(Vs. 10.) A man is not at liberty to obey and neglect what commandments of Christ he pleases, but should have respect to them all. Men of pharisaical disposition may fancy (because they are outwardly moral) that they have kept the law of God (like the rich young ruler or Saul of Tarsus), but this is a sad mistake. To offend in one point (even what we may regard as a small point) is to be treated by the law as a transgressor (Rom. 2:28, 29).
(Vs. 11.) The same Lawgiver (the living God) who gave the seventh commandment delivered the sixth commandment. The point James makes is that the law of God is one (a single law), though it consists of different precepts. To violate one precept of the law makes us violators of the whole law.
(Vs. 12.) "So speak and so do." Both words and actions should be weighed! Believers are to give attention to what they think, say and do, for the believer is judged by, and responsible to the law of Christ, especially about love (John 13:34,35). Christ is our law, and our profession is weighed by the same.
(Vs. 13.) The man "who has shown no mercy" to the poor and distressed members of Christ, but has for gain shown respect to the powerful, "will receive judgement before God without mercy" (Matt. 25:41-45; Mark 11:25, 26). Merciful men, who have shown mercy in the name of Christ and for the glory of Christ, are not afraid of judgement, but rather rejoice in view of it, knowing that in Christ there is no judgement. They know what manner of men they are by God"s grace.
(Vs. 14.) What is the use for any person to say that he has faith in Christ if he has no good works (no labour of love) to show for it? Can this kind of faith save? Certainly not! True faith is not historical faith, nor faith that lies only in words. True faith that saves is an operative grace that works by love and kindness both to Christ and others (2 Cor. 5:17; 1 John 2:4).
(Vs. 15, I6.) "Suppose a brother or sister is without proper clothing and has nothing to eat, and you say to him, "Goodbye! Keep yourself warm and well-fed," yet you do not give him any clothes or food. What good have you done him? Will your words warm him? Will your words feed him?" Of course not! A man is foolish to think that words alone can profit a man in these circumstances. In the same way, foolish is the man who thinks that his words of religion will take the place of works of faith!
(Vs. 17.) Faith that has no works is a dead, useless, false faith! Works without faith are dead works. Faith without works is dead faith! Good works are second acts, necessarily flowing from the life of faith. By these works there is clear evidence that faith is living and active! Those who perform them in the name of Christ are true and living believers. Works are not infallible proof of genuine faith, but the absence of works is certain proof of the absence of faith!
(Vs. 18.) A true believer in Christ may very justly call upon a person who professes religion but who has no works of faith (no labour of love, no life of dedication) to prove what he professes. "You say that you have faith. I am saying nothing about having faith, but it is evident to you, and to all, that I do have works (I believe Christ, I worship him, I support his gospel, I help his people, I show mercy to the needy and compassion to the weak). Now, you prove to me that you believe and love Christ; give me some evidence that you are a child of God. Faith is an inward principle in the heart, a hidden thing which can only be known and seen by external works and results. The faith of Christ, which is real, needs not words of confirmation, but is confirmed and evidenced by good work.