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James 2:10

ESV For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.
NIV For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
NASB For whoever keeps the whole Law, yet stumbles in one point, has become guilty of all.
CSB For whoever keeps the entire law, and yet stumbles at one point, is guilty of breaking it all.
NLT For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.
KJV For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

What does James 2:10 mean?

In the previous verse, James insisted that to show favoritism to a wealthy person over a poor one is a sin. It is a failure to obey God's command to love others as we love ourselves. We become, by definition, lawbreakers.

James recognizes that our human tendency is to dismiss our sin. But he's not going to let us off of the hook. To sin in this area of favoritism and prejudice, James reveals, makes us just as guilty as if we had systematically broken every single command in the Law. The point is not that all sins are equally heinous. Rather, it is that on God's legal scorecard, for those He will judge according to the Old Testament Law, even one sin is damning. A person either is perfect, or they are not. One "stumble," as James describes it here, earns us the same "fail" rating as a lifetime of deliberate disobedience.

In a few verses, James will make the point that such a reality should make us depend all the more on God's mercy. This grace is available to all who trust in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. For now, though, James wants us to understand that this sin of discriminating against others, based on the world's standards, is just that: a sin. The laws we follow do not make up for the ones we break.
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