Saturday, July 12, 2014

Marsha's Musings: Keeping the Cart Behind the Horse (James 1:27 NKJV)

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 NKJV)

John Gill' commentary has this to say,

"Pure religion and undefiled,.... That which is sincere and genuine, and free from adulteration and hypocrisy:

before God and the Father; or in the sight of God the Father of Christ, and all his people; that which is approved of by him, who is the searcher of hearts, and the trier of the reins of men, "is this": not that the apostle is giving a full definition of true religion; only he mentions some of the effects of it, by which it is known, and without which it cannot be true and genuine; and they are these:

to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction; and not only to see them, and speak a word of comfort to them, but to communicate to them, and supply their wants, as they may require, and according to the ability God has given: where there is true religion in the heart, there is love to God; and where there is love to God, there is love to the saints; and this will show itself to them, in times of affliction and distress; and where this is wanting, religion itself is not pure and undefiled:

and to keep himself unspotted from the world: from the men of the world, who defile by their evil communications; and "from the vices of the world", as the Arabic version renders it, which are of a defiling nature; and, where religion is in its power and purity, and the Gospel of the grace of God comes with efficacy, it teaches to separate from the rest of the world, and to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly."

 At first glance it would seem this is a works religion or a legalistic approach to Christianity, but it's not. This whole chapter is written to believers. It's not instruction on how to gain merit with God. It's just a stating of the fact that if we are truly saved by God we will produce good works in response to God working in us.  We do not do good works to gain favor and salvation from God. We do good works in response to His saving us and showing favor upon us. Many get the cart before the horse in this respect, when they pull verse on good works out of context.

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