Freedom and Responsibility (James 2:12)

So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” (James 2:12, AV)

The United States is considered to be the land of the free. This phrase is sung in our national anthem. Yet, with freedom, there comes responsibility. Freedom demands responsible people. Without responsible people freedom is not possible. Now, I am speaking of a people’s moral compass. Without a moral people, freedom will struggle and people will need a plethora of laws, which will ultimately place restrictions that take away freedom. The problem that I see in our country today is that people are moving away from a Christian foundation. Without an absolute God given moral compass, people will openly embrace more and more restrictions and a loss of freedom.

This is a picture of the issue that James brings to his Jewish readers. With the back drop of the issue of prejudice, he told them that they should act as those under the “law of liberty. The “law of liberty” is that law under which believers have been set free from the judgment and condemnation for sin. The implication of James’ exhortation is that true believers are to speak and act like the spiritually transformed people that they are. They are to act in character responsibly.

The Apostle Paul wrote about such an issue with a word of warning.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” . . . “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:1, 13, AV)

He tells those who, by God’s grace, have been set free that they must be careful not to become entangled again in bondage and that believers are never to use their freedom for an excuse to sin. On the contrary, he tells believers that they are to love one another, which results in serving one another. This means every believer, without any hint of prejudice.

While believers will never come under condemnation for sin (Romans 8:1), there is a time when believers will be judged according to their works, which is a judgment for reward (2 Cor 5:10). This judgment will include a look at how the life of the believer responded to his or her liberty. With our freedom, we have responsibility. God has set us free by His grace alone and He has recreated us for good works (Eph 2:8-10). It is completely out of character for a believer to act contrary to the purposes of God, and as believers, we have a responsibility to love one another regardless of race, financial or social status.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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