James 2:12-13 KJV
12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
We all know that we were set free of our sin, and of the law by Jesus Christ. When he died on that cross and took the punishment for our sins, it was for all of our sins, past, present and future. I love the way Isaiah 53:5 puts it:
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
There’s an old Hymn that says:
Jesus paid it all.
All to Him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain.
He washed it white as snow
Hebrews 10:26 says that there is now now more sacrifice for sin. When Jesus died on the cross and said “It is finished” one of the things He meant was finished was the payment of our debt of sin for all time. He came to fulfill the law (Matt 5:17), and He satisfied the requirement of the law in every way. I did an in-depth study on the sacrificial system many years ago, and learned how He fulfilled each sacrifice that was required in the law. Many have studied the temple, and they show how Christ fulfills all the temple requirements. We are redeemed. there is nothing left for us to do as far as our redemption goes.
Why do I say all this? First, it is important for us to always take a look back and remember this. But more than that, James says here that we should live and speak as those that shall be judged by the law of liberty. If we are free from the law, why do we have to live as though we will be judged by it? And what is this law of liberty?
It would be east for me to say that Jesus paid the debt for my sin, and I accepted Him as my Savor, so now I am free to do whatever I want because He set me free from the law. Unfortunately many Christians have that attitude. They feel grace covers everything and now thee is nothing that they have to do to remain redeemed. There are others who think Jesus died for all mankind, and no one has to take the special step of asking Him to be their Savior – He is the Savior of the world, and there is nothing they have to do to make that truth their own. Both of these opinions are not scriptural at all.
When James says we have to live and speak as those that are judged by the law of liberty, he is saying that we still have to live a life that is governed by the law, even though we have been set free from the law. The Ten Commandments still apply to us! The first 4 are all about our relationship with God, and must be kept in highest regard. Jesus fulfilled them all, and He set us free from sin so that they will be incorporated into our lives. Our love for God, and our distaste for idols should grow as we walk in Christ.
The last 6 commandments are all about mercy. James says God wall not show us mercy if we do not show mercy to others. It’s important too remember now what we have been teaching in the last few lessons – do not be a respecter of persons. Show mercy to all equally! Mercy instead of judgment is our calling, because, as James says, mercy rejoices against judgment!
It’s also important for us to remember that Jesus may have fulfilled the law for us, but He actually made it more difficult for us. Think about some of the things he said. If you lust after a woman you commit adultery with her (Matt 5:28). If you call someone a fool, you are guilty of murder (Matt 5:22). Not an eye for an eye, but turn the other cheek (Matt 5:38-40). The law of liberty James mentions is more difficult to follow than the original law because it incorporates the golden rule, and it admonishes us to be perfect, as our father in heaven is perfect (Matt 5:48). We should walk and speak as if we will be judged by this new law. Love your neighbor as yourself. Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. This is the law of liberty.
James uses this interlude to bridge the teaching on not being a respecter of persons to his teaching about faith without works being dead. That will be our next subject when we resume.