The General Epistle of James (Part 12)

vs. 8-13. A. James continues with his rebuke of their partiality to the rich which was: 1. a matter of “...having men's persons in admiration because of advantage” (JUDE 1:16). 2. a disregard of the low estate of the Lord Jesus Christ while on earth. 3. a disregard of the equality of brethren in Christ. 4. a disregard of the fact that the rich oppressed them. 5. a disregard of the fact that the rich blasphemed Christ. 6. a despising of their poorer brethren. 7. sin. v. 9. B. Their respect of persons stood in contrast to “...Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself...” (v. 8). 1. The Law of Moses was explicit on this law and its application. LEV 19:18, 34. 2. Jesus exalted this law above almost all others. MAT 22:37-40. 3. Jesus declared this to be the great message of the law and the prophets. MAT 7:12. 4. James calls it “...the royal law according to the scripture...” (v. 8). It is the word of a king and therefore should have had power over their words and deeds. ECC 8:4. a. It came from God, “...the lord of kings...” (DAN 2:47). b. It was lived and exalted by Jesus Christ, “...KING OF KINGS...” (REV 19:16). c. It is according to the scripture, not a tradition of the elders. d. It is according to the scripture, not a mere recommendation of secular psychology. e. It is according to the scripture, showing Scripture to have sovereign authority. f. It is according to the scripture and therefore to be esteemed as right as any other law of the scripture. PSA 119:128. g. Even the least commandments are important (MAT 5:19) and this law is the greatest of commandments of man's relating to man. h. Yet despite of the high priority of this law, it seems that they had selectively excused its disregard as not being a breach of law. vs. 10-11. i. It is the one commandment above others that is the bond of perfectness. COL 3:14. j. Here then was a royal law for a royal priesthood (1PE 2:9) who were acting like common rabble. 5. Jesus explained this law in the account of the good Samaritan. LUK 10:25-37. a. The Samaritan wasn't canvassing the world looking for causes to relieve. b. The Samaritan didn't care about the nation or religion of the victim. c. The Samaritan didn't force others through taxation to support the victim. d. The Samaritan subsidized the care of the victim's health, not his lifestyle. e. The Samaritan essentially applied GAL 6:9-10. 6. Loving one's neighbour as oneself assumes that we have no lack of love of self. EPH 5:28-29. a. Perilous times are characterized by excessive love of self. 2TI 3:1-2. b. We are living in times where self-esteem is a buzzword, selfishness a forgotten word, and Black Friday fights over stuff are common. James 8-24-14 Page 28 c. True love seeks the welfare of its object. It is not a self-promoting act. 1CO 13:5; EPH 5:25 c/w JOH 13:34. 7. Loving one's neighbour as oneself assumes a rational mind. Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you (MAT 7:12) does not apply if you are suicidal or a self- destructive masochist who takes a sick delight in pain, or someone who delights in being victimized. 8. Loving one's neighbour as oneself assumes godly behavior and reciprocity. a. It does not justify flattering because you like to be flattered. b. It does not justify seductive overtures towards unqualified others because you like receiving them. c. It does not justify excusing sin in others because you would like it excused in yourself. 9. Loving one's neighbour as oneself certainly applies to impartial judgment of others, as this text makes clear. C. Their respect of persons was not the fulfilling of the royal law but the commission of sin. v. 9. 1. They were “...convinced of the law as transgressors.” 2. convince: To prove a person to be guilty, or in the wrong, esp. by judicial procedure; to prove or find guilty; to convict. (See JOH 8:46) 3. Sin is proven from the law. 1JO 3:4; ROM 4:15. 4. Of all Christians, these Jewish believers should have known the royal law and the evil of having respect of persons in judgment. DEU 16:19. 5. Their error could not be justified by seeming religious (JAM 1:26), by assuming that outward motions of sacrifice were more important than impartial judgment and mercy. PRO 21:3; MAT 23:23. D. All points of the law are to be honored. vs. 10-11 c/w MAT 5:19; 28:19-20. 1. One breach of the law makes a man a transgressor of the law. a. Moses' law was such that a man was cursed if he broke a single law. GAL 3:10. b. This underscores the foolishness of welding works to grace for eternal justification before God since such a system makes one a debtor to do the whole law. GAL 5:3. 2. James is not teaching that there is no distinction between sin, as if a man who bore false witness should be condemned as an adulterer or a murderer. a. The law is viewed here as a body. Breach of one law is sin against the body of law. b. It is as the law of the leper: a man was deemed a leper if he only had one spot of leprosy. LEV13:41-46. 3. Adultery and murder are different kinds of the same thing: transgression of the law. a. One might think that he could be justified in killing an adulterer with his own hands, similar to Absalom's slaying of Amnon. 2SAM 13:14, 28. b. James later charges some with adultery and killing. JAM 4:2-4. 4. James' words condemn the notion that one's good works compensate for his bad works. c/w EZE 33:12. a. James' words would have been relevant to any who entertained the rabbinical error, “that he who observed any principal command was equal to him who kept the whole law;” (Kiddushin, fol. 39); and they give for example, “If a man abandon idolatry, it is the same as if he had fulfilled the whole law,” (Ibid., fol. 40.)' [Adam Clarke Commentary] b. Such is the exact opposite of the truth that breach of one law is breach of all the law. 5. Remember that sin is heart-oriented. a. The thought of sin is sin. PRO 24:9; MAT 5:28. James 8-24-14 Page 29  b. One may be mortified at the thought of murder but not at the thought of adultery, and so be as guilty of breaking the law as a hateful, plotting murderer. c. The same argument would apply to other “secret” sins like envy, hatred, covetousness, etc. 6. James here condemns the notion of being selective in the application of God's laws, another unacceptable form of being partial. MAL 2:9. E. Contrary to partiality in the law and towards others, we are to speak and do “ they that shall be judged by the law of liberty” (v. 12). 1. We should conform to the New Testament, the perfect law of liberty, since we shall be judged by it. 2. Under the New Testament we are freed from sin and made willing and able to obey God. ROM 6; HEB 8:10; PHIL 2:13. 3. The New Testament is a law. GAL 6:2; 1CO 9:21. 4. It is a law bereft of O.T. dietary law, sabbaths, holy days, etc. but filled with instruction concerning thoughts, words and deeds. F. Christ's law teaches us to have mercy on the poor rather than despising them. v. 13. MAT 5:7; LUK 10:30-37; 12:33; 14:12-14. 1. The merciful will receive mercy in the day of judgment. MAT 25:34-40; 2TI 1:16-18. 2. Those who show no mercy will be judged without mercy. PRO 21:13; MAT 18:23-35. 3. Mercy rejoices against judgment. a. mercy: Forbearance and compassion shown by one person to another who is in his power and who has no claim to receive kindness; kind and compassionate treatment in a case where severity is merited or expected. b. This obviously contrasts with judgment in the sense of punishment. c. In judgment one receives what he deserves whereas in mercy one receives what he has NO claim to receive. d. God's mercy rejoices against judgment. MIC 7:18-20. 4. (1JO 4:11) Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
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