Freedom Through God’s Law

by Charles N. Spence, Jr.

God had always wanted His people to be free. However, most people today have a radically different idea of freedom than God's. Many in the world today look at freedom as the uninhibited right to do what they want to do. We can see this in almost every facet of society today. We see children wanting to do their own thing without any restrictions from parents or any other authority figures. Segments of society want the right to free sexual expression with whomever they chose. Some want to be free to make their own choices about life and death, whether it be their own or that of another person. People over the years have developed a disdain for laws, rules, and regulations. They do not want any laws imposed upon them because they believe that laws, in any form, are a threat to freedom. The United States was established on the basis of freedom. This country fought for the right to be free and has ever since celebrated its freedom by declaring its independence. In an effort to protect its freedom, the founding fathers of this country established the Constitution of the United States. This document has long stood as the law that governs this land. It is an instrument that guarantees our freedom. Picture that! Where most people see the law as an instrument of oppression, the founding fathers saw the law as an instrument of freedom. Well, God, our heavenly Father saw His law as an instrument of freedom as well.

When God gave the Israelites the Mosaic law he hoped that all would go well with them (Deuteronomy 5:29-33). He gave them the law in order to protect their freedom. God saw in the Commandments that he gave a liberating force that helped to govern the lives of His people. The law protected them from bodily harm, theft, false accusation, etc. (Exodus 20:12-17). As long as God's people walked in His law, they would be free (read Deuteronomy 28). Without law, there would be no justice. Everyone would be a law unto themselves. If someone hurts you, you would have no recourse but to hurt them. If someone takes from you, you can't seek restoration from a judge. You would have to take it from someone else. In such a society only the strong will survive. One of the reasons why God's wrath was poured out upon Israel was because they no longer upheld justice (read Isaiah 59).

Again, God wants his people to be free. Just as He delivered them from Egyptian bondage and gave them the Law to protect their freedom, Jesus brings deliverance to those who do His will and gives them laws to protect their freedom. Jesus said, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). Also, "If the Son shall make you free you shall surely be free indeed" (John 8:36). As long as God's people walk in truth, they will always be free (John 8:31). When God's people walk and continue in His word, they are being led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14). It is not a spirit of bondage (Romans 8:15) because "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (II Corinthians 3:17). Those who fail to do God's will become slaves of sin (Romans 6:20-22). You have to serve someone. Law helps us to appreciate freedom, for laws are the cornerstone of all freedom. David recognized this fact as he recorded Psalms 119:32 and 45. He said, "I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart ... And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts." Even the gospel of Jesus is recognized as "the perfect law of liberty" (James 1:25). David said in Psalm 19:7, "The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul." The word "restore" embraces the concept of setting free or liberating either people or possessions (Leviticus 25:10). God did not give law to oppress or make captive, but to set free.

Yet, with freedom comes responsibility and accountability. More and more people refuse to be responsible and accountable. According to the first amendment of the Constitution, I have the right to free speech. However, that freedom must be tempered with responsibility. I am not free to say whatever I want about anyone or speak in such a way as to disrupt order, for example, yelling fire in a crowded theater. The second amendment allows a person the right to bear arms. However, he can't just walk into a store and obtain a gun and shoot it whenever and wherever. Parents give their children certain freedoms. A child wants to go to his friend's house; the parent grants the child the freedom to do so. Yet, the parent establishes a curfew. If the child violates the curfew, the freedom to visit his friend is taken away. In all these realms we understand the relationship between law and freedom. Yet, in the realm of the word of God most people do not understand it. The homosexual wants to be free to engage in immoral behavior but does not want to deal with the consequences of his actions. The fornicator and adulterer want to be free to engage in their lifestyles but will not take responsibility for their actions. Much of God's law is designed to protect us from ourselves. When we go against it, we have to take responsibility for our decision to go against God's will. We cannot allow ourselves to be influenced by those who seek to be free without accountability. Peter says of those, "While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a person is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage" (II Peter 2:19).

Let us learn to operate within the guidelines of God's law. This is the only way we can guarantee our freedom. Jesus has given us His law to live by, after taking out of the way the law that men died by because they would not follow it (Colossians 2:14). Jesus came that we might have a full and abundant life (John 10:10). Since Jesus came to give us this life, we can't go any place else to find that life other than His word. As we walk in Jesus' word, we will continue to be united with Him as His disciples. We will know the truth and that truth will set us free. If we look to Jesus' word to guard, guide, and direct us, we will be able to claim the promise made by the Savior, "If the Son shall make you free you shall surely be free indeed" (John 8:36).

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