"THE EPISTLE OF JAMES"
The Sin Of Partiality (James 2:1-13)
1. In the first century, A.D., polarized conditions governed society;
people were either rich or poor, slaves or free, Jew or Gentile,
Greek or barbarian
2. However, part of the good news of the gospel was that in Christ
Jesus social barriers lost much of their strength
a. As Paul wrote to the Galatians: "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. (Ga 3:28)
b. Again, in writing to the Colossians: "Where there is neither
Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian,
Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all.
3. But it took a while for this truth to sink into the hearts of those
who were Christians; even the apostle Peter had to be told this
truth through a vision and then a special outpouring of the Holy
Spirit - cf. Ac 10:34-35
4. From the second chapter of the epistle of James, it is apparent that
showing partiality was still being practiced and its sinfulness
needed to be pointed out
5. Because "The Sin Of Partiality" is still prevalent in some forms
today, let's examine Ja 2:1-13 and consider what James has to say
on this subject
[Consider, first of all, exactly what is...]
I. THE SIN OF PARTIALITY (Showing prejudice)
A. AS MANIFESTED IN JAMES' DAY...
1. We know from other scriptures that Jewish Christians often
showed partiality in regards to the Gentiles
2. But in this epistle, the problem was one of showing partiality
between the rich and poor - Ja 2:2-4
B. TODAY, WE CAN ALSO BE GUILTY OF PARTIALITY...
1. By exercising prejudice for the rich or against the poor
a. For example, giving preferential treatment to visitors at
our assemblies based upon their apparel
b. Or showing hospitality towards our rich friends, while
ignoring those who are poor (sometimes, it is the poor who
despise the rich)
2. By showing partiality between people of different races (again,
this can easily go both ways)
3. Even by showing partiality between friends and visitors to our
[Sadly, the sin of partiality (i.e., being biased, prejudiced, racist)
is probably just as prevalent if not more so than it was in the days
when James wrote his epistle!
This makes the words of James very relevant and worth our consideration.
Let's therefore notice...]
II. WHY CHRISTIANS CAN'T SHOW PARTIALITY
A. JESUS CHRIST IS A "GLORIOUS" LORD! (James 2:1)
1. It is possible that this point was being implied by James in
using his appellation of Jesus to introduce the subject
2. What does OUR partiality have to do with the LORD OF GLORY?
a. As Christians, we profess to be Christ's disciples, or
followers, whose goal is to imitate Him - Lk 6:40
b. As such, our actions are likely to be considered by others
as a reflection of what Christ teaches
c. If we show partiality as Christians, we leave the impression
that Jesus Himself is partial (prejudiced, biased, racist)
3. Therefore, if we are not careful, the glory of the Lord can be
tainted by OUR partiality!
B. WE BECOME JUDGES WITH EVIL THOUGHTS (v4)
1. God has always hated unjust judges
2. Jesus Himself warned about:
a. The dangers of judging - Mt 7:1
b. The need to make righteous judgment - Jn 7:24
3. If we judge against the poor due to our prejudice against them,
we will find ourselves fighting against God! - Ps 109:31
C. WE DESPISE THOSE GOD HAS HONORED (v5)
1. Both then and today God has chosen to honor the poor
a. The gospel was proclaimed to the poor - Lk 7:22
b. The majority of those who responded were from among the poor
- 1 Cor 1:26-29
2. Both then and today God has chosen to honor ALL men - Acts 10:34-35
a. Therefore, when we show partiality because of a person's
b. Or because they are a stranger we do not know...
...then we despise those whom God has honored by His offering
to them salvation through the gospel!
3. Do we want to face God on the Day of Judgment guilty of such
D. WE HONOR THOSE MOST CAPABLE AND LIKELY OF OPPRESSING US (Vs 6-7)
1. The rich were doing this to the Christians in James' day
2. Who are the ones most likely to oppress Christians today if it
ever came down to "push and shove"?
a. Those who have the resources to do so
b. And most likely that would be the "majority" and the
E. WE BREAK "THE ROYAL LAW" (Vs 8-11)
1. Which is "You shall love your neighbor as your self"
2. This is one of the most fundamental laws that God has ever
a. As proclaimed by Christ - Mt 22:36-40
b. As taught by Paul - Ro 13:8-10
3. And, as emphasized by James, by breaking one law, we become
guilty of ALL the Law!
a. I.e., to show partiality is to make one as guilty as if they
committed adultery or murder!
b. This illustrates just how terrible any sin is!
F. WE WILL ONE DAY BE JUDGED BY "THE LAW OF LIBERTY" (Vs 12-13)
1. This refers to the law of Christ, or the gospel
a. A law that has set us free from the bondage of sin through
the mercy shown in Christ - cf. Jn 8:31-36
b. And a law that sets us free from man-made restrictions
- cf. Col 2:20-22
2. But if we:
a. Apply man-made restrictions upon others (like showing
b. Do not show mercy toward others
...then NO MERCY will be shown toward us! - cf. Mt 6:14-15
1. In view of all these things, we can understand why James would say:
"My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, [the
Lord] of glory, with respect of persons." (Ja 2:1)
2. We can also better understand Peter's reasoning why he had to accept
"Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as [he did] unto us,
who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could
withstand God?" (Ac 11:17)
3. And we are more likely to heed the prayer and admonition of Paul:
5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be
likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That ye
may with one mind [and] one mouth glorify God, even the Father of
our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as
Christ also received us to the glory of God. (Romans 15:5-7)
Brethren, we serve A GLORIOUS LORD, we serve to do things to His glory;
may we NEVER allow the sin of partiality, bias, prejudice, or racism to
taint that wonderful glory in any way!
[And a concluding word for the NON-Christian:
1) Notice that in our text James speaks of:
a) The terribleness of even one sin (v10)
b) The fact of judgment (v12)
2) God offers mercys to you in the gospel of His Son Jesus Christ?
a) Remember, God is not a partial judge - cf. Ro 2:4-11
b) Mercy and salvation is available to everyone - Heb 5:9
b) Will He show mercy to you while you despise others?
Accept His mercy in obedience to the gospel.
Repent and be regenerated as a new person today!]
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