Summary: The Holy Spirit moves James to reveal a truth from heaven which enables the spiritual heart to grasp a practical application of God’s love being expressed to others.
I am going to read to you from James 1:27
Title: Unfeigned Love
Theme: Practical Application of God’s Love
Series: Essentials for Church Growth
Listen as I read James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Let us Pray!
Introduction: The Holy Spirit moves James to reveal a truth from heaven which enables the spiritual heart to grasp a practical application of God’s love being expressed to others. “Unfeigned” is not simulated, is not pretense or just having an appearance. Unfeigned love is genuine or sincere love that is expressed through works. (New College Edition, The American Heritage Dictionary) James the half brother of Jesus became a prominent leader in the church at Jerusalem. (Matthew 15:55; Acts 15; Who’s Who In the Bible) He says, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”
Proposition: I would propose to you that the man who claims to believe in God and Jesus Christ strives to gain Biblical understanding on how to express true Biblical love to others.
Interrogative Sentence: What is mankind to watch out for? What is true religion? Who are we ministering too? Will there be a day of accountability? Will we be rewarded?
True Christianity is an expression of life lived through the enabling of the Holy Spirit with Jesus being revealed in and through the Body of Christ. Christians who grasps this truth study the Word of God so they may know how to live a life pleasing to their Maker, so they can imitate Jesus Christ who sacrificially gave His life for them.
Transitional Sentence: The first step to expressing true religion is to have a reverent fear of being seen as having only a form of Godliness. Jeremiah 10:21 says, “The shepherds are senseless and do not inquire of the Lord. The Apostle Paul warned Timothy that in the last days there would be those who have “…only a form of godliness…” (2 Timothy 3:5) Paul also wrote to Titus informing him of those who “…Claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him. …unfit to do any good.” (Titus 1:16)
“Shepherds” (ra`ah) here refers to pastors of churches and civil rulers who are given the privilege and responsibility of governing a people. (A Commentary, Critical, and Explanatory; Commentary on the Old Testament, Delitzch; The New American Commentary) Failure to prayerfully seek the Lord through the counsel of His Word leaves the flock of God and the people of a nation to be governed by the human flesh, a world view and even the lies of the devil.
The second mark of the last days is a powerless religion that is not changing people into the image of Jesus Christ. Let the Holy Spirit place this truth within your heart, as we approach the return of Christ, there will be religion. There will be churches, temples and great worship centers which have glorious worship services with intriguing ceremonies full of singing, ear pleasing messages and a false fellowship that satisfies self.
These worship centers will have attendees who have an outward profession, an appearance of godliness. These church attendees will profess God, Christ and mention the Holy Spirit.
William Barclay in his exposition writes, “The final condemnation of these people is that they retain the outward form of religion, but they deny its power. That is to say, they recite the orthodox creeds, they go through the movements of a correct and dignified ritual and liturgy and worship; they maintain all the external forms of religion; but they know nothing of true [Christianity] as a dynamic power which changes the lives of men.”
They will be baptized, partake in Communion services, talk about God, show interest in religious ceremonies and rituals, and recite religious sounding slogans. (The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible) They will gather a great number of teachers to tell them what their itching ears want to hear “…to suit their own desires…” They “…will not put up with sound doctrine…” (2 Timothy 4:3)
One key word from which to grasp truth is “desires,” (epithumía) meaning that which satisfies a carnal appetite. (The Complete Word Dictionary of the Bible) The Practical Word Studies in the New Testament gives us nine different applications of the use of this word. One of them is having a dominating desire to get gratification from religion and being seen as righteous. Another one is seeking gratification through good works and benevolence. There is a lot of self satisfaction to be had and reparation enjoyed by doing good works in the name of a certain church, organization, or fellowship. However, Christ can be left out.