The perfect law the law of liberty…::James 1.25a
I am struck by this phrase in the midst of the divine assault through James upon the pretentious religion of hypocrites. The law spoken of here is not the Mosaic Law for this law enslaved and was imperfect. Instead we have the life giving and transforming word of God as applied through the Holy Spirit and embodied in the person of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures were all pointing forward to their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus and the imperfect Mosaic law was no different.
While personal bondage to sin prevented all from the perfect fulfillment of the Mosaic Law we have here the law of liberty that is given through Christ to those who have been redeemed from such bondage.
In the full revelation of the Incarnate Word Jesus Christ through the Scriptures we have the perfect law and there is liberty.
Why is there liberty? Well because there is no bondage!! There is freedom. As Christians we have been sovereignly pulled out of the sewer of our own sin, even being washed and regenerated in the cleansing water of the Word, only to be given a new heart and affections to pursue the glory and pleasure of God rather than self. This is a great miracle of regeneration. God has given us new lives that we might walk in the law of liberty.
I like what Bible commentator D. Edmond Hiebert said about this text:
“The believer is not free from the obligation to do God’s will as revealed in His Word, but love works in him the desire to do his Father’s will. Men are free when they want to do what they ought to do. This is the ‘splendid paradox’ produced by a living faith in the gospel through the indwelling Holy Spirit” (Hebert, James), p. 122.
So the gut check for me here is the inspection of what beat I am in reality marching to. On the one hand I want to obey rules and do religious stuff…why? Perhaps I do them to assuage a guilty conscience, or to promote personal piety, or whatever. But here in this text we are encouraged to stoop and stare at the perfect law the law of liberty and find ourselves filled with the love of Jesus through the recognition of his persona and work. For it is in the realization and subsequent gospel marveling that we are put in our place and Jesus in his. We have no right (or means!!) to assuage a conscience or promote personal piety apart from Jesus.
It is only in Jesus that we are given freedom to walk and live in his love and enjoy our freedom. How perfect is this law? It takes those in bondage and gives them liberty…and that is not all, we get to walk in it. It is here that the joy and blessing comes (v.25).