In much of the Body of Christ, there is an imbalance when it comes to our concept of law and grace. James 1 talks about looking intently at the perfect law of liberty. In order to understand “liberty” or freedom in Christ, we must have the full counsel of the Word of God.
We have two extremes that are both in jeopardy of error. The law, which is good, was meant for sinners — to bring a person to Christ by showing how impossible it is to fulfill the full requirements of the law. And yet, whole segments of the church live under a legalism that produces no joy or peace. Church leadership has used this as a way of manipulating people to do what it wants (guilt trip). Man is sinful, but when he comes to Christ, he is supposed to become a new creature with a new nature. The law of the Spirit of life has set us free from the law of sin and death. Our righteousness is not based on the law, but is a gift paid for by the sacrifice of Jesus. It is finished until you realize that truth, you cannot walk in true freedom. Just like the Pharisees of old, many have added to Jesus commandments, (found in Luke 6) in order to cover every little area of our unsanctified lives instead of teaching us how to walk in the freedom that is ours when we walk in the Spirit (we will not fulfill the lusts of our flesh).
Others have used a form of “grace” that is nothing more than a license to do anything they want. Grace empowers us to live a life that pleases the Lord and the fruit of that is obedience to His will, which is to allow Christ to be formed in you. When we think it is OK to do anything we want (after all, Jesus already paid for every sin I ever have or ever will commit), we are working contrary to the highest law of all, the law of love. When we love God and others, we will not do things contrary to His nature. Our sole purpose is to please Him and bring the highest honor to His name. Paul understood this and limited his liberty in some areas because of the higher law of love.
Most teachings on grace that lean toward license to do anything are self centered rather than God centered.
True freedom happens when you believe correctly. Temptations and trials happen to all of us — I don't think they can be avoided. But allowing those life circumstances to dictate our beliefs, rather than allowing our belief system to empower us to go through whatever may happen to us, will only cause defeat and bondage in our lives.
Jesus was “full of Grace and Truth.” He never compromised truth but His love for mankind gave Him the ability and insight when dealing with humans, to have compassion on their frailties.
It is my desire to do the same. Jesus never succumbed to peer pressure (being a people pleaser), never compromised truth, always sought to bring honor to His Father. I think when we do the same, we will walk in the freedom of the Holy Spirit.