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Read Introduction to James


“…but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”


but if you show partiality,

Partiality is to show respect to some person over others – to discriminate, to show favoritism, to be partial.  This is where James started in verse one – estimating people from outward and not inner standards. 

The “if” in the Greek means “since” here.  The idea is that the readers of James had already committed the sin of partiality. 

Ac 10:34, “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.’”

you commit sin,

James uses two words for sin in this verse: 1) sin, and 2) transgressors.  The word sin means to miss the mark.  The mark in biblical terms is all that pertains to God’s righteousness.  God’s goal for us is to live consistently with who He is.  We glorify God the best when we live according to the standards of His character.  God’s character does not discriminate against people because of pseudo outward standards. 

The word “commit” means to work, perform.  When we discriminate against others, we perform a sin.  It is a performance of favoritism based on continued effort. 

and are convicted by the law

The word “convicted” means to refute, to reprove.  The law will bring to light and expose our discrimination.  The law becomes our judge.  The Word of God tries those who discriminate against others and finds them guilty. 

as transgressors

The second word for sin in this verse is “transgressors.”  The idea of a transgressor is different than a sinner.  The word transgressor comes from two words: beside and to step.  The idea is to step over a prescribed standard.  A transgressor is a deliberate sinner.  He clearly sees a line and deliberate steps across it.  We step across the line of not loving our neighbor (2:8).  That is the royal law. 


God does not fellowship with those who discriminate against others.


If we discount a person because they are poor or uneducated or have some physical delimitation, we violate the royal law of love.  We step outside God’s standards. 

It was the ½ breed Samaritan and not the religious Levite who stopped to help the wounded person on the side of the road (Lu 10:29-37).  True love does not love the loveable exclusively.  True love makes no difference between people.  The royal law proves discrimination wrong and demonstrates its inconsistency with the Christian faith. 

None of us like the feeling of guilt.  God, however, does not concern Himself with our feelings at the expense of truth and His righteousness.  God will not fellowship with us as long as we stand guilty of discrimination.  Conviction is the beginning of the correction.  If we confess our sin when we become convicted of that sin, we are on the road to recovery.