For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.
James mentions two laws in chapter 2, a law that condemns and a law that brings freedom. One tells what and what not to do. One tells how to live. To be condemned by one set of laws, one must only break one of them.
Let's look for a moment at the two illustrations of the Mosaic law that James gives. You may be saying to yourself, "I've never committed adultery or murder. Why use those?" Let's take a look at Scripture and will eliminate that notion quickly.
Jesus put the issue of adultery to rest quickly when he told the hearers in the Sermon on the Mount, "You have heard it said, 'You shall not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:27-28) I would venture to say that most of us have broken that law of God.
But murder? No way! "Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. (1 John 3:15). Well! Where does that put us in the "I've kept the 10 commandments category?"
Thankfully God gave us the Law. But we do not want to remain under this law. Galatians 3:23-24 tells us, "Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian [ASV 'tutor', KJV 'schoolmaster'] until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith." The purpose of the law was to teach us that we are sinful creatures.
The only means by which we may exemplify the law of liberty in our lives is to know the Great Liberator, the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah prophesied concerning Jesus, "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;"
Then and only then are we able to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, minds, and souls, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.