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For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. (James 2:10)
The whole law (ὅλον τὸν νόμον holon ton nomon) here means all the law of God, from the Mosaic Law to the Law of Christ (Gal. 6:2). It is all that God had required of the Israelites under the Mosaic Law. It is all that Christians have been given to guide them in their lives. There is no human alive today who could obey the Law perfectly without ever doing wrong, which is why the Israelites had sacrifices at the temple, and we have the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ. (Jas. 3:2) Here James admonishes the Christian who believes that they can keep all the Law essentially, so they think by obedience alone they have a righteous standing before God. Such a belief would, in essence, reject the need for Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. (Matt 28:20) Today, many Christians tend to focus on what they believe to be Scripturally sinful behavior that they know they can follow and then minimize the significance of the other parts of the Scriptures. Even if there was the possibility that some imperfect human could keep 312 of the 313 points of the Law and failed to keep the one point of the Law, he has failed to keep the Law. He is a transgressor.
The Law is made up of many legal demands or decrees into the whole law and is not divided into separate groups or parts. (Col. 2:13-14, 16; Gal. 5:14) Therefore, if a Christian were to break one of the applicable commandments of the Law or the Law of Christ, he has sinned against the whole Law. Thus “he has become guilty of all.” A person who claims that he loves God with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength (Lu 10:27; Mark12:30), and at the same time, he does not love his neighbor as himself. (Gal. 5:14) Imagine a man goes to court for tax fraud and then claims that he has always kept all the other laws in the United States of America. Will the court overlook his cheating on his taxes because he obeys all other laws? Hardly. He will be treated as a transgressor of American Law and be punished accordingly. When one breaks the commands of God, it does not matter how big or small the sin is. It is wrong in God’s sight. (See Biblical Insight Below) James says that even if one broke even the least of God’s commandments, it was as if he broke the greatest of the commandments.
The purpose of the Mosaic Law was to show humanity just how sinful they are and that in their present imperfect human condition, none could keep the Law. The apostle Paul wrote, “But the law is not of faith, rather ‘The one who does them shall live by them.’” (Gal. 3:12) A person is not justified before God simply because they are trying their best to keep the Law. Instead, the Law actually convicts them as transgressors for the part of the Law they failed to keep. A couple verses earlier, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse, for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all the things that are written in the book of the law to do them.’” (Gal. 3:10) Only by the sin sacrifices at the temple that the Jewish people could have a measure of righteousness before God. Now, it is only through faith in the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ that Christians can be forgiven for their sins. Jesus’ sacrifice covers human imperfection and any sins committed from the least to the greatest if accompanied by repentance and an effort to not repeat. Jesus Christ is the only human to ever keep the Law perfectly. Jesus “by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, having killed the enmity in himself.” (Eph. 2:15-16) No person can have a righteous standing before God without their having faith in Christ. Paul writes: “Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of law no flesh will be justified in his sight; for by law comes the accurate knowledge of sin.’ (Rom. 3:19, 20)
Biblical Insight: The Bible is quite clear that some sins are more serious than others are. Certainly, stealing is not as bad as murder. While sin is sin, it is also shown in Scripture to be of a comparative gravity of wrongdoing. In other words, serious sin is qualified as “gross,” “exceedingly grave,” “great sin,” and the like. If God just viewed any sin as being exactly equal in all ways, he would not need to qualify serious sins out of the 1083 times sin is addressed. Moreover, if sin is sin were absolute, there would not have been different penalties for the sin. If an Israelite was caught stealing an Ox, he would be required to return what he stole, plus extra. If he murdered, he would have received the death penalty, but if it were unintentional, he would have received manslaughter, being required to live out his life in a city of refuge.
It is true, to some degree, sin is sin, and any sin could justly make the guilty one worthy of sin’s “wages” (i.e., death). Scriptures show that God views humankind’s wrongdoing as varying degrees of seriousness. Thus, the men of Sodom were “were extremely wicked sinners (LEB),” and their ‘sin was exceedingly grave.” (Gen 13:13; 18:20; compare 2 Tim 3:6-7, NASB) The Israelites’ making a golden calf was also called “a great sin.” (Ex 32:30-31, ESV) In addition, Jeroboam’s calf worship similarly caused those of the northern kingdom “to sin with a great sin.” (2 Ki 17:16, 21, LEB) Judah’s sin became “like Sodom,” making the kingdom of Judah abhorrent in God’s eyes, as they “sinned grievously.”–Isaiah 1:4, 10; 3:9; Lamentations. 1:8; 4:6.
 Atonement, Reconciliation: (כָּפַר kaphar; Gr. καταλλαγή katallagē; καταλλάσσω katallassō) The sense in both the OT Hebrew and NT Greek Scriptures is that of making an amends (cleansing oneself from a sin or one’s sinful condition), i.e., falling short (be it intentional, ignorance, or negligence) and restoring a previously harmonious relationship with God. This would then allow the person to approach God and worship him in an approved condition, regardless of his human imperfection. In the Hebrew Scriptures, different types of sacrifices were offered, especially on the annual Day of Atonement. This was to bring about reconciliation with God, regardless of the sins of individuals and the whole nation. The sacrifices of the Hebrew OT pointed to the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This was the sacrifice once for all time that atoned for anyone who accepts Jesus and evidence faith in that sacrifice, which reconciles that one to God. – Lev. 5:10; 23:28; Eph. 2:16; Col 1:20, 22; Heb. 9:12.
 Epignosis is a strengthened or intensified form of gnosis (epi, meaning “additional”), meaning, “true,” “real,” “full,” “complete” or “accurate,” depending upon the context. Paul and Peter alone use epignosis.
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