Lesson 8

The Epistle of James

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

2:10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he has become guilty of all. 2:11 For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," said also, "Do not commit murder." Now if you do not commit adultery, but murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 2:12 So speak, and so do, as men who are to be judged by a law of freedom. 2:13 For judgment is without mercy to him who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Today's Lesson 

James is a man of action. For example, "Be doers of the word" and not only hearers. "Blessed is the man who endured temptation." God is the giver of perfect gifts and God has taken the initiative to "implant" the word within those who are being saved. Even this work of God shows an ongoing, continuing work of action. God plants His salvation within our hearts and it is a growing, living work. God acts and does, therefore His people will act and do. The pure religion of His people will begin with helping the helpless, the orphans and widows. It goes on to keeping oneself unstained from the world and to not showing partiality in the assemblies of the Lord.


In his discussion of favoritism, James quotes what he terms "the royal law," the law given to us from our king, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Most people today have never experienced living in a true monarchy. The word of the king was law. Violation of the law was an affront to the rule of the king. To violate any part of the king's law was to become a rebel and a lawbreaker. James wants to remind his readers of this fact: a concept they knew well but one that is quite foreign to us.


So, if one keeps all of God's law but stumbles over just one part, that person has become a lawbreaker, guilty of violating the whole of the law. One part of the law may say, "Do not commit adultery," and another "Do not commit murder." If only one of the precepts of the law is violated, the whole of the law has been offended. This is the same point that Paul was trying to make to the Galatians when he wrote to them that if any among them allowed himself to be circumcised by the Judaizers he had obligated himself to fulfill the whole law.


There is only one man who has ever fulfilled the whole of the law, Jesus Christ our Lord. On the night He was betrayed He told His disciples, "A new law I give you, that you love one another." Love satisfies the law. Love is the end and the purpose of all of God's law and is the new law of freedom under which we live today. We are set free from the obligations imposed by the former law so that we might live according to the implanted word that God has placed inside of us, the word that is of love and grace even as God is love and grace.


In planting His word within us, God demonstrates another spiritual principle that James brings out in this passage. "Mercy triumphs over judgment." By the standards of judgment and justice, we stand guilty. There is no one who has not fallen short of God's glory - not one of us who has kept God's laws. But God, demonstrating His mercy, sent His own Son as a sacrifice for our sins. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly. While we were far away, Christ drew us near through His life and death. Now we stand in the presence of the Holy and Mighty God, clothed only in the righteousness of Christ. In this way God shows us that mercy triumphs over judgment.


In the same way, as the people of God, we must allow mercy to triumph over judgment in our own dealing with God's creation. To those that seek to harm us, we must show mercy. To those that are un-loving and un-loveable, we must show mercy. To the weak and to the helpless, we must show the mercy of God that He has sown in our hearts. In this way we honor the Lord our God, by demonstrating His mercy to those who have not sought it. Just as He showed mercy to us before we sought it.


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