In James 1:25, James calls God’s law “the perfect law of liberty.” This is contrary to our modern-day understanding of law. Today, the law is seen as something that restricts and prohibits. It forbids us from doing things. It forbids us from driving above the speed limit. It demands that we pay a certain portion of our hard earned income in taxes. It even prohibits us from doing things to our own homes without first securing the proper permitting and paying the required fees.
To show the unbelievable restrictiveness of modern-day government regulations, National Review made the following startling observation: “The Lord’s Prayer is 66 words, the Gettysburg Address is 286 words, there are 1,322 words in the Declaration of Independence, but government regulations on the sale of cabbage total 26,911 words.” Good luck to all of you cabbage growers and grocers!
How come James saw the law differently than we do, not as something limiting us, but as something liberating us? To James, the law provided us with a black and white snapshot of God. It was God in silhouette. Although Christ eventually fleshed out God for us in full and living color, the law provided us with the divine basics. It was like the musical scale to a musician. Before any musician can freely express himself musically to his own delight, he must first discipline himself and master the notes of the scale.
From James’ perspective, the law was not prohibitive, preventing us from doing things, but emancipating, enabling us to do things. If we follow it, we will be freed to reach our God-given potential. If we don’t, we will be enslaved by our sin and prevented from ever knowing life as God intended for us to live it.
Like the piano player who refuses to discipline himself to master the notes of the scale, those who refuse to discipline themselves to obey God’s law will never be able to play the masterpiece that God intended for them to play in this world. Don’t forget, the Apostle Paul taught that you “are God’s masterpiece,” which “He has created…anew in Christ Jesus, so [that you] can do the good things” He “planned for” you to do “long ago” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT).