Brad Libolt speaking on James 2:8-13. He spoke about how we deserve judgment from God who grants us mercy because his mercy triumphs over judgment.
8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
- James is talking about the Mosaic law, the old covenant that the Israelites received at Mt. Sinai.
- He quotes Leviticus which says “you shall love your neighbor as yourself”. Jesus also says this in the gospels. He says that the first commandment is that you would love the Lord your God with all your heart, and the second is that you would love your neighbor as yourself. He said that because that is the essence of the Old Testament law. It boils down to loving God with all your heart and loving your neighbor as yourself. If you look at the ten commandments the first four are about loving God and the last six are about loving your neighbor.
- James is focusing on the second half of the commandments and the second greatest law that Jesus spoke about, loving your neighbor as yourself. He says if you are doing that, you are doing well. So that begs the question, are you loving your neighbor? Are you honoring your mother and father? Your family is considered your neighbor, so are you loving and honoring them? Do you hate anyone? Are their people you don’t like that you know deep down you hate them? Do you steal from people? Do you lie about others, or talk bad behind their back? Do you covet what other people have? Are you not content with the things you have so you look at others and resent them and want what they have?
- These are all things we must not do if we want to love our neighbor as ourself, so we need to ask ourselves if we are truly obeying the law of God.
- Because James says if you are showing partiality, and we talked about partiality last week, then you are committing sin. The sin of partiality goes against loving your neighbor as yourself. And if you commit sin, then you are convicted by the law as transgressors.
- Let’s unpack that statement a little bit. If someone is arrested, they have a trial and go to court. They face a judge and jury and after their lawyers present their cases, there is some kind of verdict. The person on trial is either found innocent and they didn’t commit the crime, or they are convicted and found guilty. So in the same way if we disobey the law of God and show partiality and sin, we have become guilty, convicted of sin agains the law of God.
10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.
- This is really important to the gospel. James isn’t saying that if you obey all of the law and do everything perfectly but then mess up just once and it isn’t even that big of a deal you’re ok, and still on good terms with the law. He is saying the opposite of that, and saying that even if you obey every law perfectly and just mess up once in one point you have then become guilty of the entire law.
- And his reasoning is because the creator of the law, God, said the whole thing. He doesn’t want you to commit adultery or murder, so if you do one and not the other you still sin against God and are therefore guilty of disobeying his law. It’s similar in our legal system. I have never murdered anyone, so I’m good. But if I steal a candy bar, still a big deal but no one really gets hurt, I go through the same trial and system that a murderer would. I still face a court and judgment and will be determined if I broke the law of the United States or if I didn’t. The law is seen as a whole unit, not a bunch of individual and completely separate laws.
- So even if you obey most of God’s law but disobey just a part of it, you are still a transgressor of the entire law. A transgressor is someone who violate some kind of rule or law. Essentially it is saying you are guilty.
- This shows us the seriousness of sin. We might think sometimes that we aren’t that big of sinners, or that we don’t do anything really really bad so we aren’t as bad as some people. Or maybe it’s the other way around and you have done something really really bad and you think you are worse than others. Neither is true. No matter what law of God we break or how we sin we are all equally guilty and have equally transgressed against the law of God. No matter how big or small our sin is, we are guilty of breaking God’s law.
12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
- So, James gives us some practical application with this in mind. He says we should do two things: speak and act. And we should speak and act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. We should live life knowing that someday, we are going to face a judge. We will sit before the throne of God and be judged for our words and actions. In our society, if we don’t break the law or at least don’t get caught breaking the law, we will never have to face a judge. But all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We have all broken a piece of God’s law, and it doesn’t matter how big or little our sin seems, we are guilty before the judge of the universe. So we should live in a way that acknowledges this fact. Someday our words and our actions will be judged by God. Our words and actions will be put up against the standard of whether or not we loved our neighbors as ourselves. So it begs the question again, are you loving your neighbor as yourself? Are you showing love to the people around you with your words and your actions?
- Jesus said this was the second greatest commandment, so we need to take this seriously. How you treat people is a big deal. Check your heart right now and think about the ways you have or haven’t shown love this last week, then think about how you are going to show love this next week. Because we will all sit before the throne of God and be judged for our words and actions.
- BUT, (and this is the coolest part), check out verse 13. Alongside judgment, mercy can exist. Judgment is without mercy to those who have shown no mercy. So that means that judgment can include having mercy. A lot of people see God as a God of judgement. In a way, yes, God is a just God, he cares about judgement, but guys, God isn’t all about judgment. He is for sure a just God, but he is also a merciful God. And when you’re before the throne of God being judged for what you have said and done to others, there is a possibility that God will show mercy. But he will only show mercy to those who have shown mercy to others.
- How do we show mercy to others? We cannot show mercy to others unless we first realize that God has shown mercy to us through Jesus Christ. We are all guilty, we all deserve death and punishment, and God knows this. God is a just God and he could rightfully destroy us all because of our sin. But he doesn’t. He doesn’t because he is also a merciful God. Because God loves us so much, he decided to give us a way out of our conviction, a way out of our guilt and transgression. That way out was through his son Jesus Christ. It was an incredible act of mercy for God to send his son to die on the cross for people who do not deserve it. We deserve judgment, but God gave us mercy. And all we have to do is believe who Jesus is, believe that he died on the cross for our sins and rose again on the third day and now he sits at the right hand of God in heaven. If we just believe that then when we sit before the throne room of God and are judged for our sin, God will look at us and see the righteousness of Christ instead of our sin. If we believe in Jesus, we will not be seen as guilty, but as innocent. Our sin will be washed away because of the blood of Christ. There is nothing else that does that besides his blood. And now because of that truth, because we have been shown mercy, we can go and show others mercy. We can love our neighbors as ourselves because God first loved us. We can speak and act in ways that build others up rather than tear them down because we have the power of the Holy Spirit inside of us.
- Our God is a just God, but he is also a merciful God. And mercy triumphs over judgment.