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“And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.” (Psalms 119:45)
In Psalm 119:45 the Psalmist said, “I will walk at liberty: for (or because) I seek Thy precepts.” What he’s simply saying is, “I am going to walk at liberty because I am seeking the precepts of God.” You will find liberty, not searching for liberty, but by pursuing the will of God. Seeking the precepts of God, seeking to obey those precepts, is what produces and protects and preserves spiritual liberty for a child of God.
People in this day and age do a lot of talking about liberty. Most of them wouldn’t know liberty if they fell over it. There is a crowd that makes a big issue of spiritual liberty or Christian liberty, yet there is nothing Christian or Christ-like about their liberty. There is something carnal, something worldly, and something sinful about it. They take liberty and turn it into loose living. It’s either a very misunderstood subject or purposefully misrepresented. People that talk about Christian liberty are quite often justifying lasciviousness and loose living. The Bible talks about taking the grace of God and turning it into lasciviousness, using grace for an excuse for loose living. Folks, that’s not liberty and I’ll prove that beyond any shadow of a doubt from the Bible.
The word liberty in our text is a word that means ‘to be at large.’ It means to be unshackled. It means to be free. A criminal who is still at large is one who has not yet been apprehended. He is one who is still freely moving about, even though he is guilty of a crime. We say he is at large, meaning he has freedom to move about though he should be in captivity. You understand that what a criminal has to labor to achieve, an honest, law abiding citizen enjoys without effort. Because I’m a law abiding citizen, I don’t have to try to be free. I enjoy freedom. I am free to move about as long as I stay within the confines of the law. I don’t even have to sneak around to be free. I can just walk around in plain daylight. I’m not wanted for a crime. The reason I am at large is because I’m not in violation of the law.
According to the text he said that you find liberty seeking the precepts of God, not by seeking liberty. That means things are not always as they appear. The broad way looks like the way to liberty, but the Bible declares that, in reality, it is the narrow way that leads to liberty. In Matthew 7:13-14 the Bible says, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” There is a broad way. Your flesh doesn’t like restriction. My flesh doesn’t like to be told no about anything. What appeals to the flesh is the broad way.
We look at the broad way and say, “Now that’s the way to liberty.” There is not much restriction there. It’s a broad path. It’s wide, but wait a minute, folks. You don’t just want to find out how big the entrance is; you need to learn it’s destination. He said that if you enter at the broad way, it leads to destruction. I don’t want to be unrestricted and end up destroyed, but that’s what the Bible says the broad way leads to. It looks like the way of liberty because it’s wide. There is very little restraint, but when you check where it ends up you find out it ends up in destruction. The word destruction is not talking about ceasing to exist. If somebody is destroyed, it means they live or continue in a state of waste. Their life is a waste. Their resources are wasted and they have no purpose in life anymore. So he said the broad way leads to destruction. That doesn’t sound much like liberty to me.
He said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction,...” He said, “A whole bunch of folks go in there.” It’s appealing to the flesh; that’s why so many go in. He said, “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life,...”
That word life is not talking about mere existence. If somebody dies in their sin without Jesus Christ, where do they go? They go to Hell. Let me ask you a question. Do they have an eternal, conscious existence in Hell? Yes. Does God ever describe that eternal, conscious existence in Hell as eternal life? No, He calls it eternal destruction. He calls it eternal damnation. He calls it a second death. Because life is not merely a conscious existence. Life is a certain quality of existence. The Bible says that the narrow way leadeth to life. Yes, there is some restriction. Yes, it’s entrance is narrow, but what it leads to is liberty and life. What it leads to is a quality of existence. You’d better find out where you want to end up and don’t just take the broad way because it’s unrestricted. You’re not going to like the destination where that road ends up. The narrow way may grate your flesh a little bit. You may not like some of the restriction, but you’re going to like the outcome. You’re going to like where it takes you.
When I get on a road, I don’t get on it because of how wide it is; I get on it because of the destination where it ends up. Suppose I want to go home tonight to Pennsylvania, but when I get over here to I-76, I find out that headed eastbound there is a construction zone with only one lane open for traffic. Do you think I’m going to say, “No way, I don’t like that restriction. I’ll just get on headed west, because there are three lanes open and clear sailing.” No, I decide on the road based on the destination where I plan to arrive.
God wants me to be that wise spiritually, as well. So the broad way will ultimately destroy my liberty though it looks like the way to liberty. It is not as it appears. The narrow way will lead to a higher quality existence or life. What I’m trying to tell you is that liberty is only found within bounds. It is not without bounds.
I am a citizen of the United States of America, but several years ago I went on a mission trip. I boarded a plane in New York City and flew to Moscow, Russia. I got off the plane in Moscow. I went from there down to Minsk in Belarus and to the Ukraine. We had over nine hundred people saved, but the point is this. I am an American citizen, but when I left the boundaries of the United States, I left my Constitutional liberty behind. I couldn’t take that same liberty with me to Moscow. I couldn’t take that same liberty to Minsk. That liberty that I have as an American citizen is within bounds. When I leave the boundaries of the United States, I leave that liberty behind.
There is a spiritual liberty promised to the people of God, but it’s within the boundaries of the precepts of God. When you leave the precepts of God, you leave that liberty behind. You can’t take it with you.
I wonder if these folks ever read their Bibles? They want to call anybody that has any standards a legalist. In James 1:25 the Bible says, “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” You wouldn’t want to be blessed, would you? The perfect law of bondage? Oh, I thought you said that any law or set of rules was equal to bondage. You mean law is necessary to liberty?
Who is going to be blessed? The person that looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues therein. He’s not talking about grace. He’s talking about law. The very premise of liberty is law. Where there is no law, there is no liberty. Where there is no law, there is no protection. Law, if it is uncorrupted and the Bible is the perfect Law of a perfect God, it produces perfect liberty when it is followed. He said that I’ve got to look into the perfect Law of liberty and do what? Continue therein. He’s talking about practicing it, obeying it.
How many people do you think are in prison for murder who did not know it was wrong to murder before they did it? You mean they knew that they were breaking the law? Being aware of the law didn’t produce liberty because they didn’t stay within the confines of the law. They didn’t continue in the law. They got out of bounds.
In James 2:12 He said, “So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” It’s not the grace of liberty; it’s the law of liberty. Do you see the two words that are joined there? It’s not an accident. It’s not a miscarriage of the justice of God. That’s the way it is. Law and liberty go together.
So He talks about the law of liberty. “...they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” Judgment speaks of accountability. Accountability is always built on responsibility and responsibility is built on a system of principles. If you listen to some folks talk about liberty in our day, you’d think there was no accountability. You’d think there was no standard of right and wrong. You’d think it was impossible to do wrong because there are no standards anymore. Grace didn’t eliminate holiness, folks. Grace made it possible. Grace bids me fly and gives me wings. What I couldn’t do by the law, I can do by the grace of God. What I couldn’t do in the flesh, I can do with the help of the Spirit of God that indwells me. He tells us that liberty is built on law.
You say, “But Preacher, we’re not under the law.” Okay, when Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary, He ended the priesthood of Aaron. He ended the ceremonial law. There is no need for an animal sacrifice anymore. There is no need for a lamb to be brought to an altar. Do you know why? Because the real Lamb of God has come and died, been buried, rose again, took His blood up into Heaven, applied it to the Mercy Seat, made atonement for my soul forever. That ended the priesthood of Aaron, and that ended the need for the ceremonial law and the animal sacrifice.
However, the moral law is still intact today. ‘Thou shalt do no murder’ is still intact. “Thou shalt not bear false witness...” is still intact. “Thou shalt not covet...” is still intact. “Thou shalt not commit adultery...” is still intact. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me...” is still intact. Thou shalt not bow down to any graven image is still intact. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain;...” is still intact. That never was the plan of salvation. The law was never, in any age, the plan of salvation. It was always our school master to bring us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. I want you to understand that if you don’t have law, you don’t have liberty. The Bible speaks of the law of liberty. This liberty is the product of the law.
Those that talk about liberty in our day are pretty well described in II Peter 2:19. “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” I’m talking about this, “Come as you are, leave as you were” crowd. There isn’t any conviction, any Bible preaching, any holy standard. They get music that’s better suited for dancing than worshipping. You say, “Nobody wants that old time stuff.” Well, some of us do. There are some people that are Christians for real. They don’t view church as a social club. They came to get something from Heaven, something real, something spiritual, something eternal, something life-changing. They’ll never find it in these churches where they throw every standard out the window and promise them liberty by way of loose living.
He said that the same people that promise them liberty are themselves the servants of corruption, in bondage to corruption. If you are in bondage, are you free? Some people say that liberty is a departure from the precepts of God, and liberty is to abandon the principles and standards of God. Those who say that are a servant in bondage to corruption. They’re not free. They can’t give you what they don’t have. They promise what they do not have themselves. This crowd turns the grace of God into lasciviousness. They turn liberty into lawlessness, and they turn holiness into legalism.
I’m tired of hearing God’s people make excuse and justify sin. “What’s so bad about...” Tell me friend, what verse can you find in the Bible that says, ‘Be ye not so bad, for I am not so bad?’ My Bible still says in I Peter 1:16, “...Be ye holy; for I am holy.” He talks about the law of liberty. No law -- no liberty. Perfect law -- perfect liberty, providing I stay within the precepts of that law. God’s law will protect my God-given liberty.
When you break the law, you don’t destroy the law. You destroy your own liberty. Do we live in a free country? Yes, we do. I’m frustrated about some things from time to time, but we still have a free country. But if this is a free country, why do we have people in jail? I thought this was a free country. If it’s a free country, why isn’t everybody free? Oh, they broke the law. When they broke the law, they didn’t destroy the law, they destroyed their own liberty. When they would not exercise liberty within the bounds of the law, they lost the liberty they did have. When you break the Law of God, you do not destroy the Law of God. You destroy your own liberty.
The truth is that the law of the Constitution is what protects and preserves my God-given liberty in America. When somebody tampers with the law of the Constitution, they’re tampering with my liberty. I don’t smile on that. I don’t like that.
This old King James Bible is the Law of God and protects my spiritual liberty. When somebody tampers with the contents of that Book, they’re tampering with my liberty. I don’t look kindly on that.
The law sets bounds for liberty. Those who stay within bounds enjoy liberty. Those that stay within the framework experience liberty. They don’t have to seek it. They don’t have to labor to find it. It is theirs without effort just by staying within the precepts. In Deuteronomy 32:8 the Bible says, “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people...” In Acts 17:26 He quotes Deuteronomy 32:8 where He says that God hath set “...the bounds of their habitation;” God has set bounds. I want you to know that God has set spiritual bounds. God has set moral bounds. God has set cultural bounds. God has set bounds on the genders. When you get out of bounds and cross the boundaries that God has set, you hurt yourself.
Suppose there was a young man that was so athletic and so talented that he could stand out of bounds at the bench at half court and shoot baskets all day long. “Swish, swish,” one after another. The crowd may be impressed. Everybody says, “Wow! Did you see that? Why that boy is shooting from half court out of bounds and making every basket.” But could I tell you something? He might impress the crowd, but from where he is shooting he is never going to change the score. Nobody will even defend him.
There are a lot of people that really would like to make a difference. There are folks they want to get saved, but they want to get them saved from out of bounds. They’d like to have revival, but they’d like to have revival from out of bounds. They want to get some backslider restored, but they’d like to do it from out of bounds. They want to get their prayers answered from out of bounds.
Friend, if you have any desire to make a difference, you’re going to have to get in bounds to do it. You’re going to have to get inside the framework to do it. Hosea 5:4, a passage of Scripture written to the children of Israel and especially to the tribe of Ephraim, says this, ““They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the LORD.” ” He said, “They won’t frame their doings.” Have you ever noticed that a frame dictates how big the picture can be? Have you ever noticed that the framework of a house or a building dictates how far you can go and still be in the shelter? You can go beyond the frame, but when you do, you give up the shelter and the protection. The tribe of Ephraim was constantly mixed up with the spirit of whoredoms. Do you know why? Because they wouldn’t frame their doings. They wouldn’t stay within the framework of God where they could have communion with Him, where they could be turned unto Him. They left the framework and were constantly bombarded by the spirit of whoredoms. When you get outside the framework of the precepts of God, you are exposing yourself to the spirit of whoredoms, to every kind of false and lying spirit. You put yourself in harm’s way when you do that. You need to frame your doings.
I had a prison ministry in years gone by and something I heard frequently was, “I was framed.” What that means is that I was made to fit the crime. What God’s people need to do is make sure their lifestyle fits the framework of His precepts.
Isaiah 35 is primarily a millennial passage, but it has some great applications for us. It says this in verse eight. “And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness;...” Do you know there is one of those today? There is not just the way of holiness in the millennium. There is a way of holiness today that is outlined in the Word of God. He said some things about the way of holiness. He said, “...the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.” He said that the unclean won’t pass over it. The fool won’t even go there by mistake. In verse nine He said, “No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there:” Do you know what this place sounds like to me? It sounds like a safe place. He said, “The crook, the thief, the liar, the deceiver, the unclean will not be there.” He said, “The fool that said in his heart, ‘There is no God,’ he won’t be there.” You understand that there is a certain crowd of people who will not be in the way of holiness. If I walk in the way of holiness, I will be protected. I will not establish an unequal yoke. I will only meet those people in soulwinning on God’s terms with God’s protection.
Do you remember when Joseph’s brethren came down and he said, “You tell them that you’re shepherds and go to the land of Goshen and you’ll be separated from the paganism of Egypt in Goshen.” Do you remember what he told them? He said, “...for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.” Holiness is just as much an abomination to an atheist or a person who is living in uncleanness. It’s as much an abomination to them as sin is supposed to be to the child of God. They don’t want any part of it.
When I was a young convert, I really didn’t have to work too hard to get separated. I just started trying to live for God. Do you know what I found out? They separated from me. When I drove up, they scattered. “There is that religious fanatic. He’s going to go car door to car door and preach to us here at the pizza shop.” I just kept getting new tracts. Everybody I knew already had one of the other ones. I’d go to hand them one and they’d say, “I already got one.”
I’d say, “You don’t have this one.” The fact is that there are some things that won’t be in the way of holiness. Number one, He said that I’m not to touch the unclean thing. In II Corinthians 6:17 He says, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” He didn’t say, “Don’t wallow in it.” He didn’t say, “Don’t consume it.” He said, “Don’t touch it.” If I get in a place where the unclean won’t pass over, I’m going to be pretty safe. He said, “The way of holiness, they won’t pass over it. They won’t have anything to do with it. They’re going to avoid it like the plague.” Not only that, He said, “The fool won’t err therein. One of these folks who doesn’t believe in God won’t even accidently stumble into the way of holiness.”
He said, “No lion shall be there.” First Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” In the way of holiness the devil does not have unlimited access to me. He can only get in by permission of God, and when God allows him to tempt me, He alone gives me grace to bear it. The Bible says, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (I Corinthians 10:13)
He said that no ravenous beast shall be there. Jude verse 10 talks about those brute beasts, those demonic creatures, or those under the influence of them and how brutal and vile they are. God said that the way of holiness protects me from constant exposure to that crowd, but if I get out of the framework, I’m exposed to the spirit of whoredoms all day long. There are all kinds of people who don’t want to live within the framework, within the boundaries, but they think they’re going to live for God. They think they’re going to go ahead and live for God without obeying the commands.
He talks about the way of holiness, and Holiness means three things:
#1. To be holy means to be pure.
#2. To be holy means to be unique.
#3. To be holy means to be set apart.
The Bible tells me about a man who fits that description. His name was Job. In Job 1:8, God in the first person is describing Job. God said, “..Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” Let’s see if Job fits the description of holiness. Holy means to be pure. It also means to be unique. It also means to be set apart. God said, “..Hast thou considered my servant Job,...” He’s Mine. That means he was set apart to Me. “...that there is none like him in the earth,...” He must have been unique. He wasn’t the run of the mill backslider saying, “What’s so bad about...? I don’t see what’s wrong with... Why do I have to...” He was unique and he was pure. “...one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” Shunned evil and hated sin.
No wonder in verse 10 the devil complained, saying, “Hast not thou made an hedge about him,...” He said, “You have a hedge around him. I can’t touch him. I can’t get to him. It’s not fair.” Everybody wants to claim the protection Job had, but they don’t want to live the holy life he lived. I’m going to tell you what’s protected by salvation -- your eternal soul. That’s it. The only thing the devil can’t do if you’re a born again child of God, he absolutely can never ever doom you to Hell. That is the only thing he can’t do to you because of salvation. The rest of the protection available to the Christian comes through separation and holiness and obedience. The kind of protection that Job had is available to every Christian, but most people live and die and never enjoy it because they’re not interested in the framework of holiness. They’re not interested in staying in bounds. They don’t want to make their journey through life on the highway of holiness. They have other ideas they think are better than the will of God.
In Psalm 17:4 we read, “...by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.” The Psalmist said “Do you know how I’ve kept off the path of the destroyer? By the Word of the lips of God. Obeying the Word of God kept me on the highway of holiness and off of the path of the destroyer.” They are not one in the same.
We can enjoy that hedge of protection like Job had if we will live within it’s boundaries, but it is possible for you to break through that hedge of protection. God warns about that in Ecclesiastes 10:8. “...whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him.” We quite often put hedges on property lines as a landmark to establish a boundary. God said that you can break the hedge if you want to, but “...whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him.” Whosoever gets out of bounds is making himself vulnerable to the enemy. You and I can break the hedge if we want to. We can get out of bounds if we want to. We can step outside the framework if we so choose, and get off the highway of holiness. We can seek for liberty outside the precepts of God if we want to, but a serpent is going to bite us.