James 2:8-13 – The Unity of the Law and The Law-giver

  1. In the prior verses, James points the believers to who God is: 1) He is Sovereign (none can boast of his standing before God, for it is only by the grace of God that one is saved, according to the kind intention of His will).
  1. In verses 8-13, James points the believers to the “royal law”—ie., if they are really “loving their neighbor” as themselves in “honoring the rich,” then they should also honor the poor in the same way, NOT showing partiality! By treating them differently based on their social status, they are actually “committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” 
    1. See Lev.19:18, where the royal law is emphasized on the basis of the One who gives it (“I am the LORD”). This command is quoted in several N.T. books (Mark 12:31-34. Rom. 13:9, Gal. 5:14, etc).
    2. See Deut 6:4-5. All that was written in the Torah and the Prophets is summarized in the two greatest commandments, as spoken by Christ in Matthew 22:34-40. 
  1. James points them to Nature of the Law and the Giver of the Law.
    1. The Nature of the Law: the Law is One Unit—If man is to keep the Law, he must obey it in its entirety. To break one is to break all! See James 2:10 with Deut. 8:1, 11:8, 11:32, 15:5, 27:1, etc. Unfortunately, man has come to think that as long as he obeys some of the Law, he’ll be alright. The truth, however, is that the demand is to obey ALL of the Law, for God is Holy. The goal is perfection—holiness. 
    2. The Giver of the Law—The Oneness of the Lawgiver. The One who commanded “Do not commit adultery” is the same God who commanded “Do not murder.” The Unity of the Law lies in the Unity of the Lawgiver. Consider Deut. 6:4. There is only One God, as revealed to the nation of Israel, contrary to the polytheistic beliefs of surrounding nations; yet, He is a Triune God, three distinct persons but not separate. The root word for “one” in the phrase, “The LORD is one,” is the same root word in Gen 2:24! This root word speaks of unity, which is evidenced by several passages in Scripture that make clear the doctrine of the Trinity. 
  1. “Mercy triumphs over judgment”— James encourages the believers to “so speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.” See James 1:25 –ie., believers are no longer under the Mosaic Law but under the law of Christ. As ones who have received mercy, so we show mercy to others. There is here a contrast between two kinds of people: 1) those who have received God’s mercy through Christ and 2) those who have rejected it. Those who show partiality reveal that they have not experienced God’s mercy at all; and, they will be judged “without mercy” for they have “shown no mercy.” Those who have received mercy necessarily bear the fruit of showing mercy to others. 

Summary: Adam broke but one law, and he was cast out. All human beings are born in Adam as sinners; and, each person, having broken one part of the law, is guilty of ALL! However, there is hope in Jesus, the “second Adam.” He alone who is perfect God and perfect man has kept the entire Law. He fulfilled ALL that a holy and righteous God requires. He, having no sin of his own, bore the sin of all, making the full payment for sin– death. On the third day, He arose in triumph, defeating death! Therefore, anyone who receives Christ as the One sent by God as Lord and Savior is given Christ’s righteousness. God saves whosoever will believe in Christ; and, once IN Christ, He is comforted with the truth that He has been chosen from the foundation of the world! He was lost but found, guilty but forgiven, and reconciled to God by grace through faith in Christ alone.  

The words of the song, “His Mercy is More” describe the above truths well:

What riches of kindness He lavished on us
His blood was the payment His life was the cost
We stood ‘neath a debt we could never afford
Our sins they are many, His mercy is more.

Listen to the sermon here.

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