The Perfect Law

James 1:22-24 ESV

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.”

Deceiving Spirits

There is a gospel of salvation being taught today that is not of God. It is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a gospel of human origin, of the flesh of man. I call it a “Do Nothing Gospel,” for it teaches that we who believe in Jesus Christ don’t have to do anything. No actions required. No repentance, no obedience, and no submission to Christ as Lord of our lives.

They do teach that we must “believe” in Jesus, but the belief they require is not God-given faith, otherwise they would repent, obey the Lord, and submit to Christ as Lord.

So, what they are teaching is human faith, of the flesh and of the will of man, not of the will of God. And, the faith they teach is also a one-time decision made whereby the “believer” is guaranteed heaven, and that it can’t be taken away from him, no matter how he lives from that moment forward. But that is not what Scripture teaches.

If we who profess to be Christ’s followers think that we don’t have to obey God’s word to us, then we are deceived. We are listening to charlatans, who are frauds and swindlers, working a con. They are those who masquerade as servants of righteousness, but they are of Satan.

For, the Scriptures teach that we must follow our Lord in obedience and that we must leave our lifestyles of sin behind us for us to be saved from our sins and to have eternal life with God in heaven. And, we must continue in this way until the very end (Lu. 9:23-26; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; Gal. 6:7-8; 1 Co. 15:2; Col. 1:21-23).

A Look in a Mirror

Many people who are being deceived don’t even bother to look into the mirror to see their reflection (spiritually speaking), because they have been convinced that they don’t have to. They believe that their confession of faith in Jesus Christ now guarantees them heaven upon death, but that they can continue living just like they were living before they were “saved.”

But then there are the double-minded (vv. 5-8) who are trying, in the flesh, to at least appear righteous, even though they are not living righteously. They give the appearance of godliness, but they deny its power in their lives. They are those who are trying to look good on the outside but who are still living in rebellion against God when no one can see what they are doing.

So, even though they will make an appearance before the mirror, which metaphorically reflects for them what is in their hearts and minds, they walk away and immediately forget what they looked like.

And, this is speaking of us reading the word of God, and God speaking to our hearts, and him showing us what is in our hearts, and what needs to be purged from our lives, and what needs to be in our hearts in place of sin, and then us closing the Bible, and us walking away and forgetting God’s words to us, and us just going on about our business doing what we were in the habit of doing, without regard for what the Lord revealed to us.

So, even though they know the truth, and even though they may make some human and fleshly attempts at living righteously or appearing righteous, the word of God doesn’t stay with them. Maybe in their minds, it does, but not in their hearts, and not in their actions. For, God is not their god, but their idols are their gods which they worship, instead.

And, so they abandon the faith to continue living how they want to live. So, they will twist the Scriptures to their advantage to excuse away what they know is wrong and to appease their own consciences. Or else they will cherry pick the Scriptures they like, and they will ignore those Scriptures which tell them they must walk in obedience to the Lord.

James 1:25 ESV

“But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”

The law of liberty is not liberty to continue living in sin once you are “saved.” God’s grace to us is not freedom to keep on living in sin, as many people would have you believe or would imply by what they teach. The Scriptures are clear on this subject! If we continue living in sin, then we don’t have eternal life with God (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:16-21; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 1 Jn. 2:3-6).

The law of liberty is freedom from slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin. For, this is the reason for which Christ died, that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. For, by faith in Jesus Christ, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (1 Pet. 2:24; Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).

So, the perfect law is the gospel of Jesus Christ. And, that gospel message is not just that Jesus forgives us our sins so we can escape hell and so we can go to heaven when we die. It is that we must die with Christ to sin and live to Christ and to his righteousness. We must walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh if we want to be saved from our sins and have eternal life with God.

And, faith in Jesus Christ isn’t some mere acknowledgement of him or some emotional decision to “believe” in him for salvation. Faith in Jesus Christ means we repent of (turn away from) our sins, we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, and we now walk in obedience to his word (to his commands). And, it isn’t a one-time decision, but it is a lifestyle (Rom. 8:1-17).

We must continue to be doers of the word and not hearers only. We must persevere in our walks of faith and obedience to our Lord, in his power and strength. This must be how we walk, how we live if we want to be saved from our sins and to have eternal life with God. For, our salvation will not be complete until Jesus returns, and then everyone will receive what is due him (Gal. 5:16-21; Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8; 2 Co. 5:10; Eph. 5:3-6).

If Jesus Goes with Me

By Charles A. Miles, pub. 1908

It may be in the valley, where countless dangers hide;
It may be in the sunshine that I, in peace, abide;
But this one thing I know—if it be dark or fair,
If Jesus is with me, I’ll go anywhere!

It may be I must carry the blessed Word of life
Across the burning deserts to those in sinful strife;
And though it be my lot to bear my colors there,
If Jesus goes with me, I’ll go anywhere!

But if it be my portion to bear my cross at home,
While others bear their burdens beyond the billow’s foam,
I’ll prove my faith in Him—confess His judgments fair,
If Jesus stays with me, I’ll stay anywhere!

It is not mine to question the judgment of my Lord,
It is but mine to follow the leadings of His Word;
But if to go or stay, or whether here or there,
I’ll be, with my Savior, content anywhere!

If Jesus goes with me, I’ll go anywhere!
’Tis heaven to me, where’er I may be, if He is there!
I count it a privilege here, His cross to bear,
If Jesus goes with me, I’ll go anywhere!

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