What comes to mind when you think of the law? Does it conjure up thoughts of perfection, wisdom, and radiance? Or do you imagine lengthy documents, unattainable restrictions, and unreasonable expectations?
In a recent message, Pastor Jerry challenged us to spend time reading and learning from the Word of God, His laws and statutes. Furthermore, he encouraged us to examine the connectedness of God’s truth to our daily living. (Freezing Time, 5/8/2016)
James instructs the early church in a similar way in James 1:25: “Whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do.”
So, I began thinking, why is it so difficult at times to do what Scripture says, to match our knowledge with our obedience, as Pastor Jerry put it. In processing through this, the phrase “that gives freedom” struck me in a new way, specifically in relation to the subject of “the law”. Is it possible that our instinctive perceptions, though perhaps subconscious, may have a negative impact on the way we perceive and respond to God’s law?
In most contexts, freedom and law are not typically words that one would consider synonymous. When I think of law, I think of rules and regulations: limiting and preventive. On the contrary, when I hear the word freedom, I envision wide open fields, arms stretched high, boundless possibilities.
I remember the days (and years!) before I truly acknowledged God as the Lord of my life. I was raised going to church and spent several years in Christian schooling, but it wasn’t until my early 20’s that God’s Spirit took up residence in my heart. Before then, I was very hesitant to relinquish my life to God’s lordship because I equated such with the concurrent surrender of my freedom.
I had been deceived into thinking that doing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted was true living; that to submit to Christ meant submitting to a life of rules, restrictions, and certainly no fun. In hindsight, and as Scripture clearly points out, it was quite the opposite.
Getting drunk is not relaxation and letting loose; it’s bondage – to a substance, to potential lies, to the shame that often times follows. Being promiscuous is not casual and carefree; it’s destructive, humiliating, and robs. Spending money flippantly is not spontaneous and fun; it is irresponsible, greedy, and stress-inducing. Holding a grudge is not just retribution; it is burdensome and consuming. Lying and gossip are not liberating; they are damaging and crushing. Unrestrained eating habits are not true satisfaction; it is gluttony and a lack of self-control. The list could go on.
When we read the Bible, are we responding in obedience? If not, could it be that our insights are tainted? God has given us His law and Word for our good and ultimately for our freedom. Do you believe that? Do I believe that? At one time, my answer would have been no but I have seen the life and joy that comes from following His commands and principles, and the hurt and pain that comes from not. His law is good and right and truly gives freedom.
God has given us His law and Word for our good and ultimately for our freedom.
Psalm 19:7-11 states this beautifully: “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”
I hope and pray that you will experience His freedom today!