- Chapter 2: vs. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a law-breaker.
◦ Any law-breaker makes you a law-breaker! You cannot get around it!
◦ We obey because we have respect for the law-maker. We want to do what is right. But if we break one, we disrespect the law-maker. It does not matter which one, it is the same result; you did not have enough respect for the law-maker to keep the law.
◦ Mat. 5:27 Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt not commit adultery: Mat 5:28 but I say unto you, that every one that looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
▪ So do not try to tell yourselves you do not do these things. Because we all do. We all think things and ponder on things that we should not. Therefore, Jesus is telling us we are guilty just like the one who did the physical act.
- vs. 12-13 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment
◦ The law that gives freedom is the Gospel. Saved by grace, shown amazing mercy, freed from sin!
◦ Now in verse 13, to be truthful, I do not know the exact meaning of this. Many people will tell you they know. So I will share some of theirs:
▪ God’s Mercy is what we get! Not what we deserve, pretty much because we are deserving judgment.
▪ (Matthew Henry) The consideration of our being judged by the gospel should engage us more especially to be merciful in our regards to the poor
- (1.) The doom which will be passed upon impenitent sinners at last will be judgment without mercy; there will be no mixtures or allays in the cup of wrath and of trembling, the dregs of which they must drink. (2.) Such as show no mercy now shall find no mercy in the great day. But we may note, on the other hand, (3.) That there will be such as shall become instances of the triumph of mercy, in whom mercy rejoices against judgment: all the children of men, in the last day, will be either vessels of wrath or vessels of mercy. It concerns all to consider among which they shall be found; and let us remember that blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
▪ (Clark) Mercy rejoiceth against judgment – These words are variously understood.
- 1. Mercy, the merciful man, the abstract for the concrete, exults over judgment, that is, he is not afraid of it, having acted according to the law of liberty, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
- 2. Ye shall be exalted by mercy above judgment.
- 3. For he (God) exalts mercy above judgment.
- 4. A merciful man rejoices rather in opportunities of showing mercy, than in acting according to strict justice.
- 5. In the great day, though justice might condemn every man according to the rigour of the law, yet God will cause mercy to triumph over justice in bringing those into his glory who, for his sake, had fed the hungry, clothed the naked, ministered to the sick, and visited the prisoners. See what our Lord says, Matthew 25:31-46.
- In the MSS. and versions there is a considerable variety of readings on this verse, and some of the senses given above are derived from those readings. The spirit of the saying may be found in another scripture, I will have mercy and not sacrifice – I prefer works of charity and mercy to everything else, and especially to all acts of worship. The Royal Law, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, should particularly prevail among men, because of the miserable state to which all are reduced by sin, so that each particularly needs the help of his brother.
- Vs. 14-17 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
◦ I love these verses. Why? Because I know people like this. I have even done this myself a time or two! And it is so wrong and God’s word tells us how wrong it is. Don’t you love it when God shows you what is right and what is wrong and you don’t have to try to figure it out?
◦ I use to love this song that Rich Mullins sang that says: “Faith without works is as useless as a screen door on a submarine!”.
◦ Can you honestly say you have never done this?
▪ How about that person on the street who asked for a dollar?
▪ How about that person you don’t like who asked for help?
▪ How about anyone you said no to because you were too busy?
▪ How about when you hear about someone in need and just go your merry way?
◦ All of these are wrong. And do no good. And yet the person is saying they care, but they don’t, they say “I’ll pray for you” and probably don’t even do that. The truth is they were just saying something to say something and to make their selves look good, or right, when they are not. (Been there done that.)
◦ So is the same with a person who says they are a Christian but have no works. They are not. All Christians will have some works. Did you get that? All Christians will produce works.
▪ God has put His Holy (think of that word.. HOLY) Spirit in you and you will produce works. Holy works!
- What kind of works and how much differ with each person. God did not make any of us alike. Praise God! Two of me would be too many!
◦ Now many people think that when Paul says, “ that we are justified by faith only and not by the works of the law” that this contradicts what James is saying here. Not so!
▪ Paul is saying that following the law of Moses to obtain salvation won’t work. Faith is all that saves you! Paul was dealing with people who thought they could be good enough to get into God’s grace and to earn their way to heaven. Paul believes in doing good works just like James did. Look up: Gal_5:6; 1Th_1:3; Tit_3:8 Also, read Galatians 5:22 -23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” So there is no law! It is just what the Spirit produces!
▪ James is saying if you have faith in Jesus Christ, He in you will produce works. Works of doing good for the sake of grace and mercy, not for the sake of saving yourself. James is dealing with people who were saying faith is the end of the matter. They proclaimed they were saved by faith and then went on to live evil lives with no more thought of or evidence of change in their lives. James is saying that a person who really has faith that is needed for salvation will change. Paul says this same thing in a different way when he says that we are made new. Christ said we would change because He sent His Holy Spirit to show us and teach us all things. A person who has God Almighty in them, cannot be the same after salvation. They will change and the changes will be about doing good.
- But now, let’s remember, that we may not see all those changes or any of those changes in some people. That does not mean they are not there just because we did not witness them. They could be internal and not got to the external yet. They could do their good works in secret and no one but God sees. They could be in the midst of getting it! They could do their works when we are not around. And I really believe that some people might only get a chance to do a few works and others will get a chance to do many. We are not judge the salvation of anyone who proclaims Christ! That is between them and God!
▪ Somehow, though, good works come into play because Jesus said: “ Come you children of my Father – for I was hungry, and you gave me meat”, etc…
- This is why I believe if you are saved, you will do these things at some point for the right reason. The reason? Because He first loved us, we love Him, and because we love Him, we love in action as He taught us to. Love is a verb and works that James is speaking of is a verb. Action! Action! Action!