Bible study update… James 2:12 – How does the law that gives freedom fit with salvation by faith?

The following are some notes following on from our Tuesday online Bible Study on James 2.

12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom

James 2:12 (NIV-UK)

At first sight, when James mentions the law that gives freedom, it’s easy to start feeling condemned – to feel like this is a law of works that we need to fulfil… Another commandment that places demands on us.

And yet this is the law that gives freedom – the law that Christ has fulfilled, and that sets us free.

So we aren’t being called to keep this law so that we are saved… Christ has already done this when he died for us on the cross…

BUT the law is a true reflection of what God’s family should look like when it works well – family rules for the good of us all, if you like…

So when James talks about favouritism, he’s saying – not here’s how to save yourself, BUT here’s how we ought to act as children of God. Not because you need to top up your salvation credits (we’re already saved by faith), but because we’re already saved by Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross, already part of God’s family… and now we’re called to live according to God’s family rules because it’s good for us, and good for the people around us…

This is freeing. When I hear that I lack tolerance and show favouritism (the accusation of James 2), instead of cowering in fear of the God who might reject me, I can confess my sins, rejoicing in the law that has covered my sins and given me freedom – I can celebrate that although I know I fall short, I am already set free, and I can now seek to live for Him out of gratitude.

That changes the way I approach this week. I’m not expected to be perfect – God is realistic – but I am expected to reject what I can see is sinful in my life – that is, showing favouritism to some of God’s people over others… That’s the challenge James (and God) has set before me, to keep on making me into the child of God he always intended me to be.

And I’m not in this alone. I have the Holy Spirit indwelling me, who actually CAN change my heart, where I’m powerless to. So this really is possible.