Monday, July 27, 2009


God has been dealing with me for several weeks maybe months now on this topic and while this topic seems very broad on the surface...I desire to speak to the idea of religion and how it relates to me as a Christian and what is means to be a Believer.

When you hear the word "religion" what does it bring to your mind..What thoughts are conjured up? After a thorough study of James and now a class study of James in Sunday School and the Pastor speaking on a similar is obvious to me that God is trying to make this point stick with me..and hence back to this blog to try and express my ideas so that I can gain a better grasp of what is in my mind and to establish a point in my life where God was working to help me grow and attain wisdom...

Does Religion mean to you...Going to church, reading your bible, tithing, etc..?

James 1:26 "if anyone thinks he is religious, without controlling his tongue but deceiving his heart, his religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world"

This passage is the focal point of my message today..

See... religion to many people that are unbelievers has a negative connotation..I believe the reason for this is simple hypocrisy. We who claim the mantle of Christian can no more be differentiated from the worldly person than a set of identical twins..We have caused a stumbling block to the unbeliever because our religion is only a Sunday deal, or possibly a Wednesday night every now and then.. Believers who exhibit genuine Christianity accept God's word, act on His word and apply His word to their (our) lives. To most people, religion is the external or ceremonial rituals of public worship. We focus only on these outward activities and believe that as long as we do these, we are genuinely religious..

Religion is a way of life..governed by true Faith. First if we accept God's word as the guide book to life as in 2nd Timothy 3:16-17 " ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete(adequate), thoroughly equipped for every good work"

then we must act on His word and draw application to our lives..So many times I find myself being squeezed by the pressures of the world and when something has to give, it often times is the time I spend with the Lord..Why do I choose others activities over the time with my Savior.? That is a question I battle with on a regular basis but also confronts the very power of our (my) sinful nature and the bent we have toward wickedness.. left unchecked by the Spirit of God and the inspired Word will leave us dead...separated from God..

Our Sunday School teacher told us about the story of Dr. Jeckel and Mr. Hyde..that this person was trying to separate good from evil and he thought that if he could separate the two and be left with good, everything would be fine...but what he found out is that the evil side was to powerful and the only way to get rid of it was to "kill it". I never really knew what this play was about until this day but I find it fascinating and a perfect example to try and help explain this..Our flesh must be crucified...and new person must be raised up in order for us to act on the word of God. We will not act on the word until it becomes the guiding force behind everything we do. Attending church, tithing, helping other people are all great gestures but are empty without a regular reading and immersion of God's Holy word in our lives.. The wisdom we need to avoid ignorance can only come from the Bible..If we choose to go thru a "checkoff" list of religious activities but never read the word of God and try to gain wisdom from it, we run the risk of being "ignorant" being deceived by what is truth and what is not. This is how we as Christians or who claim the title of Christian can have a views of homosexuality or abortion that is errant. We have become ignorant in our understanding and therefore the world has stained our viewpoint, leaving us deceived...Remember that when you are deceived, you do not even realize it...that is why it is called deceived.. Some synonyms for deceive are " Duped", Hoodwinked", "Defraud", "Ensnare". I thought these words would help drive home what is happening to Christians.. We are being hoodwinked by the devil himself...he has us believing things that are in total antagonism to the word of God because we dont know what the word of God says..because we dont read it.. We simply do our duty of being a good person for the most part, attend church regularly, volunteer, etc...and never truly dig into God's word to find the truth..because when the truth is exposed and it flies in the face of this world and we say it so, we are ostracized and labeled "kook" by those who are ignorant to the truth...and the fear of being labeled this by others has caused us to keep our views (the truth)to our self and clamour such statements as " This is how I believe and how you believe is up to you", a relative existence...versus an absolute Truth given to us for our own good..thru the inspired word...and this all results in a religion and not a genuine life built on Faith in Jesus Christ and evidenced by our "doing" or "living".

James offered up three areas of our life that could be a portrait of our Genuine Christianity..

1.) Self control illustrated by our ability to control our tongue - Self control in an inner spiritual activity, not an outward ceremonial one.. Self control is taught by the apostle Paul as a fruit of the Spirit. If you read further into James, he spends almost an entire chapter unpacking the "tongue" and goes to far as to call it "tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity" in verse 6 of Ch 3

If we claim to be devoted to a way of life that glorifies God and yet spout off hateful, destructive words is pure deception and a form of religion that is useless as James writes

2. Looking after orphans and widows - I have to admit my ignorance here and say this never really made a lot of sense to me and the understanding that I know have has eluded me for so many years. This deals directly with the heart and right attitudes.. Orphans and widows were vulnerable members of society during this time but the point hinges on this...they had nothing to offer in return. When you reach out to help, it must be from the proper not expect anything in return...but because it is the "right" thing to do.. to have a heart for those who can not offer anything for your help. That is evidence of the word of God guiding our lives.

3. Keeping oneself unstained by the world - James expounds that authentic Christians protect themselves from the sinful pollutants of the world. They apply God's word to their lives consistently thus enabling them to resist the world and exhibit genuine Christianity

Here is the larger implication of "religion" versus a genuine Christian faith. The unbelieving world seeing us act as though we are a set apart peoples in the world and that our lives are a direct reflection on the written word and not a hypocritical example.. When our actions do not line up with our words, we lose all credibility and become stumbling blocks for before we lash out with our tongue, or we choose to help with the intention of gaining praise or reward, or we take on the likeness of the world..ask yourself if this is the proper response and check your as to not defame the Kingdom of God and bring shame upon His name.

We must "humbly receive the implanted word" so that our lives can be governed by the Holy Spirit. Intently read the Word and study what it has to say and then act accordingly and not allow the world to pollute the truth as we know to be and our lives as we proclaim the saving work of Christ our Lord..Just as the Sadducee's were greatly mistaken in Mark 12:18-27, let us not be mistaken in our understanding of God's word..That will only happen if we spend time in it often and intensely.

Religion is not an outward expression but an inward reality..

As I look at my life and the many opportunities I have blown in my responses to others, I have great sorrow..for my life has often more than not been an example of hypocrisy than of the genuine faith I long for..but the good news is that God has opened my eyes to this and allowed me to see me for who I really am and have spawned in me a renewed dedication to the example I might be to those who come in contact with realize my time spent with God studying His word, meditating on It's meaning is paramount in my life if I ever want to evidence the desires of my heart..

Lord I am so grateful for your mercy and grace and if it not be for your abundance of such, I would be lost in the wickedness of this world and ensnared by the wiles of the evil one. Thank you so much for opening my eyes and revealing to me the truth of your Word and exposing the hypocrisy in my own life and setting a new course toward genuineness of the faith. I am in awe of your pefect knowledge and Holiness and desire to have a heart that is after yours..In Christ our Lord I pray..Ame


(lifeway curriculum)
Print this post


Post a Comment