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The Sin Of Partiality


"My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?"
Good Morning my beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's day! We're so glad to have our brothers and sisters from around the world here with us today. Please know, that we continue to lift all of you up in our prayers. We would  ask that you would do the same for us. We would also appreciate if you would share our website with all of your family and friends. 
God does not care what family we come from, how much money we have or what we have accomplished. Prejudice affects all of our lives at some point. Sometimes, we are victims of it, other times, we may be the one responsible for dishing it out toward others.
As the branch that abides in the living vine produces fruit, by the power of the vine, so those who truly are in Christ will see an ever increasing harvest of Christlike character and conduct and Christ centered works developed in their lives. When we think of the attributes of God, when we think of His characteristics, the elements of His nature, what makes up His person, we think of holiness, of justice, and we think of wisdom and omnipotence and omniscience and omnipresence.
Yet one of the attribute of God that we seem not to talk about very often, which is often spoken of in Scripture is God’s impartiality. God is totally and completely impartial in dealing with people. Unlike God, we tend to put people into categories; the clothes they wear, the car they drive, or the house they live in. Sometimes it has to do with their social status, their personality or even their race. To God, these are of no significance at all. A person’s education, a person’s looks, a person’s fame or social relationships, mean nothing to Him. In fact, all of those, both collectively and individually mean absolutely nothing to God.
II Chronicle 2:19:7 says "Now then let the fear of the Lord be upon you; be very careful what you do, for the Lord our God will have no part in unrighteousness or partiality or the taking of a bribe." 
Scripture speaks of God’s characteristic of impartiality. As Christians, we can become so accustomed to the brokenness in the world around us that we no longer even notice it. It becomes almost background. However, those who have been justified by grace alone through faith alone are called to notice, to pay attention and more importantly, to do something about it.
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father,
Father, we as always are so thankful and grateful for Your Word. Lord, we come to You today, many things on our hearts. Help us, that we would commit the sin of partiality, Help us as Your church to be like minded one toward another and to receive one another with open arms, to love everyone the same. We know that holy obedience to You begins with love. Lord, help us to be more like you, impartial, no respecter of persons. May we not prefer anyone over another, for superficial reasons. Give us a heart like Christ, that loves all people equally. May it all be for Your glory and for Christ's sake.
In Christ's name we ask and pray.
Today's Message:  The Sin Of Partiality

Before we begin, I want to say there is no place for partiality in Christ's church. When we accept people, we accept them unconditionally. The fellowship within the body of Christ can never be based on the color of ones skin, the size of their bank account, their gender, their status, how old they are, how tall they are, how good-looking they are. If we want to be like Jesus, we must learn to look past the external, in other words, we have to see as God sees. We are to receive others, just as our Lord Jesus Christ received us. Not respecting one person over another. Anything short of that is a violation of the principals of God.
The Apostle Paul says in Galatians 3:28, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."  
The barriers were broken down, leveled at the foot of the cross; therefore, the church is a class-free zone. God is impartial. In the matter of judgement, a man will be judged purely on the condition of his soul. In regard to salvation, there is no respect of persons, a man will be accepted purely on the basis of his soul. If one has professed to have been justified by faith alone; they need to be the reminded that the faith that justifies also sanctifies. And, if the latter does not occur, then the former has notoccurred. Just because someone is an elder in the church, that doesn’t give you any particular privilege to sin.
Someone once said "Faith is like calories, though you can’t see them, you can always see their results!"
This message is not for the purpose of seeking to attach artificial fruit to a lifeless branch. Nor is it about forcing fruit through guilt. Rather, it is about nourishing the roots of the righteous, in order that more fruit will abound. It is also about helping those who are rootless vines, to see that they are fruitless so that they will run to Christ alone they be able to bring forth fruit in accordance with repentance. Seeking forgiveness, that they would come to a right standing with Almighty God.
In the matter our salvation, this can be described as the work God does for us. Then, there is the matter of sanctification, which is the work God does in us. And, there is the matter of our service, which is the work God does through us.
If you’re a believer, a follower of Jesus Christ and you’re calling upon the impartial God, then your conduct, your life gives Him proper worship. You will therefore, be judged by God on the condition of your heart and on that manner that alone, regardless of what you have or who you are. God is not partial when it comes to disciplining sin; God is not partial when it comes to chastening His children. He looks only at the sin and at the soul, He holds nothing back because you’re wealthy or in poverty. God evaluates your worth and my worth and the worth of everyone, in fact, purely on the basis of the inner person, our heart.
Leviticus 19 says "You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly." In other words, be just and fair, take no thought for whether a person is poor or wealthy. 
And, in Deuteronomy 16:19, it says "You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous."
Proverbs 24:23, "These also are sayings of the wise. To show partiality in judgment is not good."
God does not respect persons, nor are we His children to have respect of persons. That is the point.
Open with me your Bibles to the book of James chapter 2. As we have previously discussed, James wants you to examine yourself. And so, he has been giving us a series of tests for you to determine whether your faith is real. The first test, if you will remember, was how you respond to trials. The second test was how you respond to temptation. The third test was how you react to the Word of God. All of these tests are to determine whether or not your faith is real, the genuineness of your faith. Today, in our text, we come to the fourth test. Are you partial? What is your reaction to the poor? James powerfully reminds us that in the eyes of God and His church the rich have no inherent advantage over the poor.
Allow me just to add something here, every test, every trial, every temptation, everything you learn from the Word of God is a test. I John 3:16-17 says it this way, "We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?"
I invite you to follow along with as I read that you might have it well in mind, as we prepare our hearts for what the Holy Spirit is saying to us. James 2:1-4

"My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, "You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, "You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool," have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?"
How we treat people is a test. Because there is no favoritism in the heart of God, there is no place for favoritism in the heart of His people. That said, then there is certainly no place for favoritism in the church. In chapter 2, James divides it up for us into five thoughts. In verse 1, he speaks about the principal, then the example, then he speak of the inconsistency, then the violation, and finally he ends up in verses 12 and 13 with an appeal. So the five thoughts are the principle, the example, the inconsistency, the violation, and the appeal.
Let's begin with verse 1, the principal. " My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism." That's the principal. To professes to have faith of Jesus Christ and having respect for persons at the same time, is contradictory. In order to understand the principal, let's look at the background. If you know anything about the New Testament, then you know that the greatest number of converts to the faith of Jesus Christ were among the poor. In fact, Celsius wrote his diatribe against Christianity, which was based upon the fact that Christians were such common insignificant poor people. That was the whole of his attack on Christianity, is that they were poor. He portrayed them as uncultured, as ignorant common people.This really wasn't any different than what the disciples heard in Jerusalem, while proclaiming truth and preaching with great power, and they said mocking them, "Aren’t they uneducated Galileans?"
In fact, Acts chapter 2 says when the church in Jerusalem was born on the day of Pentecost, so many of those people were poor that were selling their possessions, getting the money, and distributing it to the poor. And, we see the same thing occur in chapter 4, when people in the church were selling their goods and belongings and possessions to get money to support the poor. If you will remember, the first big hassle in the church came in Acts chapter 6, over the whole matter of trying to supply food to poor widows. The people were poor, the church was poor.
In I Corinthians 1:26-29, the Apostle Paul defines the church when he says "For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God." There were not many wise, not many mighty, not many noble. They were common. The majority of people in the church have always been the poor, common people.
Verses 2-3 "For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, "You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool."
However, even in the early church, this was not always the case, remember Joseph Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, provided some supplies for the burial of Christ as well as a garden tomb, indicating that he was obviously a wealthy man. So James is saying that the measurement of our profession of faith is not merely how we respond to our trials but also how we respond to others in their trials.
I must say, that I have noticed, that in the midst of trials, many Christians reveal that they have never really been trusting in the lord Jesus Christ. In their lack of Christian behavior, their social behavior,  show that they do not know the Lord Jesus Christ. This is especially true when put to the test as to how they engage with those who are facing adversity; and with those who are vulnerable in the midst of a broken and fallen world. Here, James is emphasizing the fact that the true believer’s worship is merciful.
It's important to note that James is pointing out how unlike God this behavior is, and that’s what he does with this principle.Notice that he uses this particular introduction frequently, "My brethren." Quite often, he uses it to introduce a new and forceful exhortation. In other words, he’s got some strong things to say, as in chapter 1 verses 2-3, when he launches off into trials and temptation "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
And again in verses 16-17 "Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." So it appears to be a breaking point as he's about to introduce a forceful and important exhortation. Though occasionally, he uses it just for its own sake.
The underlying substructure throughout the epistle of James on which principles of Christian living are built is a substructure of soteriology, the doctrine of salvation or salvation. Everything is measured against our salvation. In other words, if we are saved, if we are God's children, we had ought to act the way that God acts. And since God is impartial and we too, should be impartial.
Notice how he rather strongly drives the point home, "My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism." He is really emphasizing this by giving that little phrase "glorious Lord." Glory was Shekinah. The glory was in the garden. The glory was in Christ. In other words, "You cannot hold the faith of Jesus Christ who is the glory of God and violate the nature of God with your partiality." Jesus is the glory of God in human form. He bore our sin, He took our curse. Jesus truly revealed the nature of God without partiality. He did not esteem anyone different than anyone else, that's the point.
It was no consequence to Jesus whether a woman was a virtuous woman or a harlot in terms of the worth of the soul. It was no consequence to Him whether a man was a high priest or a beggar. Jesus, came as God in flesh, glory veiled in flesh. Therefore, He would demonstrate the same attribute of impartiality as God. Yet, many churches today, have an economic strata, a racial strata, a social strata.
Beloved, this is not some small issue, this is a transgression of God's Law. This is sin!

Verse 2, James gives us a hypothetical situation with a third-class conditional, meaning it could happen, its possible. "For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes." The word "For" is leading us to the illustration, it justifies the principal in verse 1. The word assembly means synagogue. Literally the Greek says, "For if there come into your synagogue, a gold-fingered man in shining bright apparel, and there come in also a poor man in shabby clothes." You have to realize that these are Jewish believers. Their whole heritage understands the assembling of God’s people together as a synagogue. Rings were customary among Jews, however, not necessarily gold rings because of their expense. 

As a footnote, before the Second World War men didn't wear wedding rings. Soldiers who fought far away from home and family began wearing them as a comforting reminder that their beloved wives were home waiting for them.
The most pretentious people in the ancient world, however, would wear rings on every finger, except the middle finger to show off their economic status. In fact, there were ring rental businesses where they would even go and rent rings. Not only is this guy wearing a fortune of his fingers, he comes in and he has fine apparel. The word James uses is lampra. It means bright shining, or loud colors. 
In fact, it is the same term used of the gorgeous apparel that Herod Antipas wore and which the soldiers put on Jesus to mock Him.
Anyway, the guy comes in wearing flashy clothes, rings on his fingers, and that's not problem.  The guy is an unbeliever, he needs to hear the gospel. No big deal. You don't stop him at the door, you welcome him in. Then, this other man comes in, this is a poor man in, and this is a really poor man, the word is ptōchos, he's one who cowers, he's a beggar. He smells, he's wearing the only clothes that he has, he eats in it, sleeps it, he's at the lowest level of the social strata. You don't tell him to go home and change, take a shower, that's not the issue here.
The issue is in verse 3, "and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, "You sit here in a good place," You're all looking at this guy, dressed to the 9's and you say this is the kind of guy we need.  And you say, "Sit here, this is a good place, its a comfortable, prominent place of honor. And, there’s really nothing wrong with giving him a good seat.  It's no sin to give the wealthy man a good seat. Again, that's not the issue here.
Now, the other guy comes in and you say "You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool," The word used here is hupo, it means beside, you can't really sit under a footstool, right. The issue is, you're saying I really don't care where you sit. So you say you have a choice, fella, stand or sit, or whatever just do it. That’s the sin. That's where the sin comes into play.
Verse 4 "Have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?
You’re guilty of favoritism. You’re guilty of evil discrimination. And that behavior is not God like! It is serious sin because you have "become judges with evil motives!"  That’s anti-Christian behavior and it has no place in the people of God. It’s not sinful to have much if God has prospered you. And may God help you to help those who have little. But God shows no discrimination in regard to those things and as His people, neither should we.

In Closing..

The body of Jesus Christ is made up of all kinds of people. Some common and a few not so common. However, we are to treat than all the same, we are to love them all the same. Showing no favoritism or partiality. Instead of viewing the vulnerable, the needy as an obstacle to our own pursuit of comfort or as a burden to society, rather we learn to see them as opportunities for us to glorify God by ministering to those made in His image. 
As Christ's followers, we can learn to love more, even if the more we love the less we are loved. People are to be valued for who made them rather than by who made their clothes, their cars, or by what area of town they live in. We must learn to understand, that apart from the grace of God, we too are an outcast.
I believe that the more deeply we reflect upon this principal, the more likely it is that we will stop measuring people by the superficial standards of the broken and godless world. As Christians, we must be willing to seek the welfare of others, and not the wealth of others!
May it be so.. 

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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