"Not Subject to the Law of God?"

Part 4. Christianity's Difficulty with "the Law"

As mentioned, the Hebrew view of faith is not just "believing" in God, as some teach. Even demons believe in him (James 2:19) and know who Yeshua is (Matthew 8:29). Having repented (teshuvah) in faith, we are now to look at the Torah as our "how-to guide" regarding God's will for our lives. The entire Torah is the "Law of Liberty" we are to live by. (James 1:25; 2:12) We cannot pick and choose which Torah commandments we want to follow either (James 2:10-11).

Any religion which, under the guise of  "liberty," picks what it wants out of the Torah according to its own criteria and rejects the rest, stands in opposition to God's liberty through the Torah. (13)

Herein lies a significant problem with Christian Bible interpretation. When it comes to defining what "faith" is, Christianity pays little heed to the fact that in the Hebrew Bible, including the books of the "New Testament," the Hebrew authors had a different view of what "faith" meant as it was taught in their culture. Their view of "faith" is not the same as what we think of in our 20th century non-Hebrew culture.

You can have the best Greek interlinear Bible in the world, but if you don't put the "New Testament" text back into its first century Hebrew context, you cannot arrive at a correct understanding.

For example, Christianity, particularly the more evangelical Protestant denominations, have difficulty explaining parts of the book of "James" -- especially verses such as:

James 2:24 -- "You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone."

If you open a dozen Christian Bible commentaries, you will probably get a dozen "explanations" of this verse. The "Protestant reformer," Martin Luther, had great concerns over the book of "James" being in the Bible, because in his view, it taught works as part of faith. Luther was too immersed in Hellenized Christianity and had such a hatred for the "works" in the Roman church, to understand what this Hebrew writer, (Ya'acov, the brother of Yeshua) was saying. Luther also disregarded Torah because of its "works."

Because of this anti-Torah mindset, the book of "James" (along with the rest of Scripture) continues to be misunderstood. For instance, when "James" makes a POSITIVE reference to the "Law," such as in this verse, it's taught that he can't possible mean the Torah. Take this verse as an example:

James 1:25 -- "But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the word, this man shall be blessed in his deed."

The famous Christian teacher and author, J. Vernon Mcgee gives the following explanation of the above verse:

"'The perfect law of liberty.' This is not the Mosaic Law; it is the law of grace. James does not talk about law here in the same sense that Paul does. When Paul talks about the law, he is talking about the Mosaic Law. When James talks about law, it is the law of faith. There is love in law in the Old Testament, and there is law in love in the New Testament." (14)

McGee doesn't offer any evidence to support why he says Paul means one thing and James another. His explanation as to why "James' law" can't be the same as "Paul's law," is based on the standard Christian theological view of "the Law," that being:

  1. "Paul's Law" is the Law of the "Old Testament" which he taught was done away with in terms of us following it.
  2. As James is making a "positive" reference to "Law," (us looking into it as our guide) then this "good Law" of James can't be the same "bad law" of Paul's, therefore it must mean something else, something called, "the law of grace."

Christianity will point to certain "New Testament" verses to "prove" the Law has ended. The aforementioned theology book by Charles Ryrie, on the subject of "The End of the Law" makes these three claims:

  1. "The Jerusalem Council settled this matter early and clearly (Acts 15) ... Peter described the Law as an unbearable yoke ... they did not try to place the believers under the Law ... they realized the Law had come to an end."
  2. "In 2 Corinthians 3:7-11 Paul even specifies that the part of the Law which was written on stone (the Ten Commandments) was done away. He dares to label the moral part of the Law as a ministry of death and condemnation, but thank God, this has been replaced by the New Covenant which brings life and justification."
  3. "In Hebrews 7:11-12 ... if the Law has not been done away, then neither has the levitical priesthood, and Christ is not our High Priest today. But if Christ is our High Priest, then the Law can no longer be operative and binding on us." (15)

Unfortunately, Ryrie's conclusions are arrived at by interpreting Scripture through the same preset anti-Torah bias. An interpretation of the same three verses from a context-sensitive, pro-Torah standpoint, would be as follows:

  1. Acts 15 -- The Jerusalem Council was called to address the specific issue of Gentiles having to prove themselves through works of the Torah PRIOR to salvation (15:1). The Gospel was now going out to a very pagan Gentile world, and these new believers were coming directly into the faith of Israel through the Messiah, no longer having to "come up through the ranks" of Judaism as Gentiles had before. This was a "new way" of doing things, but it was confirmed by God (15:8). However, it was difficult for many Jews to accept this "instant acceptance of Gentiles," as these converted pagans knew nothing of Torah and brought a lot of terrible practices with them. Once they accepted Yeshua, the Council in fact required these Gentiles to follow certain minimal Torah commands (15:20) in order to fellowship with Jewish (and also other Gentile) believers who already knew and kept Torah. The council gave these basic Torah commands with the understanding that they would learn more of Moses' Torah as they attended Synagogue/Temple. (This is the meaning of Acts 15:21.) Peter's comment in verse 10 is pointing out that if God had commanded perfect Torah observance as a prerequisite to faith, then they all were in jeopardy, as none of them could keep it perfectly prior to faith.
  2. 2 Corinthians 3:7-11 -- Paul does not "label the moral part of the Law, a ministry of death and condemnation." Rather, what he is saying is that only the Spirit of God, received through faith, gives life to the written text of the Torah, which if attempted to be followed apart from the Spirit (in faith), indeed brings death (the curse of the Law). Paul also taught this in Romans chapter 8, saying that those coming to faith, being of the Spirit, are no longer condemned by the Torah -- now saved, they are to follow it. (See the section below, "Is the Torah Realy for Believers?) It is not the Law that is taken away, but the veil (blindness of trying to do Torah without faith) that is removed (circumcised) through trusting in Yeshua.
  3. Hebrews 7:11-12 -- The book of Hebrews is concerned with a very specific teaching that Christianity is ignorant of. Hebrews shows that Yeshua is the permanent Yom Kippur salvation sacrifice and that His priesthood is part of a heavenly priesthood based in the heavenlies, that began with Adam and was passed through the "first born" (or specifically one more deserving than the first born, i.e., Seth, Shem, Jacob). As such, this aspect of the priesthood, the role of the High Priest (cohen hagadol) at Yom Kippur, has changed. In fact, it has in a sense, reverted back to that of the first born. God's original intention was for the first born of each family to continue acting as a priest, but this was corrupted by the sin of the golden calf and only then given to the Levites. (16) The first Covenant was not in itself corrupt. It was the sin of the people, (who made the promise to follow the Torah), that caused it to be considered corrupt (Hebrews 8:8). The new (renewed) Covenant, is essentially the same Covenant. It is "different" primarily in that it is based not on the promise of sinful men, but on the better promise of the Messiah, whose priesthood is eternal (Hebrews 5:6-9, 7:20-22, 8:6). Yeshua's death did not do away or change other parts of the Torah, including the rest of the sacrificial system (which was/is for reconciliation, NOT salvation). Hebrews is concerned with the salvation sacrifice of Yom Kippur, not the rest of the sacrificial system. Additionally, we are NOT yet in the New Covenant. (Jeremiah 31; Hebrews 8:13.)  The books of Ezekiel and Revelation show the sacrificial system (other than the Yom Kippur sacrifice) will return during the Millennium when the Temple is back on Mount Moriah and Yeshua again walks the earth, ruling sinful man with a rod of iron. (17) There is no inconsistency in the idea that parts of the Torah were destined to change as the Torah has that "built into itself." For example, Israel received new revelation for when they were in the Land. Another example is found in Numbers 27:1-11, where we see the addition of commands to deal with the situation where a man dies without any sons to inherit. In none of these cases does God take away the Torah. These things are done, as author David Stern states, "Within the framework of one eternal Torah." (18)

Oddly, Christian author Ryrie acknowledges that the Jewish view of the Law was that of a unit. Speaking of the moral, ceremonial and judicial aspects of the Law, he states:

"Though this threefold division is almost universally accepted in Christian theology, the Jewish people either did not acknowledge it or at least did not insist on it" ... "commands from various parts of the Law were equally binding and the punishment equally severe. The Law was a unit." ... "James approached the Law as a unit. He decried partiality because it violated the law to love one's neighbor as oneself, and this single violation, he said, made the people guilty of the whole Law (James 2:8). He could scarcely arrive at such a conclusion unless the Law were a unit." (19)

Ryrie admits there is a problem understanding how the Law still applies to Christians. His reply is that "the Law of Christ contains some new commands ... some old ones ... and some revised ones." (20)

Ryrie is correct about the unity of the Torah. This then provokes the question; If; a) the Jewish view of the Torah was that of a unit, and, b) Yeshua's own brother "James" taught oneness of the Law in his letter in the Bible, and, c) Yeshua taught the unity of Torah by saying not the smallest part of the Law was done away with by Him -- then how does Christianity defend its position of picking and choosing what is now binding on Christians as part of the "Law of Christ?"

There is no basis for doing so according to the Jewish faith of Yeshua and His early followers. How this theological change came about will be discussed further in this document.

In fact, God does not change. (A popular sentiment heard in churches but not practiced, as the foundation of Christianity is based on the notion that God did change, replacing Torah-observant Israel, as His people, with the non-Torah observant gentile "Church.")

Torah-based Messianic Judaism is the only "religion" God ever created. It is the faith of Yeshua and the faith of Paul (more properly Rabbi Sha'ul) before AND after his Damascus road conversion. It is the faith of the rest of the "New Testament" writers and the faith of the original Messianic community in the first century. (Also known as Nazarene Judaism.)

Torah-based Judaism has always been a religion of salvation by faith -- "Faith" as defined by the Judaism of Messiah Yeshua, his brothers Ya'acov and Yehuda, and his apostles, Kepha, Mattityahu, Yochanan and Sha'ul -- NOT a 20th century westernized gentile definition.


Part 1 - The Christian View of "the Law"
Part 2 - The Hebrew View of the Law/Torah and Salvation
Part 3 - What does the "New Testament" Teach About the Torah and Salvation?
Part 4 - Christianity's Difficulty with "the Law"
Part 5 - The Confusing Christian view of the Believer's Relationship to Torah
Part 6 - How Did the Christian View of the Torah Originate?
Part 7 - Historical Reality Concerning What Yeshua and His Followers Believed
Part 8 - Clarifying the Believer's Relationship to Torah
Part 9 - Is This All Really That Big a Deal?
Part 10 - Concluding Thoughts & Footnotes