What is Christian Liberty?


by Mike Ratliff

25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. James 1:25 (NASB) 

Liberty – ἐλευθερία – eleutheria – freedom, generosity, independence. Freedom is presented as a distinctive blessing of the economy of grace which, in contrast with the OT economy, is represented as including independence from legal restrictions and rules of life (1 Corinthians 10:29; Galatians 2:4; 5:1, 13). In contrast to the present subjection of the creature to the bondage of corruption, freedom represents the future state of the children of God (Romans 8:21; see also vv. 20, 23). The perfect law of freedom (referred to in James 1:25 [above]) is the freedom of generosity, seen exclusively in James 2:12, 13, when the Judge shows his generosity in proportion to the mercifulness of the believers on earth.

Slavery or bondage – δουλεία – douleia – servitude, dependence; the state of a δοῦλος or doulos, a slave. That state of man in which he is prevented from freely possessing and enjoying his life; a state opposed to liberty. In NT used only figuratively (Romans 8:15, 21; Galatians 4:24; 5:1; Hebrews 2:15).

1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 (NASB) 

Galatians 5:1 is often used by some to teach a version of Christian liberty that is not biblical. There are some who teach that this liberty, which is for all genuine Christians, is a freedom to ignore God’s moral Law. This is a form of antinomianism. Those who teach this are giving license to believers to sin. This is not what Paul and James were talking about when they spoke of freedom in Christ and the law of liberty.  Continue reading