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The Perversion of Being Prejudiced

The Book of James - James 2:1-13  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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James 2:1–13 ESV
1 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called? 8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. 11 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. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Introduction

Holman New Testament Commentary: Hebrews & James James 2: Displaying Pure Religion

Chapter 1 concluded with an appeal for us to practice pure religion. Chapter 2 presents two requirements of pure religion.

First, show no partiality. Cater to the poor and spiritually hungry rather than to the powerful. Live by the royal law and experience the law that gives freedom.

Second, produce obedient deeds, for true faith is obedient. Look to Abraham and Rahab for examples.

Holman New Testament Commentary: Hebrews & James James 2: Displaying Pure Religion

“He that prizeth the person of Christ prizeth all his relatives.”

Puritan scholar Thomas Manton

Holman New Testament Commentary: Hebrews & James James 2: Displaying Pure Religion

“He that prizeth the person of Christ prizeth all his relatives.”

Puritan scholar Thomas Manton

Chapter 1 concluded with an appeal for us to practice pure religion.
Chapter 2 presents two requirements of pure religion.
Show no partiality.
Show evidence of faith by your deeds.
Read the Memorandum Illustration

I. Prejudice is Un-Christlike (2:1)

It is contrary to His person.
The basic principle is succinctly stated in verse 1, indicating that having genuine faith in the gospel of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ while holding an attitude of personal favoritism is contradictory and incompatible.
The two cannot coincide or coexist. Being partial is in total conflict with our salvation and with what Scripture teaches
Leviticus 19:15 ESV
15 “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.
Proverbs 24:23 ESV
23 These also are sayings of the wise. Partiality in judging is not good.
Proverbs 28:21 ESV
21 To show partiality is not good, but for a piece of bread a man will do wrong.
It is contrary to His practice.
How does God operate personally? Look at the offer of salvation...
The gospel is a great leveler, available with absolute equality to everyone who believes in the Savior it proclaims.
Jesus’ promise to those who trust in Him is:
Matthew 11:29–30 ESV
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Tragically, many otherwise biblical and faithful churches today do not treat all their members the same.
Frequently, those who are of a different ethnic background, race, or financial standing are not fully welcomed into fellowship. That ought not to be. It not only is a transgression of God’s divine law but is a mockery of His divine character.

II. Prejudice is Ugly (2:2-4)

II. Prejudice is Ugly (2:2-4)

It decides based on the external.
These verses illustrate the discrimination.
Rich man wore a gold ring and fine clothes. The word used means “Gold fingered”. Shops would rent gold rings to those who wanted to look more important and wealthy.
Poor man wore shabby clothes. Possibly work clothes, not necessarily homeless.
The greeter gave special acknowledgement to the “rich” man and ignored the poor man.
It reveals evil motives.
Verse 4 uses a question to accuse the readers of a pair of evil actions.
First, they discriminated among themselves. They were guilty of creating divisions in their midst.
Second, they acted like evil-minded judges, regulating their conduct by blatantly false principles.

III. Prejudice is Unreasonable (2:5-7)

III. Prejudice is Unreasonable (2:5-7)

We dishonor those who God blesses.
Partiality is contrary to God’s plan and threatening to the best interests of believers.
James contrasted God’s exaltation of the poor with their abuse by his readers. Their practice of discrimination against the poor was contrary to the way God had purposed to treat them.
Verse 5 shows how God views the poor. Verse 6a presents the contrasting practices of his readers. It is clear: Christians need to adopt God’s outlook for the poor.
We honor those who blaspheme God.
The poor may appear insignificant in this world, but they have the glorious hope of inheriting the kingdom with Jesus
Matthew 25:34 ESV
34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
God loves the poor more than their treatment by Christians indicates.
Verse 6a outlines the church’s treatment of the poor. They had insulted the poor by asking them to stand in some uncomfortable location or to sit on the floor as the Christians gathered for worship. Such shabby treatment could convince the poor that Christianity was not for them.

IV. Prejudice is Unloving (2:8-9)

IV. Prejudice is Unloving (2:8-9)

Loving others honors our Lord.
James calls the command to love your neighbor as yourself as a royal law. Why?
Quite possibly he used the term royal because Christ, the true King, set the law in place in .
Matthew 22:38–39 ESV
38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Matthew 22:38–39 ESV
38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Matthew 22:37–39 ESV
37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The command to love our neighbor as we love ourselves is an impossible standard without the power of the living Christ. Whenever Christians have applied this standard, it has remade communities, societies, and homes.
Whoever follows this life of service will receive the Lord’s commendation at the final judgment ().
Loving others honors the law.
Loving others would eliminate most if not all other laws. Loving others
Some Jews saw God’s law as containing many detached requirements forbidding such actions as murder, adultery, and robbery. They failed to see its unity. They may have felt that strict obedience at one point would compensate for disobedience elsewhere.

V. Prejudice is Unlawful (2:10-11)

V. Prejudice is Unlawful (2:10-11)

The law of God is whole.
Some Jews saw God’s law as containing many detached requirements forbidding such actions as murder, adultery, and robbery. They failed to see its unity. They may have felt that strict obedience at one point would compensate for disobedience elsewhere.
God’s Law is not like a setup of ten bowling pins which we knock down one at a time. It more resembles a pane of glass in which a break at one point means that the entire pane is broken.
God’s Law is not like a setup of ten bowling pins which we knock down one at a time. It more resembles a pane of glass in which a break at one point means that the entire pane is broken.

The Jews tended to regard the law as a series of detached commands. To keep one of those commands was to gain credit. To break one was to incur debt. Therefore, a man could add up the ones he kept and subtract the ones he broke and, as it were, emerge with a moral credit or debit balance.

That philosophy, of course, is common to every works-righteousness system of religion. The idea is that acceptance or rejection by God depends essentially on the moral standing of the person himself. If he does more good than bad, he is accepted by God. If the scale tilts the other way, he is rejected.

The law of God is holy.
Verse 11 shows the unity of the Law lies in its origin in God. The commandments prohibiting both adultery and murder originated with God. To resist one requirement of the Law is to resist God, the authority beneath its requirements.

VI. Prejudice is Unmerciful (2:12-13)

VI. Prejudice is Unmerciful (2:12-13)

Complete impartiality brings liberty.
These verses conclude the discussion of partiality by appealing for obedience to the royal law in both speech and action.
Those who judge others often forget that they must face God’s judgment. The reality of God’s coming judgment is an incentive for Christians to speak and act obediently.
In Jesus had described the gospel as a truth which sets people free. James echoed these words in verse 12.
In Jesus had described the gospel as a truth which sets people free. James echoed these words in verse 12.
John 8:32–36 ESV
32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Those who obey God by faith in Jesus Christ find freedom to serve God and escape from fear of future judgment.
Those who obey God by faith in Jesus Christ find freedom to serve God and escape from fear of future judgment. Faith in Jesus Christ provides freedom to escape hatred and self-love and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Faith in Jesus Christ provides freedom to escape hatred and self-love and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Complete impartiality brings mercy.
James alluded to the words of Jesus in to warn that those who show no mercy will receive none in the final judgment.
Stated positively, this means mercy triumphs over judgment.
This does not mean we receive mercy from God only when we show mercy to others. If that were true, it would make salvation a matter of God’s payment for our good deeds.
For those who have given themselves in faith to Christ, God’s mercy triumphs over our guilt and judgment.
If we have received God’s grace, we will stand in the coming judgment. Mercy can rejoice in its victory over condemnation.
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