Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. – James 1:27 ESV
The book of James is one of the most practical in the Bible. How do you take the WORD of God from a concept, a book of virtues- and turn it into a daily way of life, a living, breathing book from God that guides us in how to live our life with a Godly focus and a heavenly outcome? It is James that stated what some consider a rebuke to Paul’s assertion that it is Faith alone, in Christ alone, by the Grace of God alone that our works have no value to God. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9) James in his epistle, which was supposedly the first letter penned in the New Testament, states what many feel is a contradictory statement to Paul’s, about Grace being sufficient unto salvation. For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. (James 2:26) James is NOT contradicting Paul, he is actually going deeper into the heart. Just like Jesus said many times, in what is called the “Contrasts”, you have heard it said, but I say….(See Mathew 5:21-28) James was going deeper than Paul, James was agreeing with Paul, that we are NOT saved by works, or good deeds- but we are saved UNTO good works and deeds.
Leader, James, like his half brother Jesus was going to the ROOT. It is an issue of the heart. Remember, we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. It is only when we are connected to the SOURCE, that we fulfill our Godly destination. The source has only one way to connect and that is THROUGH THE HEART. It is a heart connection to God, a personal, intimate connection to God the Father, through His Son, our Savior, our LORD- Jesus the Messiah! That is what separates RELIGION- which is man’s attempt to ‘get to’ God, from RELATIONSHIP- which is a personal, emotional connection to the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE. Ellicott’s commentary on James 1:27 says: “It will be observed that by religion here is meant religious service. No one word can express this obvious interpretation of the original, taken as it must be in completion of the verse before; and certainly “religion” in its ordinary sense will not convey the right idea. Real worship, we may say, pure and undefiled, beheld and acknowledged as such in the presence of God, even the Father–mark the tender pathos of His divine relationship–is this”.
Conduit; Ellicott continues: To visit the fatherless (or, orphans) and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.–Here is the double proof of the perfect life of holiness, the Savior whereof is as perpetual incense before the throne of God. And the help afforded to the helpless, put thus in the first place of the two requirements, will often bring about the second–namely, that spotless condition of unworldliness which marks, and will ever mark, the true servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Deeds of benevolence may be and are often done by those who are not His; but all who truly belong to Him must live a life which praises Him continually in good works; not, it is hardly needful to say, as a cause–but rather the natural and inevitable result of love for Him, warming the heart within”. This is the litmus test for the TRUE BELIEVER, it goes to the HEART OF THE MATTER. If you have been changed at the ROOT, the heart level, then there is an outward expression- in other words: others CAN SEE THE FRUIT. Then the second LITMUS test is to NOT be like the world! To keep oneself UNSTAINED by the world. That means you are NOT LIKE THE REST OF THEM. Many so-called believers voted just like the world. They voted based on their feelings, based on the programming of the media, based on the lies and racism of the Black Lives Matter movement, based on the world’s definition of what is WRONG and what is RIGHT. They voted for a man and a party that mocks God, that makes sin- what God calls bad- good, and encourages others to have relationships outside of God’s command, to take the lives of innocent and unprotected children and mocks God’s perfection by almost outlawing Cisgender people and the relationships made through God’s natural law. In other words, they have become STAINED BY THE WORLD. And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Be HOLY (set apart, different) as your Father in heaven is Holy! Amen!