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Selective obedience

Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law. For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law. James 2:8-11 NLT

The Lord Jesus Christ commanded believers that love should be the governing principle of all of their behavior. James quoted from the text the passage in Leviticus 19:18 and referred to it as the “royal law;” “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. It was the royal law for the Lord Jesus Christ established it as the key ethical principle in living the Kingdom life. “‘Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments’” (Matthew 22:37-40). God the sovereign ruler of this universe gave us a command that we need to obey. Expressing love to a specific class in society, in the case of James’s audience loving the rich is dangerous for it manifests selective obedience. The admonition is that love should be shown as well to the poor for this is what was demanded by the royal law. The Pharisees were guilty of this. They will be intent in obeying certain laws but will be unscrupulous in neglecting others. This is why selective obedience means failing to recognize the unity of the law. If you break a link in the chain, you have broken the whole chain. “For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws” (James 2:10). James is emphasizing through the mentioning of several of the commands from the Ten Commandments that violating one means violating all. This only proves that we are sinners. God gave us the command to demonstrate this truth that without Him in our lives, we won’t be able to obey His commands. It is not by keeping the law that we can be saved. The law will prove how far we are from the righteousness of God and that by believing Him and trusting Him alone that we can be made right before Him.



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