“For in many things we offend all…” (James 3:2)
With the peace of God, dear friends! Today I would like to talk about a very important topic, about the first two verses of James chapter 3.
“My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” (James 3:1-2)
Many today interpret this passage of Scripture in such a way that James himself sinned a lot. And thus, us Christians cannot live without committing a sin, without sinning. To say simpler, the teaching is that it is a normal state of a Christian – to sin. But is this what is written about? What does it mean “for in many things we offend all”? Let’s read the second verse again, the last sentence: “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” The main purpose of these two verses is for many not to become teachers, and not that we all offend/sin a lot. The phrase “offend all” suits many today and at all times, who, believing, having not been freed from sin, continue to sin, perhaps not so clearly/obviously, not so apparent, however, this is their internal state, basing their faith on this verse, comforting themselves and those listening: that everything is fine, everything is all right, you see, even James wrote “we offend all”, so it’s okay, the blood was shed, everything is forgiven…
But is this truly so?! Is it not in vain that we rely on this place of Scripture, asserting our inner state, which if it is not holy, but in transgressions/sin, shall not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, for it is written: “nothing unclean will enter therein” (Revelations 21:27).
Let us examine these scriptures in the light of the Gospel, in the light of the Good News, in the light of the shed Blood of Jesus Christ, which washed and freed us from sin. Let us read a few passages from the Scripture, where we shall see that such an understanding does not fit to one another, and that it is necessary to understand what James is talking about.
“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free; Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committteth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.” (John 8:32, 34-35)
Apostle John in his first letter in the third chapter writes serious, deep, controversial words:
“Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him; Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin: for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (1 John 3:6,9)
It’s as if there is a discrepancy: James writes of one thing, John – of another. I believe and understand that James could not write contrary to the other Apostles, because they were all one. Christ spoke of this: “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, ad I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:21)
The Apostles were so united, as we know, that they turned the whole world around. The teaching of Jesus Christ, the Gospel, traveled, it was such a force/power, because they were one, in unity. And to think that James writes one thing, and Paul another, that each one understood their own thing, is absolutely wrong. They were all in the teaching of Jesus Christ, in complete unity. And the right approach for us today is to understand this unity, and to be in this unity ourselves. Also, not to pull scriptures out of context and build our own teachings.
Let us now open Romans 6:7, Apostle Paul writes:
“For he that is dead is freed from sin.”
“Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness; But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” (Romans 6:18, 22)
You may see that these Scriptures contradict what James wrote, but it is not so. James in chapter 3, in the first two verses writes about babes and teachers. He is writing so that infants/babes do not hurry to be teachers, otherwise he can sin/offend in the WORD. As he writes of this in the second verse: “If any man offend not in WORD, the same is a perfect man.” In the German translation, it is written a little more clearly, it says: “for we all make a lot of mistakes.” There are no such words as is in the Russian translation, which states “sin much”. Namely, “we make mistakes.” And here the picture is clear what it is talking about. Namely, Apostle Paul writes to the Hebrews: “For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.” (Hebrews 5:13)
He asks the Corinthians “Are you not carnal?” He could not speak to them as spiritual, but as with babes. What does this mean? It means that in Christ there is growth. And if you are still a babe, if you have not yet grown up and are not versed in the word of truth, then James says for such to not hurry to become a teacher, you can make a lot of mistakes. It is very simple, and here you can give a lot of examples. For example, if you do not know something and begin to teach someone, then this can have sad consequences. If I have no idea how to cook soup, then how can I teach someone how to make borsch? If I do not know, then I better be silent and there will be no problems. If you take a three year old child, how much trouble he can cause! Everything is around him, he needs everything, you can’t leave him alone, his actions in comparison to the adult are in essence imperfect. However, for his age they are quite normal. And while we do not give a three-year-old child a sharp knife to cut cabbage for us, then there are no problems or crimes. Give him a match – the house may be set on fire. No matches given – no problem. This is what James is talking about. Therefore, in no case should you stretch these verses and make a teaching out of it that it is normal that we sin. This is not normal! A Christian came out of this world, as it is written:
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)
“Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.” (1 John 3:6)
Hence the conclusion: As a three-year-old child simply lives and is happy, does not think at all that he makes many problems for his parents. He lives and rejoices! Everything is right for him, everything he does, for his age is normal. His conscience does not bother him, he isn’t bothered inside that he is disobedient, that he makes trouble for his parents, on the contrary he is happy and feels love from his parents.
But how is it with us Christians? If I was born from God, if I am in God and walk with such awareness/conscience that I sin a lot, then what kind of relationship can I have with my heavenly Father? This means I am always walking under the yoke, with my head down, oppressed, then I am still under the law, then I am still in sin.
Therefore, it is important not to distort the Word of God and stretch it to fit your life. If my life isn’t in the Light of God, then I cannot adjust the Scripture to my life and from this give out a teaching. You need to reject (give up) your inner feelings, inner views/beliefs, inner practices and fully believe the Gospel, so that the Gospel, the Word of God will work in you, contrary to your inner views and feelings. Because the feelings and views of the old man are completely contrary to the Spirit of God. Hence, Christ said: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26) And whosoever does not take his cross, that is, does not die for this world, cannot be a disciple of Jesus Christ! I died for everything. And now from this position/state I read and study the Gospel and see it in the light of God. This is very important! Amen!