The Perfect Law of Liberty
“But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” – Jas 1:25
The law of liberty is a theme we see throughout the New Testament. Yet, this concept has caused no little confusion on the part of many an eager bible student. Let’s consider what this law of liberty actually is:
1) To understand the “liberty” aspect, it’s important to understand the concept of sin and slavery. Every time we give into sin, we make ourselves a slave to the devil. He’s the one calling the shots. Because of this, we’re captives who merely do whatever feels good to us at the moment. When I was growing up, we used the phrase “he is playing you for a punk” to mean that someone is taking advantage of you. But that is what Satan does when we give into temptation. He plays and enslaves us. Jesus calls it slavery pure and simple (John 8:34).
2) Besides dying for our sins, one of the purposes of Jesus’ death was to love us in such a way that we would be compelled towards righteousness (2 Cor 5:14). When the import of Christ’s sacrifice truly draws us to the Father, we begin to pursue a righteousness that is not of natural or fleshly means, but of holiness and virtue. Let’s not fool ourselves, these types of attitudes and actions go against the grain. We’ll be swimming upstream while others are going with the flow. Living a life of principle is purely based on a free will compelled by the love Christ has shown us.
3) So what does this have to do with us having “liberty”? It means we’re freely choosing righteousness and not the flesh. We’re deciding to do right merely because it is right. It’s a freedom from the captivity of the devil who tries to draw us according to the flesh with a resolve within us to use the free will God has given us to live by the principles of the Spirit. I choose to crucify my flesh. I choose to be a living sacrifice no longer under the yoke of Satan. And because we're choosing, it’s a law of "liberty".
4) So why then is it called the “law” of liberty? 1 John 4:19 tells Christians that we love because Christ first loved us. In other words, we wouldn’t know what true love was unless God had shown us Himself. In the same way, we wouldn’t know true righteousness unless God had given us the commands and patterns: His law. We have the law of Christ to guide us in the very principles every Christ-compelled Christian needs to choose what is right. Let no one fool you; being under the “law of liberty” doesn’t grant freedom to do whatever we want. It provides us the patterns and principles we need to successfully choose righteousness.