James 1:25 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.
Scripture uses many terms to describe the Word of God, more specifically, the commands of God in the bible. James refers to God's Word in several ways also, the "Law of Liberty" is a description unique to him as he uses it twice in his sermonic letter (1:25 and 2:12). That's right, law that involves liberty.
When people think of God's Law or the "commands of God", it is not unusual for them to have a negative reaction. Liberty or freedom is not what comes to mind when people think of rules, laws, statutes, or commands. The law of God seems so daunting, so impossible to fulfill. Certainly a key purpose in the law of God is conviction of sin in order to turn us to Christ. Still, it would be a mistake to think of God's commands as solely convictive or condemning. As people who are "in Christ", we have had the righteousness of Christ imputed to us by faith and no longer stand condemned under the righteous standard of God. We stand before the righteous God with the merit of Christ, clothed in His righteousness, not our filthy rags. Instead of being depressed or despairing when we think of the many commands, statutes, and precepts of the Word of God, in Christ we can view them with delight just as David did in Psalm 119:97-99 (among other places)-
Oh how I love your law!It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers,for your testimonies are my meditation.
David understood a very important point- the Word of God and it's commands are a righteous reflection of who God is, not haphazard rules designed to trip us up. As people created in God's image, fallen then redeemed, living according to God's law will help us navigate life in a way that brings glory to God and joy to our souls. In a very real sense, the Word of God gives us freedom to be who we were intended to be. The Word of God shouldn't be seen as unnecessarily restrictive or as a mechanism to rob us of freedom. Instead it makes us free to obey and glorify God.
Think of it like this- a major league baseball pitcher has quite a few restrictions placed upon him. In the course of a normal season a team will only allow it's starting pitchers to pitch every 4 days. Further, he is restricted to approximately 100-110 pitches each game. Over the years sports medicine doctors and coaches have discovered this pattern to be most effective in enhancing and extending a pitcher's career. Throwing a ball 80-100 mph puts tremendous stress on the elbow and shoulder area. The body is able to handle such stress if it is limited. The body needs time to recuperate between each pitching episode (a game). A pitcher may feel ready to pitch after two days, however studies have shown it takes 72 hours for the arm to be fully ready to go again. In a bygone era of pitching it was not uncommon for guys to have their arms turn to rubber before they were 30. Since the newer practice of pitching every 4 days and limiting the pitch count, it's not unusual for guys to pitch well in to their late 30's with minimal loss of velocity and some even in to their 40's (Roger Clemens and his artificial enhancement not withstanding).
So, do modern day pitchers complain about how restrictive the guidelines are for them? Do they moan and groan that they are not allowed to pitch every night? No, of course not. They have realized the rules and guidelines have been made for their benefit. They are not restrictions so much as they are safeguards. Even more than safeguards, the rules preserve and promote their success.
We should see the statutes of the Lord in the same way. Obedience to God's Word safeguards, preserves, and promotes our well being for His glory. Commentator J.A. Motyer says it well- "True freedom is the opportunity and the ability to give expression to what we truly are. We are truly free when we live the life appropriate to those who are created in the image of God. The Law of God safeguards that liberty for us.”
May we share the sentiment of King David regarding God's commands-
Psalm 119:129-137 Your testimonies are wonderful;therefore my soul keeps them. The unfolding of your words gives light;it imparts understanding to the simple. I open my mouth and pant,because I long for your commandments. Turn to me and be gracious to me,as is your way with those who love your name. Keep steady my steps according to your promise,and let no iniquity get dominion over me. Redeem me from man's oppression,that I may keep your precepts. Make your face shine upon your servant,and teach me your statutes. My eyes shed streams of tears,because people do not keep your law. Righteous are you, O Lord,and right are your rules.
(there is an irony about the above picture and the pitching illustration I used here. Can anyone guess what it is?) UPDATE: See comments for the irony revelation