What is the Law of Liberty in Jam 1.25 and 2.12

This is another verse that has been misinterpreted by many teachers. Simply put, the “law of liberty” is another name for the Torah commands found in what is called the Tanak (Torah, Nevi’im, Ketuvim). That was the only Scripture all the writers of the Gospels and Epistles knew. Every doctrine they taught could be backed up in the Tanak. The word “Torah” means “instruction, guidance and teaching” and it is translated in English as “law.” But it should be understood in the sense of “teaching” or “guidance.” Now, what does “liberty” mean? The Torah and its commandments have always been seen by believers as liberty (1 John 5.3). In Exo 32.16 we have an allusion to this concept of freedom where it says that God “engraved” the tablets given to Moses with his own hand. The Hebrew word for engraved is “charut” but it has the same root in Hebrew as the word for freedom, which is “cherut.” In Psa 119.45 it says “I will walk at liberty for I seek they precepts.” Psa 119 is written in a poetical style that has 22 sections, one each for every letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Each section has eight verses that begin with each succeeding letter, beginning with “aleph.” This goes from aleph to tav (the last letter), which symbolizes the word of God. Each verse of Psa 119 (176 verses) mentions the commandments. So there is no doubt what the writer had in mind when he wrote “precepts.”

What James had in mind was the Torah when he wrote 1.25 and 2.12. He said that in everything we say and everything we do, we are to keep in mind that we will be judged according to the Torah. It has not been done away with or replaced as some teach. To say that the law has been done away with is like saying “teaching from God has been done away with.” Sunday has not replaced the Sabbath as the Lord’s Day, we cannot eat pork, lobster, shrimp, catfish, scorpions, frogs, or any of the unclean creatures listed in Lev 11; we cannot hate our neighbor but love him through our actions; we cannot commit adultery or worship or possess idols or graven images of God (Deut 4.15-19) and so on. We are to obey the Torah as it applies to whoever you are (1 Cor 7.17-19). We have seen people picket a restaurant because they found a roach in their food. They were outraged and wanted monetary compensation, and yet those very same people will go out and pay ten dollars a pound for a lobster. Both creatures are “arthropods” and perform the same basic function on the earth. The lobster has been called the “roach of the sea” by some.

The point is, if one follows the Torah you wouldn’t eat either one, and that truth sets you free. Civil or criminal law to a criminal is an enemy because it restricts him. He cannot carry out his criminal behavior without problems if he gets caught. But to a law-abiding citizen, that same law is an assurance of peace, safety, and security, and it ensures freedom. It is the same thing with a spiritual law found in the Torah. The “spiritual criminal” (called “lawless” in Matt 7.23; 1 John 3.4) wants to throw off the Torah and God’s law because it binds him, it restricts him, he is not free to carry out what he wants to do. He wants to work on Saturday and make money; he wants to eat pork and lobster and unclean creatures because he likes them. He wants to get even with his neighbor, curse his rulers, celebrate pagan festivals, and has idols in his possession or congregation because he is a law unto himself.

But, the one who believes in the Torah can walk in liberty because he is free from spiritual anarchy. He loves the commandments because he is free to serve the Lord. He knows what is sin and what is not because the Torah defines what sin is (Rom 3.20). When people tell the story of the Exodus they always quote Moses as telling Pharaoh, “Let my people go” but they forget the rest of what he told him. He said, “Let my people go (literally “send my people out”) that they may serve me.” Their freedom was given to them so they could go to Mount Sinai and receive the Torah (instruction) and serve the Lord as his people. Spiritually, it is the same today. We are set free by the blood of the Lamb and we go to Mount Sinai to receive instruction (Torah) on how we are to serve the Lord. Most so-called believers want to go around Sinai right into the promised land, but it doesn’t work that way.

How the Torah sets us free and why it is called the “law of liberty” can be described like this. Yeshua said, “The truth shall set you free.” And we know that the Torah is truth (Psa 119.160; John 17.17-26). If truth sets free, then error binds. We don’t worry about a lot of false teachers or doctrines out there. If someone tells me that the law has been done away with, I know they are wrong and I am free. If someone tells me that Sunday is the Lord’s Day, I know that is wrong because the Scriptures tell me otherwise, so I am free from wondering about who is right. When someone tells me I can eat whatever I want, I can go to the Scriptures and see if it is true or not. Again I am free because I will find out who is right on that point. When I am confronted with paganism and idolatry, I can go to the Torah and check out what God says about it, again “free.” We can save ourselves a lot of time, money, and heartache by filtering the teachings of so many through the Torah and the other Scriptures, and become free. We have not reached where we should be, but when one is delivered from bondage by the blood of the Lamb, make sure we stop at Mount Sinai to receive our instruction (Torah, teaching). And as we travel through this wilderness on our way to the promised land of the Olam Haba, we are free to serve the Lord.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Festivals of the Lord, The Tanak, Tying into the New Testament

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