Greetings Summit Family!
James has been encouraging his brothers and sisters scattered throughout the world to continue to grow in their faith. Yesterday, we looked at verses 22 through 25 of chapter one. James encouraged his readers to do more than just read the Word. They were to intently reflect on the Word constantly, and they were to be obedient to it.
As he ended the passage, he referred to the Word as the “perfect law that gives freedom.” When a “law” is established, it becomes a standard that demands compliance. James refers to the Word of God as “law.” In doing so, he is suggesting it was designed for obedience, but there is more to the law than just obedience.
Many believe James’s letter was the first New Testament letter written. So, the “Word” for believers at that time would have been the Old Testament. Against the Old Testament background, “law” also meant “teaching” in addition to “obedience.”
Think about the “teaching” we provide to our children. Our instruction contains rules, the standard we establish within our homes, and commands which we intend to be obeyed. When our children fail to obey the standards instituted, they face disciplinary action. Such failure usually does not result in the offender being granted “freedom.” On the contrary, failure to follow the “law” usually results in the loss of freedom.
James is suggesting the perfect law of God is one that will result in our being “free.” The law of God is perfect because it expresses His nature and therefore, should express our nature as His children, those who have received His instruction. In His Word, God has taken what is true about Himself and established commands for us to follow. When we intently focus on the Word of God and become obedient to it, we begin to live in a way that demonstrates His character in our lives. We were created in the image of God: “So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27) We truly live the HUMAN life when we allow the perfect expression of His divine nature to become the perfect expression of our nature!
When God’s nature becomes the natural expression of our nature, a link between law and liberty is established. Think back to the giving of the law to Moses and the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai. The Lord is speaking to the nation He has just brought out of Egypt where they have been “redeemed” (freed) from bondage. Their redemption came through the blood of the lamb.
The law was given to them, not as a means of salvation, but as a life-style for those He had already “saved.” The law is the way he wants those He has SAVED to live. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” God FREED them! He saved them from their slavery! He then established a standard by which His saved people should live.
Now consider who the law was given to. It was given to those He had delivered from of bondage, not to those He was putting into bondage by imposing His law on them. There were enjoying freedom that had eluded them for 400 years. Since God had just freed them, does it seem reasonable this loving God would put His children right back into bondage because of the law? No! He was sharing with them how to live so that their freedom would be safeguarded. Remember what happened when they abandoned the law God established? They were taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar. They lost their freedom and found themselves in bondage again!
The same situation exists for those who follow Christ today. We have been “freed” from the bondage of sin. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened gain by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) God didn’t free us from the slavery of sin to enslave us by His Word. If we become a “slave to righteousness” it is through our personal commitment to serve Him. It is our decision to serve not His imposition of slavery upon us.
When James references the “law of freedom,” he is stating that true freedom comes when we are free to express what we truly are – God’s children! As we follow His perfect law, we are free to live our lives, modeling the same characteristics of our heavenly Father. We are free to be everything God has called us to be. As we follow the law God gave us, our freedom in Christ becomes our safeguard.
James then states those who follow the perfect law are blessed in all they do. Notice that blessing is not a future reward. It is a blessing we can enjoy now, in this life. We, through the freedom granted us by obeying the perfect law, enjoy the opportunity of having a full life!
Have a great day!