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The Perfect Law of Liberty

“But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25, NKJV).

“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ They answered Him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to

anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be

free indeed’“ (John 8:31-36).

The idea of a law bringing liberty is a foreign concept to many people. When we think of freedom, we think of no restrictions or obstacles on what we want to do. Laws tend to get in the way. They restrict and define certain areas as within and outside of limits. Yet Jesus said the truth (His Word in which we are to abide) will make us free; James spoke of a “perfect law of liberty.” Jesus spoke of true freedom and true bondage.

I think each word in James’ phrase is important. It is the perfect law of liberty. The letters of Galatians and Hebrews make it very clear that the Mosaic law was not perfect; in fact, it was obsolete and fading away. The Mosaic law was fit for its purpose, but it cannot bring life to spiritually dead people. Jesus Christ, working through the perfect law of liberty, can and will.

It is the perfect law of liberty. What is God’s law? It is whatever He says to us. When Jesus

said, “Unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3), He was laying down a law; what else would you call it? When Jesus said, “No man comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6), He was laying down a law; what else would you call it? A guideline?

Jesus, in Matthew 7:23, said He would reject those who “practice lawlessness.” In 1 John

3:4, we are instructed that sin is lawlessness. In Matthew 13:41, Jesus said He would send

out His angels and weed out of His kingdom those who practice lawlessness. Being lawless

does not sound like freedom to me.

In Romans, we read of the law of the Spirit of life (8:2) and the law of faith (3:27). In 2 Corinthians 9:21, we read that Paul was under the law towards Christ. In Galatians 6:2, we

are told to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Yes, “The gospel is a law; let none be alarmed” (Bible Illustrator). Lawlessness brings only condemnation and death.

Then, finally, it is the perfect law of liberty—of freedom. From the passage referenced earlier in John 8, we can see that the Jews to whom Jesus spoke that day did not understand the idea ofspiritual bondage. To be caught in sin, under its control, subject to its rule, and obeying its demands... is real bondage. Ask the person hooked on pornography if it is bondage. Ask the person whose idol and ideal is money if it is bondage. Ask the prodigal son. In the beginning, each thought they were free, but they soon found sin is a bitter taskmaster. So have I.

To be in the kingdom of God means our wills are submitted to His, we are under His control, trusting in His goodness, grace, purpose, and will...this brings true freedom: from sin and its control, from being ruled by our own desires, from anxiety over the future, from fear of death, and so much more.

If you read 2 Peter 2:12-22, you will find one of the New Testament’s harshest condemnations of false teachers. Second only to Matthew 23 in my mind. In verse 19, the Spirit says, “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for

by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.”

May God bless us with the wisdom to know true freedom and true bondage; may He give

us a love for His perfect law of liberty.

—John Ostic

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