creating an amalgamation: adding what they like and discarding what they don’t. Opinion is also a very popular religion. (that’s another topic altogether)

When it comes to how organized religion is viewed (let’s look at the U.S.) the Pew Research Center has the breakdown of the American attitudes on religion.

In this chart more than half of non-religious people have negative views about organized religion and when it came to looking at why some people are non-religious people, there were different reasons; the most popular was 1) they question a lot of the religious teachings in a faith 2) they didn’t agree with the positions churches took on social or political issues, and 3) they didn’t believe in God among others

Finally in this segment, Although the U.S. was founded because of a desire for religious freedom, there is a growing number of Americans that are leaving the religions of their youth. According to the Pew Research Center, “the most striking trend in American religion in recent years has been the growing percentage of adults who do not identify with a religious group. the vast majority of these religious “nones” (78%) say they were raised as a member of a particular religion before shedding their religious identity in adulthood” [8]

So, when it comes to religion, the majority of Americans are not interested for different reasons (and that’s a whole other study for another time), but no matter what we think of when we think of religion, the Bible tells us what the true meanings of religion, faith, and worship are.

In James 1:27, it mentions two portions to pure religion:

  1. To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction
  2. To keep oneself unspotted from the world

VISITING THE FATHERS AND WIDOWS


The social security system of ancient time was not based on any governmental institution. It was based on God’s law. The first time we see these two groups are in Exodus 22:22 “Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child”  The Hebrew word that is used for ‘afflict’ is aw-naw (H6031) which means to look down upon, to chasten self, to deal hardly with and to force.

There are other places where The LORD spoke about taking care of these:

  • Deut 24:19-22 — Make food available for orphans and widows from your fields.
  • Deut 27:19 — There is a strong rebuke for those who afflict the judgement of these groups
  • Psa 82:3 — The LORD calls His people to defend those who are poor and orphaned ones
  • Jer 49:11 — The Lord promised to take care of fatherless children and widows:

In the patriarchal society, when the husband or the father died, it was the first born son (especially) who would have to take care of his mother. The LORD was specific in how care and provision should be made to any who were struggling and destitute of individuals of society.

But how about in this day and age:

Q: How does the church treat the widow and fatherless? How do you? Do you know of any church that has met the needs of families who have lost fathers, mothers, or who are struggling and in need of aid?

When we are blessed with an abundance, do we stash all our extras into the bank, under the mattress, invest it in some stock, or do we use these funds and meet the needs of the fatherless and widows, the poor and the needy, the naked and hungry? Some churches do have ‘poor’ and ‘needy’ funds, but a handout can only go so far. We need to help people to get empowered and equipped with tools that will help them to stand on their own feet.

Some may want to help others by deciding what THEY think people need. Invest in your neighborhood, your community, your town and city. Find out the needs of those around, and meet their felt needs and then, they will want to know more about the God who provides for all men.


KEEPING ONESELF UNSPOTTED FROM WORLD


What an amazing task the LORD has given us! We are placed in this world to be ambassadors of Christ ( see 2 Corin 5:20), and are called to represent Him and to be set apart from the things of the world  (see 1 John 2:15-16) but the world has an attraction that keeps calling us to conform to its teachings, its eatings, its forms and fashion.

I don’t know about you, but when I think about the things the LORD has told us not to love in the above verses, I often think about tangible things (for example, accumulation of items) but these also include philosophies, ideologies, theories and hypotheses that force us to change our belief systems and cause us to be gods of our own religions. The atheist, the unchurched, the skeptic, the backslidden are all more religious that they think.

We need the Lord to examine us (Psa 26:2 Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart), and we need to also examine ourselves (2 Cor 13:5   Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates)

We also need to bring all our thoughts into subjection to The LORD (2 Cor 10:5  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ). We should also be careful with our Social Media sites (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc) by not be slaves to these, seeking to amass followers as we create worlds that revolve around us.

Life is a struggle; its a war actually, but we can do things that will lessen or strengthen the grips of satan on our minds. In the midst of this continuing quarantine, racial strife, politico-social upheavals, we need to keep ourselves unspotted:

Pure religion is something we should strive for. The world has its definition of religion, but God’s definition is true and paramount. Some see religion as constricting, debasing, mindless and oppressing; God’s religion is empowering, liberating and uplifting.

There are man-made rituals and personal preferences that may come into our Christian experiences that have no scriptural foundation. We should guard our Christian walk from defilement and spots, and strive for the purity of worship

Conclusion and appeal


References (Opens in New Windows):