Religion: just the word itself has become offensive in almost any context. It tends to produce, among other negative realities, thoughts and feelings involving hypocrisy, superstitious invention, selfish control, false judgment, and a disdain for inappropriate violence and aggression. Universally it conveys the idea of believing in some higher power and that power’s ability and right to provide for or sustain life. It denotes the idea of relationship with a designated higher power and others in addition to the actions or workings that accompany those relationships.
There is a religion that is pure. God has provided light and direction in His written Word as to how we can know what that true religion and relationship is exactly. Departure, rejection, and ignorance of the Word of God, in fact, produce and promote false religion. Let us look to the written Word, the Bible, on this subject and allow the Lord to enlighten our hearts and minds in order that He might keep our relationship with Him pure.
Thoughts become actions, actions become habits, and habits become a way of life. The subject of religion brings with it the subject of judgment which has its true and false form as well. With this message and study, we will look in turn at some of what God has revealed to us on pure religion focusing on the aspects of thought and judgment trusting the Lord to keep us obedient to his perfect plan in order that we might be used for His will and be blessed with His peace, joy, freedom, and salvation…all of which ultimately only come from a pure relationship with God through Jesus.
We know that the Word of God in all forms is of no private interpretation (2 Pet 1:20). It is given pure and remains pure. The problem is that, apart from God, we are not pure. Sin darkens. This affects our ability to understand the truth. It also affects our ability to apply it to the circumstances of our lives. Our mind is a battleground which filters what comes into and out of our heart. The spiritual battles are often won or lost in part with our success or failure with what we do with God’s Word there.
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.
There is a principle to be found here that to an extent: “we are what we think we are.” This of course does not mean that we cannot be disillusioned, deceived, or dishonest about our true identity, worth, or capabilities, and so on. But that if we believe something about ourselves (or others) to be true, in effect, we can and often do become the essence of our thoughts. So guard your thoughts as we say. Successfully this can only be done by filtering our thoughts through the truth of God’s Word with the guide of the Holy Spirit. Be true indeed to thine own self because there is a constant influx of information competing for the influence of your mind.
One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own moind.
He that regardeth the
day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.
He that eateth, eateth to
the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth
not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God
For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.
For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.
For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.
But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
So then every one of us
shall give account of himself to God.
Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.
Life is about our relationship with the Lord. Everything centers on that relationship even if we do not choose to focus on Him of our own free will. What we think about the significance of each day, the actions and choices of others, what we eat, when we eat…everything. We are to be persuaded by the Lord in our minds that we have the view of life’s details that is centered in His will and plan for our individual life or we will come to the wrong conclusions (judgments) about others and about our own path in life. This lack of understanding (judgment) produced by wrong thinking can cause others to fail in their own walk with the Lord. We must bear in mind that God’s plan in some points is the same for everyone, but in other points the details of our lives will vary according to the Lord’s direction.
Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
Human tradition should not be regarded as the final authority on our thought processes; neither should our own understanding be regarded as the final authority. The above passage of scripture was given to a group of believers that had been deceived into believing that angels should be worshipped. We know that worship is reserved for God alone. God makes the rules. Not people. This reality applies to our thoughts on any subject.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Here the Lord is helping us to establish the focus of our thoughts. This is a command of God: “think on these things.” We might then say that if the subject of our thoughts do not fit into these guidelines, it is not right for us to think upon. Furthermore, there is nothing more pure, more true, more lovely, or of a better report than the Word of God. Think on the Word of God.
The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.
We ought to have a singular focus within view of our mind’s eye: light. God is light. His Word is Light. He is His Word. He is to be the focus of our thoughts. He is what we are to be looking at. The only other option is to be in darkness.
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
Our faith in the Word of God is what gives us the ability to know ourselves for who we really are. Be serious about yourself. Take your view of God and your life seriously. Life is not a joke. Life is serious. Everybody will exist somewhere forever. If we do not know God, we cannot know ourselves or others for who we really are and as a result we will come to the wrong conclusions and make the wrong decisions. Growth comes in measure. It is a process, this getting to know God better, and gaining a more in depth understanding. A process hinged upon knowledge and obedience of God’s Word.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
If we humble ourselves, God will exalt us. That is the Godly mindset we are to have. God made us to be like Him and to have a relationship with Him. We must first accept Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins in order for our mind to begin to be freed from our addiction to sin and the darkening effects of sin upon our mind and heart. In order for our relationship with God to be pure, our thoughts must be made pure. Only Jesus can restore our mind.
Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap…
Pure religion comes with pure thought. Pure thought produces pure or righteous judgment. Nature itself teaches us that ultimately God is the judge. This basic truth is even seen through the blurred view of the lost with the impure religious view of Karma. It is a Biblical principle that we reap what we sow. It is also true that we reap what we do not sow and both of these reapings have a positive and a negative implication. Judgment, like religion, has many false forms. One of them is the idea that it is always wrong to judge or that God tells us in the Bible to never judge in any form whatsoever. Rather, what God tell us is to refrain from forms of judgment that are inaccurate, or that are reserved for God alone. We have no right, to pronounce the final judgment on others, but we will be involved in that judgment. That is God’s right alone in the ultimate sense. We should refrain from hasty superficial misjudgments and condemnations of others and are commanded to do so. The Bible does not forbid us from speaking out against sin, standing up against sin, or making righteous judgments, and in fact commands us to do so.
I Cor. 2:15-16
But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
The way to keep from being judged for evil doing is simply to follow the Lord in obedient thought and action. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and Jesus gives us the strength and power and wisdom to do what is right. There is no condemnation to those who are living and walking with the Lord in the light of His Word.
It is not good to accept the person of the wicked, to overthrow the righteous in judgment.
False judgment promotes the wicked and destroys the righteous.
Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
We are commanded to judge. We are commanded to use spiritually righteous discernment in the view that we have of all things and people.
Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.
If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked.
The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.
2 Tim. 4:8
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
2 Tim. 4:1-2
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
The goal of judgment is to produce righteousness and promote a right relationship with the Lord and this is accomplished by the preaching and teaching of His Word.
1 Cor. 6:1-3
Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
It is the responsibility and privilege of those who know the truth to keep each other accountable for the truth in love. It is also the responsibility and duty of the righteous to judge the wicked according to the direction of the Word of God (PS 149:1-9). There are just as severe consequences for misjudgment as there are for no judgment. There is an absolute right and an absolute wrong. God’s Word gives us the clarification corporately and personally. “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
Thoughts become actions, actions become habits, and habits become our way of life. In a sense our way of life is our religion. That being true, anything or anyone can be a religion. A job or career, a hobby, or philosophy, a scientific theory, a human tradition, a relationship. Anything. There is only one religion that is pure and true. That is because there is only one God that is true. His way is the only true way. People in their lost state may attempt to put other things in God’s place in their life and so create for themselves a false religion.
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
The word “religion” in James 1:26 refers specifically to crying out to God whereas the word in the following verse and the passage from Acts is used to describe any act of worship or an external action as opposed to internal. A true internal relationship with God produces certain kinds of actions and a certain kind of living, but actions cannot produce a relationship with God.
Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
1 Sam. 15:22
And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
Pure religion is not a time or a place. It is not a deed or a duty. It is not a ceremony or a certificate. It is not a method or a membership. It is not created by or maintained by human invention, although it may involve some of these details. It is a relationship with God through Jesus by the Holy Spirit according to His written and spoken Word: the Holy Bible. This relationship will produce a living pattern that will evidence its reality and truth according to God’s Word and by His power.
2 Thess. 2:13-17
But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
Salvation is the beginning and end of pure religion. Jesus is the beginning and end of pure religion. This is God’s requirement: Confess and forsake sin. Receive Jesus Christ who is the Word of God. Walk with Him and live with Him in the details of life for ever.
Copyright; 2018 by Michael
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