Summary: Part 11 in a study of the book of James
A Life of Works Produced by Faith
“The Law of Liberty”
Date: October 13, 2002 P.M Service
Place: Allendale Baptist Church
Text: James 2: 9-13
We continue our study in the book of James tonight in verse 9. James has addressed a matter that is weakening the body of believers in the early church.
James seems to spending a great deal of time on this subject.
1.) In this early church, most of the new converts were from a poor background. It would have been very easy for the folks to show favoritism to the rich that entered into their worship services.
2.) James wants Christians to realize we cannot discriminate against the poor or anyone else, because God does not discriminate in bestowing His grace.
James continues to show his readers additional reasons not to show partiality…
I. The Law of God Forbids It- “But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (v.9)
A. There are 2 words translated sin in the NT, and both are used here.
1. Sin- which means to miss the mark
a. The example is of a marksman that fires his rifle and misses his target.
b. Sin is the lack of conformity to the will of God, a failure to meet His standards
2. Transgress- means to cross the boundary.
a. This speaks of one that would trespass onto another’s property.
b. Certain acts are sinful because they are basically and inherently wrong, but they become transgressions when there is a specific law, which forbids them.
B. Partiality is sin against God.
1. It is wrong in itself, but it is also sin because there is a law of God against it.
C. God will punish the lawbreaker.
D. Now some will ask are we under the law or are we as Christians under grace.
1. We are under grace, but the law of grace has greater demands.
2. Someone once said a Christian can do, as he likes. But when you become a Christian you are given different likes.
E. William McDonald makes this comment; “It certainly seems that James has been enforcing the Ten Commandments on Christian believers. He specifically refers to the 6th & the 7th commandments, which forbid murder & adultery. Also he summarizes the last 5 commandments in the words; “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Yet to put Christians under the law, as a rule of life, contradicts other portions of the NT, such as Romans 7:6-“But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter”; Romans 6:14- “You are not under the law but under grace”; Romans 7:4- “You also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ”. Why then does James press the matter of the law on believers in the Age of Grace? Christians are not under the law as a rule of life. Christ, not the law, is the believer’s pattern. Where there is law there must also be penalty. The penalty for breaking the law is death. Jesus died to pay the penalty of the broken law. Those who are in Christ are therefore delivered from the law and its penalty.”
Next we see partiality is wrong because…
II. The Logic of James Condemns It. “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”
A. Some might say that partiality is such a small sin.
1. James says no, partiality is as dangerous a sin as murder or adultery.
B. The law of God is a body of law
1. The law of God is like a pane of glass, or a chain. One small crack and the whole window is broken.
C. The law of God is supreme law.
1. God will make no distinction of the lawbreaker.
Next we see…
III. The Lives of Saints Exclude It verse 12 “So speak and so do”
A. James tells his readers as Christians they are no longer under the law of bondage, but under the Law of Liberty.
1. Liberty to do what is right.
2. The Law of Moses required you to love your neighbor but did not give you the power, and condemned you if you failed.
3. Under grace, we are given the power to love and are rewarded when we do it.
4. As Christians we don’t do it to be saved, but because we are saved.
B. “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy.”
1. This verse must be understood in light of the context. James is speaking to believers. There is no question of eternal punishment here; that penalty was paid once and for all at Calvary’s cross.