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For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. (James 2:11)
The law that commands a person to love his neighbor is an essential part of the Mosaic law, along with the Ten Commandments. We could say the same for all the commandments in the Mosaic Law. Yet, James clearly chooses to cite the commands you shall not kill, and you shall not commit adultery as examples for the point he intends to make now and later. “You lust and do not have, so you commit murder. You desire, and yet you do not have, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.” (Jas. 4:2) “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (Jas. 4:4) So, those who have friendships with the world commit adultery, and those who have a hateful, loveless view of one’s Christian brother would commit murder.
James emphasizes the two laws that most deem the worst of all the laws to be broken in stating for he who said do not commit adultery also said do not murder. James appeals to the Ten Commandments to make his point. James emphasizes the seventh commandment found in (Exodus 20:14) which says, “Do not commit adultery.” James also uses the sixth commandment found in (Exodus 20:13) which says, “Do not commit murder.” James is making the case that “to resist one requirement of the Law is to resist God, the authority beneath its requirements.” (Lea 1999, 285) Adultery and murder are elements of the same law of God, and one is as essential and binding as the other. Therefore, if you violate the command to not commit adultery or order, or even the command not to steal, you have transgressed the law of God as such. Therefore, you are guilty of violating the Law as a whole. The punishment of the Law will be imposed, whatever statute you violate.
James wants the people to understand that in the same way, when they show favoritism, they are breaking God’s law. Though they may never have committed adultery or ever have committed murder, they still broke the command to love your neighbor as yourself. As a result, the person who practices the sin of favoritism is just as guilty before God as a murderer and adulterer. The man who plays favorites violates God’s law just the same as the murderer and adulterer and is no different from any other sinner. For this reason, if one breaks God’s law by showing favoritism, then he is just as guilty of breaking all the other commandments. Again, this isn’t to say that God is oblivious that some sins are more egregious than others. The Bible even uses qualifying terms when referring to some sins. For example, Genesis 13:13 says, “now the men of Sodom were wicked, gross sinners.” Jude 1:7 says, “Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them also gave themselves over to gross sexual immorality.” As we can see, the Bible refers to some forms of sexual immorality as gross sin. Yet, the point James is making is, regardless of the seriousness of the transgression, if we are living a life of sin without repenting, the result of losing eternal life is still the same.