The concept of freedom seems contradictory to the idea of law. But the two are intrinsically linked so you cannot have true freedom without God’s Law. And to attest to that fact I have a quote from an ancient man of God and a phrase from the Bible which you need to be aware of.
Remember the Galley Slave
In my previous posts about the Galley Slave Analogy I created a fictitious analogy to illustrate how everyone is in fact a slave, but one form of slavery provides freedom, while the other consumes us.
What I am sharing here is another aspect of the same principle, but this time I am being more Biblical in my reference point. Instead of a fictitious illustration that represents a truth, I want you to see what God has said in Holy Writ.
God’s Law Frees People While Man’s Law Enslaves
We think of law as most often applied to deal with the guilty. Laws are put in place to define prescribed behaviour and to provide punishment for those who do not comply with the legal requirement.
Man’s law, then, ascribes guilt and prescribes punishment. Man’s law enslaves. It enslaves because it imposes restrictions. It also enslaves because it imposes punishment, which may well be imprisonment or loss of liberty.
God’s law, on the other hand, actually sets people free. So God’s law must be looked at with fresh eyes. Do not try to understand God’s law by seeing it as just another form of man’s law. There is something supernatural and dynamic about God’s law when it is applied in our lives.
God’s Law is so amazing that simply meditating on it causes a person to be successful in their endeavours. That’s what God told Joshua and it proved to be true in his life as a national leader and military commander.
When Joshua took over leadership of the nation of Israel, after Moses’ death, God promised him that meditating on God’s Law would bring him success that was good.
“This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; but you shall meditate therein day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua 1:8
God’s Law has another amazing power. It rebuilds a person’s life, including their internal, unseen dimensions. King David had much to say about the important qualities of the “Law of the Lord“. The longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119, makes frequent reference to God’s Law.
In Psalm 19 David declares that God’s Law actually “restores our soul”. It has the effect of putting people back together again.
“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” Psalm 19:7
John Wycliffe and God’s Law
John Wycliffe is regarded as the earliest reformer. In the late 1300’s he gave the English their first Bibles, in their own tongue. He also challenged the unqualified authority of Popes and Bishops, declaring that only God’s Word, the Bible, is the ultimate authority. Men are fallible, even if they have achieved high office. God’s Word is reliable and divinely powerful.
John Wycliffe spoke of God’s Law as something that brings us our ultimate hope. It has a unique role in human affairs. That role is not of setting up the “do’s” and “don’ts” but of freeing people from God’s Judgement.
This is how Wycliffe put it: “God’s law, without which no one could be justified.”
Wycliffe saw God’s Law as the means by which people receive Justification, instead of the sentence of Death.
The Law of Freedom
Imagine a law being described as the “law of freedom”. That’s how the Apostle James described God’s Law that is at work in Christians. In the language of some Bible translations the term is the “law of liberty“.
“Whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, not being a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” James 1:25
“So speak, and so act, as they that will be judged by the law of liberty.” James 2:12
The Greek word used in the original text for the law of liberty describes the kind of freedom which God’s Law brings to us.
A person who is at liberty is one who is: unrestrained (to go at pleasure), that is, (as a citizen) not a slave (whether freeborn or manumitted [released from slavery]), or (generally) exempt (from obligation or liability).
People who have come under God’s Law enjoy that kind of freedom. It is the freedom of a citizen of heaven, who has access to God’s presence, can come boldly to God’s throne of Grace, is not enslaved to sin, shame, guilt, fear or demonic oppression, and is exempt from the impositions that weigh upon others.
This kind of liberty is described elsewhere in the Bible as “glorious liberty” (Romans 8:21).
God’s Law Sets You Free
Man’s laws are punitive, repressive, spiteful, vengeful and controlling. To be under man’s law is to be in a most unhappy position. Men use human legal systems to oppress, exact punishment, get even, and so on.
But God’s law has power to set men free! Oh to be under God’s law and not man’s!
The Law that is in mind here is not the Old Testament law of “touch not, taste not”, but the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Romans 12:2). When you put your trust in Jesus Christ as your Saviour you are Justified before God, as if you never sinner. Therefore the legal requirement of the Ten Commandments and the Old Testament Laws given through Moses is satisfied. You are then made free from the “law of sin and death”.
Did you see that, the law sets you free!
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2
Let’s here it for God’s perfect law of liberty, that makes us free, gives us good success and restores our very life! Without God’s Law we have no hope!