“If you fulfill the royal Law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well. But if you have respect to persons, you commit sin and are convicted by the Law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole Law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” But if you do not commit adultery, yet if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the Law. So speak and do as those who shall be judged by the Law of liberty. For he who has shown no mercy shall have judgment without mercy, and mercy exults over judgment.” (Jas 2:8-13)
Partiality in the way we treat people reveals a fear of man as opposed to a fear of God. The Pharisees were respecters of men. They accused Jesus of eating with sinners while Jesus said that He came to save sinners. He came to save those who recognize their need of a savior, not the self-righteous.
The root of favoritism is selfish motives. God does not show favoritism. “For there is no respect of faces with God.” (Rom 2:11) After a vision, Peter understood that God shows no favorites. (Acts 10:34-35) God judges all by the same standard. He judged the Jews in Old Testament for their disobedience. (2Chron 7:19-22) He will judge those who disobey Him today. God does not change. In the Book of Hebrews we are warned that their chastisement was an example to us. “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” (Heb 10:26-27)
In speaking of our relations with our fellow man, Jesus said that to love our neighbor sums up half the law. He also said that if we break part of the law, then we are guilty of breaking all of the law. We can’t say that we love God and hate our neighbor. Showing favoritism is judging by outward appearance. There is an account in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 7:36-50) where Simon the Pharisee judges a prostitute. Jesus recognized that she had sinned. But, He forgave her because of her faith. He told her to go in peace. It is implied that she should quit sinning, being at peace with God.
God doesn’t look on outward appearances. He looks upon the heart. Being impartial does not mean that we condone sin in our brother or sister. The word of God judges, not us. But, a word of correction given in love is more loving than condoning sin. Jesus instructs us to get the log out of our own eye and then to take the log out of our brother’s eye. We should continue to love and reach out to the one who is stumbling.
There will be judgment for sin. The Bible warns that it is appointed once for all. We will all be judged by God. (Jas. 4:12) The law of God judges us all. We all have sinned. We must judge ourselves using God’s law as a standard. If we would judge ourselves honestly, we wouldn’t sin. “For he who eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks condemnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.” (1Co 11:29-31) Properly discerning the Lord’s body is to understand the nature of the sacrifice for sin which He made for us.
If we are unwilling to extend mercy and forgive, God will not forgive us. (Mt. 18:32-35) Jesus came to save us from sin. The gospel is the “Law of Liberty.” He didn’t die to give us liberty to sin. All will be judged as in Christ or not. How does mercy triumph over judgment? The justice of God must be satisfied. All are guilty of breaking the law. Does God just wink and say forget it? What would happen if He did? The creation could not be restored. It would continue in sin and rebellion. Strife, violence, war, pain and death would continue. The justice of God must be satisfied. He must be true to His nature. The penalty for sin is death. The price for sin is a life. Blood must be shed. (Lev. 17:11; He. 9:22-10:31) There must be a sacrifice for sin. God showed it to Adam. He spelled it out in the Law. Animal sacrifices were only a shadow of the reality to come. The blood of animals won’t satisfy God. (Ps 51) The sacrifices had to be done in God’s temple, indicating they must be fulfilled in God’s dwelling. Jesus prophesied that His temple would be destroyed and raised in three days.
God foreshadowed the sacrifice at Passover. Egypt is the world under the curse of death. The Messiah is the sacrificial lamb. There must be the life of a man for man. Jesus is God’s merciful answer to His justice. John saw Him as God’s perfect sinless lamb. Jesus is the incarnate dwelling or temple of God. The mercy of God triumphed over the justice of God at the cross.