James 1:21-27 – “Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. 22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does. 26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. 27 This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”  NASB

It is not difficult to discern that the world is a religious world.  It really is but not necessarily in a good way.  The word ‘Religion’ carries a warehouse full of meanings, some negative and some positive depending on the person and their experiences in this life.  It has different meanings to virtually everyone, but the Bible tells us there are ‘two kinds’ of religion.  There is Pure Religion and Impure Religion.  The only question is which do we follow?

Throughout the Word of God, we are given a clear picture of what Pure Religion is and how it functions.  We are also given a clear indication of what Impure Religion is and how it functions.  There is example after example of both, revealed in the lives and actions of biblical characters.

There are those who make no pretense about their religion and openly embrace worship and live in a manner as to demonstrate they do not serve the Living God of All Creation.  Then there are those who live with masks on and their life is a sham or a pretense.  They are living a lie and trying to deceive everyone, including God and themselves.  Finally, there is Pure Religion, the Pure in Heart.  These are those who worship and serve God with a whole heart.  They worship and serve Him in spirit and truth. They are consistent and the same no matter the circumstance or situation.  They don’t have to be pumped, primed, and pampered to look or act in a certain way, it is who they are. 

The Pure in Heart demonstrate a character and nature that flows out of their relationship and oneness with Jesus.  In order to illustrate the contrast, I would like for us to consider the parable of Luke 10:30-35 – The Good Samaritan.  It is a fascinating illustration of the contrast between Pure Religion and Impure Religion. 

  • The Thieves represent the world and make no pretense about their religion.  They are thieves and living for themselves.
  • The Priest and the Levite represent those who are living a sham and a pretense.  They pretend to be something they are not. 
  • The Samaritan represents the true Body of Christ or Pure Religion.  He does what he does not out of show or convenience but because of a condition of the heart.  It is who he is.  He does not live for show but reaches out from a heart of compassion and love.

The only question is which example is a reflection of who we are.  I want to discuss this a bit more so we will pause here and pick this up tomorrow and talk about the characteristics of Pure Religion.

God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Jesus.

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