All or Nothing
Updated: Apr 1
10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. (James 2:10-13, NKJV)
In the Old Testament, we see a sacrificial system that we cannot even imagine. Leviticus is tedious to read because we do not understand the gravity of each sin. The importance of the Old Testament cannot be overstated. Sin separates us from God and He takes it very seriously. God put the sacrificial system in place so that we as humans could get a glimpse of fellowship with Him. Those who sacrificed their animals had a temporary covering of their sins and therefore a temporary fellowship with God, right up until the next sin they committed. Sacrifice was necessary. Hebrews 9:22 says, “22 And according to the law almost all things are purified (cleansed) with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission (forgiveness).”
God took sin so seriously, that He came down as Jesus Christ and sacrificed Himself as the only permanent solution to our sin problem. No one could keep all of the Laws that God had given, the religious leaders of the day even added more laws to keep people from breaking the main laws. The periodic and annual sacrifices of the people demonstrated how impossible it was to keep oneself sin free. God knew all of this from the beginning of creation and knew that He would have to provide the way for us to be reconciled to Him. In John 14:6 says, “6 Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” Every sacrificial requirement of the Old Testament was met and exceeded through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ! That is Good News (The Gospel) indeed!
James was explaining to people in these verses that they could not earn righteousness. People in Jesus’ day, just like today like to justify themselves by saying, “Well, at least I’m not a murderer.” Or, “At least I’m not an addict.” James was saying that breaking even one of the laws of God disqualifies from being called righteous completely. 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 says, “30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—31 that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’”
Jesus became our “righteousness, sanctification, and redemption!” We have nothing to brag about but Jesus. Romans 3:23 reminds us that, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The best news ever is in Matthew 5:17 where Jesus says, “17 Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” Jesus truly did pay it all for us. Without Him paying it all, we bring nothing to the table. It really is all or nothing. Jesus is our everything and without Him, we have nothing to offer God for our sins. James is teaching us to be humble here. Humility is the opposite of pride, and pride is sneaky. Later in this same Book, James 4:10 will drive this point home, “10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” Now there is some good news.
Be humble my Brothers and Sisters,