By Mike Riley
James gives us the definition of what pure religion is in James 1:27, “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.” (NASV)
Since God has stated that pure religion is essential to please Him (Matthew 7:21-24; Hebrews 11:6; Revelation 22:14), how then can we be sure our religion is pure?
Pure Religion Must Have A “Pure Object of Worship”
God is light without darkness (1 John 1:5). Jesus in fending the temptations of Satan said, “You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only you shall serve” (Matthew 4:10). God himself condemned the worship of idols and false gods (Exodus 20:3-6).
Pure Religion Must Have a “Pure Sacrifice”
Under the Old Testament system, animal sacrifices were to be pure, unspotted and in excellent condition. Christ, in giving of His life, is the perfect sacrifice for sin. (Hebrews 10:10; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Pure Religion Must Have “Pure Doctrine”
Paul stated that the gospel was “the power of God to salvation” (Romans 1:16). In Galatians 1:6-9, we are warned not to preach any gospel except that which is received from God or we will be “accursed”. Paul exhorted Timothy to “preach the Word” because the time would come when many would not endure “sound” or healthy doctrine (2 Timothy 4:1-5).
Pure Religion Must Contain “Pure Worship”
We are to worship God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). In other words, we are to worship with the right heart and in the right way. We are to worship God according to His commands (1 John 2:3-5) and not according to our desires (Colossians 2:19-23).
Pure Religion Must Have A “Pure Institution”
That institution is the church of our Lord. This is the church that Christ promised to build (Matthew 16:18-19). This is the church that Christ purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28). This is the church that has Christ as its only head (Ephesians 1:22-23; Ephesians 5:22-32). This is the church that one is added to through obedience to the gospel of Christ (Acts 2:41-47).
Pure Religion Must Have A “Pure Membership”
Pure members have their sins washed away (Acts 22:16). Pure members purpose in their hearts not to sin (Daniel 1:8). Pure members abstain from all forms of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Pure members meditate on that which is pure and heavenly (Philippians 4:8; Colossians 3:1-2). Pure members show love for Christ by keeping His commandments (John 14:15).
The pure religion of Jesus teaches us to be:
(1) pure in heart (Matthew 5:8; 1 Timothy 5:22).
(2) pure in speech (Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 3:8-9; 1 Peter 4:11).
(3) pure in conduct (Matthew 5:16; Philippians 1:27).
(4) pure in service (Matthew 20:26-28; Matthew 23:11; James 1:27).
Do we practice pure religion? If not, why not? Our Lord has given us an example to follow (1 Peter 2:21-24). Will we follow?