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True Religion is Pure and Undefiled - James 1:27

Updated on February 19, 2016
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Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I love beauty and see it in everything. I seek to bring out the beauty I see and share it with you.

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Life Lessons from the Book of James

Welcome back to Life Lessons from the Book of James.

If you have been following this study from the beginning: James chapter one congratulation! Today is the completion of a careful examination of one chapter from God's word.

Today's subject matter will once again require an up-close and personal examination of your heart.

As you read this verse note how the word Religion is defined.

James 1:27 - Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

The MESSAGE version below will help to expose some deeper shades of meaning.

James 1:27 - Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.

Come along for the end of our journey through James chapter one where we will:

  • Analyze the word Religion
  • Consider what it means to live out a religion that is pure and undefiled
  • See what God considers evidence of an undefiled heart
  • Seek to understand what it means to keep ourselves from being stained by the world.

Read? Set? Let's Go!



What comes to your mind when you hear the word Religion? To be honest, I do not like the word Religion. Why? Because of all the connotations connected to that word.

The word Religion is an umbrella for all kinds of beliefs which, many times, contradict each other. Religion represents a system of do's and don't's that judge harshly and hypocritically.

There are many people today who use the word Religion to describe what they practice. The applications and meaning for that word are so varied that it is impossible to understand what the person implies when stating they are religious.

In James 1:27 the word Religion has descriptors attached. The type of religion being described, in this context, is no ordinary religion. This religion is not marked by tradition, ceremonies, rules etc. It is a religion that is marked by a changed heart. It is pure and undefiled. It passes the muster with God the Father.

Blessed Are the Pure in Heart


Pure and Undefiled

So let us take a moment to shine God's spotlight on our own heart. As you examine the motives and intents held within your heart would you describe them as pure and undefiled?

Perhaps these three questions will help you focus on that question with more clarity:

  1. Do you desire to help others because your heart holds compassion and reaches out to help a soul in need?
  2. Is your act of service blemished by motives that are impure or defiled. For instance, do you serve those in need in order to ease your conscience? Or perhaps the underlying motive you help others is pride. Deep down inside (perhaps on a subconscious level) you do it to put a 'feather in your cap' so to speak, so you can tell others of the 'good deeds' you performed?
  3. Do you reach out as a duty or to avoid guilt? Perhaps following the letter of the law (instead of the Spirit of the Law?)
  4. Do you help others to gain favor with God, to complete your checklist of good deeds thinking, 'surely God will smile down on me.'

The questions above weigh the motives and intent of the heart revealing the type of religion you practice.

Now let's get down and dirty and practical.


Widows and Orphans

I invite you to enter into a couple of scenarios. The first takes place in a Church.

Scenario #1 A faithful widow sits down in a pew. Her her heart is heavy, she doesn't know how she will feed her children this week. She works to push it all aside and prays for refreshment through the word of God. You and your family are sitting in your seats and preparing for a great time of worship. As you stand to worship you note a very bad smell coming from behind you. It is the smell of uncleanness and perspiration.

What is going on in your head? The first reaction for most of us will be repugnant. None of us likes to smell filth.

When it is time to shake hands, during worship time, do you avoid reaching out to shake the unkempt woman's hand? Maybe you do reach out but avoid eye contact. Do you really see this Widow as Jesus see's her? Think about it. She was created by the same God who created you. Jesus loves this lady as much as he loves you. Is your attitude of self-protection and superiority keeping you from seeing her as God see's her? If you harbor these thoughts how will you ever see her needs? Does that thought humble you?

Let's go deeper. Be honest with yourself because God already knows your heart. When you are at Church do you stick close to the people who define who you are? Are you class conscious? Do you avoid people less fortunate or as refined as you?

Scenario #2 Your Pastor calls and asks you if you would be willing to pick someone up on Sunday mornings? He explains that this person has no transportation but he wants to come to Church. In the course of the conversation, you realize it is the widow who sat behind you in Church last week. What is your response to the call?

You see James 1:27 makes it clear that religion that is accepted by God is defined by reaching out to those in need with pure and undefiled motives.

In this verse, widows and orphans are highlighted. Do you have Widows in your neighborhood, life or in your Church? What needs might those Widows have? For instance, A woman who has been married for 40 years suddenly finds herself without a companion, helper, lover, and friend. Do you reach out to this widow to befriend her and lift her up in her time of loss? Do you investigate to see what her financial condition is?

What needs might the orphans in your life, neighborhood or Church have? An orphan can be a child without one parent. How could you step in and be a 'Father or Mother' image to this child? Children are so very vulnerable. In fact, God is especially protective of children:

"And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea." Mark 9:42

Take time to think about your position in life, perhaps all of the ways God has blessed you. Who could benefit from your heart, your possessions, your time?

Let Me See This World Dear Lord

Guard Your Heart


Guard Against Corruption

The last part of James 1:29 tells us to keep ourselves unstained or polluted from the world.

How does the world 'stain or pollute' us? Cultural contamination is something that can be absorbed so subtly that we aren't even aware. As we live in this world it is important to know this is not our home. This world opposes the ways of God.

The best way for us to understand how the world pollutes us and what God exhorts us to do is to allow the Word of God to speak for itself; I have listed two verses to be used as a search light:

I John 2:14-17 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,

The enemy is bent on luring you away from the one you love. You must be prepared and filled with the living word of God which gives you the power to defeat the enemies attacks.


The Charge

As you have taken the time to meditate on James 1:27 did you discern some motivations within your own heart that are not pure or undefiled?

Do you want to see this world as God see's it? Do you desire to be Jesus' hands and feet to a needy generation? Is your desire a surface desire or is a deep down conviction to reach out and touch lives?

We cannot change our own heart. When the Spirit of God enters the new believer he/she is awakened to a new life but we still have a bent toward sin. The old nature is still inclined to sin as a habit that has been carefully developed for years. The enemy has his plans for the new Christian too. A change of heart is not on the enemies agenda for you.

Surrender your will to Jesus, pray for His will be done in spite of your bent toward sin. Invest time in His word realizing it is living and able to conform you to His image. God will change the heart of His child as he hungrily chases after Him.

The Bible says our lives are hidden with Christ. Picture yourself as hidden with the one who gave up everything to redeem you - Jesus in our Place. Picture yourself sheltered under His protection. You are dearly loved, so loved that He, in fact, sings over you. "The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." Zeph. 3:17

Now ask Him to give you a heart like His. Wait and see what God will do. God bless you brothers and sisters as you set your eyes on the one who is Holy and gives life both abundant and eternal.

Give Me a Heart Like Yours

My Heart

As a result of searching my hearts motives

See results


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    • Mekenzie profile image

      Susan Ream 20 months ago from Michigan

      Kathy, I too, look forward to sitting together to worship the King of King and Lord of Lords. Thank you for coming by for a read and an uplift. :) The word of God is truth, light and life. I long to be faithful in teaching it and encouraging others. Thank you, my dear friend!

      Hugs and Blessings to you this day!


    • The Stages Of ME profile image

      The Stages Of ME 20 months ago

      Hello Dear Friend,

      You are beautiful in your grasp of teaching the precious Word. Discernment can be a tricky topic to address and still you are flawless. I so look forward to our heavenly home when we can sit together and glorify our King.

      Hugs and Blessings always,


    • Mekenzie profile image

      Susan Ream 3 years ago from Michigan

      Hello manatita, Thank you for your visit today. The scripture must be looked at deeply and with prayer as it is God's very word to us. This Hub is only one verse on a study of James chapter one.

      The goal of this study was to encourage others to 'sit' with God's word and ask Him to reveal truth and application.

      This was an amazing journey for me to take James one in small bites and see what God had to say to me personally.

      Thank you for your kind words. May God's love and mercy follow you as well. He is good and faithful!



    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 3 years ago from london

      An apparently well researched Hub with some deep challenges. May you continue with God's love and mercy. Peace.

    • Mekenzie profile image

      Susan Ream 3 years ago from Michigan

      teaches, always good to read your thoughts on my hubs. I appreciate the word 'powerful' and believe the message in James is just that! Thank you and Blessings to you!


    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      This is a powerful message for the masses. If we would follow the scripture we would see a better world. Thank you for the 2 verses to overcome negativity.

    • Mekenzie profile image

      Susan Ream 3 years ago from Michigan

      Me too Ann - James is filled with such practical teachings which gives us the opportunity to see ourselves through His eyes. If one hurries through this precious book they will miss so much.

      The goal in this series was to take an up close and personal look inside our hearts by studying just a few verses each time.

      We made it through chapter one and I know I have been changed by sitting with God's word through James. Only God's word has the power to change lives.

      Thank you for your visit and input - I agree true Christianity see's God's word as it's authority.

      Blessing to you!

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 3 years ago from Orange, Texas

      I love the book of James! Jesus says, too that we can do nothing without Him. I have also thought of religion as man-made (of the world). True Christianity uses the Word of God as its authority.

      Well done and voted up.

    • Mekenzie profile image

      Susan Ream 3 years ago from Michigan

      Hi Sky, I agree, war and strife are part of the picture that comes to mind when hearing the word religion. Thanks for coming by and leaving your thoughts and encouragement.

      Nice to be back and hear from old friends ... :)



    • Sky321 profile image

      Sky321 3 years ago from Canada

      When people hear the word "religion" they often think of war and strife. And to be honest religion has caused many of these things, simply because they lack the true, pure spirit. Great info and thoughts! You covered a lot of topics within a good subject and have some great insight.

    • Mekenzie profile image

      Susan Ream 3 years ago from Michigan

      Inspired, How awesome that your prayer group has focused on the heart. Yes, we must guard our hearts above ALL else .... I agree, it is out of a pure and loving heart that we effectively minister to other ... couldn't have said it better myself.

      Blessings dear lady - Have a GREAT weekend,


    • Inspired Heart profile image

      Yvette Stupart 3 years ago from Jamaica

      This is awesome! A major focus of a prayer group that I lead has been our hearts since the start of the year. We are instructed in Proverbs 4:23 to "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life' (NLT).

      This is so important for it is out of a pure and loving heart that we effectively minister to others.



    • Mekenzie profile image

      Susan Ream 3 years ago from Michigan

      Faith - ya know I didn't even notice typos or misspellings. lol Your heart spoke louder.

    • Mekenzie profile image

      Susan Ream 3 years ago from Michigan

      Hi Faith, I am with you in describing my Faith as a personal relationship with Jesus. This verse does use the word Religion though - but the descriptor's make the word more than palatable. ;)

      I am touched to learn how your heart is tender to the homeless, displaced and hurting. It is Jesus in you that reaches out to minister - Praise God!

      Your account of the widow calling in to Crown Financial was heartbreaking. This scripture is clear to us as believers - we are to take care of widows. Wondering what the radio host had to say to her?

      I'm glad you listened to the song - I often wonder if people pause to hear the songs that God lays on my heart to include.

      Thank you for ALL the encouragement sister Faith, you bless me to the bones. ;)

      Love Ya,


    • Mekenzie profile image

      Susan Ream 3 years ago from Michigan

      Welcome word! Thank you for stopping by and leaving your encouraging thoughts to this hub. I do love the word of God because it is God's very words to us. It gives life, warning, direction and more.

      I hear you about religion and people reaching out to connect with God - but oftentimes the word religion is a stumbling block to some (keeping rules to gain favor) or an offense to others who perceive a judgemental attitude from those who claim to be religious .. much like the religious Pharisees to whom Jesus said, ""Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean."

      I agree with you that a life hidden in Christ and perceived through spiritual discernment gives us clarity to see this world as God see's it.

      As far as Saturday being the Sabbath - I agree it is the Sabbath.

      Have a Blessed Day!


    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Sorry for the typos in my previous comment. I was on my phone and by the time I logged on to my computer to share, it would not let me fix them : (

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Dear Mekenzie, your heart certainly is pure and undefiled to write of and know of His beautiful truths here. I do not particularly care for the word religion either as I am in a personal relationship with the Lord and religion is all about man-made rules and traditions. since a small child, my heart always went out to those underdogs and those less fortunate or hurting, maybe because I could relate a bit. As I grew in my relationship with the Lord and the Holy Spirit really opened my eyes wide to see those homeless, I was covicted by the Holy Spirit to serve them and women coming out of prison to His glory. Since we are in the world, it is difficult to not become like the world at times, but we are called mot to conform to this world. When the world looks at us, we should look different to them. I was listening to as it Radio the other night on the way home ...actually Crown Money Matters ...not sure if that is the correct name. Anyway, a sweet older woman called in to ask a question about the church and family taking care of widows. Bless her heart for she is a widow and her sons do not either want to care for her or either do nit have the means to do so and she said that not one church in her area want to help her. God's word is so clear about both the family and church are to take care of widows. if she has no family, the church is called by God to care for the widows. It just broke my heart to listen to her as it did those on the program. thank you, Mekenzie, for this most important Bible study. You have done an excellent job in sharing God's truths so clearly. I love your song choice too. God bless you. Up ++++pinning, tweeting. Googling and sharing.

    • word55 profile image

      Word 3 years ago from Chicago

      Hi Mekenzie, This was a wonderful lesson about truth of the heart. It was well organized and presented. You sound like an avid reader of the Bible. I have no problem with the word religion. When I hear that word I know that someone is trying to connect with God. A life through God and Christ is so unique. To see life through spiritual discernment gets me clearly through this world. It can be the worse day of my life but I'm going to get through it with ease because of spiritual discernment. Thank you for this unique presentation. There is nothing controversial about this except… people go to church on Saturday too. Sunday was not the original sabbath. Would you agree? :-)

    • Mekenzie profile image

      Susan Ream 3 years ago from Michigan

      Hi Jackie, You've given this some good thought - that's awesome!

      I think the key to being in the world but NOT of the world is found in Rom. 12:2 "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Our minds need to be filled with the word of God. As we allow His word to sink in - we begin to discern what is of the world and what is of God.

      I don't think it's ever - easy - we are sojourners in this world - it is not our home. Yet we all want to be comfortable where we live. Sometimes God calls us to make a stand or to do something that is not comfortable - a reminder that this world is not our home. Our home is awaiting us at the end of this pilgrim journey.

      I hear you about weighing motives. I do believe, like you, that we should always choose to do the right thing whether we feel like it or not. If we, in the process, discern wrong motives we must repent and ask for a heart like His. It is God who changes the hearts when we surrender it to Him.

      He is patient and kind and His love is never failing. How I thank Him for His work in my life and yours.

      Have a GREAT weekend Jackie and thanks for a thoughtful comment.



    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      It is so hard to not be of this world isn't it? How do we stay out of it?I was wondering that very thing today. It is even hard to know our own hearts. If we do things because we know we should is that the same as doing then simply because we want to? I think we do just have to do what is the right thing and just hope it is for the right reason. ^+