THE LAW OFLIBERTY
T. Pierce Brown
It is tragic, and almost incomprehensible, that many of those whom we have considered as brethren in Christ are now teaching that we as Christians are under no law. Much has been written about that in recent months, but it is my hope that this article may cast some light on the subject from a different viewpoint and be worth your consideration.
The following scriptures are some that make it almost incomprehensible to think that there are preachers who teach that we are under no law at all. Romans 5:13, “Sin is not imputed where there is no law.” If there was no law at all, there could be no sin, and no need for a Savior! Romans 8:2 says, “The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” I Corinthians9:21specifically says, “Not being without law to God, but under law to Christ.” If there is any clearer way of saying that we do have a law and are under obligation to obey it, I do not know what it would be. Galatians 6:2 speaks of fulfilling “the law of Christ.” Hebrews8:10says concerning the New Covenant, “I will put my laws into their mind and write them in their hearts.” What sense would that make if we were not under law of some kind? James1:25says, “He that looketh into the perfect law, the law of liberty” and in2:11, “So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.”
Even if one understood practically nothing about the meaning of those verses, he could not doubt that we are under some kind of law and will be judged by it!
It is probably called the “law of liberty” for several reasons, but among them, no doubt, is that it is obedience to that law that gives us liberty–freedom from sin and its dominion.
The Law of Moses was a “ministration of death, written and engraven in stones” (2 Corinthians 3:7), and the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:2) is written on the heart (Hebrews8:10), but it is still a law.
Possibly some of those who teach that we are under law do so because they do not understand the difference in being justified on the basis or principle of law-keeping, and being amenable to or under law.
As the Law of Moses was not merely a group of suggestions, so neither are the commandments of Christ. They are binding, with all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). But if we are to be justified on the principle of having kept the law, we must have never broken it. If you claim that you have never broken it, you just then did (Romans3:23). But if you admit that you have broken it, you can not consistently claim that you are justified on the basis of having kept it!
But many would reply, “But I repented and was baptized for the remission of my sins, and that is a keeping of the law.” That is a keeping of a part of the law. But James says, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James2:10). Anyone who can read this can understand that if you robbed a bank and murdered the teller, when the authorities took you in, it would not be satisfactory to say, “I kept the law! I did not run a stop sign, nor break a speed limit!” The principle is: If you would be justified on the basis of law keeping, you have to keep all of it.
So, we are under law–the law of liberty. But we are not thereby justified because we kept a part of it. We are justified freely by his grace, if/as/when, by his grace we accept the salvation that is in Christ on his terms. His terms are simple, His yoke is easy and His burden is light, but you must take His yoke upon you (Matthew11:29), and when you do you will confess freely that 1. You operate under His law, 2. You are saved by His grace and 3. You are not justified or saved on the basis of having kept His law, but in spite of the fact that you broke it numerous times!