THE TEST OF YOUR RELIGION

James 1:26-27 
    James is a no-nonsense type of guy that writes a no-nonsense type of letter. It is full of practical truth for everyday living. James emphasizes how a man behaves over what he believes (vs. 22, 26; 2:18). 
    Religion is what man does outwardly for himself. Salvation is what God does for a man inwardly that he cannot do for himself. Your religion will show up in your outward life. The word means devotion and service based on a set of beliefs. What you believe is revealed by how you live. 

    Everyone is religious. 
    The question is, is your religion the right kind? (Not denominations) 
    2 kinds of religion: Pure (clean; effective) or Vain (useless; ineffective)

    "Pure religion" has nothing to do with rituals, temples, or holy days. 
    It is characterized in the following three ways: 

I.    How you SPEAK with your TONGUE (1:26). 

    A. We are judged by how we walk AND how we talk! 
          1. The tongue reveals the heart (Mt. 12:34). 
                A clean heart = clean words. 
          2. Tongue must be "bridled" (like a "broncin' bronco"). 
                Uncontrolled tongue = uncontrolled life (James 3:1-3).
    B. "Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Prov. 18:21). 
          Gossiping tongue = vain 
          Abusing tongue = vain 
          Bragging tongue = vain 
          Lying tongue = vain 
          Critical tongue = vain

II.  How you SPEND your TIME. Unselfish with time and treasure. 

    A. Helping those who are vulnerable: 
          1. The fatherless: Having no father. 
          2. Widows: HAVING NO PARTNERS
    B. Without help from Family: 
          1. SLAVERY 
          2. STEALING 
          3. STARVING
        A father once gave his son a half dollar as his allowance. Later when he asked his son what he did with it. His son said he loaned it to someone.  "Did you make sure you'd be paid back?" inquired his father.  "Yes, I gave it to a poor beggar who looked hungry!"  "That was dumb.  You'll never get it back!"  "But Dad, I read in the Bible, "He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again"  (Prov. 19:17). 
        Thinking this over, the Christian father was so pleased that he gave his son another half dollar!  "Wow!" said the boy. "Thank-You, Lord. I knew You'd pay me back; I just didn't think You'd pay me back so soon!"

III.  How you SEPARATE from TEMPTATION (1:27b). "the world" = society without God. Worldly values = passion/pleasure (the lust of the flesh); possessions/ properties (the lust of the eyes); power / prestige (pride of life). 

    A.  The world is out to put a it's spot on you. How do we get spotted? 
          1. We get friendly with the world (James 4:4) 
          2. This leads to love of the world (1 John 2:15-17). 
          3. Then we become conformed to this world (Rom. 12:1-2). 
          4. The result is being condemned with the world (1 Cor. 11:32). 
          5. Illustrated by the life of LOT- 
              a. Pitched his tent toward Sodom 
              b. Moved into Sodom 
              c. Sodom moved into him. 
              d. Lost his testimony
          In the forests of Northern Europe lives the ermine (er-min), a small animal known for his snow-white fur in the winter.  Instinctively he protects his glossy coat with great care lest it become soiled. Hunters often capitalize on this trait.  Instead of setting a mechanical trap to catch the ermine, they find his home in a cleft of a rock or a hollow tree and daub the entrance and the interior with tar.  Then their dogs start the chase, and the frightened ermine flees toward his home.  But finding it covered with black tar, he gives up his place of safety.  Rather than soil his white fur, he courageously faces the  yelping dogs who hold him at bay until the hunters capture him.  To the ermine, purity is dearer than life!  The Lord wants us to keep ourselves "unspotted from the world" (Jas. 1:27).
      B.  How do we keep ourselves unspotted from world? A man that stays busy guarding his tongue and reaching out to the needs of others, will have little trouble keeping himself from temptation! 
          1. LISTEN to the SPIRIT - He will convict you. 
          2. LEARN from the SCRIPTURES - They will command you. 
          3. LABOR with the SAINTS - That will contain you.

CONCLUSION: What kind of religion do you have: The kind that works or the kind that 
doesn't. 

RELIGION THAT WORKS- Two Christian friends were enjoying a dinner together at a local restaurant. During the meal, a waitress accidentally brushed against one of them and spilled a glass of water on him.  He immediately exploded with a tirade of angry words.  He was so harsh with her that she ran to the back room in tears. 
    After a moment, his companion looked him in the eye and said, "Brother, I dare you to witness to her when she returns."  Of course he couldn't, because his sharp tongue had rendered useless anything he might say about Christ. His religion was vain. 
    God doesn't measure us by our ability to speak our minds but by our ability to mind what we speak.  That is a religion that works. 
    Someone said, "If your religion doesn't change your behavior, change your religion!"