In which there is murder and adultery

by Craig on April 29, 2011

In a really funny twist, at least to me; James, who is the most Jewish of Jewish Christians, and who wrote this oh so Jewish-ish letter, is far less Jewish-ish than Paul concerning the Law.

When James writes about the Law he’s mostly writing, not of the law of Moses, but Our Lord’s perfect Law of freedom – the perfect law of Love. (a lovely little post on that is here).

Paul, on the other hand, whenever he talks of the Law is talking about the Law of Moses.

Everybody says that Paul is all grace and James is all works.
Paul is all New Testament-y and James is all legalistic and Old Testament-y.
I know Martin Luther thought that.
He called James “a letter of straw”.

But to me it sounds just like Jesus.

I’ve written this before, but if you take 5 minutes and read something at random that Jesus said – and come back and spend 5 minutes reading James – they sound just alike.

Paul is a bright light, but he sounds like Paul – not the brother of James. I wrote about this way back when Laska the Love kitty was a kitten. (here – and it includes cute kitten-y pictures – you’ll heart them )

And now, James, Chapter 2 verse 11:

For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.”Even if you do not commit adultery but murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

James throws out two commandments here – and he says – break just one of them and you break the whole law.

Maybe because I think too much – I wonder why he chose these two?

A little history…

The churches James wrote to were Jewish Christian churches. They weren’t the basic Roman or Greek Christians who never, ever had a thought of rising up in rebellion against Rome.

The Jewish people of James’ day had been dreaming of gaining back independence since long before the Romans.

Among all these Jewish converts there were no doubt a contingent, like the Zealots of Israel, who given a chance would try to usher in the Kingdom of God by force, by murder if need be. Old habits die hard.

Anyone ever wonder if maybe Barabbas became a Christian?

Or…

it could be just this simple…

the two commandments sit side by side in the listing of the Ten:

You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. (EX 20:13,14)

Yup – it could just be that.

So…

I ask myself what does this mean anyway?

I think James is saying:

“Craig, I’m pretty sure I made myself clear with that break one, break them all thing in verse 10. But since I know you don’t always pay attention. Or it might be that you didn’t read your very own last post on this topic (here). Let me say it a different way. Everywhere you turn, my brother, there’s a breaking of the law of love. It can’t be avoided perfectly. This places you in huge jeopardy with the One God, who is all Love to be sure – but also all Justice. I’m just sayin.’”

So…

If I think of myself over someone else, it’s a sin.

I fail to help when I see an opportunity, it’s a sin.

Omission or commission, it’s a sin…

and I can’t not sin…

and no sin is not my fault.

There are so many ways to get lost – but One gracious light to lead me home.

God Bless

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Cora April 29, 2011 at 3:37 pm

If there’s a way to “get lost”, as you so aptly put it, I can find it, for sure! It’s really a good thing there is only one way home. Sometimes, I’m really stubborn about going there, but the mud and the corn husks. . . !!! I think of the old hymn, “The way of the cross leads home.” And home means clean, forgiven, relationship, and yes, love. I like James. He’s not as intimidating to me as Paul. Ever since I was a kid, I thought of Paul as one with pointy, boney fingers with piercing eyes and an accusing tone in his voice. If I were in his audience, I would slouch in the back row and be sure to not make eye contact. Don’t know where that came from, but that’s my story.

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Craig April 29, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Funny!!! “but the mud and the corn husks. . . !!!” – funny:)

You know I thought the about Paul – though I didn’t even know who he was until I was 25. I thought “grumpy old man” – until I studied Philippians – there was something about him that made them fall in love with him – so he can’t have been all that grumpy – then, of course he was nice enough to write the verses for me to base my blog on – that was nice too. God Bless you Cora – and thank you.

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A. April 29, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Yes…your last line. Today all I knew to do was to lie down, face in carpet, and be still and know that He is God; for a while, and then some feeble prayers, and they sounded rather pathetic. i am glad He knows how to put it all together if I will just humble myself and turn back to Him.

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Craig April 30, 2011 at 6:31 am

Nothing wrong with the A., I’ve done it myself, be still and know…there is only one way to be perfect – and though we are perfect now – through grace – even in spite of our imperfections – there will be a time one day…

God Bless you A. Thank you as always – as always.

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Dawn April 30, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Dear Craig,

I had to come over here to Deep into Scripture today to read you. I’m not over here much because Deep into Love fills me. Anyway, here is my little tidbit…

Not only did James say if you break one commandment you’ve broken them all, but our beloved Jesus said, referenced in Matthew 5, if you even think about a woman with lust in your heart you have committed adultery (v. 28), if you are angry with another you have committed murder (v. 22). Sheesh, what a definition for the words in the commandments! I don’t even have to do the action, if it’s in my mind, I’m a sinner. My mind can be really messy. I’m with Cora when she says “If there’s a way to get lost, I can find it for sure.”

This sentence alone was worth the walk by your blogs today. “There are so many ways to get lost – but One gracious light to lead me home.” All we can do is worship Him. I’m with A. on that.

Yes! and Amen,
Dawn

PS I’m going to the kitty Laska link now. You know how I am about that!

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Craig April 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Amen – see – James and Jesus sound so much alike. Jesus – while warm and fuzzy is not as warm and fuzz as our caricature of him. Hope you enjoyed the Laska pictures – he’s getting bigger- he was 5 months old when started blogging. He’s a cat now – still kitten- y sometimes – but he’s grown. I heart that cat. God bless you Sawn. God Bless.

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Debbie April 30, 2011 at 6:27 pm

So, so thankful for that one gracious light that leads us home. :) This is such important stuff for us to get, Craig. Thank you for sharing!
And A . . .I’m thinking of you and praying too. I listened to a short portion of a sermon by David Wilkerson yesterday and can’t stop crying whenever I think of it. You may be doing the most important thing that you can possibly do, by being so humble before Him, and praying those prayers that He waits to hear.

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Craig April 30, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Deb – simple – as always – thank you. God Bless.

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Debra May 1, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I never knew that Laska was Czech for “love” until reading that post you referenced. I love that kitty! Does he know how famous he is?
Did Barabbas become a Christian? I don’t see how he could help it, given that Jesus, the innocent, died in his place, as He did for us all.
Now that you mention it Craig, I do see the parallels between James and Jesus, especially with the allusion to adultery and murder. They were all about purity of heart… “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”

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Craig May 1, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Yup – that’s why I named him Laska – Laska the love kitty. My cat is named love. I heart that. And fame? Shhhhhhhhhhh. He’s still very humble – for a c—-a—-t.

The Barabbas thing is an interesting question. Guess we’ll have to wait to know.

And James – he really writes almost exactly how Jesus talked – I heart that.

God Bless you Debra – thank you much – every time you come here I grow. Thank you.

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Michelle May 2, 2011 at 5:06 am

Why choose those two? Maybe if he had chosen the ‘little’ commandments/sins (lying, stealing) – not that they are little, but maybe easier – what he had written would be glossed over, not had the impact of these two. These two jump out and make you notice them. Do not lie, do not covet – well……we all do them. We shouldn’t. But we do. And they are easier to hide, because they are everywhere. But they are also harder to do. Because they are everywhere. And they can be subtle. And the world doesn’t take as much notice of them. So we don’t think of them as much.

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Craig May 2, 2011 at 10:37 am

Very true Michelle – he chose two obvious and big sins – one even “bigger” than the other. That is awesome. Thank you for that. I heart when I learn from people with a clear heart for God. I heart having you read me Michelle. really do. God bless you.

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thefisherlady May 7, 2011 at 1:20 pm

I so enjoyed my visit here today… I’m going out to do some Shepherding and to think deep on all this beauty from God’s people and His Word…
Blessings Craig

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Craig May 7, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Thank you Tina. His word – so perfect – his people – so flawed but redeemed and lambs with a Good Shepherd. Thank you again – and Blessings to YOU too!

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