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Read Introduction to James

 

“For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”

 

and yet stumble in one point,

The word “stumble” means to cause to stumble.  The idea here is making one false step in keeping one of God’s standards.  We cannot break one law without breaking them all. 

Le 19:7 “Therefore you shall observe all My statutes and all My judgments, and perform them: I am the Lord. ”

he is guilty of all

The meaning of “guilty” is held in, contained in, bound by.  The word comes from two Greek words: in and to have.  If a person stumbles in one point of the law, he is liable to the whole law.  He is answerable to God’s law because God’s law represents God’s character.  He is not guilty of committing every sin in the Bible but he violates the unity of truth in the Bible.  The Bible hangs together as a single system of truth. 

Ga 3:10-13 “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’  11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for ‘the just shall live by faith.’  12 Yet the law is not of faith, but ‘the man who does them shall live by them.’  13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’”)…”

The word “is” means become.  The Christian who makes a false step on one point is guilty of breaking the whole law.  Offense of God’s Word knows no degrees.  Once we cross the line of disobeying God’s Word, we are totally guilty of violating God. 

PRINCIPLE: 

It is a universal principle that if we violate God in one point we violate Him in all points. 

APPLICATION: 

If we perceive that discrimination against some Christian is not all that important, then we need to understand that to violate one aspect of truth is to violate it all.  We cannot select some Scripture for our convenience.  God’s Word is not fragmentary.  If we break a window, we break the whole pane. 

God’s law is one as God’s character is one.  If we hang from a chain and the chain breaks at its weakest link, we fall.  It makes no since to say that the chain was good in every other respect.  Good works do not offset evil works.  We cannot go to a judge and say, “I’m sorry for robbing that bank but I have not murdered anyone!” 

There are some aspects of the law some people would never violate because that is not an area of their weakness.  No two people have the same strengths.  Yet this verse teaches that violation of one aspect of the law is a violation of the whole.  If we emphasize the commands we keep but neglect the commands we break, we kid ourselves.  We cannot plead that we keep certain aspects of the Word and neglect other aspects. 

When we break the one standard of the character of God we break our entire fellowship with God.  This does not require that we violate God on a number of fronts but only on one front. 

We cannot minimize sin for if we do, we minimize the character of God.  “I am not all that bad of a person because I have violated God only at one point.”  This is rationalization to justify or excuse a pet sin.  No matter who we are, if we violate God’s Word, we step outside God’s will.  The only solution to this is to allow God to absolutely control our lives (Ro 12:1,2).  One sin makes us sinful.  If you smash my finger, you hurt my whole body.  One act of stealing puts us in jail. 

Jn 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

The Bible does not teach that all sins are equally wrong.  However, all sin bears the same judgment because they violate the Lawgiver whose character the law defines.  God’s character is an indivisible unity.  Some sins are more serious than others.  If we covet another man’s wife or actually commit adultery, we equally commit adultery in principle, yet committing adultery is worse than coveting another man’s wife because it has greater social implications. 

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