How are you going to keep yourself unspotted from the world?

James 1:26 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. 27 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 beginning of a year is a good time to purpose anew to practice pure and undefiled religion before God our Father. To do so, we must keep ourselves unspotted from the world. 

How are you going to keep yourself unspotted from the world this year?

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RajeshG's picture

BGT James 1:27 θρησκεία καθαρὰ καὶ ἀμίαντος παρὰ τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρὶ αὕτη ἐστίν, ἐπισκέπτεσθαι ὀρφανοὺς καὶ χήρας ἐν τῇ θλίψει αὐτῶν, ἄσπιλον ἑαυτὸν τηρεῖν ἀπὸ τοῦ κόσμου.

Three other passages in the NT have the same word that is rendered "unspotted" in James 1:27:

1 Timothy 6:14 That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:

BGT 1 Timothy 6:14 τηρῆσαί σε τὴν ἐντολὴν ἄσπιλον ἀνεπίλημπτον μέχρι τῆς ἐπιφανείας τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ,

1 Peter 1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

BGT 1 Peter 1:19 ἀλλὰ τιμίῳ αἵματι ὡς ἀμνοῦ ἀμώμου καὶ ἀσπίλου Χριστοῦ

2 Peter 3:14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

BGT 2 Peter 3:14 Διό, ἀγαπητοί, ταῦτα προσδοκῶντες σπουδάσατε ἄσπιλοι καὶ ἀμώμητοι αὐτῷ εὑρεθῆναι ἐν εἰρήνῃ

Comparing James 1:27 with 2 Peter 3:14 teaches us that keeping ourselves unspotted from the world requires that we obey God's command to be diligent so that we will be without spot when the Lord comes. Keeping ourselves unspotted from the world requires diligent effort on our part!

josh p's picture

I don’t really have a formula for this type of thing; basically walk in the Spirit so I don’t obey the lusts of the flesh. I do avoid certain things that I feel are a temptation to me.

RajeshG's picture

josh p wrote:

I don’t really have a formula for this type of thing; basically walk in the Spirit so I don’t obey the lusts of the flesh. I do avoid certain things that I feel are a temptation to me.

Yes, in a broad, generic sense, walking in the Spirit is central to our being what God wants us to be. Scripture, however, makes specific statements that fill out our understanding of what comprises such a walk. James 1:27 is one such statement that requires focused attention and diligence on our part.

I have not studied this subject much in the past, but I'm confident that there is much here that can be specified through extended prayerful study and meditation on the subject.

RajeshG's picture

In addition to the 4 passages above that have the adjective aspilos, Ephesians 5:27 has the related noun spilos:

Eph. 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Eph. 5:27  ἵνα παραστήσῃ αὐτὸς ἑαυτῷ ἔνδοξον τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, μὴ ἔχουσαν σπίλον ἢ ῥυτίδα ἤ τι τῶν τοιούτων, ἀλλ᾽ ἵνα ᾖ ἁγία καὶ ἄμωμος.

Ephesians 5:27 shows that being unspotted is a vital aspect of the Church as a whole, of which each believer individually is a member who must keep himself unspotted. Our keeping ourselves unspotted, therefore, is vital not just for our sake as individuals but also for the sake of the entire body of Christ.

 

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

In addition to the 4 passages above that have the adjective aspilos, Ephesians 5:27 has the related noun spilos:

Eph. 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Eph. 5:27  ἵνα παραστήσῃ αὐτὸς ἑαυτῷ ἔνδοξον τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, μὴ ἔχουσαν σπίλον ἢ ῥυτίδα ἤ τι τῶν τοιούτων, ἀλλ᾽ ἵνα ᾖ ἁγία καὶ ἄμωμος.

Ephesians 5:27 shows that being unspotted is a vital aspect of the Church as a whole, of which each believer individually is a member who must keep himself unspotted. Our keeping ourselves unspotted, therefore, is vital not just for our sake as individuals but also for the sake of the entire body of Christ.

Rajesh, you said that "each believer individually is a member who must keep himself unspotted." However doesn't Ephesians 5:25-26 tell us who does the cleansing? Those verses say "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word." The reason the church can be presented as spotless is not because we have kept ourselves spotless but because Christ has cleansed us.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

In addition to the 4 passages above that have the adjective aspilos, Ephesians 5:27 has the related noun spilos:

Eph. 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Eph. 5:27  ἵνα παραστήσῃ αὐτὸς ἑαυτῷ ἔνδοξον τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, μὴ ἔχουσαν σπίλον ἢ ῥυτίδα ἤ τι τῶν τοιούτων, ἀλλ᾽ ἵνα ᾖ ἁγία καὶ ἄμωμος.

Ephesians 5:27 shows that being unspotted is a vital aspect of the Church as a whole, of which each believer individually is a member who must keep himself unspotted. Our keeping ourselves unspotted, therefore, is vital not just for our sake as individuals but also for the sake of the entire body of Christ.

 

Rajesh, you said that "each believer individually is a member who must keep himself unspotted." However doesn't Ephesians 5:25-26 tell us who does the cleansing? Those verses say "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word." The reason the church can be presented as spotless is not because we have kept ourselves spotless but because Christ has cleansed us.

Actually, both things are true. James 1:27 establishes our responsibility to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. Of course, we fail to do that in many ways. Christ is the One who cleanses us from all our failures as believers to keep ourselves unspotted. His doing so, however, does not change the divine directive that we keep ourselves from being unspotted.

A possible analogy would be a parent instructing a child not to get their good clothes dirty after the parent has dressed them for a special occasion. If, as is often the case, the child fails to do that and stains his clothes in some specific way, the parent then washes the garment so that the child still ultimately attends the special activity in clean attire. Had the child obeyed what the parent had told them to do, the parent would not have had to cleanse the garment in that way for those stains.

Of course, all such analogies are not perfect, but I think that this one at least illustrates decently what is true.

RajeshG's picture

RajeshG wrote:

Actually, both things are true. James 1:27 establishes our responsibility to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. Of course, we fail to do that in many ways. Christ is the One who cleanses us from all our failures as believers to keep ourselves unspotted. His doing so, however, does not change the divine directive that we keep ourselves from being unspotted.

A possible analogy would be a parent instructing a child not to get their good clothes dirty after the parent has dressed them for a special occasion. If, as is often the case, the child fails to do that and stains his clothes in some specific way, the parent then washes the garment so that the child still ultimately attends the special activity in clean attire. Had the child obeyed what the parent had told them to do, the parent would not have had to cleanse the garment in that way for those stains.

Of course, all such analogies are not perfect, but I think that this one at least illustrates decently what is true.

My ending sentence in the first paragraph should have said this: "His doing so, however, does not change the divine directive that we keep ourselves from being spotted."

RajeshG's picture

Two passages in the Petrine Epistles help us understand what people who are spotted from the world are like:

1 Peter 4:2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: 5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.

 2 Peter 2:13 And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;

BGT 2 Peter 2:13 ἀδικούμενοι μισθὸν ἀδικίας ἡδονὴν ἡγούμενοι τὴν ἐν ἡμέρᾳ τρυφήν, σπίλοι καὶ μῶμοι ἐντρυφῶντες ἐν ταῖς ἀπάταις αὐτῶν συνευωχούμενοι ὑμῖν,

False teachers count it pleasure to engage in indulgent revelling in the daytime. These people are spots (Gk. spiloi), which is the plural form of the noun spilos that is related to the adjective aspilos in James 1:27.

Taken together, these two passages show us that in order to keep ourselves unspotted from the world we must not have anything to do with any of the wild partying of people who indulge themselves in satisfying fleshly lusts of any kind.

One application of this is that we not expose ourselves to entertainment choices (movies, TV, etc.) that feature the wild partying of the world. Not participating in such partying ourselves is not enough--we should not watch other people engaging in such things so that we do not fill our minds with images and sounds of such ungodliness.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

Rajesh, you said that "each believer individually is a member who must keep himself unspotted." However doesn't Ephesians 5:25-26 tell us who does the cleansing? Those verses say "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word." The reason the church can be presented as spotless is not because we have kept ourselves spotless but because Christ has cleansed us.

 

 

Actually, both things are true. James 1:27 establishes our responsibility to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. Of course, we fail to do that in many ways. Christ is the One who cleanses us from all our failures as believers to keep ourselves unspotted. His doing so, however, does not change the divine directive that we keep ourselves from being unspotted.

I hadn't even noticed that the word should be "spotted" instead of "unspotted." I just read it with the understanding of what you meant to say. Yes, both things are true. It's just that I thought you were implying that the command to be unspotted was contained in Ephesians 5:25-26, whereas I didn't the command to be in those verses. Other verses clearly give the command. Of course, Christ's work to clean us can certainly be part of the discussion, and Christ's work does not relive us of any responsibility to walk in a way that is unspotted by the world.

The relationship between Christ's work and out own actions reminded me of the last part of Romans 5 and the first part of Romans 6. Paul talks about God's grace increasing as sin increases and then he asks, "Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?" His answer is "absolutely not." As people who have been set free from sin, we should be living in a way that reflects our new life in Christ. Romans 6:12 says, " Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires." The "evil desires" part draws my mind to the idea of "the world" when we think of the command to keep oneself unstained from the world. ! John 2:15-16 says, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." There are certain desires that reflect our love of the world (lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life) and certain desires that reflect our love of the Father.

So for application, we need to be deliberate in shaping our actions and even our desires to reflect our life in Christ. Paul gave an illustration of this in Romans 6:19, "I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness." Being a slave to righteousness is certainly going to cause us to abstain from certain things, especially impurity as Paul specifically mentioned.

RajeshG's picture

A comparison of James 1:27 with James 3:6 brings out a key aspect of keeping ourselves unspotted from the world:

Jas. 1:27 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.

Jas. 1:27  θρησκεία καθαρὰ καὶ ἀμίαντος παρὰ τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρὶ αὕτη ἐστίν, ἐπισκέπτεσθαι ὀρφανοὺς καὶ χήρας ἐν τῇ θλίψει αὐτῶν, ἄσπιλον ἑαυτὸν τηρεῖν ἀπὸ τοῦ κόσμου.

Jas. 3:6  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

Jas. 3:6  καὶ ἡ γλῶσσα πῦρ. ὁ κόσμος τῆς ἀδικίας ἡ γλῶσσα καθίσταται ἐν τοῖς μέλεσιν ἡμῶν ἡ σπιλοῦσα ὅλον τὸ σῶμα καὶ φλογίζουσα τὸν τροχὸν τῆς γενέσεως καὶ φλογιζομένη ὑπὸ τῆς γεέννης.

James 3:6 has a form of the verb spiloow in it, which is related to the adjective aspilos in 1:27. Because 3:6 declares that the tongue defiles the whole body and 1:26 states that an unbridle tongue evidences a vain religion, we understand that bridling our tongues is critical to our not defiling ourselves and practicing a pure and undefiled religion.

To keep ourselves unspotted from the world, we must not allow the ungodly speech patterns of the world to influence us. Many in the world routinely tolerate and even encourage the use of profanity, but believers must reject all use of such corrupt communication.