“Pure Religion and Undefiled”

The Life and Teachings of Jesus and his Apostles, Instructor’s Guide (Rel 211–12), (2000), 105–6


The true religion of Christ is expressed in the service of love through which perfection is obtained.

Theme Analysis

  • A.

    James taught that mortality is a struggle in faith wherein man contends with alien forces which he may not understand.

    1. 1.

      When faced with afflictions, he may learn patience.

    2. 2.

      When faced with uncertainty, he may seek inspiration through the Holy Ghost.

    3. 3.

      When faced with temptation, he may resist evil and overcome the world by faith.

  • B.

    Man is on earth to be proved and to learn to control his body and make it serve him.

  • C.

    By being a “doer of the word,” his faith is coupled with love and made perfect.

    1. 1.

      He must not merely give the appearance of “being religious” but must truly live what he professes.

    2. 2.

      The truly religious man treats all men impartially and obeys the royal law to love his neighbor as himself.

Study Sources

New Testament Reading Assignment


Course Manual

Chapter 49, “Pure Religion and Undefiled”

Standard Works

Abraham 3:24-26. For what purpose was the earth created?

D&C 88:21-24. For what purpose does God give law?

D&C 132:39. Though David was obedient to the law for long years, was it enough?

2 Nephi 31:20. What must one do to inherit eternal life?

1 Nephi 13:26. What is the reward for those who endure to the end?

2 Nephi 31:16. What must one do to successfully endure to the end?

2 Nephi 9:18. What are the crosses of the world that must be endured?

Moroni 8:26. What can one do to make love increase and endure?

Alma 34:28. What causes our prayers to be vain?

Mosiah 4:16-20. What is the great sin that can cause one to perish forever?

Basic Library

M of F, pp. 168-69. Why is it important for men to conquer their weaknesses in mortality?

Teachings, p. 331. Why must one obey all the celestial laws to receive a mansion in the Father’s house?

M of F, p. 357. Is a person who has broken the law and then repented stronger than one who did not?

A of F, pp. 97-98. Why is application of faith and knowledge more important than simply knowing truth?

Gos. Doc, pp. 111-12. How do we cultivate the spirit of generosity and good will?

Gos. Doc, p. 251-56. What are the qualifications for a true Latter-day Saint?

Gos. Doc, p. 243. How much can we give to help the poor?

Discourses, pp. 87-89. In what should God’s children be actively employed?

Marion G. Romney in CR, Oct. 1974, p. 165; Oct. 1973, p.105; Oct. 1972, p. 113. What are the principles of true charity?

Additional Sources

Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle, pp. 95-97. Why are the results of righteous doings not always immediately manifest?

Victor L. Brown in CR, Oct. 1963, pp. 119-20. Excellent story illustrating “pure religion.”

Howard W. Hunter in CR, Apr. 1967, pp. 115-18. The gospel in action.

Media Suggestions

Cassette tape (Elder Paul H. Dunn), Pure Religion and Undefiled (11:30)

Some Suggestions for Presentation

(Ideas Other Teacher Have Used)

Being Doers of the Word and Not Hearers Only

The teacher could use scripture analysis and a chalkboard diagram to assist the student in seeing that James has two immediate concerns: the way we deal with our personal problems and the way we deal with others. The chalkboard could be divided into two parts, one labeled “personal concerns” and the other labeled “concern for others.” From the first two chapters of James, the students could pick out examples which would show the apostle’s special counsel.

The Trial of Our Faith

James points out that one of the major purposes of earth life is a trial of our faith. How is faith tried in terms of our personal concerns and our concern for others? What is the significance of the change made in James 1:2 by Joseph Smith when he changed the word temptation to afflictions?

Faith is tried through affliction and trials. Does God cause our problems? Why does he permit them? What purpose do they really serve?

What is the significance of the change made in James 1:12 by the Prophet when he changed endureth to resisteth? What is the real purpose of resisting temptation? Consider this council from President O McKay:

“The spiritual road has Christ as its ideal—not the gratification of the physical, for he that will save his life, yielding to that first gratification of a seeming need, will lose his life, lose his happiness, the pleasure of living at this present time. If he would seek the real purpose of life, the individual must live for something higher than self He hears the Savior’s voice saying: ‛I am the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:16.) Following that voice he soon learns that there is no one great thing which he can do to attain happiness or eternal life. He learns that ‛Life is made up, not of great sacrifices and duties, but of little things, in which smiles and kindness, and small obligations given habitually are what win and preserve the heart and secure comfort.’ [Sir Humphrey Davy.]

“Spirituality, our true aim, is the consciousness of victory over self, and of communion with the Infinite. Spirituality impels one to conquer difficulties and acquire more and more strength. To feel one’s faculties unfolding, and truth expanding in the soul, is one of life’s sublimest experiences.

“The man who sets his heart upon the things of this world, who does not hesitate to cheat his brother, who will lie for gain, who will steal from his neighbor, or, who, by slander, will rob another of his reputation, lives on a low animal plane of existence, and either stifles his spirituality or permits it to He dormant. To be thus carnally minded is to be spiritually dead.” (“More Spirituality in Our Daily lives,” Instructor, Jan. 1969, p. 2.)

Pure Religion and Undefiled

  1. 1.

    Why is action the surest proof of man’s love for God and his fellowman? In what way is service to our fellowman the surest proof of the strength of our religious commitment? You may wish to discuss with the students the case study found in the Points to Ponder section under the title “James Identified Many Practical Aspects of Gospel Living.” The instructor may also wish to refer to the last interaction box and have the students identify how many of the steps to perfection deal with being a “doer of the word” and expressing real concern and service to others.

  2. 2.

    The book of James includes one of the greatest correlations of faith and works. James 1:27 is a capsulized statement of his teachings on this subject. What, according to James, is the expression of “pure religion”?

    1. a.

      Visit the fatherless. (What is a present-day correlary a student could do?)

    2. b.

      Visit the widows in their affliction. (What is the present-day correlary of this teaching?)

    3. c.

      Stay unspotted from the world. (How do acts of charity assist one to achieve this?)

Have the students ever considered that when one has faith toward God, it is expressed as acts of charity toward one’s fellowmen. Why is this so?

Can a mortal man ever really give God anything? Does keeping the commandments really do anything for God, or is it just a way of keeping oneself pure so God can do things for him? How do King Benjamin’s teachings in Mosiah 4:26-28 relate to this? The motto of one mission of the Church was, “If you have a child by the hand, you have a parent by the heart.” How does this relate to those who give pure service to God’s children? Why is it, then, that when we serve our fellowman we are, in reality, giving to God the only thing about which he really cares?