Law and liberty 

Frank Chesser 

The desire for liberty is universal. The Declaration of Independence acknowledges liberty as an "unalienable" right, divinely bestowed upon all humanity. Ironically, freedom is not free. America's freedom was purchased by the blood of countless thousands. The supreme price for liberty was paid by Jesus himself. Sin finds its remedy in the blood of Christ, and the shackles of spiritual slavery vanish in the presence of the cross. "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:36). 

There is an unalterable affinity between law and liberty. Freedom disappears in the absence of law. A community without laws to govern and restrain human behavior would result in utter chaos. Every man would be his own law; the strong would prey upon the weak; and the knife would reign supreme in this lawless jungle of humanity. 

Absolute freedom is a contradiction of terms. Eluding the power of one restraint only places one in the grasp of another. Having escaped the law of gravity, the astronaut finds his activities and freedom of movement more limited than ever. Drug addicts, drunkards, murderers, and thieves have negated personal freedom and bound themselves with chains by their refusal to honor God's laws relative to human conduct. 

Law promotes liberty. James described God's law for man today as the "perfect law of liberty" and pronounced blessings upon those who continued therein (James 1:25). Freedom cannot exist nor thrive except in the presence of law, submission thereto, and enforcement thereof Sin is a violation of God's law (1 John 3:4). Thus, sin nullifies liberty and results in slavery. "Whoever committeth sin is the servant of sin" John 8:34). 

Law regulates liberty. Law informs liberty of its bounds and its sphere of operation. Every liberty man has is accompanied by a divine law or principle to control its employment. Even the liberty to do things right within themselves is governed by divine precept (1 Cor. 8). The all­grace­no­law theory encourages sin and thus, abrogates liberty, the very thing that it is intended to promote. The reality of liberty is dependent upon the presence of divine law, man's respect for it, and submission to it out of love for him who gave it. 

Published February 1996