The epistle of James says that the religion that the Father accepts is to help widows and orphans in their trouble and to keep ourselves unspotted by the world.

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Now I pretty well understand how to look after widows and orphans in their distress. Whether I do it (or do it effectively) is another question and a topic for a different day. But what I wonder what it means to “keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

I suspect that you may have heard numerous teachings on the subject. I know that I have. Everything from not going to movies, not dancing, not watching TV, not being greedy, and so on. But all of those are possible ways to keep myself from being polluted by the world.

If being unspotted is a precept, or goal, is there an underlying principle that we can apply? Or to put it another way, what is the root of the world’s system?

As it happens, I came across a principle that we can use to move away from the broken system of the world and towards the Eternal. Really, this is mostly a litmus test. The entire world’s system hinge on these three “i” motivations.

  1. Indulge Yourself
  2. Increase Possessions
  3. Impress Others

If what I am doing (or thinking of doing) is for one of the three reasons above, I am following the system of the world. I am following the system of the I.

I know that this is a constant struggle for me. I want to be seen as good and impressive. I want to have fun and have lots of stuff. I want to find my security in me and my ability. I. I. I. I. I.

Of course, this is already revealed in Scripture. About 1950 years ago, John wrote this in his first letter.

1 John 2:16
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.

Lust of the FleshIndulge Yourself
Lust of the EyeIncrease Possessions
Pride of LifeImpress Others

And so it has been since the fall of man.

Genesis 3:6
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Good for FoodIndulge Yourself
Pleasing to the EyeIncrease Possessions
Desirable for Gaining WisdomImpress Others

Lord, help us as we try to line up with your will. Holy Spirit remind us of spiritual truths and empower us to follow Christ.

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