By Benjamin H. Liles
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. ~ James 1:27, New King James
The trouble with looking religious is that it calls attention to you, not so much to the God on High, who equips you for the works that He gives. It's the reason James says this. What is the right way to have pure and undefiled religion? "To visit orphans and widows in their trouble" as well as "to keep oneself [untainted, without blemish] from the world," says James.
I want to start with the end of that verse. How can we keep ourselves pure, without being spotted by the world and its standards? Jesus tells us, "Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself unless it remains in the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine and you are the branches. The one who remains in Me, and I in him, will bear much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:4-5, Berean Study).
In other words, it is by remaining in His word. Meditation on His word, from beginning to end, reading it, obeying it, and living it out this is how you remain in Him. The psalmist declares, "I will reflect on all You have done and meditate on Your actions" (Psalm 77:12, Holman Christian Standard). What has God done?
In the article that I wrote yesterday on Bless the Lord I wrote and quoted, "...it dawns on me why Moses penned these words: 'then watch yourself, that you do not forget the LORD who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery' (Deuteronomy 6:12, New American Standard). It is such a sobering reminder of how humble God wants us to be before Him."
So, what has the Lord done on behalf of Israel? He brought them out from bondage to Egypt. What does this mean in regards to us these days? Jesus Christ paid the penalty on the cross for our sins. These sins we committed to God are now no longer held against us. Jesus took on the Father's wrath so we wouldn't go through it.
Think on this a moment and realize how sobering and real God's judgment is against sin and its effects. "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" Paul writes (1 Corinthians 15:55, Berean Study). It's repeated again in Revelation as well, "Then Death and [Hell] were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death--the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:14, Berean Study).We are not meant for hell or to be eternally separated from God.
Friends, listen. We were not meant to be separated from the love of God. We are made in His image; meaning we are creative just as He is. Likewise, we also have emotions and intelligence as well. Hell wasn't made for us but for principalities and powers that rebelled against Him since the foundation of this world (which is another lesson for another time).
If we were made in His image, how much more then are we to be present before Him in Heaven? I understand that we all hold the notion Heaven may appear boring, but then again consider that there will be some who rule with Jesus the Messiah. We will all, however, worship and praise Him for all He has done for us. "After this I looked and saw a multitude too large to count, from every nation and tribe and people and tongue, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.
They were clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. And they fell facedown before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength to our God forever and ever! Amen" (Revelation 7:9-12, Berean Study).
Since the bulk of this message was more on remaining spotless in this world, I will come back to this verse talking about having pure and undefiled religion to talk about how we are to care for one another: the children and the widow. But it just goes to show that before the Lord and the Father we need to be holy just as He is holy. We are to be in Him, to rest, and be at peace. Come to Jesus who pardoned your sins, allowing Him to make you clean, to have access to the Father. For without that, you have no way to God the Father.
Father, I thank You for showing me all You have today. I want to keep telling other people of Your love, Your just judgment, and how to have access to You through the Son, Jesus the Messiah. He is much more than a Great Teacher; more than just the Prophet; Jesus is my Lord and Savior. I want to show everyone how much You loved me, and that You love them just as much as You have me. I thank You for that ability and for the honor sharing Your message. For this, I praise and worship You. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.