(The following are summarized excerpts of previous conversation on the subject of the Law and the Believer)
Are we as believers in Jesus Christ, still to keep the Torah (law)? Have we been set free from the Torah to serve in the new way of the Spirit. Many of our Jewish brethren still believe we should be upholding the tenets and ordinances of the Torah. I’ve heard some say that whatever Jesus didn’t correct remains intact (from the Old Testament) and authoritative and that we should still be celebrating all the feasts from the Torah. They will quote Matthew 5:17-20 which is as follows:
17 “Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete. 18 Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud or a stroke will pass from the Torah— not until everything that must happen has happened. 19 So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvot and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys them and so teaches will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness is far greater than that of the Torah-teachers and P’rushim, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven! (CJB)
I disagree with saying ‘Whatever Jesus didn’t correct remains intact and authoritative’. There is quite a lot that Jesus didn’t ‘correct’, at least so far as is recorded in the Gospels. Secondly, yes, Jesus did observe the feasts right up to the time of His death, just as He also would have observed tithing, observing the Sabbath(s), and any other of the ordinances in the Law. He had to because He came not to abolish the Law but rather to fulfill it. (Matt 5:17). Now one must consider the timeline in which Jesus is saying these things. He has come in the flesh to walk this Earth-fully God yet also fully man. In order to be spotless lamb sacrificed on the cross, He must live a perfect life, free from sin and under every obligation of God’s Law, since up to that point, the eternal sacrifice and eternal redemption has NOT YET been provided. He is speaking in a ‘pre-sacrificial’ manner. The Jewish people were looking for Him to stir a national revolt and once again lead them to Earthly prominence-restoring the Jewish nation but we all know that is not why He came-at least not the first time (His second coming will be to establish His kingdom here on Earth). We must always weigh the teachings of Jesus in light of the fact that there was no ‘Christianity’ or followers of ‘the Way’. There was no redemption yet. There was no infilling of the Holy Spirit to believers. There was Jesus, the Son of God and son of man, transitioning from the old to the new-showing people what the Father’s original intent of the Law was-not legality and judgment but rather the condition of the heart (sermon on the mount exposed the limitation of the command and revealed what should be the condition of the heart predicating the command)-and that He was about to prepare a better way where men would be set free from the shackles of the law and that any who came to Him would thirst no more.
Again over in Colossians 2:8-18 we read:
8 Watch out, so that no one will take you captive by means of philosophy and empty deceit, following human tradition which accords with the elemental spirits of the world but does not accord with the Messiah. 9 For in him, bodily, lives the fullness of all that God is. 10 And it is in union with him that you have been made full — he is the head of every rule and authority.11 Also it was in union with him that you were circumcised with a circumcision not done by human hands, but accomplished by stripping away the old nature’s control over the body. In this circumcision done by the Messiah, 12 you were buried along with him by being immersed; and in union with him, you were also raised up along with him by God’s faithfulness that worked when he raised Yeshua from the dead. 13 You were dead because of your sins, that is, because of your “foreskin,” your old nature. But God made you alive along with the Messiah by forgiving you all your sins. 14 He wiped away the bill of charges against us. Because of the regulations, it stood as a testimony against us; but he removed it by nailing it to the execution-stake. 15 Stripping the rulers and authorities of their power, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by means of the stake.16 So don’t let anyone pass judgment on you in connection with eating and drinking, or in regard to a Jewish festival or Rosh-Hodesh or Shabbat. 17 These are a shadow of things that are coming, but the body is of the Messiah. (CJB)
Jesus kept the Law to set us free from the burden of the Law. Why was the Law given in the first place? Was it ever given to save or redeem? No. It never could nor was it ever designed for that purpose. As the Apostle Paul states in his letter to the Gatatians in 3:10 ‘All who rely on observing the Law are under a curse’ and furthermore in 3:19 ‘What then was the purpose of the Law? The Law was added because of trangressions until the Seed to whom the promised referred has come.’ and finally in 3:24-25 ‘So the Law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be JUSTIFIED BY FAITH. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the Law.’
Just to clarify on what I’ve just stated (since I know some may make this argument), just because we have been set free from the Law, are no longer under the supervision of the Law, and have been justified by faith in Christ, it in no way in an excuse to live in sin and to indulge the sinful nature. The Apostle Paul states in the 6th chapter of his letter to the Roman church: ‘What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning that grace may increase? By no means, we died to sin, how can we live in it any longer? (Rom 6:1-2); Do not let sin reign in your mortal bodies so that you obey its evil desires (Rom 6:12); What then, shall we sin because we are not under law but grace? By no means! (Rom 6:15); You have been set free from sin and becomes slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness and the result is eternal life.
Now if it says we are ‘free from sin’, how is that possible if we are still trying to keep the law with its feasts and ordinances? The Apostle Paul states in Rom 4:15 ‘law brings wrath (punishment) and where there is no law there is no sin (transgression). Again in chapter 5 verses 13 & 20’for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law.’ & ‘The law was added that the trespass (sins) would increase’. The Apostle John states in 1 John 3:4 ‘Everyone who sins breaks the law, for sin is the breaking of the law.
I could go on and on with this but the point is, man trying to keep the Law only magnifies man’s sin which is the whole reason the Law was given in the first place (Rom 5:20; 7:13). The Law and its ordinances all pointed to the future savior who in Himself would fulfill all the Law and the prophets. The Law and its feasts, in retrospect, show great value to who Jesus is but in no way are they appropriate for a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. To do so is not necessarily wrong, if only for ceremonial and reflection benefit but, if it is done in any way shape or form as to assist in or to secure one’s position of salvation in Christ alone or to somehow assist in one’s atonement for their sin, it is completely out of place and would be to crucify our glorious Lord and Savior all over again.
Some will say that Jesus (Yeshua) came to not only enforce the Law but to increase upon it! To say we should go above it is true in some sense although can be misconstrued and mistakenly communicated as one must keep the law and ‘then some’. Jesus exposed the truth and intent behind the commands (law). The Law in actuality reveals the heart of God. Man’s heart was utterly sinful and thus the Law was given to show them their utter sinfulness but also to show them the heart of the Father, and how far from it they were in their own thinking. It was never a matter of the action itself (which is what the Israelites were guilty of over the years, with the Pharisees, Sadducees and teachers of the Law leaning extremely heavily in this area-Matt 23:23-24.) The Law was given to show men their depravity and keep them bound up in those trespasses until the Savior was revealed (Gal 3:24). The Israelite teachers of the Law were so engrossed in keeping every jot and tittle of the letter of the Law they completely missed the real purpose of the Law-the more important matters (Matt 23:23).
Before these scripture in Romans 6 (mentioned above in previous paragraph), Paul had already gone through how none have kept the law, the reason why the Law was given and how we are no longer justified by the law but rather by faith alone-as in the example of Abraham in Romans 4. He then proceeds in chapter 6 to detail out that just because we have been freed from the Law’s constraints that in no way is that a get-out-of-jail-free card from living a holy, righteous life. We are to be ever more drawing nearer to God through Christ now that we are redeemed by faith in lieu of simply our deeds in submission to a written law. Here is the key: The law has now been written on our hearts as a continual guide in how to live but we are justified only by our faith-not by any additional keeping of the law! (Rom 2:29; 3:27-28; 4:14; 5:1) If we are in any way still trying to keep the law to please God, we have reactivated the power of sin, for through the law is sin activated and empowered! Rom 6:6-7 states the body of sin has been done away with because we died with Christ. Romans 7:1-6 specifically describes our death & divorce to the law and our marriage to another-that of Christ! Romans 8:1-4 specifically states that all the righteous requirements of the law have been fully met in us who are in Christ. If they have been fully met then what purpose still remains in trying to keep them?? None! This is exactly the point the apostle Paul is making in Galatians 3 and in Colossians 2, that we are not to be going back to the Law trying to add it to the Gospel of our salvation, for in Christ, all the fullness of God exists and that fullness now exists in us too as we set our hope fully (and only) on him, not on our works and ability to keep the law.
But was the older covenant done away with? Yes and no. There are many scriptures on the New Covenant in Christ replacing the old and also building upon that which was already established:
Hebrews 7:18 Indeed, because it was weak and ineffective, the former commandment has been annulled
Hebrews 8:7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another
Hebrews 8:13 In speaking of a “new” covenant, he has made the first one obsolete
Each of these scriptures speak about doing away with the former covenant/regulation because it was weak and useless. Hebrews 7:12 states ‘whenever there is a change of the priesthood there must also be a change of the law’. The old covenant made with Moses is obsolete and expired, replaced by a better covenant founded on better promises!
I disagree also that only the moral law reveals the nature and heart of God. The ceremonial law, the civil law and the moral law reveal the heart of God.
Why again does it state in Jeremiah 31:31-34 & Hebrews 8:8-12 that the Lord will make a new covenant with His people that will not be like the previous one? The Lord will place his commands in the very hearts of the people-not the written code as to which keeps being stressed on here.
Again, I am not saying that the grace of God is a license to go sin and live however we feel just because grace has covered us. But I’m also not ascribing to the notion that somehow as a Gentile, I am to be forced under the Jewish Torah and made to keep all the tenants and ordinances to honor God. I believe if those of Jewish descent want to do so, there is nothing wrong with that for theirs is the ‘adoption as sons, the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises…the patriarchs and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ’ (Rom 9:4-5). They are God’s chosen and that has not changed, although they have temporarily experienced a hardening of the heart to allow us Gentiles to be grafted into the vine.