Pure Religion - 1
John W James, Walsall
In the closing verses of James, chapter one, we have the Divine definition of that well used and much defined word “Religion.” Our modern world, like the ancient pagan world of the early Christians, is a World full of endless varieties of religions. It was certain Stoic philosophers of those times that regarded all religions as but different forms of expressing the same general truths. But there is one thing, however, that can be said of all the false and pagan religions—it is, that man being instinctively religious, and having lost contact with God, because of sin, he now seeks to give expression to this through the means of these “substitute religions,” which are false representations of the true. Paul said, regarding the Athenians, “I perceive that ye are somewhat religious” (Acts 17:32, R.V., marg.).
But here, the Apostle bids us take notice of his stupendous and unique claim; he claims a religion, which unlike all others, is said to be, “Pure and undefiled before God the Father.” This religion has been aptly described as, “The life of God in the soul of a man.” God in Christ is necessary to it, and central to the life of a man who would experience it. James postulates, “Since this religion is both pure and undefiled, it has a heavenly standard, even God the Father before whom it passes in review.” Then he says, “That the true religion is seen and recognised among men, by its practical results.” This is in accord with the whole practical and ethical teaching of the epistle; for James is always expounding the truth that a man’s religion is best judged by its results.
Now the test of the Pure Religion, he suggests, as being three very important and practical features. They do not necessarily describe the whole, but rather enunciate three vital characteristics which relate to the heart of the matter, namely—(1) the rule of the tongue, (2) the service of love, and (3) the demonstration of unworldliness. These characteristics will be discussed in subsequent Articles.