I pray for forgiveness for my late entry to this conversation but I have only just found this.
I want to first mention that for a long time I struggled with understanding this very verse until I discovered the following article, please note that I AM NOT THE AUTHOR, I am merely posting it as it answer this as clearly as I have ever heard.
BREAKING ONE MEANS BREAKING TEN !
by Edwin W. Webster.
"Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he
is guilty of all." James 2:10.
"Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments,
and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of
heaven." Matthew 5:19.
In the neighborhood where I once lived, there was an infidel whose chief delight
it was to invite ministers to his home and then confuse them with his infidel arguments.
He boasted that he always silenced them and sent them away worsted. He had tainted
nearly all the young men of the community with his infidelity, and was generally dreaded
by the church people.
In due time, his invitation came to me to take dinner with him on a certain day.
After prayerful consideration, I accepted it. During the meal, we chatted upon the usual
topics of conversation, such as the weather, crop prospects, matters of social interest, and
one or two political questions. Religious themes were studiously avoided, until the
atmosphere became as tense as the calm before the storm. As we arose from the table and
took the easy-chairs in the sitting room, the storm suddenly broke.
The Law Declared a Schoolboy's Composition.
"I want to ask you a question," came from the infidel, whom we shall call Mr.
Jones. "Where did Moses get that law, the Ten Commandments? I would be ashamed to
write such a law. If I had a schoolboy coming to me who could not write a better law, I
would send him home."
I was somewhat startled by his direct and unusual attack, but replied: "Is that so?
Did you ever study that law very carefully?"
"I should say I have, until I am convinced that it is nothing but a childish effort to
intimidate an ignorant people and dupe them into submission to a selfish, tyrannical,
ambitious leader. I think it beneath the dignity of the one you call God to give such stuff
to mankind, and to pretend to come down and write it with His finger on a stone."
"Yes? Would you mind studying it with me for a little while to-day?"
"Well I can, to please you; but it will not do any good. What can you get out of a
document so primitive and brief and simple and childish as that?"
"To begin with," I replied, "inspiration says that this law is so spiritual -- so
spiritual that it discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart; and so comprehensive, yet
so closely related, is each commandment to every other one, so interlocked is each one
with every other one, that if we offend in one point, we are guilty of all. I read: 'The law
is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.' 'The law is spiritual.' Romans
7:12, 14. 'The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged
sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and
marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.' Hebrews 4:12.
1'Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of
all.' James 2:10. If I understood it aright, no human mind could conceive of such a code,
or write one that would so thoroughly reach, every part of it, into the very citadel of
human thought as well as action.
"Let us, for example, start with the fourth commandment, and see with what
infinite accuracy and wisdom this law is constructed."
"The fourth commandment reads: 'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the
Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy
manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested
the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.' Exodus
The Eighth Commandment Broken.
"If a person works on the seventh day of the week, he has broken the fourth
commandment outright, has he not?"
"I suppose he has, if you believe the Bible," Jones replied.
"But the commandment says, 'The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy
God.' It is His; it is not ours, or any man's. Now, when a person takes for himself what
belongs to another, what is he doing?"
With some show of surprise, he said, "We call that stealing."
"Yes, sir. Then has he not, in breaking the fourth, broken the eighth also?"
"I guess that is the one you mean," he answered.
"But," I continued, "before he steals, he always has an intense and illegitimate
desire for the thing he steals, and in such desire, what commandment has he broken?"
"It may be that you would call it coveting."
"Yes. Then he has broken the tenth commandment also; three of them broken in
transgressing 'just one.' "
His eyes opened wider; he moved uneasily in his chair.
"When a man puts himself so entirely first, so fully before God, as to covet what
is His and to steal from Him, what other commandment does he break?"
"Do you mean the first one?"
"Yes, 'Thou shalt have no other God's before Me.' "
"But man is not a god; why do you suggest so absurd a thing?" Jones retorted.
"Well, he has put himself first; he has considered his own interests more to him
than his relations to his Maker. Not only can a man become a god to himself, but I read of
some who think so much of their appetites that it is said of them, 'Whose God is their
belly' (Philippians 3:19); just as we say of others, Their god is the dollar.
2Making an Idol of Himself
"There is another commandment so closely related to this, that I must ask right
here, If a man thinks so much of himself and his own desires as thus to place himself
before God, does he not make an idol of himself? And in that case, what other
commandment does he break? What commandment forbids idolatry?"
"I don't know, unless you mean the second, the one against making images. But I
do not see how he has broken that one; he has not made a graven image of anything."
"It is true that he has not made a literal, tangible image; but all image worship is
nothing more or less than a certain conception of the worshiper's own mind and heart
embodied in a visible image and worshiped -- really worshiping himself, or making a god
or an idol of himself. What difference does it make whether one worships one's self in a
stone image or in one's own person? It is idolatry just the same.
Two more commandments broken in breaking the Sabbath commandment -- five
already!" The man moved about with ill-concealed agitation; his eyes opened wider; he
scratched his head.
"But this is not all. God's name is in the fourth commandment. It tells us that He
is Maker of heaven and earth, the great Creator. That distinguishes Him from all other
gods. It is the only place in the Decalogue where He has affixed His name to the
wonderful document -- just at the close of the first table of the law, those commandments
which tell of our relations and obligations to Him. Now, when we treat His precepts in
such a reckless, vain way, are we not using His name in vain? And what does the third
"Oh, well, that commandment pretends, or tries, to prohibit swearing; but what
you say is not swearing, or profanity -- if there is such a thing."
"But this commandment forbids more than outspoken oaths. Any vain use of
God's name - whatever would tend to break down our own or another's sense of reverence
for God and cause us to forget Him and His word -- is also forbidden.
"And that is not all. Many persons say, 'It makes no difference which day you
keep, just so you keep it holy.' But God says, in the commandment where His name is
signed, that the seventh day is His Sabbath; in it we are not to do any work. Then, is it
true that it makes no difference which day you keep? Is it not a vain use of that
commandment, and of God's name in it, to take such a position -- really a violation of the
He looked rather chagrined, and made an effort to speak, but failed. "Again, if the
individual has not told the truth about it, what other commandment has he transgressed
If We Sin Against Man, We Sin Against God.
"I see what you mean; but that commandment says, "Thou shalt not bear false
witness against thy neighbor.' What has that to do with the being you call God?"
"It is true that that is the letter of the law; but you must remember that we read
that God's law is spiritual. To lie is to lie, whether to one or to another; and it is far worse
to lie to God than to man."
3Now, in regard to this saying that it makes no difference which day one keeps, I
want to suggest one or two more thoughts on that point:
If we want to keep God's rest day, we must rest on the same day He did; and He
rested on the seventh day of the week only. His resting and blessing made that day the
Sabbath; for 'Sabbath' you know, means rest. Man's rest counts for nothing in making a
day holy. If all the people on earth should rest on another day, that would not make that
other day God's rest day. Man's rest day could never be God's rest day unless he should
rest on the same day that God rested on at creation.
"In Genesis 2: 3, I read, 'God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because
that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made.' He put His
presence into that day in a separate sense from that in which it is in other days, just as that
sacred presence is in some individuals and not in others. His presence in the burning bush
made the ground about it holy, as it did also the place where the Captain of the Lord's
host met with Joshua. (Exodus 3:5; Joshua 5: 13-15.)
Although we may not outwardly discern any difference between the seventh and
the first day of the week, the fact that God's presence is in the seventh day makes all the
difference in the world. His presence may and should be with us and in every day of the
week; but quite aside and separate from this is it in His holy day. And when that sacred
presence in the day and in the individual meets, there is in that heart a sense of holiness
and sacredness that is felt and known only by those who know this truth and have this
"I wish that all might see that there was but one day that God blessed and
sanctified, on which He rested, and into which He put His presence, and that therefore it
does make a difference which day we keep, and that it is not the truth to say that it makes
no difference which day we observe.
We Dishonor God by Breaking His Law.
Seeing some signs of excitement on his face, I said quickly: "Let us go another
step. God claims, by virtue of creation and redemption, that He is our Father. In thus
openly dishonoring Him, what other commandment has been broken?"
"You certainly are not so simple as to mean that he has violated the fifth
commandment. That is only for children -- for them to honor and obey their parents. It is
a command, by the way, that is entirely superficial and useless; for what parent does not
know enough to make children mind?"
"Not so fast. God calls us His children; for, as I said, He made us. Especially does
He promise those who will separate from sin and turn to Him for forgiveness and
salvation, 'I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and
daughters.' 2 Corinthians 6:17, 18. And will He allow us to show Him less respect and
honor than we show our earthly parents? If the letter of the law is broken by a child's
disobedience to its earthly parent, is not the spirit of it broken by our disobedience to our
Heavenly Parent? This makes eight commandments broken in transgressing 'only one.' "
With an astonishment he could not conceal, Jones said, "I confess I never heard or
saw such things before."
"We have not finished; there are two other commandments. But I wish first to
refer to three or four other texts. 'The wages of sin is death.' Romans 6:23. 'The soul that
sinneth, it shall die.' Ezekiel 18:4. 'Sin is the transgression of the law.' 1 John 3:4. This
law of ten commandments is the law that points out sin, and without which we could not
tell what sin is. (Romans 7:7.) In this wholesale transgression of God's law, what is the
sinner bringing upon himself?"
"Do you mean that he is taking his own life?"
"I do. Is not his course leading him to certain death -- unless he repents and turns
to God and secures the forgiveness of his sins? Of what commandment is killing, even if
it be self-destruction, a violation?"
"I suppose it must be the sixth, as you Christians call it: 'Thou shalt not kill.' But
you can't get in the seventh commandment on this argument. There is no possible way in
which one can break the commandment forbidding adultery, in breaking the fourth."
"We shall see," I replied with confidence. "There are many figures used in the
Bible by which God illustrates to us the relations existing between Him and us. I read in
Isaiah 54:5: 'Thy Maker is thine Husband; the Lord of hosts is His name; and thy
Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall He be called.' He is
the husband of all whom He has made. Israel backslid from God, uniting with the nations
around her. Of her, God said, 'Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband,
so have ye dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel, saith the Lord; ' also that she
had 'played the harlot,' 'and committed adultery.' Jeremiah 3:20, 8, 9. James 4:4 I read, ye
adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with
God?" This spiritual adultery is forbidden by the seventh commandment just as truly as is
the carnal. As a spiritual law, it detects the sin in the thoughts and in the heart. (Matthew
5:27,28.) Therefore, in transgression of the fourth commandment, the seventh is broken
as well as are the other nine."
I pitied the poor man, for he looked ashamed and confused; but I felt that it was
really necessary to carry my reasoning to its conclusion.'
The Argument in a Nutshell.
"I wish to ask you a few questions now. First, to sum up all in a nutshell, I want to
ask a question on each of the commandments; then on the law as a whole."
"How can a man take God's Sabbath (fourth commandment) for his own selfish
use, ruthlessly breaking it, without stealing also (eighth commandment)? How can he
steal a thing without first coveting it (tenth commandment)? How can he thus put himself
first, even before God, without having another god before the Lord (first commandment)?
And how can he make such an idol of himself without breaking the second
commandment? How can he heedlessly and vainly use the commandment in which God
has placed His name, without taking that name in vain (third commandment)? How can
he show such disrespect to his heavenly Father without breaking the fifth commandment?
Or how can he commit such sins, when God has said that the sure result of sin is death,
without being guilty of knowingly and deliberately taking his own life (sixth
5commandment)? How can a person do all this, and by his actions and his words of
selfjustification, say that his course is alright, and be telling the truth (ninth
commandment)? And last, How can he go so completely away from his spiritual spouse
as to join the sinful world, living with the world as with a beloved, congenial companion,
without being guilty of adultery (seventh commandment), as God said ancient Israel was
in doing the same thing?"
"Can you now think that the fourth commandment is of no consequence, and that
it makes no difference which day we keep? Really, is it not the very heart of the law of
God, the greatest of all the commandments -- if it is possible that one can be greater than
another? Does it not matter if we do keep another day, concerning the observance of
which God has said nothing in His word, when the discarding and disregarding of His
day involves the violation of every commandment in the Decalogue? And does not the
substitution of another day in its place, without His direction so to do, add greatly to the
guilt of the transgressor? How would you like it if some one should steal your fine horse
boldly before your very eyes, and give you instead an old broken-down steed and say it
was just as good?"
The Infidel Convicted
Without realizing what he had done, the infidel had stood, moved his chair
nervously, and had seated himself again where the better light from the window, falling
upon his face, revealed a great surprise, and evidence of a deep conviction.
"Now for some questions on the law as a whole: In all candour sir," I asked, "did
you ever see any other law so brief, yet so comprehensive? While each section, or
commandment, is so distinct and complete in itself, the whole is so entirely one, each so
related to every other, that it is impossible to transgress one without transgressing every
other one in the same act. I would like to ask you. Where did Moses get that law? Can
you tell? Do you think any human mind devised it? Can you write as good a law?"
There followed a few moments of uncomfortable silence, then he said: "I must
admit, sir, that this is the first time I have ever been beaten by a minister. I have no more
to say now; I must take time to think of this more seriously. I admit that your reasoning is
logical; and if the Bible is true at all, I am wrong."
"This is not my wisdom; I do not gloat over 'beating' you," I quickly assured him;
"it is only the little knowledge I have of God's word and His law, aided by His Holy
Spirit, that enables me so to reason. 'The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul:
the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are
right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.' "
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of
anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the
water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them:
for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon
the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And
6shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my
 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the
LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour,
and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it
thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant,
nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in
six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and
rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and
 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the
land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
 Thou shalt not kill.
 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
 Thou shalt not steal.
 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbours house, thou shalt not covet thy
neighbours wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his
ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbours