James 2:10 - Truth in Love Ministry

Witnessing Scenarios

James 2:10

Our favorite passage to emphasize sin’s seriousness is James 2:10.

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend (NIV – “stumble”) in one point, he is guilty of all.

James 2:10

We encourage you to spend some time on it so your LDS friend or missionaries have to wrestle with it.

(In the following explanation of how we use this passage, you will notice how we repeatedly talks about their feelings. We did this intentionally since Mormons lays so much emphasis on their feelings and often ask people how they feel about a certain teaching. By talking this way, we are, in a sense, speaking their language.)

Begin by exploring with them the word “guilty”. Since the passage talks about the law, it is natural to think of how “guilty” is used in a courtroom setting. Have them imagine being on trial for even a relatively minor offense – one that might result in a couple hundred-dollar fine. Ask them how they might feel in the days before their court date. Even though it is a minor offense they probably will be nervous and anxious. Then discuss how they might feel as the judge’s gavel come crashing down as he pronounces the verdict, “Guilty”. The point you want to make is that, even in regard to minor offenses, guilty verdicts can cause a lot of discomfort.

Then go back to James 2:10 and show how it talks about somebody who is “guilty of all” – somebody who is guilty of breaking every law on the books! We can’t even begin to imagine such a scenario. Even the worse criminals have never been charged with breaking every law. That, however, is who the passage describes. Even though we can’t imagine it, it is easy to see that such a person would have no hope of ever being released. The feeling of hopelessness is what you want to highlight.

The final point to make is that this is what the Bible says is the situation of everybody who is not perfect right now! “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend (NIV – “stumble”) in one point”. One sin puts people into this situation.

You can use two simple illustrations to make the point that even one sin is serious.

  1. Ask how many pinpricks does it take to burst a balloon? Does it matter what size the pin is? Once the balloon bursts, think of the futility of trying to blow it up.
  2. Imagine hanging off a cliff holding on to a chain. How many links need to break in the chain before you are in deep trouble?

Most Mormons will push back and say this passage can’t possibly mean what we say it means. Stick to your guns. Ask them to carefully look at the words of the verse and tell you how you misinterpreted it. Most will struggle even to do that since studying Scripture is not part of Mormon culture. Keep them on task and have them wrestle with this verse. If you get them thinking at all, you have already accomplished quite a bit.

Scenario Summary

A great passage to show how even one unintentional sin makes us totally guilty. Gives a step by step method for explaining this verse.

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