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

Today let us consider some of the characteristics of Pure Religion as we seek to demonstrate that quality in our own lives. 

Pure Religion Hears and Obeys God.  The action of their lives comes from the condition of their heart.  Their response to what is happening around them is rooted in Christ living within their hearts rather than what someone thinks about them.  Their lives are marked by obedience rather than sacrifice or demonstration for personal benefit or acclaim.

Pure Religion Rejoices in Jesus.  That person attributes to God, the true prominence and status of being the Almighty and Living God.  They recognize Him as the One True God.  They realize that without Him there is no hope, no life, no victory, no eternal life.  This person rejoices in the reality that they are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus.  They rejoice because of God’s Covenant and Faithfulness.  They desire to be like Jesus in all things and at all times. 

Pure Religion comes only through the New Birth.  It cannot be learned or earned it is a Gift of God, through the Grace of God.  It is a work of the Holy Spirit in the heart and mind.  The words of Jesus in John 3:3 resonate, “Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”   They are dead to sin and alive unto God through the Blood of Jesus and the Grace of God.  They are being transformed not conformed.

Those living a sham and are phony reveal that some professing Christianity may achieve a certain sense of satisfaction out of fooling many or most people.  That cannot be easy because they are acting as they do for appearance, not because of the true desire of their heart.  I have learned that those living in pretense will eventually reveal their true character and nature.  They fail to keep themselves untarnished by the world and eventually will find it impossible to resist temptation.

A person may pretend all their earthly life and be accepted by most as a genuine Christian. They may be highly esteemed and deemed as one who exhibits Pure Religion, but no matter how many are deceived, God will never be deceived.  God is not mocked!

Heaven is for the pure in heart.  The question for you and me is which of the characters of this parable most truly represent who we are at this time?  Is our religion pure or does it give place to some of the other characteristics?  If we read Matthew 25:31-46, where will we find ourselves in this picture?  Is our religion pure or impure?  Only you and I can answer that question for ourselves.  God knows and we know or if we will honestly examine our hearts and lives, we will see clearly. 

If we are not manifesting Pure Religion, I urge each of us to run to the Cross and cry out for God’s mercy and submit ourselves to Him and His will, today. 

God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!