Summary: Introduction to Ten Commandments series: The Place of the Law in the Life of a Christian (Title taken from a book by Michael Horton)
The Law of Perfect Freedom
I would probably never have the guts to do it, but I love to watch skydiving – especially when they are in free fall – before they open their parachutes. It just looks so fun and so amazing – and yes, kind of terrifying – to see human beings literally flying thousands of feet above the earth with nothing holding them up but the wind. Can you imagine it? What a feeling of freedom there must be in that – seeming to defy even the Law of Gravity.
But what if some guy decides he doesn’t want to use a parachute? “I just want to fly freely!” he says. “I don’t want to be bound to something that’s just going to slow me down!”
Well, for the first 30 seconds or so, he is free. He’s free falling and seems suspended in air. But of course, he’s not perfectly suspended. He may imagine that he’s free from the parachute, but he’s still subject to gravity and it won’t be long before he crashes.
Freedom is a funny thing. People define it in all kinds of ways. Often, we claim that we’re free if we can do whatever we want to do – when there are no restrictions.
But think about the skydiver for a minute: is he freer WITH the parachute, or without it? Initially, it seems he’s freer without it, but in reality, without the parachute, he has no choice but to obey the Law of Gravity – and suffer the consequences of ignoring it.
How about something a little closer to home – or a little closer to earth, anyway! Think about what has gone on in Iraq in the last few weeks. The Iraqi government brutally oppressed its people. But when the coalition forces marched in, suddenly there was no government! So then the people were FREE, right? Not really. They didn’t think so. Why not? Because there was so much looting and violence – there was NO order, NO police, NO rule of law. Everyone did whatever they wanted and there was no one to stop them.
But that is not freedom, and the Iraqis begged the U.S. to bring ORDER. Ironically, the people of Iraq can’t be FREE until there is LAW that is enforced.
In the passage we read this morning, James urges his readers to: "look closely into the perfect law that sets people free"
That “perfect law” is, of course, God’s Law.
During this quarter of Sunday School, our young people are being challenged to memorize the 10 Commandments.
In recent years, there have been numerous lawsuits regarding the posting of the 10 Commandments in public places.
Many Christians have spoken out strongly about the value of having the 10 Commandments posted in schools or in halls of justice. But I’ve often wondered how many of us ADULTS could name all 10 Commandments.
So, as the young people work on memorizing them, I thought it would be of benefit to all of us to get a refresher course on them. So over the next several weeks (like probably 10 weeks) I will be preaching on the 10 Commandments.
But before I actually started in on the Commandments themselves, I thought it would be valuable to take a look at why we would study this small part of the Old Testament Law. After all, we don’t obey the parts of the law that talk about sacrificing animals or all kinds of other laws. What parts of the Old Testament Laws are still applicable to us today? And why those and not others? I’d be willing to bet that none of you would be really excited about returning to that set of Laws, but it makes sense to ask, “If we really believe the Bible is the word of God, then why DON’T we follow ALL the Laws of the Old Testament?”
Here, I hope, is some kind of an answer.
There are three types of Laws contained in what we call “The Books of the Law” (first 5 books of the Bible, also called “The Books of Moses” or the Pentateuch)
There is Ceremonial law, Civil law, Moral law
They are not introduced as such when you read them in the Bible, but they can be identified as we read them.
Ceremonial Law had to do with those things which related directly to the Jewish religion, which was based on the sacrificial system.
That is, in order to atone, or pay for their sins, the people would have to sacrifice an animal.
A great deal of the worship of Israel was based on these sacrifices.
All the Laws about the Ark and later the Temple –
All the Laws about the priests –
– all were based on offering sacrifices to God.