The Royal Law

Photo by Henrique Malaguti on Unsplash

James 2:1-13 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. 2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3 and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4 are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? 5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? 6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? 7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? 8 If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: 9 but if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. 10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

To Understand And Apply The Bible,
You Must Consider Your CONTEXT

Today we are looking at the writings of James, the stepbrother of our Lord Jesus. People often get confused when they compare Jame’s writing to Paul’s writings. You need to understand that, though both Paul and James are Holy Spirit inspired writings, each Bible writer addressed different situations that was hindering the Church.

Strong Emphasis Here! The Apostle Paul wrote to Gentile Churches being attacked by Pharisees in his absence. The Pharisees were telling the Gentiles that we needed to be circumcised, to follow the Jewish Feasts, and the Jewish dietary restrictions. We are NOT under the Mosaic Codes that were shadows of the Coming Christ. We are NOT under the RITUALS of the Mosaic Law. Our Priests do not come from the Line of Aaron, but from the Order of Melchizedek (Melchisedec in KJV NT). Our High Priest is not from the Tribe of Levi, but from the Tribe of Judah. Our High Priest is Jesus Christ (Hebrews 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:15-17, 21). We who are Christians are NOT under the Levitical Priesthood. We are under the Order of Melchizedek, and are ourselves are made kings and priests unto God (Revelation 1:6; 5:10). This is why the Apostle Paul declared:

Romans 6:14-15 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

and, Galatians 3:23-26 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Paul’s point was that the Christian is no longer under the Mosaic Law insofar as the rituals, feasts, sacrifices, and priesthood are concerned. But the Christian is still under the moral codes of God’s Law.

Jesus often referred to the Ten Commandments when speaking. For instance, when Satan tried to get Jesus to worship him, Jesus quoted the Old Testament Moral Commandments:

Matthew 4:10 Get thee hence, Satan: for IT IS WRITTEN, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

A quotation from both Exodus 20:3 and Deuteronomy 5:7. When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Church at Corinth, he quoted numerous parts of the moral code in the Law.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

The Apostle declared that those who violate the 7th commandment of “thou shalt not commit adultery/ sexual sin” {Exodus 20:14}Paul specifically addresses those involved in single heterosexual sin (fornicators), married heterosexual sin (adulterers),transsexuals (effeminate),and homosexuality (abusers of themselves with mankind). The Apostle also addresses violators of these commandments:

2nd Commandment (Exodus 20:4-5) (idolatry)
8th Commandment (Exodus 20:15) (thieves)
10th Commandment (Exodus 20:17) (covetousness or greed)

It is clear that the Apostle meant we are still under a moral Law of God. Though drunkenness and wild revelry, as well as extortion are not covered in the Ten Commandments, they are found within the framework of the Law of God. Believers in Christ are freed from all ritualistic or dietary portions of the Law. We do not sacrifice animals for sins. We do not have to be circumcised to be entered into God’s family. Jesus Christ, dying on the Cross, fulfilled all of the ceremonial and ritualistic parts of the Law. We are Children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26). However, as Children of God we do righteousness. The Apostle John stated:

1 John 3:10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever DOETH NOT RIGHTEOUSNESS IS NOT OF GOD, neither he that loveth not his brother.

Christians “do righteousness”. When the Apostle Paul spoke to the Church telling us “you are not under the Law”, what he was saying (as God led him) that we do not have to be circumcised. We are free to eat all meats. We do not have to keep the ceremonial feasts. We do not participate in animal sacrifices. But the moral codes, we still uphold them.

James’ Context Is Different: He Deals With Prejudice

James pastored the the Church at Jerusalem as it transitioned from a wholly Jewish population and began to receive Gentiles like us. James conveyed God’s message to “the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” (1:1). Paul’s Churches were dealing with Pharisees trying to push Old Covenant Law on New Covenant Believers. James was dealing with Jewish believers who were trying to be sectarian, prejudice, and in turn were not living up to God’s standard for love.

When Jesus Christ came, He changed not only how the Christian treats the Law, but also how believers should should treat others around them.

James addresses prejudice and preferential treatment of others. James tells his Jewish audience (and us):

James 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.

The Jews had, over time, developed prejudices, just as we all have prejudices. This is a part of the sin nature we inherited from Adam. The Jews often discriminated against non-Jewish peoples. James reminds them – and us – that “the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ” does not allow for “respect of persons”. The Apostle Paul said:

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Word Study James speaks of “respect of persons”. This is the Greek προσωποληψία prosōpolēpsía, pronounced pros-o-pol-ape-see’-ah), which means “favoritism or partiality”. It is to look at someone and judge them based on their skin color, clothing, or outward appearances. People give what the King James calls “respect of persons” by making judgments about people and their station in life without getting to know that person. This is a horrendous sin in the eyes of God. The Bible says that:

Acts 17:26 {God} hath made of ONE BLOOD ALL NATIONS OF {people} for to dwell on the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation ..

God our Father does not judge people based on their outward appearance, nor on the basis of their melanin. We all bleed red. Every person has value. Every person is made “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27).

The believer in Christ is not to show bias based on COLOR, CULTURE, or CASTE. A Jew died for our sins.

Prejudice has NEVER been acceptable with God, in neither Old nor New Testaments. God despises prejudice! God told His nation Israel (and us):

Leviticus 19:15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but IN RIGHTEOUSNESS SHALT THOU JUDGE THY NEIGHBOR.

Deuteronomy 1:17 Ye shall NOT RESPECT PERSONS IN JUDGMENT; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.

Deuteronomy 16:19 Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a {שַׁחַד shachad, [pronounced shakh’-ad] = bribe}: for a {bribe} doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.

The Lord tells us “to have respect of persons is not good” (Proverbs 24:23; 28:21). People are called to Christ to love as Christ loves. What James saw among believers was CASTE bias – and he called it out.

James 2:2-4 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3 and ye have RESPECT to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4 are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

Illustrate The word RESPECT this time is not what was in verse 1, but the Greek ἐπιβλέπω epiblépō, (pronounced ep-ee-blep’-o), which means “to stare at and have admiration for, to look up to”. This is actually a form of idolatry, and is wide spread throughout America today. In my lifetime I have seen Christian Celebrities raised up to be almost idols – only to come crashing down. From Jim & Tammy Faye (Messner) Baker to Jimmy Swaggert, and most recently the late Ravi Zacharias, we endanger ourselves and put too much faith in broken humans when we elevate the messenger above the message. The fallen Mega Church Pastor today is no worse that, truly, each and every one of us are. As the old saying goes, “There but for the Grace of God go I”.

Illustrate No person should ever be regarded by themselves or others as better thanbecause of their COLOR, CASTE, or CULTURE. I remember an episode of M*A*S*H (a very old TV show. The episode was called Strange Bedfellows) where Major Charles Winchester was snoring. He refused to admit that he snored, though the whole camp could hear him snoring at night. Finally Winchester goes to the camp Chaplain, and tells him he is concerned about snoring “because then I’ll be as common as the rest of the camp” (my paraphrase). Charles, you ARE just as common as the rest of us! COLOR, CASTE, or CULTURE does not make someone better than someone else. The Bible paints us all with the same brush. We are all born into this world fallen creatures. Listen to God’s Word:

Romans 3:23 for ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God …

We all fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved BOTH JEWS AND GENTILES, that they are ALL under SIN.

and, Romans 11:32 God hath concluded them ALL in UNBELIEF, that He might have mercy upon all.

As the Bible says in Galatians 3:22, “the Scripture hath concluded ALL under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. None of us are better than the other. We all need the salvation that God offers in Jesus.

Sometimes the least among us are the blessed. James says:

James 2:5-7 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? 6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? 7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?

What did our Lord Jesus say about the poor? Do you remember when He spoke of His ministry:

Matthew 11:5 the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

In this world there will always be poor people (Matthew 26:11), but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Affluence often blinds people to the glorious Gospel of salvation. Do you remember Jesus telling the rich man:

Matthew 19:21 … go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

That man walked away from Jesus that day, for he had great wealth, and loved it more than God. “What is a person profited, if they gain the whole world, but lose their own soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Riches often diverts a person away from the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, and leads the wealthy to a sham faith that will not save. Remember this:

God never knew the name of the rich man, but He loved the impoverished Lazarus. The poor, the Lazarus’ of this world, are often quicker to find and be found of Christ than the rich are.

The Christian Is Called To Fulfill The Royal Law

James 2:8 If ye fulfill THE ROYAL LAW according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well:

The Christian is under what James calls “The Royal Law”. Why is it “The Royal Law”? Because it is the Law as defined by Jesus Christ.

Word Study A “Lawyer” came to Jesus one day and asked, “Master, which is the Great Commandment in the Law?” The word “GREAT” is the Greek μέγας mégas, {pronounced meg’-as}, which means “the most important, the key, the overwhelming principle”. This “Lawyer” studied, not human laws, but the Law of God. He was testing Jesus to see if Jesus, known as a Great Teacher, understood the primary principle or the driving force behind the Law. Jesus did not hesitate. He said:

Matthew 22:37-38 … Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the FIRST and GREAT commandment …

Word Study Jesus said that this commandment is not only the MEGAS commandment, it is also the πρῶτος PRŌTOS or “first in time or place, first in rank”. The commandments of God are built on this one principle – we are to love God with our ALL. Not of HALF, but our ALL. When you look at the Ten Commandments, the FIRST FOUR deal with love for God. If you do not love God primarily, then you will not love others – the other 6 commandments. Then Jesus continued:

Matthew 22:39 And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

The GREAT commandment is the basis of the Law. The SECOND GREAT commandment follows the first. These two principles are called “The Royal Law” because they are given to us by God our King in both Old and New Testaments. Jesus said:

Matthew 22:40 On these TWO COMMANDMENTS hang all the Law and the Prophets

The entirety of God’s Law hangs on these two nails. They hold up the Law.

James 2:9 but if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are CONVINCED of the law as transgressors.

If you are prejudiced toward people, then the Royal Law rebukes {ἐλέγχω elénchō, pronounced el-eng’-kho} you. It admonishes you. You are supposed to treat others the way you want to be treated. You would not want to be pulled over and stopped just because you are black. You would not want to be shunned because you are brown. You would want others to treat you with respect, even if your clothing shows evidence of poverty. You would want to be treated like Jesus treated you. Now this next set of Scripture are often taken out of context, and misapplied. We read:

James 2:10-11 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

James is NOT telling us that we do not need to keep the Law. He is telling us we NEED, as believers, to follow the Royal Law. It is Jesus Christ Who gave us these Laws. We honor Him when we follow them. We dishonor Him when we treat others with prejudice, regardless as to it’s flavor.

If you do not commit adultery (which would be a violation of the second great Law), but you murder someone (a violation of the second great Law), then you have broken God’s Law. And yes, we are under these two great Laws. We as believers are to love God our Savior, Father, and Lord, with our ALL. We as believers are also to cherish our neighbor, and treat our neighbor as we would be treated.

“But”, you might ask, “what about those who have done wrong to me”? Jesus gave us a third Royal Law. Jesus said:

John 13:34-5 A new commandment I give unto you. That ye love one another, as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

John 15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.

The believer in Christ is under three Royal Commandments. We are to love God with all that we have. We are to love and so treat others as we want to be loved and treated. But the New Commandment, this is a doozy! We are to love one another as Jesus loved us. This is a sacrificial type of love.

Let’s suppose someone has hurt you. Are you free to hurt them back? Well, what did Jesus do?

1 Peter 2:22-23 {Jesus} did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously …

This is what Jesus told us to do. We are to have a sacrificial love toward others. When we are treated badly – and it happens to me weekly – we are to obey the Third Great Commandment:

Matthew 5:44-48 I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

We who are Christians are not under the Yoke of the Law as the Old Covenant believers were. We do not have to sacrifice animals. We do not have a priesthood we kowtow to. We do not have to keep the Feasts, the moons, and the special days that the Israeli had to do. We do not have travel to Jerusalem once a year, nor to Mecca. We are under a Royal Law – a Law of Liberty. We are freed from sin so that we can serve the Lord. We are priests together, and Christ our High Priest – blessed be the name of the Lord. We will be judged one day on how we fulfilled these three great laws.

James 2:12-13 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

Love God with your all. Treat others the way you want to be treated. And love even those who mistreat you. Do good to them who hurt you. Pray for those who treat you badly. Jesus prayed from the Cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Let love accompany us as we move toward Heaven. May God the Holy Spirit and His Holy Word touch our hearts and minds, honor Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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