“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world”
James now shows a genuine Christianity that is “pure” and “undefiled” instead of the formal religion of the previous verse.
“Pure” means something that was defiled but now cleansed. Religion that seeks to gain God’s approbation is impure. A “pure” person is free from this impure admixture and thus is blameless.
and undefiled religion
“Undefiled” carries the further idea of a religion free from selfish do-good motives. The do-gooder’s religion is for his own benefit. An “undefiled religion” is unsoiled. It is free from the deformation of selfishness, and it is not debased.
before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble,
The idea of the words “to visit” is to oversee, to look after. These words come from a Greek word composed of two words: over and to see. The idea is to oversee orphans and widows in their trouble, “Take responsibility for them.”
“Blessed is he who considers the poor;
The LORD will deliver him in time of trouble” (Psalm 41:1).
“A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows,
Is God in His holy habitation” (Psalm 68:5).
and to keep oneself unspotted from the world
The idea of “unspotted” is unstained. The Christian should be free from the censure and reproach of the world. His testimony should never be sullied. He keeps himself from compromise. The idea is not sinless perfection but freedom from the reproof of those around us.
We see genuine biblical acumen by the way we treat others in trouble.
Many people exercise religion to gain approval from others, not God. God is the goal of our service, not man.
The glory of Christ’s impact on Christians is that they live with integrity. Everything we do must be pure and spotless, free from reproach.