The Law of Liberty

Text: James 1:25; 2:12

To many people, law and liberty are conflicting ideas. But James tied them together. Liberty, as it is used in the New Testament, is not a lack of law. Rather, liberty is found as we follow the law of Christ. Let us consider the two times James used the term and see what we can learn about the “law of liberty.”

It is the Word of God

  • The “law of liberty” is not just a principle, though this is how many people seem to view it – common idea that we are “free” to serve God as we see fit; “liberty” to seek/worship in any way
  • The “law of liberty” is more objective than that – it is the word of God (James 1:22-25)
  • Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17) – obey His commandments (John 14:15)
  • Use [your freedom] as bondslaves of God” (1 Peter 2:16) – do good works as they are defined in His word (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

It is Perfect

  • We often use the word “perfect” in the sense of being without defect – this is true of God’s word (Proverbs 30:5)
  • It is also “perfect” in the sense that it is complete – we do not need to go to any other source to find truth (Psalm 119:160); nowhere else to go to find word of life but through Jesus and His word (John 6:68; 1:1,14)
  • Today, the word has been fully revealed (Jude 3) – miraculous gifts of the first century are no longer necessary (1 Corinthians 13:8-10)
  • The “law of liberty” is found in its entirety in the word of God

We Must Abide by It

  • Again, liberty, as it is discussed in the NT, is not unfettered freedom to do what we want to do – we must abide by it (James 1:25); be “doers of the word” (James 1:22)
  • How can we do this? … look intently at the law – be diligent in study (2 Timothy 2:15); once we know the law, be careful in practicing it (Titus 3:8); be “an effectual doer” (James 1:25)
  • Abiding by the law leads to blessings – “this man will be blessed in what he does” (cf. Psalm 1:1-3; Revelation 2:10)

We Will Be Judged by It

  • The “law of liberty” is our standard of judgment (James 2:12) – objective standard; God’s word (John 12:48)
  • Speak accordingly – teach truth (1 Peter 4:11); speak truth and words of encouragement (Ephesians 4:25, 29)
  • Act accordingly – our deeds will be judged (2 Corinthians 5:10); always do good (Titus 3:14)
  • Do not try to justify sin – “liberty” does not mean we are free to sin (1 Peter 2:16)
  • Even one sin will cause us to be guilty before God (James 2:10-11) – our goal is Christ (1 Peter 2:21-22)

It Requires Us to Show Mercy to Others

  • We will be judged by the “law of liberty” – therefore, we must show mercy to others (James 2:13)
  • This is not a tolerance of sin – wisdom from above is first pure (James 3:17; cf. Ephesians 5:11)
  • But we are to show mercy to others as God has shown mercy to us (Matthew 5:7; 6:12, 14-15)

Conclusion

  • We have liberty in Christ (2 Corinthians 3:17) – He has made us free from sin (Romans 6:18), free from any obligation to follow the commands of men (Colossians 2:20-22), and free from the need to obey civil laws that contradict God’s law (Acts 5:29)
  • But we must follow His word in order to be saved (James 1:25,22; 2:24; Hebrews 5:9)

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