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James 1:25,26: The Perfect Law of Liberty

Yogi Berra said “You can see a lot by looking!” Have you ever had that experience when looking intently at a passage of God's Word that you may have read many times before? Suddenly the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17, 15:26, 16:13) illuminates some new insight in that passage which you had never seen before?

“As a Christian, you’ve been blessed ‘with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ’ (Ephesians 1:3). Every spiritual resource is yours. Even in times of sorrow and persecution, God’s blessing rests on you (1 Peter 4:14). But you can forfeit His blessings by neglecting His Word or committing other sinful acts. So guard your heart carefully and continue in the Word. As you do, your joy will be boundless!” –John MacArthur

Verse 25a: “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty…”

“Looks into,” means literally to bend down and intently look, to gaze, to peer into, with the idea of eagerness and concentration, it signifies to fix his eyes upon, examine with accuracy, and search all things completely.

“Perfect” in Greek is teleios, meaning, fully mature or having reached its intended goal. The law which in context stands for the Word of God in general is a perfect reflection of the character and demands of a holy God.

The idea of the “perfect law” is that of absolute soundness, wholeness, completeness, finished, reaching its end, wanting nothing. It is God's final word and it is complete, embodying the full revelation of God in Christ Jesus.

“There are three reasons why the law is perfect. (a) It is God's law, given and revealed by him. The way of life which Jesus laid down for his followers is in accordance with the will of God. (b) It is perfect in that it cannot be bettered. The Christian law is the law of love; and the demand of love can never be satisfied. We know well, when we love some one, that even though we gave them all the world and served them for a lifetime, we still could not satisfy or deserve their love. (c) But there is still another sense in which the Christian law is perfect. The Greek word is teleios which nearly always describes perfection towards some given end. Now, if a man obeys the law of Christ he will be the person he ought to be and will make the contribution to the world he ought to make. He will be perfect in the sense that he will, by obeying the law of God, realize his God-given destiny.” –Barclay

David made a similar declaration in Psalm 19:7-10, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”

“The law of the Lord is perfect; by which he means not merely the law of Moses but the doctrine of God, the whole run and rule of sacred Writ. The doctrine revealed by God he declares to be perfect…How more than perfect is the book which contains the clearest possible display of divine love, and gives us an open vision of redeeming grace.” –Spurgeon, commenting on Psalm 19

“Law,” the authoritative body of truth that is the foundation of the Christian faith. Christians accept this body of truth as the authoritative standard by which life is to be regulated. This title for the Word of God is in keeping with James's stress upon the importance of doing the things found in the Word.

“Liberty” in Greek is, eleutheria, that which is capable of movement, freedom to go wherever one likes, unfettered.

“by referring to the Word as the ‘law of liberty,’ James focused on its redemptive power in freeing believers from the bondage of sin and then freeing them to righteous obedience (John 8:34-36). It allows us to serve God not out of fear or mere sense of duty, but out of gratitude and love. One day it also will free us from this world and its corruption; from our fallenness; from our flesh; from temptation; and from the curses of sin, death, and hell.” –MacArthur

Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”

2 Corinthians 3:17, “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Romans 8:2, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”

Verse 25b: “…and continues in it…”

Note that in it is in italics so it was not in the original text, so the meaning here is not “continues in the law,” but “continues to look.”

This is contrasted with the person who merely glances in a mirror, the person looking intently into the perfect law of liberty is represented as continuing to look, a glance is insufficient. One who perseveres in the study, belief, and obedience of God’s word, “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalms 1:2). It means one who continues to trust God’s word in all circumstances, conditions, and under all temptations and troubles.

John 14:21, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

John 8:31,32, “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

2 John 9: “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.”

Verse 25c: “…and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work…”

Deuteronomy 4:9, “Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren.”

Some of you have heard much, you have lived forty, fifty, sixty years under the preaching of the word of God, what have you learned? You may have heard a thousand sermons, and yet not learned one. Search your conscience.

Many Christians are like sieves. Sieves will not hold water! As soon as these “sieve” Christian’s leave the church, all is forgotten. Luke 9:44, “Let these words sink down into your ears…”

I spoke in Youth Camps for years. It is interesting to note that when I went back to a camp where I had spoken before, the young people always remembered my sermons…no, but they remembered my jokes, especially some dumb poems I used to get their attention so I could give them the word of God.

Verse 25d: “…this one will be blessed in what he does.”

“Blessed’ is makarios in Greek, meaning, “to be happy, or blissful.” A blessed or makarios person describes the one who is free from daily cares and worries because his every breath and circumstance is in the hands of His Maker. Makarios describes the kind of happiness that comes from receiving divine favor. Makarios is a state of existence in relationship to God in which a person is “blessed” from God’s perspective even when he or she doesn’t feel happy or isn’t presently experiencing good fortune. Makarios means possessing the favor of God, experiencing spiritual prosperity. It describes a state of being marked by fullness from God.

“The thought of this scripture passage, as it pertains to the Word of God, may be described as follows:

It demands attention (vv. 19-20). The inference is that many do not adequately hear because they are so quick to speak. The Lord gave us two ears and one mouth so we ought to do twice as much listening as we do talking.

It demands reception (v.21). Having urged his readers to have an attentive attitude toward the Word, James now calls on them to receive it, embrace it and make it their own. We must put out of our lives everything which it condemns.

It demands practice (vv. 22-25). James’ appeal to the believer is, “But be ye doers of the word and not hears only” The person who thinks it is sufficient just to be a hearer is deceiving himself (v. 22b).” –

“Dr. A. T. Schofield used to point out that there were three sorts of dogs in his city of London: the wild, masterless dog that roamed the streets at will, stole his meals from garbage pails, and often came to an inglorious end in the lethal chamber of the humane society; the chained dog, which could not be trusted for more than a few feet; and the dog that knew and loved his master and responded obediently to his voice. The first of these had liberty but no law; the second had law but no liberty; whereas the last enjoyed the perfect law of liberty.” –

Verse 26a: “If anyone among you thinks he is religious…”

Proverbs 14:12; 16:25, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

“Religious,” is used only in this verse and describes the individual who is preoccupied with religious observances. The ceremonial service of religion, reverence or worship of the gods, worship as expressed in ritual acts.

“The difference between Christianity and every other faith in the world is that all other religions are about man trying to reach up to God. Christianity is about God reaching down to man. This is a very important distinction, and it is core to what I believe, so I would like to try to clarify what I mean. Here is the way I am defining religion:

Religion is a system of beliefs or a code of moral conduct that judges (qualifies or disqualifies) a person based on their adherence and obedience to certain codes, rules, laws, traditions, or the performance of required acts. –

“The pure and undefiled religion, as described in James, is the overflow of a human heart in right relationship with the one true God and thus obedient to His commands. And this points us to the second half of the cliché: “Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship.” The religion we practice is a reflection of our relationship with God. –John MacArthur

Verse 26b: “…and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.”

Psalm 39:1. “I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.”

Proverbs 10:20, “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver…”

Proverbs 10:31, “The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom…”

Proverbs 12:19, “The truthful lip shall be established forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.”

Proverbs 15:2, “The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.”

Proverbs 15:4 NLT, “Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”

Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

“If religion does not salt your tongue, and keep it sweet, it has done nothing for you. If the doctor wants to know the state of your health, he says, ‘Let me see your tongue;’ and there is no better test of the health of the mind than to see what is on the tongue. When it gets furred up with unkind words, when it turns black with blasphemy, when it is spotted with lasciviousness, there is something very bad inside the heart, you may be quite sure of that.” –Spurgeon

If you consider yourself religious and yet you do not keep a tight reign on your tongue, James says, “You’re religion is worthless.”

Let’s talk about the tongue!

On a windswept hill in an English country churchyard stands a drab, gray slate tombstone. The quaint stone bears an epitaph not easily seen unless you stoop over and look closely. The faint etchings read:

Beneath this stone, a lump of clay, lies Arabella Young.

Who on the twenty-fourth of May,

Began to hold her tongue.

–Source Unknown.

The Tattling, Tale-Bearing or Trampling Tongue:

Proverbs 16:28 NLT, “A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.”

Slander, bent on destroying another’s character, abilities or accomplishments by malicious statements.

Ephesians 4:31 NLT, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander…”


•Destroys - Proverbs 11:9, “With their words, the godless destroy their friends…”

•Deceives - Psalm 52:2, “Your tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.”

•Deludes - Proverbs 10:18 MSG, “Liars secretly hoard hatred; fools openly spread slander.”

•Devours - Proverbs 16:27, “Scoundrels create trouble; their words are a destructive blaze.”

Slander shows a lack of self-respect and self-confidence by tearing others down to build oneself up. People who gossip or slander have not stimulated their minds with more important things. Great minds discuss ideas; mediocre minds discuss events; small minds discuss other people.

Gossip happen when we are idle. It’s hard to throw garbage in a moving truck.

How do we recognize a slanderer/gossip? Listen for the following phrases:

•“I don’t mean to gossip…but…”

•“I don’t mean to talk about her/him…but…”

•“I wouldn’t tell anyone else about…but…”

•“Don’t tell anyone else…but…”

•“He’s/she’s really nice…but…”

•“I don’t mean to imply that he/she has a problem…but…”

Too many Billy Goat Christians who love to “but” people…”I love him/her… but…” “We have really good pastor…but…” “I love my church…but…” Do you get it?

God hates the tattling tongue: Proverbs 6:16-19, “These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies and one who sows discord among brethren.”

The Tarnished Tongue

Dirty, corrupt, filthy language is an affront to the holiness of God.

Colossians 3:8, “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger,

wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.”

Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”

1 Timothy 6:3,4, “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions.

Watch your thoughts, they control your speech. You cannot maintain the language of Christ if you fill your mind with filth!

Matthew 15:1;18,19, “Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man…But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”

The Tempestuous Tongue, the angry, violent, quarrelsome Tongue:

1 Timothy 3:3 NLT, “He must not be…violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome…”

James 1:19,20, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

Proverbs 15:18 NLT, “A hot-tempered person starts fights; a cool-tempered person stops them.”

Proverbs 29:22, “:An angry man stirs up strife, and a furious man abounds in transgression.”

Our speech should always be with “meekness” (Ephesians 4:1). “Meekness” is a non-violent, non-vindictive, non-quarrelsome spirit under the control of the Holy Spirit.

Proverbs 25:15, “By long forbearance a ruler is persuaded, and a gentle tongue breaks a bone.”

The Taunting Tongue: Scoffing, mocking, called in Scripture “the fool’s tongue.” The definition of mock is "to tease or laugh at in a scornful or contemptuous manner."

A Saturday Night Live skit recently mocked the new film “God's Not Dead 2.” For many of us, SNL and broadcaster NBC crossed a line. The skit, which mocked traditional Christian values by claiming that “God is gay,” had a sarcastic tone that was meant to demean people of faith. Veteran actor Pat Boone, who has a minor role in “God's Not Dead 2,” told The Hollywood Reporter this week that the SNL skit was “outright sacrilege…Satan ridicules faith, and they are taking Satan's side,” Boone said of the show's producers. Adapted:

Proverbs 15:2, “The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.”

Proverbs 17:5 NLT, “Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; those who rejoice at the misfortune of others will be punished.”

Isaiah 57:4 ESV, “Whom are you mocking? Against whom do you open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue? Are you not children of transgression, the offspring of deceit.”

The Tormenting Tongue, the nagging, bothering, fault-finding, unrelenting, persistent complaining Tongue.

Nagging is something that most of us do and may not even realize that we’re doing it. Someone that is nagging is continually complaining and finding fault with someone or something, whether it’s real or imagined.

Proverbs 21:9 MSG, “Better to live alone in a tumbledown shack than share a mansion with a nagging spouse.”

Proverbs 21:19 MSG, “Better to live in a tent in the wild than with a cross and petulant spouse.”

Proverbs 27:15,16 MSG, “A nagging spouse is like the drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet; you can’t turn it off, and you can’t get away from it.”

The Tempting Tongue, the flattering, flirting, attempting to entice others to sin Tongue.

Job 32:21-22, “I won’t play favorites or try to flatter anyone. For if I tried flattery, my Creator would soon destroy me.”

Psalm 5:9 NLT, “My enemies cannot speak a truthful word. Their deepest desire is to destroy others. Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with flattery.”

Proverbs 28:23 NLT, “In the end, people appreciate honest criticism

far more than flattery.”

Romans 16:18, “For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.”

The Trifling Tongue, the trivial, unimportant, insignificant, inconsequential, petty, or minor Tongue.

A “trifling,” person is, “someone who is one or all of the following: dishonest, shady, secretive, a player, ‘all talk’ without following thru, not worthy of general, a lack of ethics or general morale ie: worthless.” –The Urban dictionary

Matthew 15:36,37, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Ephesians 5:4 ESV, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

1 Timothy 6:20, “O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge.”

2 Timothy 2:16 NLT, “Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior.”

Titus 3:9 NLT, “Do not get involved in foolish discussions about spiritual pedigrees or in quarrels and fights about obedience to Jewish laws. These things are useless and a waste of time.”

Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB). Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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