Drinking Deeply

Sunday, November 02, 2008 at 10:01 PM

Liberty or death

In James 1:25, there's an interesting term that shows up: "law of liberty."

25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

The focus of the passage is simple, don't be like the person who looks into a mirror and forgets what he looks like, but rather look into the law of liberty and persevere: do and not hear only.

But the phrase "law of liberty" is interesting, because it doesn't seem to fit here.

I can think of a couple different usages for "liberty" or "freedom" here-

1) Freedom from the condemnation of the law

2) Freedom from the power and bondage of sin

3) Freedom from the shadows of the ceremonial law

4) Freedom from requirements of the law for justification

But none of those really worked well here, mostly because it's described as the "law of liberty," so all the relationships to the law is out, and James here doesn't really seem to be talking about the bondage of sin or the condemnaion of sin.

So I thought of another possibility, one that probably isn't explicit anywhere but certainly implicit in various places -

The possibility I thought of was that the law of liberty sets us free from the anxieties of the future. No longer are we attempting to do something with an unknown outcome, but rather, we have a law from God. It states, "this is my way, walk in it"(Isaiah 30:21) and we can know that at the end of that path there is great reward, not only so, but we are "blessed in [our] doing." Many people work their entire lives just to get the fame, power, money and influence, but find themselves realizing those are absolutely worthless. Compared to that, the Lord has given us His laws that direct us and promise us that He rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6)

The law then isn't some burdensome thing that is difficult to follow. "His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3) and his "yoke is easy and [his] burden is light" (Matthew 11:30), but rather they free us and grant us confidence that at the end of perseverance, even during perseverance, there is great reward.

On the minus side, the difficulty of this view is that it makes it hard to fit in with the second usage of the "law of liberty" (James 2:12). Maybe another post in the future then.

But whatever the case, we shouldn't think of the law as

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