How Pure Is Your Religion?. Sermon
Text: “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 writer of the book of James sets before us the various fruits and manifestations of a genuine relationship with God. James, the preacher of practical righteousness, urges people to prove their faith by a life of benevolent works.
He boldly declares that the faith that does not produce works is dead. Faith, by its very nature, cannot exist and be fruitless.
James wrote to Christians scattered abroad and gave to them some practical tests by which it was possible to measure the genuineness and depth of their faith in God. In so doing, he presented to them a challenge to live a full Christian life.
In James 1 the readers are warned four times against the peril of being selfdeceived about the quality of their faith. It is possible for one to consider himself to have a genuine faith and be mistaken.
Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).
Numbered among the followers of Christ are many superficial believers who will be greatly surprised on the day of judgment to discover that they are excluded from heaven because of the lack of a faith that manifests itself in a life surrendered to the will of God and to the good of others.
By studying the book of James, we can discover the tests by which we can measure the quality of our faith. We can also discover the ideals toward which we should strive.
I. Pure religion has its origin in the heart of God.
A. God is the source of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).
B. Our faith, our religious service, and our worship are but responses to God’s initiative.
II. Pure religion requires that we be teachable in both mind and heart.
A. James says that we should be “swift to hear.”
B. A genuine faith in Christ will manifest itself by an eager desire to hear the truth of God concerning the issues and activities of life.
C. The book of James warns us against being mere auditors (James 1:22).
III. Pure religion will put forth an earnest effort to control the use of the tongue.
A. The inspired writer encourages us to be “slow to speak.” We should all remember that while the Creator has given us two ears and two eyes, he has given us only one mouth—one tongue.
Evidently he meant for us to hear twice as much as we speak. When we hear something that is not good, especially about someone else, instead of letting it come through the mouth, we should let it go through the other ear.
B. Compare James 3:3–10 for the devastating effects of the wrong use of the tongue. Once a young man came to the philosopher Socrates to be instructed in oratory.
The moment the young man was introduced, he began to talk and continued for some time. When Socrates could get in a word, he said, “Young man, I will have to charge you a double fee.” “A double fee? Why?” The old sage replied, “I will have to teach you two sciences.
First, how to hold your tongue and, then, how to use it.”
IV. Pure religion involves a constant crusade to eliminate all evil from our hearts and lives.
A. Even the Christian has a nature that would induce him to compromise with every possible type of sin.
B. We are challenged to put aside all filthiness, malice, and wickedness and to keep ourselves unstained by the world (James 1:27). Every genuine Christian must have some great negatives in his or her life.
V. Pure religion reveals itself in the practice of compassionate acts of kindness.
A. Pure religion is something more than ritual and ceremony.
B. Pure religion is infinitely more than attendance at the regular worship services.
C. Pure religion hears distress calls, sees needs, and with helping hands gives joyful assistance.
As followers of Christ, it is possible for us to have pure religion. To do so we must bring our lives regularly under the searching, penetrating light of the life and teachings of our Lord.
Pure religion will produce joy in our own hearts. Pure religion is contagious. Many of the unsaved about us will become attracted to our Savior if they can see a living demonstration of what it means to be a Christian in our daily conduct.
T. T. Crabtree was for many years the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Springfield, Missouri. He taught preaching and homiletics in Southern Baptist seminaries.