Guilty as Charged

For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”—James 2:10 (NKJV)

Have you ever known someone who has committed a sin you don’t struggle with personally? Perhaps a family member is wrestling with an addiction or a coworker’s marriage crumbled due to adultery, and the thought creeps into your head: At least I’m not like them. And the more grievous the sin—like murder, for example—the easier it is to distance ourselves from it because of our “innocence.” 

You see, we’re often quick to minimize our own sin because we consider our offenses to be lesser than those of others. But the truth is, we’re all guilty when it comes to breaking God’s law (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8). 

Today’s verse points out the fact that if we have broken any of God’s commandments, we’ve missed the mark and are therefore guilty of breaking them all. Right about now you may be thinking, But wait, I’m not a murderer, so how can I be guilty of murder?

While we may not have committed such a crime, our motives may tell another story. Jesus notes in Matthew 5 that anyone who murders will be subject to judgment, but anyone who is angry with a brother or sister is also subject to judgment. In other words, God doesn’t show favoritism toward those who sin inwardly versus those who sin outwardly—and all sin must be dealt with in light of His holiness.

If it sounds like God’s laws are impossible to obey perfectly, you’re right. In fact, Paul declares that “all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written: Everyone who does not continue doing everything written in the book of the law is cursed” (Galatians 3:10 HCSB).

So, where does that leave us with regard to sin and the law? Believe it or not, we’re in the best place possible because Jesus said He didn’t come to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them on our behalf (Matthew 5:17). Where we fail when it comes to sin, Jesus succeeds perfectly and offers us His righteousness instead!

Does that give us license to continue sinning and breaking God’s commandments? Absolutely not! (Romans 6:1–2) Rather, because of His amazing grace, let’s strive for greater obedience and holiness, let’s avoid comparing our sin with the sins of others, and let’s remember that were it not for Jesus, we’d still be dead in our trespasses (Ephesians 2:4–5) and bound by the curse of the law. 

DIG: Are there sins that you consider worse than others? What does the Bible say about God’s attitude toward all sin?

DISCOVER: Read Romans 3. What is the apostle Paul telling us about the relationship between the law and righteousness?

DISPLAY: The next time you find yourself comparing your sin with that of someone else, stop and ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of all that Christ has forgiven you for, and extend compassion and grace to help restore your brother and sister (Galatians 6:1).

About the Author

Rob Nieminen

Rob Nieminen is a seasoned writer and editor who has written devotionals for Calvary since 2015. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, FL. He serves in the Worship Ministry at Calvary Boynton Beach and is an avid reader, an erratic golfer, and an aspiring photographer who loves to cook and spend time with his family.