Let Jehovah Lead You to True Freedom
“[Peer] into the perfect law that belongs to freedom.”—JAS. 1:25.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN?
What law leads to true freedom, and who benefit from that law?
What is the secret to gaining true freedom?
What freedom awaits all who stay on the path to life?
1, 2. (a) What is happening to the world’s freedoms, and why? (b) What freedom lies ahead for Jehovah’s servants?
WE ARE living in a time of increasing greed, lawlessness, and violence. (2 Tim. 3:1-5) In response, governments make more laws, strengthen police forces, and install electronic surveillance. In some countries, private citizens try to increase their safety by installing alarm systems in their homes, as well as extra locks and even electric fences. Many refuse to go out at night or to let their children play outside unattended—day or night. Clearly, freedom is on the wane, and the trend will likely continue.
2 Back in the garden of Eden, Satan asserted that the key to true freedom is independence from Jehovah. What a malicious and monstrous lie that has proved to be! Indeed, the more that people disregard the moral and spiritual boundaries established by God, the more society as a whole suffers. This worsening condition also affects us as Jehovah’s servants. Nevertheless, we have the hope of seeing an end to mankind’s enslavement to sin and corruption and of enjoying what the Bible calls “the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Rom. 8:21) In fact, Jehovah has already begun preparing his servants for that freedom. In what way?
3. Jehovah has given Christ’s followers what law, and what questions will we consider?
3 The answer lies in what the Bible writer James called “the perfect law that belongs to freedom.” (Read James 1:25.) Other Bible versions render this phrase “the law that makes us free” (The New English Bible) and “the perfect law of freedom” (The New American Bible). Normally, of course, people associate law with restrictions, not with freedom. What, then, is “the perfect law that belongs to freedom”? And how does that law make us free?
THE LAW THAT SETS FREE
4. What is “the perfect law that belongs to freedom,” and who benefit from it?
4 “The perfect law that belongs to freedom” is not the Mosaic Law, for that code made transgressions manifest and was fulfilled in Christ. (Matt. 5:17; Gal. 3:19) To what law, then, was James referring? He had in mind “the law of the Christ,” also called “the law of faith” and “the law of a free people.” (Gal. 6:2; Rom. 3:27; Jas. 2:12) “The perfect law,” therefore, encompasses everything that Jehovah requires of us. Both anointed Christians and the “other sheep” benefit from it.—John 10:16.
5. Why is the law of freedom not burdensome?
5 Unlike the law codes of many countries, “the perfect law” is neither complex nor burdensome but consists of simple commandments and basic principles. (1 John 5:3) “My yoke is kindly and my load is light,” said Jesus. (Matt. 11:29, 30) Additionally, “the perfect law” has no need for a long list of sanctions, or penalties, for it is founded on love and is engraved on minds and hearts, not on tablets of stone.—Read Hebrews 8:6, 10.
HOW “THE PERFECT LAW” SETS US FREE
6, 7. What can be said about Jehovah’s standards, and why is the law of freedom liberating?
6 The boundaries that Jehovah has set for his intelligent creatures are for their benefit and protection. Take, for example, the physical laws that govern energy and matter. People do not complain of being oppressed by those laws. Rather, they appreciate them, recognizing that natural laws are essential for their welfare. Likewise, Jehovah’s moral and spiritual standards, reflected in “the perfect law” of the Christ, are for man’s benefit.
7 In addition to being a protection, the law of freedom allows us to satisfy all our proper desires without harming ourselves or encroaching on the rights and freedoms of others. The secret, then, to being truly free—being able to do what we desire—is to cultivate the right desires, those that harmonize with Jehovah’s personality and standards. In other words, we have to learn to love what Jehovah loves and to hate what he hates, which the law of freedom helps us to do.—Amos 5:15.
8, 9. What benefits come to those who adhere to the law of freedom? Illustrate.
8 In our imperfect state, we struggle to subdue wrong desires. Nevertheless, as we loyally adhere to the law of freedom, we taste its liberating powers even now. To illustrate: A new Bible student named Jay was addicted to tobacco. When he learned that his habit displeased God, he had to make a decision. Would he continue to submit to his flesh or would he subject himself to Jehovah? Wisely, he chose to serve God, even though his flesh ached for nicotine. How did he feel after overcoming his habit? “I felt wonderfully free and overjoyed,” he later said.
9 Jay learned by experience that the world’s freedoms, which allow people to ‘mind the flesh,’ actually enslave, whereas Jehovah’s freedoms, which mean “the minding of the spirit,” set free and lead to “life and peace.” (Rom. 8:5, 6) Where did Jay find the strength to overcome his enslaving habit? Not within himself; it came from God. “I regularly studied the Bible, prayed for holy spirit, and sought the loving help willingly extended to me by the Christian congregation,” he said. These same provisions can help us all in our quest for true freedom. Let us see how.
PEER INTO GOD’S WORD
10. What does it mean to “peer” into God’s law?
10 James 1:25 reads, in part: “He who peers into the perfect law that belongs to freedom and who persists in it . . . will be happy in his doing it.” The original Greek word translated “peers” means “to stoop to look into,” which implies concentrated effort. Yes, if we want the law of freedom to affect our mind and heart, we must do our part by diligently studying the Bible and prayerfully meditating on what we read.—1 Tim. 4:15.
11, 12. (a) How did Jesus stress the need to make the truth our way of life? (b) As illustrated above, what danger must young ones in particular avoid?
11 At the same time, we must ‘persist,’ or endure, in applying God’s Word, thus making the truth our way of life. Jesus expressed a similar thought when he said to some who believed in him: “If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31, 32) To “know,” says one reference, here means also to have appreciation because “what is ‘known’ is of value or importance to the one who knows.” Thus, we “know” the truth in the fullest sense when we make it our way of life. Then we can rightly say that “the word of God” is “at work” in us, molding our personality so that we more closely reflect our heavenly Father.—1 Thess. 2:13.
12 Ask yourself, ‘Do I really know the truth? Have I made it my way of life? Or do I still crave some of the “freedoms” of the world?’ Looking back on her youth, a sister who was raised by Christian parents wrote: “When you grow up in the truth, Jehovah is always there, as it were. But in my case, I never really got to know him. I never learned to hate what he hates. I never believed that what I did mattered to him. And I never learned to go to him when I was in trouble. I leaned on my own understanding, which I now know was ridiculous because I knew nothing.” Happily, the sister later realized that her thinking was very wrong, and she made some major changes. She even began to serve as a regular pioneer.
HOLY SPIRIT CAN HELP SET YOU FREE
13. How does God’s holy spirit help to set us free?
13 At 2 Corinthians 3:17, we read: “Where the spirit of Jehovah is, there is freedom.” How does holy spirit contribute to our freedom? Among other things, it produces within us qualities that are essential to freedom—“love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.” (Gal. 5:22, 23) Without those qualities, especially love, no society can be truly free—a fact that is obvious in the world today. Interestingly, after listing the spirit’s fruitage, the apostle Paul added: “Against such things there is no law.” What did he mean? The fruitage of God’s spirit is not restricted by any law that can limit its growth. (Gal. 5:18) After all, what would be the point of such a law? It is Jehovah’s will that we cultivate Christlike qualities forever and display them without restriction.
14. In what ways does the world’s spirit enslave those who submit to it?
14 Those who are enthralled by the world’s spirit and who indulge their fleshly desires may think they are free. (Read 2 Peter 2:18, 19.) The reality, however, is quite the opposite. Mountains of rules and regulations are necessary to curb their hurtful appetites and behavior. “Law is promulgated, not for a righteous man, but for persons lawless and unruly,” says Paul. (1 Tim. 1:9, 10) They also are slaves of sin, driven to do “the things willed by the flesh,” which is a cruel master. (Eph. 2:1-3) In a way, such individuals are like insects that crawl right into a bowl of honey. Driven by their appetite, they soon find themselves entrapped.—Jas. 1:14, 15.
SET FREE WITHIN THE CHRISTIAN CONGREGATION
15, 16. How important is our association with the congregation, and what freedom do we enjoy?
15 When you began associating with the Christian congregation, you did not join some sort of social club. Rather, you came into the congregation because Jehovah drew you. (John 6:44) What moved him to do so? Did he see a righteous, God-fearing person? “Not at all!” you may say. What, then, did God see? He saw a heart that would be receptive to his liberating law, a heart that would submit to his kind influence. Within the congregation, Jehovah has nurtured your heart by feeding you spiritually, setting you free from religious falsehoods and superstitions, and by teaching you how to develop the Christlike personality. (Read Ephesians 4:22-24.) As a result, you have the privilege of being among the only people in the world who can rightly be called “a free people.”—Jas. 2:12.
16 Consider this: When you are in the company of those who love Jehovah with all their heart, do you feel afraid? Do you find yourself constantly glancing over your shoulder? While engaging in conversation at the Kingdom Hall, do you keep a firm grip on your belongings lest they disappear? On the contrary! You feel at ease and free. Would you feel that way at a secular event? Not likely! What is more, the freedom that you enjoy now among God’s people is just a foretaste of the freedom that lies ahead.
“THE GLORIOUS FREEDOM OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD”
17. How is mankind’s freedom related to “the revealing of the sons of God”?
17 When discussing the freedom that Jehovah has in store for his earthly servants, Paul wrote: “The eager expectation of the creation is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God.” Then he added: “The creation itself also will be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Rom. 8:19-21) “The creation” refers to mankind with the earthly hope, those who will benefit from “the revealing” of God’s spirit-anointed sons. That revealing will begin when these “sons,” resurrected to the spirit realm, share with Christ in cleansing the earth of evil and preserving “a great crowd” into the new system of things.—Rev. 7:9, 14.
18. How will freedom increase for obedient mankind, and what freedom will they finally enjoy?
18 Redeemed mankind will then experience a completely new freedom—freedom from the influence of Satan and the demons. (Rev. 20:1-3) What a relief that will be! Thereafter, Christ’s 144,000 fellow kings and priests will continue to liberate mankind by progressively applying the benefits of the ransom sacrifice until Adamic sin and imperfection have been fully erased. (Rev. 5:9, 10) Having proved faithful even under test, humans will have attained the very perfection of freedom that Jehovah has purposed for them—“the glorious freedom of the children of God.” Think! No longer will you struggle to do what is right in God’s eyes, for your entire organism will have been perfected and your personality will have been fully transformed according to God’s image.
19. Today, what must we continue to do in order to remain on the path to true freedom?
19 Do you long for “the glorious freedom of the children of God”? If so, let your mind and heart continue to be influenced by “the perfect law that belongs to freedom.” Yes, diligently study the Scriptures. Live the truth, making it your own. Pray for holy spirit. Take full advantage of the Christian congregation and the spiritual food Jehovah provides. Do not let Satan deceive you, as he deceived Eve, into thinking that God’s ways are unduly restrictive. To be sure, the Devil can be very clever. But as we shall see in the following article, we need not be “overreached by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his designs.”—2 Cor. 2:11.
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Do I still crave some of the “freedoms” of the world?
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Have I made the truth my way of life?