psa 119.1Today we still get to talk about the Law of Liberty.  You see, we have a concept of the Law of God, and we think that the Law of God is all the things we should not do.  Some of the Law is positive, isn’t it?—“Do this.”  Some of it’s negative—“Don’t do this.”  That’s really still a positive, because if you want to live and be blessed, don’t do that.

Now what’s the basis of the Law?  The basis of the Law is not, “Do” and “Do not.”  The basis of the Law is the character of God.  Obeying the Law of God is defined this simply: Acting in a manner that is congruent with the character of God.  It’s not about “Do” and “Do not.”  Paul writes to Timothy in First Timothy 1:5, “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.”  See, the purpose of the Law is so that we might rightly relate to God in His holiness and His character.  The Law defines for us who He is, what He loves, what He’s all about.  The New Testament refers to it as “the Law of Liberty.”

We have to understand, there’s some qualifications when it comes to the Law of God.  First Corinthians 2:14 says, “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”  There are times when it doesn’t matter how detailed you get in your diagram, in your chart, and in your explanation—that lost person is not going to understand what you’re saying, because the Holy Spirit is not opening their eyes and illumining their to mind to it.  They don’t get it.  Why?  Because Paul says in Ephesians 4 that our understanding is darkened.  The Spirit has to act upon us to illumine our minds to the truth.

Now that doesn’t mean that we don’t shine the light and sow the seed, does it?  It means that we shine the light, we sow the seed, and we leave the soil type up to God.  Four types of soil, right?  Matthew 13.  And you know what we think?  Too often, we don’t go out and sow the seed.  Too often, we think we’ve got to go get the soil ready to receive the seed.  We’re not called to till the field.  We’re called to sow the seed, and it will fall where it falls, and God will bring forth the fruit that He purposes to bring forth, right?  Sow the seed.

Now we will look later in Hosea at a message titled, “Break Up the Fallow Ground.”  But understand, that’s not breaking up somebody else’s fallow ground—we like doing that.  It’s breaking up the fallow ground of our own hearts, and we don’t like doing that.  Sow the seed.

Philippians 2:12-13 says, 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”  I love Philippians 2:13: “It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

If you don’t want to do what God wants you to do, then talk to God about it and tell Him to change your mind.  Tell God to give you the will.  Tell God to put the desire in, and to take the wrong desire out.  Don’t go to God and say, “Help me.”  God is not in the helping business.  God is in the doing business.  “Here’s the Word, do it.  Here’s the Word, want it.  Here’s the Word, crave it.  Here’s the fruit to be produced in you by the Spirit.  Produce these things.”  If you’re not, ask God to do it in you.  Ask God to change what you want.  Ask God to conform your will to His will.  Do it for His good pleasure.

Second Thessalonians 3:3-4 says, But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you.”  That is a great thing for a pastor to say to his congregation: “I am confident in the Lord that you’re going to do, you have been doing, and you will be doing, the things we command you.”  Woe be it unto any preacher today to command anybody to do anything.  But if it’s coming from the authority of the Word of God—and you understand the authority is not, “And I’m the pastor, you do what I say,” right?—if the authority is in the Word of God, when you’re commanded to do the Word of God, do you do it?  Do you obey?

James 1 reminds us, 21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”  Again, what is the agent at work here?  It is the Word of God, implanted by the Spirit.  22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

In this age of information, everybody can Google a biblical answer and win a theological debate, right?  But that does not mean that we possess what we profess.  A.W. Tozer said, “The curse of the twentieth century church is that we think because we know something, that that means we possess something.  Knowledge in the head is not the same thing as possession through the life.”  We know so that we might do.  We hear so that we might obey.

23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work”—did you catch the change in words there?  We went from “word” to “work”—“this one will be blessed in what he does.”  It’s not just knowing the Word, it’s doing the work that the Word tells us to do.

These are our qualifications.  This is the Law.  And we can boil the Law down to this—Jesus summed it up in two laws, didn’t He?  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”  That means you love God with everything you are.  “And love your neighbor as yourself.”  And we sometimes think that we can love God with all we are, but my neighbor?  Forget him.  Listen, if you’re not loving your neighbor, you’re not loving God.  You love God with all that you are, you love your neighbor as yourself—and who’s your neighbor?  Oh that’s right, anybody you bump into—especially the people you don’t like.  That’s your neighbor.  Love them.  “Well, they’re an enemy of the cross.”  Even more reason to love them enough to tell them the truth and to demonstrate the truth in the way that you live.

When we boil all of this down, the Law of Liberty is this: Repent, believe, and obey.  It is salvation by grace, in Ephesians 2.  We’ve saved by grace through faith, and that not of ourselves; not of works, lest anyone should boast, because God has given us—He’s says He’s given us good works that we might walk in them.  What’s amazing to me about the gospel is that God gives us everything we need to hear, to receive, to do, and to walk.  It’s not a mystery.  He gives it all to us.  It’s a package deal.  Are we listening?  Do we repent, do we believe, do we obey?

Think about the Word of God and how the Word of God is qualified.  Psalm 19:7-11 is a powerful passage on the Word of God and on the Law of the Lord.  “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.”  There are some who would argue with you today in the public square that the Law of the Lord is not perfect, the Law of the Lord is hate-speech.  So be it.  God’s Word is still perfect.  We are still bound by it.  It tells how to live, it tells us how to think, it tells us what to say.  Are we going to be true to it?

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. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.”

Ezra sets an example for us.  As the nation returned from captivity, Ezra and Nehemiah lead the people back, Ezra serving to teach the Word of God.  It says there in Ezra 7:10, 10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.”  It’s not enough to do; we also have to teach—teach others by example and teach others by telling them.  This is what we need to do.

Psalm 1:1-3 also tells us, not only are we to seek and to do the Law, but we’re also to delight in it.  Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.”  Here—here is the Prosperity Gospel.

You know that the word “success” appears in the Scripture—do you know where that is?  It’s in Joshua 1:8.  And do you know what brings success in God’s economy?  Meditating on the Word of God.  Now that kind of doesn’t fit with the Prosperity Gospel we hear nowadays, does it?  In fact, the Prosperity Gospel today doesn’t go to God and say, “What must I do?”  The Prosperity Gospel goes to God and says, “Here’s what you have to do for me.  Here’s what you owe me.  Here’s what I expect from you.  Here’s what you give me.”

The Law is not that way.  When we delight in the Law of the Lord, we are delighting in the character of God.  We’re meditating on Him.  And that’s when we prosper.  That’s when we find success.  Jesus said it in John 15: “Abide in Me and let My words abide in you.”  The word “abide” means “remain.”  “Remain in My word and let My word remain in you.”  If you’re going to remain in something, you’re going to be familiar with it.  You need to know it, you need to be using it, you need to be working in it.

Psalm 119:1 also tells us we’re to walk in it.  “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, Who walk in the law of the Lord!”  Do we walk in His Law?  We should be, every day, walking in obedience.  And you see, that’s the dichotomy.  People think that grace is the antithesis to Law.  Grace is not the antithesis to the Law.  The Law says, “This is the character of God, and you have fallen short, and you cannot keep God’s Word.  So you need a substitute.”  And by grace, we’re given a substitute, and by grace, now we’re given the will to do and the want to do the will of God.

Grace empowers us to be obedient.  That’s why Jesus says, “Why do you call me Lord, and don’t do the things I do?  If I’m really Lord, you’re going to bow to me.”  By the way—we’ve said this before—you don’t make Jesus Lord.  If you made your boss your boss, then you’re your boss’s boss, right?  You don’t make Jesus Lord.  God made Jesus Lord.

The question is, Are we bowing to Him?  Are we obedient, or disobedient?  That’s what the Christian life boils down to.  I know, sometimes when it’s simple, it stings, right?  This is the Christian life—Obey, or disobey.  And here’s the good news: It comes to us naturally to disobey, so God by His grace and His Spirit and Word empowers us so that we might obey.  So now He gives us exactly what we need to fuel that desire and to carry out obedience.  God gives us everything so that we can walk in His Word, so that we can hear and we can  what He says.