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Scripture Reading: James 1:21-27
1. Some Christians think of Christianity as “going to church” on Sunday then living as they please the rest of the time.
2. Jesus makes it clear that claiming to be religious does not approve one before God, Lk 6:46; Matt 7:21; 15:7-8.
3. Neither does appearing more religious (pious) than others insure God’s acceptance, Matt 6:1; Acts 17:22.
4. Pure religion involves our heart as well as every moment of our lives, Jas 1:27.
a. Religion: Outward expression of worship; diligent observance.
b. Religion has gotten a bad reputation due to many defilements of it.
c. Pure religion is “before God”; false religion is before men.
I. RELIGION IS DEFILED UNLESS THE HEART IS FIRST GIVEN TO GOD, Matt 15:1-20.
A. Raising Human Traditions above the Commandments of God, 15:1-6.
1. Pure religion is confused with external ceremonies instead of hearts and lives that are submissive to God’s will, 15:4-6.
2. God’s word/commands defines pure religion, 15:3, 6.
B. Without the Heart, Religion is Hypocritical, 15:7-9.
1. A façade of honor is produced: Lip service. (Lk 18:9-14)
2. Going through the motions, Isa 29:13.
1. Pure religion is from the inside (heart) out, 15:10-20 (11, 18).
2. Lord’s Supper, 1 Cor 11:23-29.
3. Singing, Eph 5:19.
4. Giving, prayer, Bible study, etc. – Heart must first fear God (be given to God).
II. HUMANS TENDENCY TO REDEFINE RELIGION RATHER THAN SUBMIT TO DIVINELY REVEALED RELIGION.
A. The Development of Human Religions, Rom 1:18-23.
1. Failure to glorify God, 1:21.
2. Failure to give thanks, 1:21.
3. Elevation of human wisdom, 1:22. (Pride, cf. Jeroboam, 1 Kgs 11:38; 12:26-33)
4. Change the nature of God, 1:23.
5. God’s wrath is revealed against manmade religions: without excuse, 1:18-20.
6. When we start defining Christianity for ourselves rather than submit to gospel of Christ, we are redefining and developing our own religion.
a. “Going to church on Sunday” is all there is to being a Christian.
b. “Anything religious is acceptable” / no religion.
B. The Errors and Sin of Self-Defined (Manmade) Religion.
1. Denies the fullness of Christ, Col 2:8-10.
2. Inferior / Carnal and prideful, Col 2:16-19.
3. Unable to overcome sin, Col 2:20-23.
4. Must honor the fullness of Christ, hold fast to Him as our Head and not follow the precepts of men.
III. WE MUST PRACTICE PURE RELIGION, Jas 1:25-27.
A. It is a Way of Life, Gal 2:20. When Christ is our way of life it…
1. Eliminates being a “Sunday only” Christian.
2. Eliminates reliance on traditions and developing hypocrisy.
3. Eliminates the need to develop manmade religions, Jas 1:25.
B. Obedient Hearts and Holy Lives, Heb 10:19-25; 1 Pet 1:13-16.
1. Heart: Controlled by truth, purity and compassion.
2. Conduct: Reflects commitment to the work of God (1:25).
1. More is needed for God’s approval than being outwardly religious (Acts 10:1-2; 11:14; Gal 1:13-14); we must have pure religion to be blessed by God (Jas 1:25).
2. Our religion must conform to Christ’s word (Col 3:17).
3. Our religion must express an obedient heart and a holy life.