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)
Apparently some believe that since Christians are under the “law of liberty” they are at liberty to adapt the law of liberty to current cultural norms and expectations. We are told that what worked in the first century to draw people to Christ for salvation is antiquated in the twenty-first century. Such a relativistic view of truth is ready made for this present age, but it is not the nature of the abiding truth of Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:35; John 17:17; 2 Peter 1:3-4). Others say the law of liberty frees us from the regulatory demands of law-keeping (as if the commands of God are burdensome, 1 John 5:3). Yet, James is very clear in saying there is a “law” that one must continue in as a “doer of the work” in order to be blessed. If today’s verse does not say we must keep God’s law, then I must confess ignorance as to what it means! Later, James made it clear that Christians will be judged by the law of liberty: “So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty” (James 2:12). Beware if you use the law of liberty as a license to change and discard the commands of Christ. To do so is to rob yourself of eternal blessings. The law of liberty frees us from sin, not from the restrains of following the law of Christ.
“gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:23, NKJV)
Law defines sin and identifies the sinner: “for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 7:20). It is through the commandment that sin is shown to be sin (Romans 7:13). For example, God law identifies the works of the flesh and the condemnation of those who “practice such things” (Galatians 5:19-21). By contrast, there is no censure against the fruit of the Spirit. Indeed, “we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully” (1 Timothy 1:9). Our text does not mean that Christians are immune from law, but that we live under the restraints and blessings of God’s law. That is, we choose not to practice sin, but to bear the fruit of the Spirit. Commit yourself to bearing the fruit of the Spirit, by walking according to the Spirit-revealed law of faith, the gospel of Jesus Christ (Galatians 5:16-18; Romans 3:27).
Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law. (Psalm 119:18, NKJV)
The law of God is full of extraordinary things. There we find things too difficult for man, yet fully accomplished by our God. We marvel at the fulfilled prophecies it contains, where God has declared the end from the beginning, bringing about His purposes (Isaiah 42:9; 46:10). We are humbled as we see God’s great love and amazing plan to save us from our sins through the sacrifice His Son for us (1 John 4:9-10; Philippians 2:5-8). Gazing into the law of God, we learn of faith, of devotion and sacrifice, of God’s mercy, and justice. Therein we perceive God’s perfect standard of truth, and its power to convert the soul (Psalm 19:7; Hebrews 4:12). Take time each day to look into God’s law. Allow the Lord to open your eyes to His glory, power and blessings. Read the Bible and see it for what it is; the word of God that can save you, guide you through life to the shores of eternity and the everlasting home of the saved (Psalm 119:41, 105; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 4:7-8).
8 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust. (1 Timothy 1:8–11, NKJV)
Why is there such resistance to law? The apostle drives to the heart of the matter: People’s sin is exposed by law. Law unmasks our sin. That is its job. The law (command) of God is “holy, just and good” (Rom. 7:12). God’s law is not at fault when we sin against it. We will never be saved by law-keeping, because “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23). This is why we are not justified by works (of law). We are justified “freely by His grace through the redemption that we have in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). Do not make the mistake of thinking this nullifies being under law. “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (Rom. 3:31). Law does its work by shining a light on sin. Sinners are called by the gospel to come to Christ to be saved. If you do not like God’s law, is may be that you prefer sin. We urge you to repent of such thinking and living, for it leads to eternal death. The “sound doctrine” of the “glorious gospel” of Christ will save you (Acts 2:37-41).
The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. (Luke 16:16, NKJV)
A dramatic shift occurred when John, the forerunner of Messiah, came on the scene. “John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Mk. 1:4). John proclaimed the good news of an approaching kingdom, and souls began pressing into it as they listened, learned, and “were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins” (Mk. 1:5). When Jesus began His work on earth, He preached the gospel of the kingdom of God, saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk. 1:14-15). Jesus looked beyond the Law of Moses to the redemptive gospel of God. It is incredible to witness deceived preachers deceiving Christians into thinking that Jesus came teaching the law of Moses to the Jewish people. In today’s passage, Jesus affirms that He was not teaching Moses; He was teaching people to believe in the kingdom of God that He and His gospel brought and opened up to the whole world (Matt. 16:19, 28). Any doctrine that demands viewing Jesus as a rabbi who taught the Law of Moses instead of the gospel of the Messiah’s kingdom is false, and must be refused as the error it is.
11 The Lord knows the thoughts of man, that they are futile. 12 Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law, 13 That You may give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit is dug for the wicked. (Psalm 94:11–13, NKJV)
To be taught by the Lord is far better than any human-conceived source of instruction. Human thoughts and teaching cannot save our souls nor equip us for the inevitable challenges to a life of faith. The “traditions of men, according to the basic principles of the world” are “not according to Christ,” and therefore, futile to save us and sustain our souls (Col. 2:8). The psalmist understood this, and praised the virtue of being taught out of God’s law instead of man’s mind. “Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; On you I wait all the day” (Psa. 25:4-5). The teaching God gives from His truth shields us in the day of trouble. It assures us of His righteous relief against the immoral. Spend time with God’s word. Let Him teach you. God’s blessing is waiting for you there (see Jno. 6:44-45) .
1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? (Galatians 3:1–2, NKJV)
Christ expects Christians to obey the truth. Our obedience is not meritorious; we do not earn the right to be saved in heaven through our obedience. Obedience is the natural and completing action of belief; without obedience, faith is incomplete and powerless to save (Jas. 2:17-26). Obedience to Christ is the reasonable response of observing the crucified Christ, who has been put on full display by the gospel. Like a billboard on the roadside, the gospel announces the crucifixion of Jesus Christ to the world as the means of our salvation (something the works of the law of Moses could not do). The “hearing of faith” describes the gospel, “the faith” preached by the apostles (Gal. 1:11, 23). The faith (gospel) produces personal faith, and personal faith is made complete by obeying the truth (Rom. 1:17; Heb. 5:8-9). Are you obeying the truth in faith, or are you relying on something less than the gospel and complete faith to save your soul? Live each day by faith in obedience to the truth of Jesus.