“This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father . . . to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27).
Keeping yourself unstained by the world is an important test of your spiritual condition. The apostle John said, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). At first glance that might sound contradictory since God Himself so loved the world that He gave His Son to die for it (John 3:16). But John 3:16 refers to the inhabited earth—the people for whom Christ died. First John 2:15 refers to the evil world system in which we live, which includes the life-styles, philosophies, morality, and ethics of our sinful culture. That world and everything it produces is passing away (1 John 2:16-17).
James 4:4 says, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” Those are strong words but compromise is intolerable to God. You can’t be His friend and a friend of the world at the same time!
Separation from the world is the final element of true religion mentioned in James chapter one. Before progressing to chapter two, take a final spiritual inventory based on the checklist provided in verses 26-27: (1) Do you control your tongue? Review the quality of your conversation often. What does it reveal about the condition of your heart? Are there speech habits you need to change? (2) Do you demonstrate love for others? Do you have a sincere desire to help those in need? When you do help, are your motives pure, or are you simply trying to sooth your conscience or make others think more highly of you? (3) Do you remain unstained by the world? What is your attitude toward the world? Do you want to win it for Christ and remain unstained by its evil influences, or do you want to get as much out of it as you possibly can?
Suggestions for Prayer
If your spiritual inventory reveals any sinful motives or practices, confess them and begin to change today.
For Further Study
Reread James 1:19-27, reviewing the principles you’ve learned from those verses.
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187