Can “The Law” facilitate [Financial] Liberty?

In the 2010 Robin Hood movie by Ridley Scott staring Russell Crowe, King John was rallying the troops against the oncoming invasion of France. Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) spoke to the king and the crowd on behalf of Sir Walter Loxley. He said:

“If your trying to build for the future, you must set your foundation strong. The laws of this land enslave people to its king. A king who demands loyalty but offers nothing in return… In tyranny lies only failure. You build a country like you build a cathedral, from the ground up.

Empower every man, and you will gain strength… If your majesty were to offer justice. Justice in the form of a charter of liberties, allowing every man to forage for his heart, to be safe from conviction without cause, imprisoned without charge, to work, eat, and live off the sweat of his own brow, and be as merry as he can. That king would be great… What we ask your majesty, is liberty. Liberty by law.”

I find this movie to be a great theatrical depiction, not necessarily accurate historically, of the events that led to the Magna Carta; which later paved the way for the Mayflower Compact and the U.S. Constitution. I personally believe the Spirit of God was moving in the hearts of people, during this era, to desire and demand individual liberty like never before in human history. This inalienable liberty was guarded by law.

But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. — James 1:25

The entirety of scripture is written by the power of God’s spirit through many people over thousands of years. God Himself spoke directly to the people of Israel at Mt. Sinai, to give them the Law of God (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, & Deuteronomy), before He brought them to the promised land and established them as His holy nation. In a prior article titled The God of [Financial] Freedom, I point out that God’s laws usher in freedom, whereas the laws of men can many times inhibit freedom.

Question:

Didn’t Jesus do away with the Law of the Old Testament?

Jesus’s Answer:

  • Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Paul’s Answer:

  • Romans 2:12 For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; 13 for it is not the hearers of the Law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the Law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law instinctively perform the requirements of the Law, these, though not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience testifying and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, 16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of mankind through Christ Jesus.

The commandments of God are to be obeyed as explained and fulfilled by Jesus’ life and teaching, not as in the legalistic thinking of the religious authorities of Jesus’ day. For example, sacrifice is commanded by the law, but it was fulfilled in Jesus, so we do not run the danger of being called least in the kingdom of heaven by not sacrificing animals according to the Law. The Christian is done with the law as a means of gaining a righteous standing before God (salvation). One passage that explains this is Galatians 2:21: For if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain. However, the law stands as the perfect expression of God’s ethical character and requirements. The law sends us to Jesus to be justified, because it shows us our inability to please God in ourselves; but after we come to Jesus, He sends us back to the law to learn the heart of God for our own conduct and sanctification.

A great example of this fact, is the history of God’s judgement upon Egypt for enslaving the people of Israel (and other nations). It started with God’s word to Abraham:

  • Genesis 15:13 Then God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years. 14 But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age.”

Hundreds of years later God restated His promise to Moses when He was ready to fulfill the prophecy spoken to Abraham:

  • Exodus 3:19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion. 20 So I will reach out with My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go. 21 I will grant this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be that when you go, you will not go empty-handed. 22 But every woman shall ask her neighbor and the woman who lives in her house for articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and you will put them on your sons and daughters. So you will plunder the Egyptians.”

For 430 years, God had blessed the hands of His people Israel while they were in Egypt, which attracted evil to take advantage of them, desiring to hoard it for their own self-gratification. Israel, however, did not steal from or extort the Egyptians. The “plunder” was the appropriate wages for their years of forced labor. God commanded Israel later in Deuteronomy 15:12–14 that if you have a slave, and his time of service is up, “you shall not let him go away empty handed.” God is always just and therefore made sure His people were justly compensated for their labor.

God did the same thing to Jacob’s uncle Laban when He refused to submit to God and treat Jacob with integrity.

God holds everyone to the same standard whether they know Him or not. Through patients He endures our disobedience, but continuing in sin leads to judgement. Either way, God’s ways are supreme. He put His laws in place to govern the world. We can either accept and follow His instructions, or we can miss out on the incredible opportunities He has for us, with possible adverse consequences.

However, the profound, miraculous grace of God is exemplified in the history of Jonah where he was an ambassador of God to a society that worshipped other gods and engaged in wicked deeds.

  • Jonah 1:1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, the great city, and cry out against it, because their wickedness has come up before Me.”
  • Jonah 3:4 Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Forty more days, and Nineveh will be overthrown.”
  • Jonah 3:5 Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.
  • Jonah 3:10 When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their evil way, then God relented of the disaster which He had declared He would bring on them. So He did not do it.
  • Jonah 4:2 “…I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in mercy, and One who relents of disaster.”

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. –1John 1:9

No matter our past failures to follow God and His ways, no matter the mounting consequences we have piled up against ourselves, by confessing of our disobedience and turning to God for forgiveness, he is ready to forgive and purify us. He is ready to wipe our slate clean and remember our sins no more.

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” –Hebrews 8:12

As we accept God grace and forgiveness, His law, and the entire counsel of God, should become an important part of the instruction manual for life that He so graciously gave us to know Him and follow His way.

Question:

Isn’t the Old Testament, especially the law, difficult to read where we need a special education, knowledge, secret code, etc. to understand it?

Answer:

The entire bible was originally written in languages other than English. The New Testament was primarily written in Greek, and the Old Testament was primarily written in Hebrew. Why? Why did the God of the universe choose to have His Word recorded in these languages originally? Hebrew was a common language during the OT time and Greek was a common language during the NT time. If God wanted His truth to be a secret that only certain people could have access to, why would He allow it to be recorded in a plain, common language that everyone understood? Furthermore, why would He have chosen common people to write it from their own perspective? This question is a lie in disguise that I have told myself for years, that “I can’t, I’m not [smart] enough.” Understanding the Word of God is like learning anything worth doing; it will require some time and some effort, but it’s not difficult or impossible.

In my opinion, the Scariest words Jesus ever spoke were:

Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; leave Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ 24 “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts on them, will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.

Performing extraordinary miracles in the name of Jesus, is not a substitution for a personal relationship with Jesus. Exposure to the Word of God, belief in the Word of God (salvation), and action in the Word of God (sanctification) is the evidence for a fruitful relationship with the Christ, and the foundation for biblically wise stewardship.

My desire is that everyone will accept the Gift of liberty, through Jesus our Lord, and seek to obey God’s voice as He specifically teaches us how to be good stewards of His blessings, no matter the quality or quantity.

“The one who is faithful in a very little thing is also faithful in much; and the one who is unrighteous in a very little thing is also unrighteous in much. –Luke 16:10

The more we seek to obey as individuals and communities, the more flourishing we will experience. God’s promise.

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