What kind of liberty or freedom does God's Law provide? Read in this article what James 1:25 really means.
THIS is "The Twisted Age." So says Look, a leading American magazine. Look reminds us we live in an age of loneliness, "free love" licentiousness, frustrations, perverted thinking — a general out-and-out rebellion against the standard of previous generations. What is happening? Why is there an upheaval and revolt against previously accepted social behavior? Why do most people fail to agree on what is the best way to handle their private and business lives?
Whose Opinion Counts?
Look magazine's article, "The Twisted Age," reported that 100 persons "were reminded of last winter's prostitution scandal on Long Island." That scandal "involved more than a dozen women, including several mothers, who, with their husbands' consents, went out on calls to 'see' men at charges of $25 to $100. Most of those interviewed (by Look) had heard the story. Startlingly, 77 percent felt themselves unable to make a moral judgment on whether the housewife-prostitutes should be condemned. A few thought they should be admired" (Look, Dec. 15, 1964, p. 42). That's the world you live in! Why should the big majority of people be in a fog of indecision and doubt as to what is morally right or wrong? Why does almost everyone just have an "opinion" — but not really know what is best? Most people have no real standard of judgment. No central source they know that can dogmatically tell them whether or not a certain thing is right or wrong. And, no wonder! They have rejected God's Word. Even today's churches at times admit it! One religious publication recently admitted: "Thus, despite the fact that the Bible remains our best-seller, it has become little more than an obsolete 'sacred book' to which most of its devotees pay lip-service but which they practically never read, study, or understand." How true! God's Word, which reveals His Law, has been rejected. His Law tells us the difference between right and wrong. Yet, even professing "Christianity" pays little or no heed to it! Isn't it time that we got back to the faith that was once delivered to the saints? One of the early New Testament Church saints, the Apostle Paul, said: "I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet" (Rom. 7:7). Yes, the great apostle to the Gentiles would have been like today's big majority — that is, would not have known that it was wrong to lust — except God's Law told him! Is it any wonder that the majority today are unable to know whether or not the housewife-prostitutes should be condemned?
Only Lip Service
Most of those who claim to be Christians pay only lip service to the Bible and rarely ever read or study it. Do you have a Bible? How often do you study it? God says: "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is" (Eph. 5:17). How are you going to understand what God's will is unless you study the handbook of life that He has made so readily available? The materialistic world, created by human ingenuity, has turned men's minds inward, upon himself. Instead of looking into the pages of God's Word, men have been caught up in a whirlwind of human activity and pastimes. Men are left only with their human ideas and opinions. No standard of righteous judgment exists because the only righteous standard has been rejected! In a time when the cry for "freedom" and "liberty" is being echoed around the world, mankind needs to get back to that best seller, yet least understood, of all books, the Holy Bible. It tells us what real freedom and liberty are. It contains the laws that provide the freedom mankind so desperately needs.
God's Laws Still in Force
But, the common idea today is that God's Ten Commandments have either been done away, changed or, if admitted to be in force, are a ball and chain about those who would dare obey them. Let's candidly look into the Bible and see what it reveals. "By this," says I John 5:2-3, "we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." Can we believe this clear, simple scripture? God's Law and God's love cannot be separated. His laws express His love. They tell us what true love is. God's Commandments tell us how to love others. They are meant for our good. They are not some grievous ball and chain about our necks. True, of ourselves, we cannot keep God's Law. That's why we need the Spirit of God, the power of God, that will help us obey Him. "I am come," said Christ, "that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). No wonder, then, this same Christ also said: "... If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matt. 19:17). Many try to separate God's love from His Law that leads to true happiness and freedom. Christ said: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" (Matt. 5:17-18). Isn't this the opposite from what you've always heard? Especially when it comes to the commandment telling us what day God has set apart as holy? Read Exodus 20:8-11. Do you believe and follow this command? Christ set us the perfect example. And He commanded us: "Be [become] ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). We must fulfill God's Law, even as Jesus did. Instead of doing away with God's Law, we must do away with our natural desires that are contrary to God's Law! We must let Christ live His Law in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. Should it be any surprise to see a world full of problems when the professing "Christian" churches lead the way in trying to abolish God's laws? God's laws were designed to prevent problems.
Alchemists Should Have Taught Us a Lesson
Only a few hundred years ago certain men, called alchemists, tried to defy the physical laws God set in motion. The alchemists labored long and hard to do a physical impossibility — to convert or change cheap lead into expensive gold. After many fruitless years of labor, they had to admit that this elemental change could not be made. Today, people are laboring just as diligently trying to do the impossible with the moral codes. Instead of obeying the laws of God that govern morals and affect men's minds, men are desperately trying to work out their own system of morals. These human moral codes are contrary to the spiritual laws of God, as exemplified by the Ten Commandments. Happiness can come only when man gets in harmony with God's laws. Can you imagine what would happen if a chemist or physicist would decide to disregard the knowledge of the known laws of chemistry and physics and set out independently to make up his own? The alchemists tried it... and utterly failed! What if a farmer would decide to plant seed in the wrong season? How much do you think he would harvest that year? God's material creation is governed by definite, active laws. So is human conduct. But men, going their own ways and not heeding the words of Scripture that have been there for thousands of years, continue to devise their own counterfeit moral codes. Speaking of the time in which we live, a University of Chicago sociologist, Philip M. Hauser, made this significant statement: "There was never a time in the history of man when man was as free to exercise his own intelligence and make his own decisions" (Look, Sept. 24, 1963, p. 74). Think of what this means! Just before the end of man's 6,000 years of self-rule, the supreme Law-Giver has allowed mankind to follow, admittedly on an unparalleled scale, the way that seems so right to him. The way your Bible plainly labels as the way that ends in death (Prov. 14:12; 16:25). We witness an unprecedented flood of human reasoning about moral codes. Is it any surprise that we should witness an unprecedented flood of sexual immorality, murder, stealing, hatred, lying, and sins of every conceivable description? No wonder, if the world is ever to have peace and happiness, that God the Father must soon send Jesus Christ back to this earth and fill it with the knowledge of His laws! (Isa. 2:2-4) This is a lawless age. Look magazine admitted: "No single authority rules our conduct. No church lays down the moral law for all; no tribal customs and taboos define the limits of our immoralities. We are free to be prejudiced or promiscuous, to cheat or chisel. We are left floundering in a money-motivated, sex-obsessed, big-city-dominated society. We must figure out for ourselves how to apply the traditional moral principles to the problems of our times. Many find this burden too heavy." Yes, many find this burden too heavy because they, like the alchemists of a few centuries ago, are lost in a maze of human ideas and human reasoning. God has been left out of the picture. God has allowed this to happen to teach man that man's ways are wrong (Prov. 14:12; 16:25). When God's Word is not read and heeded, a "money-motivated, sex-obsessed, big-city-dominated society" is the natural result. That is the end result of man going man's way! It's time you were willing to give up your human ideas, your opinions, your way of doing things, and be given wisdom by the One who promises a happy, abundant life! The choice is yours. No one can make it for you. No one is going to force you to be happy. But the way to happiness is freely made available by a loving Creator to all those who will turn from their evil ways, accept Jesus Christ as personal Savior, and follow His laws.
How God's Laws Give Freedom
God's laws are not a straitjacket. They do not forbid even one single thing that will add lasting enjoyment or real joy to one's life. In fact, His laws offer humanity the maximum opportunity for character development and personality growth. The world offers only the terrible penalty that comes from breaking them! The very way in which the Ten Commandments are stated reveals this important fact. Many think God's laws are negative because some of them begin: "Thou shalt not." This is a wrong conception. The "Thou shalt not" in His laws tells us how to avoid the wallop of sin. They are no more negative than "Thou shalt not jump off the cliff." By avoiding sin, which always brings on a penalty sooner or later, God gives us complete freedom to develop character in every way that will be constructive both to us and to others. His laws emphasize the points we by nature would break: the way that seems so right to us, yet brings on problems later. Let's use a physical analogy to understand. Man discovers how to refine petroleum and make gasoline. The law says: "Thou shalt not light a match over an open can of gasoline." Is that a negative law because it denies the person the right to blow himself up? No, I don't think you would agree with that! The same principle is true with God's laws. Most of the Ten Commandments warn us what not to do. They warn us how to stay out of trouble, how to keep well, how to avoid pain, heartache, and grief. God's laws help us avoid what is bad for us. But, at the same time, they open broad avenues to constructive thinking and planning within their bounds. Did man stop making gasoline because he can put it to a wrong use and harm himself? Should men rebel against God's laws because they point out what to avoid? Just as a loving parent warns his children not to play with fire, God warns humanity not to dabble with those situations that will scar his character and keep him from enjoying a bounteous life. In this age of the "new morality," and "free love," God warns: "Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? So he that goeth in to his neighbor's wife: whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent" (Prov. 6:27-29). Notice how God directly likens His spiritual law concerning adultery to the physical law governing fire. There is a right and wrong use of sex, just as there is a right and wrong use of fire. It's all made plain in Mr. Armstrong's vital book God Speaks Out on "The New Morality." What's wrong with having the insight God's laws give so one can avoid suffering and headache? If a man learns the laws of chemistry, physics, biology, farming, etc., and rightly applies them, he can be productive. The increase of mechanical know-how in this modern age was not possible until man began to obey the laws that govern this physical creation. In the same way, a "break-through" in human emotional and moral problems will not result until man conforms to God's laws that govern our minds. These laws are God's Ten Commandments. They are spiritual laws and they govern our minds (Rom. 7:14). God does nothing without a purpose. There is a great purpose for human existence. God sent His Son into the world to give everyone a reason for living. Not only in this life, but forever as a part of His very own family! Through Christ our sins can be completely forgiven. Through God's Spirit, His power, we can overcome our natural desires and begin to live the abundant life that God intended from the very beginning. If you are tired of burning your fingers on the hot stove of human experience, of following the childish "candy-grabbing" attitude of this world's society, then you need to write for and follow the advice given in the following booklets: Why Were You Born?; The Ten Commandments; and The Seven Laws of Success. Your free copies are waiting for you. James 1:25 stands proven as sound advice for this sick, sick, sick world: "But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the word, this man shall be blessed in his deed."