Answers For My Conservative Christian Friends

A Response to Frequently Asked Questions and Common Objections to Keeping the Law of God

By David M Rogers

www.BibleTruth.cc

Published: January 2011

Table of Contents

Part 1: A Real Letter From One of My Readers and My Response

The Email

My Line By Line Response

Part 2: Answers to Common Christian Objections to Keeping the Law

Jesus Fulfilled the Law, so Christians Don't Have to Keep It

Those People are Commandment Keepers!

Christians Should Obey the New Law of Jesus, Not the Old Testament Law

Those Who Keep the Law are Trying to Earn Their Salvation by Works

We are Not Saved by Works of the Law, But By Faith

We are Not Under the Law, but are Under Grace

Those Who Keep the Law have "Fallen from Grace"

People Who Obey the Law are Under a Curse!

Summary


Since the early days when I began to look at the Bible, not through the eyes of a denominational interpretation, but from an open attempt to know the true meaning of the text, I have encountered resistant from my conservative Christian friends and family.  People don't like to be told that their theology or their beliefs do not reflect what the Scriptures teach.  Most Christians accept the party line of the church they are attending.

So, when I suggest a different interpretation than that which their pastor preaches and teaches, many Christians object and put up walls to our communication.  They have been so well trained in their own denominational doctrines and traditions that they uniformly reject anything outside their comfort zone.  They have names and labels for people who have different beliefs and opinions.  Their preacher and teacher makes sure that they will resist any attempt from outsiders to persuade them of any other interpretation of Scripture.

This is why its so difficult for Christians to get past the preconceptions of their church tradition.  Their minds have a tough time assimilating information which contradicts the pre-programming of their pastors.  It's almost humorous to hear the response of a conservative Christian to an interpretation of the Bible different from their own.  They always parrot the answers their minister has pounded into them.  Normally they don't have the ability to thing critically and logically.  They will merely regurgitate the "answers" their preacher has carefully implanted into their thinking.

This article is an attempt to answer the common objections Christians have when you tell them that it's important to obey the Law of the Old Testament.  Believers almost always respond in the same way, with the same objections, questions, comments and judgments which they have been taught.  I'd like to answer some of those objections which I'm certain my Christian friends have to the things I've written in the Bible studies on this website.

My Christian friend, this article is as non-confrontational as I can be.  It is anonymous.  Many of your questions and objections to my proposition that believers in Messiah should be keeping all the Law of Moses are going to be answered here.  Read these questions and answers carefully and see if the Scriptures don't support what I am writing and sharing here on BibleTruth.cc.

Part 1: A Real Letter From One of My Readers and My Response

I recently received an email correspondence from a reader of my website. The contents of that email are below.  (I've changed his name to protect his privacy).

Hi David my name is John (not his real name), I love what God is doing in your
life, I love your Web site, I am a new 3 month believer in the TRUTH., I
sent your web site to every one on staff at The Church (not the real name of the church), The Church that i have been going to for the past 3 years, I would like you to
give be advice on what Bible to read and study from. I thank God for sending
you to me.

Thank you!

The same day this reader sent me another email.  He had shared my website with some people from his church, and one of them, a Staff Member, responded to my website.  Here is what he wrote.  (Again, I've changed the names in the email to honor his anonymity):

Hi David this a E-mail I got back From a Staff from the Church (not the real name of the church) that I went To, How do i re pond back to this.

Thank You! John (not his real name)

The Email

hey Bro. John, this is nothing new. this is obviously coming from the
commandment keepers, i have met them and read their materials. they will
tell you that being born-again will not get you to heaven, but keeping the
commandments is what brings eternal life. this is contrary to the teachings
of the word. remember that the sabbath worship was a commandment given to
the Jews. as new testament believers under "grace", and not the "Law", we
are exempt from that command. not that we shouldn't strive to keep the 10
commandments, because they help us in leading a life that is pleasing to God
and others, but our eternity does not ride on it. further more, as James
points out, if we even break one we've broken them all. Gods Grace through
Jesus over-rides all the law. as for sunday worship; this author is correct,
constantine did institute a decree for worshipping on the first day,
however, as acts 20:7 points out, sunday worship was already being observed
by some new testament believers. and, Obviously,God did not not curse their
meeting on the first day of the week, because the gospel and christianity
flourished and spread like wildfire. these people are fear-mongers and know
nothing of the grace of God, they are stuck in the OT law. also, the author
quotes Jesus in John 14, i believe that the "commands and teachings" that
Jesus was talking about, was the words he spoke as he was present; his
teachings in the sermon on the mount, his claims to be the Messiah, all his
sayings and commandments that he spoke while here on earth. the majority of
the people hearing him already believed in the OT commandments and were
striving to keep them. but Jesus brought the "new commandments and
covenants", Mark 1, John 13:34,{just a couple examples, there are many
more}, and, God spoke of this coming "new covenant" in Jeremiah 31:31. in
closing, i don't pay any attention to these kind of people. they talk about
divisions in the church because of false doctrines and such, yet they breed
more division by bashing those who choose to honor Christ by meeting on
Sunday and honoring the day of his resurrection, which, by the way, if did
not happen we would not have a faith and would be empty {1 Corinthians
15:13} according to the Apostle "Shual" as he calls him. as a rule of thumb;
anytime you hear an author or preacher, or someone on TV speak of God using
the Hebrew language repeatedly {as this author does}, they are still bound
up in the OT law and have probably not fully embraced the Grace of god in
Jesus Christ. not that anyone who uses those hebrew terms is, but those who
constantly use them, its a pretty good implication that they are. i don't
doubt that they love God or are not at all saved, but it just raises flags
about where their true faith is, in the law? or in Christ's death, burial,
and glorious Resurrection. i hope this helps you Bro. keep pressing on. we
were at (the Church) sunday, i saw Cindy (not her real name) and asked about you. miss you bro.  maybe we can get together for lunch sometime. please keep us in your
prayers, Becky (not her real name) still needs to find a job. love you in Christ

My Line By Line Response

Here was my response to this person's objections to my website and my interpretation of Scripture and to my faith walk:

He wrote, "hey Bro. John (not his real name), this is nothing new. this is obviously coming from the commandment keepers, i have met them and read their materials."

I responded, "True, this is nothing new.  The interpretation of Scriptures as I have offered it is ancient.  The prophet tells us to consider the ancient paths. The prophet Jeremiah is still speaking to Christians in our day: (6:16) “This is what Yahuwah says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you (Christian) said, 'We will not walk in it.'"

As for being a “commandment keeper,” I take this as a compliment. The Book of Revelation speaks of the believers in the last days as “commandment keepers.”  They are the ones faithful to their Messiah: Revelation 14:12: “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey Elohim's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.”

He said, "they will tell you that being born-again will not get you to heaven, but keeping the commandments is what brings eternal life. this is contrary to the teachings of the word."

I wrote, "It is true that one must be born again to see the kingdom of God.  But your Staff Member friend apparently doesn’t know the Scriptures.  It is a common teaching in the Christian churches that keeping commandments has no bearing on our relationship with God.  Yet, the Messiah Himself taught that keeping the commandments is what causes us to inherit eternal life.  When he was asked, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?,” he responded, “You know the commandments…” and he named a half dozen of the commandments of the Law (Mark 10:17ff).  Messiah did indeed say that keeping the commandments brings eternal life!!!  This is also precisely what the Law says.  Deut 30:15-16 “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love Yahuwah your Elohim, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and Yahuwah your Elohim will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.”

So, what we are teaching is not contrary to the teachings of the word, but what we are saying is completely consistent with the teachings of the Word.

He said, "remember that the sabbath worship was a commandment given to the Jews."

I wrote, "That is a half truth.  The Sabbath day was blessed and sanctified for all mankind on the seventh day of creation week.  “The Sabbath was made for mankind, not mankind for the Sabbath.” (Messiah said that himself!)  God never rescinded the Sabbath, in fact, you will see that the prophets see Messiah in his kingdom and all who inherit the Messianic Age keeping the Sabbath day, and Messiah will be teaching the Torah to the nations from Jerusalem in the Messianic Age (see Isaiah 2:2-4)"

He said, "as new testament believers under "grace", and not the "Law", we are exempt from that command"

I responded, "Nobody is exempt from keeping God’s commandments.  All will be held accountable.  Thus, you would think that those who have benefited from Messiah’s atonement by his death on the tree would be all the more anxious to obey God.  Sadly, this is not what we find in the Christian churches.  Even Paul said, “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!” (Romans 6:15).  The Sabbath is part of the Law.  Sin is defined as transgression of the Law.  Ergo, Paul is saying that grace does not exempt us or excuse us from keeping God’s Law."

He said, "not that we shouldn't strive to keep the 10 commandments, because they help us in leading a life that is pleasing to God and others, but our eternity does not ride on it. "

I wrote, "Exactly. Keeping the commandments does please God.  So why wouldn’t you want to always please him by always keeping his commandments?"

He said, "further more, as James points out, if we even break one we've broken them all."

I responded, "I’m confused.  Is the Staff Member suggesting that we should go ahead and break the commandments?  If he is, then he falls under the category of being labeled “Least” in the kingdom of heaven, according to Messiah. (see Matthew 5:19).  I’d rather be one of those blessed ones who practice and teach obedience to the commandments, because this is what Messiah taught his disciples to do."

He said, "Gods Grace through Jesus over-rides all the law."

I wrote, "A simple word lookup and study in the Old Testament will bear out that “grace” is the Hebrew concept of “favor.”  God gives his favor to those who repent and obey his word.  He does not indiscriminately favor those who rebel against him and intentionally disobey his commandments.  Favor (grace) is given to those who obey his commandments!  God is fair and just.  He does not bless people for their willful sin.  He disciplines and punishes them for this.  But he blesses and favors those who in love obey him."

He said, "as for sunday worship; this author is correct, constantine did institute a decree for worshipping on the first day, however, as acts 20:7 points out, sunday worship was already being observed by some new testament believers. and, Obviously,God did not not curse their meeting on the first day of the week, because the gospel and christianity flourished and spread like wildfire."

I responded, "Acts 20:7 does not teach that Sunday was the new worship day.  It only records the fact that since Paul was leaving (maybe for the rest of his life) the next day, the believers gathered to listen to him one more time while they still had him – and that day happened to be the first day of the week.  The rest of the record of the book of Acts predominantly indicates that Paul always met with the believers in every town on the Sabbath day for worship and study of the Word."

He said, "these people are fear-mongers and know nothing of the grace of God, they are stuck in the OT law.

I wrote, "With language like “these people,” the Staff Member is trying to place people with a different point of view in a pejorative category.  He has resorted to name-calling and character assassination.  Also, this is a spurious argument.  Really?  People like me “know nothing of the grace of God”?  This is nothing more than a smear campaign.  He lacks no substantive proof of any of these accusations.  Your friend doesn’t know me to be able to judge me as “knowing nothing of the grace of God”!"

He said, "also, the author quotes Jesus in John 14, i believe that the "commands and teachings" that Jesus was talking about, was the words he spoke as he was present; his teachings in the sermon on the mount, his claims to be the Messiah, all his sayings and commandments that he spoke while here on earth. the majority of the people hearing him already believed in the OT commandments and were striving to keep them. but Jesus brought the "new commandments and covenants", Mark 1, John 13:34,{just a couple examples, there are many more},"

I responded, "The Staff Member does not understand that a true prophet of God must preach a message consistent with the Law which God gave to his people.  The false prophet is identified by his attempts to add to or subtract from the Law.  God commanded all not to add to or subtract from his commandments (Deut 4:2).  Therefore the Messiah MUST do the same.  His commandments were always the commandments of his Father, which are the commandments given in the Law.  Jesus did not introduce a new law or a new commandment.  He had come to fulfill the Law, which means, to explain its true meaning (see Matt 5:17-20).  The entire sermon on the mount is a detailed explanation about the true intended meaning of the Law of Moses, and how his disciples should live by it. (see my article on Sermon on the Mount on www.BibleTruth.cc)"

He said, "and, God spoke of this coming "new covenant" in Jeremiah 31:31."

And I said, "Well, read Jeremiah 31:31.  You’ll realize that the “new covenant” was made with the house of Israel, not with the (so-called) Church!!"

He said, " In closing, i don't pay any attention to these kind of people. they talk about divisions in the church because of false doctrines and such, yet they breed more division by bashing those who choose to honor Christ by meeting on Sunday and honoring the day of his resurrection, which, by the way, if did not happen we would not have a faith and would be empty {1 Corinthians 15:13} according to the Apostle "Shual" as he calls him

I responded, "I don’t demand of anyone that they listen to me.  But I am offering a serious and accurate exegesis of the Bible so that people can see what God has to say so that they can obey God.  Oh – and I never bash anyone because they worship in a manner different that I do.  As Paul says in Ephesians 6:12  “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  I don’t bash people, I bash and battle against the false doctrines that people have embraced.  I welcome all people to repent of their sinful practices and false traditions and creeds.  This is the goal of my writings – not to attack people, but to attack false doctrine which leads God’s people down a path that can rob them of their relationship with the living God.

Next, he wrote, "as a rule of thumb; anytime you hear an author or preacher, or someone on TV speak of God using the Hebrew language repeatedly {as this author does}, they are still bound up in the OT law and have probably not fully embraced the Grace of god in Jesus Christ. not that anyone who uses those hebrew terms is, but those who constantly use them, its a pretty good implication that they are. i don't doubt that they love God or are not at all saved, but it just raises flags about where their true faith is, in the law? or in Christ's death, burial, and glorious Resurrection.

I retorted, "Messiah offered us a “rule of thumb.”  He said, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.”  I think its sad that Christians have been duped into believing that just because breaking one commandments is the same as breaking them all (James), that its no use trying to obey the commandments – its just a useless waste of time and energy.  Do you really think Jesus would have told any of us that?  He was all about telling people to “stop sinning.”  Christ’s death, burial and resurrection was needed because we had sinned in breaking his commandments.  It’s absurd to suggest that we can now freely break any of the commandments and this wouldn’t affect our relationship to God through Jesus.

My true faith has always been in the compassionate death of Messiah on the tree in my place.  This is how I can be saved (and am saved).  But my faith response to God and to the love of Jesus is to be serious about obeying what he commands me.  I frankly don’t see that taught in churches that teach their people to ignore and break the plain and simple commandments of God, such as the keeping of the Sabbath.  I would be tempted to question the salvation experience of any of those who think we can go ahead and break the commandments now.  Where is the “true faith” in that kind of attitude?

His email ended like this: "i hope this helps you Bro. keep pressing on. we were at (the Church) sunday, i saw Cindy (not her real name) and asked about you. miss you bro. maybe we can get together for lunch sometime. please keep us in your prayers, Becky (not her real name) still needs to find a job. love you in Christ"

I finished my email response to John: "John, I hope my responses will help you see how the typical objections Christians raise to those who want to obey “everything that proceeds from the mouth of God” have no merit.  God saved us to conform us to his image.  And that image is defined and explained in the commandments of the Law.  This is why he gave the Law to his people – to perfect them."

Part 2: Answers to Common Christian Objections to Keeping the Law

In a more organized fashion, I'd like to respond now to the objections which have been raised over the years by Christians who have a hard time accepting the biblical teaching that the disciples of Messiah should be keeping the Law of Moses.  The objections are almost always the same.  Christians have been programmed to respond to certain key words and phrases with disdain and disgust.  The very thought of keeping the Old Testament law is repugnant to many New Testament Christians.

From Baptist to Methodist to ultra-dispensationalist, the reactions are all the same.  They have all read from the same biblical authors and heard from the same popular preachers and teachers.  All the well known televangelists and mega-church pastors teach a feel good message for the Gospel and present a Jesus who is a pacifist, who accepts everyone "just the way you are," and who has thrown off that Old Testament Law in favor of his "law of love."

So, without further ado, here are the common arguments against keeping God's Law:

Jesus Fulfilled the Law, so Christians Don't Have to Keep It

The first and most often cited objection offered by Christians who object to the suggestion that believers in Messiah should be obedient to the Law given through Moses is that Jesus fulfilled the Law.  By this they mean that since Jesus was the only one who ever successfully and completely kept the Law of the Old Testament, his keeping of the Law fulfilled its demands and requirements on Israel, and so it has effectively been set aside.  Therefore, in their thinking, the followers of Jesus do not have to keep it because Jesus kept it for all of us.

Let's begin to answer this train of thought by reviewing the passage of Scripture that talks about Jesus fulfilling the Law.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Yahusha Messiah said,

Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah or the Prophets.  I did not come to destroy but to complete.  For truly, I say to you, till the heaven and the earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall by no means pass from the Torah till all be done.  Whoever, then, breaks one of the least of these commands, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the reign of the heavens; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the reign of the heavens.  For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall by no means enter into the reign of the heavens (Mattityahu 5:17-20).

This saying has to be the most misunderstood, misinterpreted and misrepresented of all the sayings of the Messiah.  But you do not need a diploma from an institute in higher learning to perceive what Messiah is saying.  You do not need a "Dr." in front of your name to understand the meaning of this text.  You do not need to know Greek and Hebrew to ascertain the message of Yahusha.

The teaching here is very simple.  Note the contrast between the words "destroy" and "complete" and think about it  Note also the condition upon which the tiniest detail of the Torah must remain in effect: "till heaven and earth pass away."  Then note who Messiah commends and who is minimized in his kingdom.  Those who do all of the commandments, even the very least of them are to be called "great" in his reign and those who break even one of the least of the commandments and who teach others to transgress the Torah shall be "least" in the kingdom of heaven.

The message could not be any clearer.  The Torah and the Prophets are here to stay.  They are valid and binding in the past age, the present age and in the future age - all the way until heaven and earth are no more.  Last time I looked outside, heaven and earth are still here.  Therefore, the Torah in all its detail is valid, binding and is to be kept by those who are attached to Yahuwah the Creator and his son, Yahusha Messiah.

So why is it that nearly every last Christian church teaches that Christ did away with the Law?  Why do Christians stubbornly resist obedience to the Creator of heaven and earth?  Why are Messiah's words so contradicted by so many Churchians?  It is because men do not want to come into the light, because men loved darkness rather than light because the light exposes them for who they are.  It is also because those people are unlearned in the Torah and so they twist and distort Messiah's words just as they twist and distort Paul's writings like they do the rest of Scripture - to their own destruction! (see 2 Peter 3:16).

Let's take a deeper look into the language of Matthew 5:17-20.  The widespread misunderstanding of Yahusha's words is due to the failure on the part of Bible interpreters to comprehend the rich meaning of the word "fulfill."  In the language of the New Testament (Greek), the word used here by Yahusha is pleeroo.  A standard Greek-English lexicon makes this important observation regarding Messiah's statement in Matthew 5:17:

Depending on how one prefers to interpret the context, (pleeroo) is understood here either as fulfill=do, carry out, or as bring to full expression=show it forth in its true mng., or as fill up =complete...(Bauer, p.671)

"To complete" or "put an end to," although a proper meaning for this word in some contexts, can not be the meaning here, because the context clearly rules this out. Yahusha emphatically stressed that the Law will remain; it has not been done away with.

However, a combination of the first two meanings does convey the thought Yahusha was expressing.  Interestingly, Webster's Collegiate Dictionary lists the word perform as a synonym for fulfill, which means "to adhere to the terms of.., carry out, do..., give a rendition of...", or, "to carry out an action or pattern of behavior."  And as a synonym for perform, "fulfill implies a complete realization of ends or possibilities." (Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, Springfield: Merriam-Webster Inc., 1987, pp.497,873)   This is precisely what Yahusha was saying. He had come to completely realize, in his lifestyle and mission, all that the Law and Prophets had said.

By placing this sermon in its context, we will be able to fully comprehend the truth which Yahusha was communicating.  From the beginning of Yahusha's ministry to the end, the Pharisees were accusing Yahusha of attempting to undermine their interpretation of the law of Moses with his own teaching. And they accused him on a number of occasions of transgressing the Torah. But Yahusha here emphatically denies these charges.  He had, in fact, broken their man-made law (the Oral Law of the Pharisees), but he had NOT transgressed the Torah of Elohim.  Yahusha was not overturning the Law of Elohim, because his Torah is to remain in effect to the end of the age. On the contrary, Yahusha had come to "give a proper interpretation of" the Law. He had come to explain it.  His purpose was to shed light on the intention and deeper meaning of the Law and to demonstrate by his own life how Elohim's law should be obeyed.

Those who practice doing even the very least of the commandments and then teach others to do the same are going to be called "Great" in his kingdom.  But those who break even the least of the commandments and teach others to do the same will be called "Least" in the reign of Messiah.  That's pretty simple to understand.  You don't have to be a rocket scientist to "get" what he is saying.  Messiah is holding out the Torah as the standard lifestyle for his disciples.  The way a follower of Messiah should live is by keeping the commandments - every last one of them!

Messiah said that your righteousness needs to exceed that of the Pharisees and scribes.  He was not speaking in hyperbole.  He was speaking plainly.  The Pharisees were NOT keeping the Torah - the written Scriptures given to all of Israel through Mosheh.  The Pharisees were, in fact, transgressing many of the instructions of Scripture.  They put their own laws, traditions, practices and customs ahead of the plain teaching of the Law of Moses.  Thus, their righteousness was a pretended righteousness.  And appropriately, Yahusha called them hypocrites, which means "play actors" or "fakes."  So in a very real sense, Messiah was teaching his disciples to "do better than the Pharisees were doing" because the Pharisees were not really obeying the Scriptures

Messiah's instruction to his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere is to obey all the commandments given through Mosheh, in all their detail.  This is what Yahuwah has called his people to do.  So much for the argument that Jesus did away with the Law!

Those People are Commandment Keepers!

Another reaction conservative Christians have to the suggestion that we should keep the Old Testament Law is to point the finger at those who make this suggestion and attempt to denigrate them with loaded statements such as, "those people are commandment keepers" or "they are legalists"!

This response is actually a little confusing because isn't obedience to the Father and obedience to the Messiah a good thing?  Of course it is.  Yahusha said to his disciples,

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." (4th Gospel 14:21)

and

If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. (4th Gospel 15:10)

It seems that the Master wants us to obey his commands just as he has obeyed the Father's commandments.

Yochanan (John) says the same thing about keeping the commandments:

We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.   The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, Elohim's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Yahusha did. (1 John 2:3-6)

If I'm understanding John, he is saying that when we obey his commandments, this is how we know we belong to him.  Conversely, those who don't obey the Father's commandments must not know him!  And those who obey his word (i.e. his commands) have Elohim's love made complete in him.

Furthermore, John says that whoever claims to live in Messiah (those who are "in Christ") must walk as Yahusha did.  Did we not just see that Yahusha said that he lived in his Father's commands?  We who belong to Messiah must do the same, which is to say, we, too must obey the Father's commandments as our Master Messiah did.

John makes this point again later:

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before Elohim and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. (1 John 3:21-22)

It is clear here that John is telling believers in Messiah that they must obey the Father's commands and do what pleases him.  In fact, those who live in Messiah are those who obey his commands:

Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. (1 John 3:24)

Still again, John tells us that keeping his commandments is an indication that we belong to Elohim and his Messiah:

This is how we know that we love the children of Elohim: by loving Elohim and carrying out his commands.  This is love for Elohim: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, (1 John 5:2-3)

The very definition of loving Elohim is given in terms of carrying out his commandments.  Even though Christians regard Elohim's commandments as a burden we need not bear, the writer of Scripture says the opposite.  He says that Elohim's commandments are not a burden, and those who love Elohim and love Messiah will obey them.

And finally, the Book of Revelation identifies those who belong to Messiah in earth's final days as those who also keep the commandments of Elohim.

This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey Elohim's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. (Revelation 14:12)

And

Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring-- those who obey Elohim's commandments and hold to the testimony of Yahusha. (Revelation 12:17)

The faithful followers of Messiah in the end times will be those who obey Elohim's commandments!

As for the charge by Christians that those who obey the commandments are legalists, it runs pretty hollow in light of the evidence that the true followers of Messiah are supposed to be obeying the commandments of the Father.  Besides, Christians have a faulty understanding of what it means to be a legalist.  They've been taught by their pastors and teachers that obeying the Law of Moses is what constitutes legalism.  But this is simply not true.  The biblical example of legalism is when men obey the commands of men over the commands of Elohim.  This was the sin of the Pharisees.  But the true followers of Messiah do indeed obey the commandments of the Bible.

Christians Should Obey the New Law of Jesus, Not the Old Testament Law

Another argument given by fundamentalist Christians against keeping the Law is that New Testament believers are told to obey the new law which Jesus commands, not the old laws of Moses.  Jesus did say, after all, that

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. (4th Gospel 14:21)

And the Master also said,

If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (4th Gospel 14:23)

It is clear that Messiah instructed his disciples to obey his commands.

But what Christians assume is that the commandments of Jesus are different than the commandments of the Law of Moses.  If his commands are different from the Old Testament Law, then the Christians may have a legitimate point.  But the overwhelming evidence of Scripture is that all of the commands of the Messiah are a reaffirmation of the commandments of the Sinai covenant.

Probably the most reliable source to consult on the question of what are the commands of Messiah is the Messiah himself.  What did he say about the source of his commands:

So Yahusha said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [the one I claim to be] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.  The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him." (4th Gospel 8:28-29)

So, Yahusha didn't make up his own distinct commands, he only does what Elohim the Father tells him to do. Since he only speaks what his Father taught him, this must mean that his commands are his Father's commands.  Right?  Does this include his teachings, too?

For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say itI know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say." (4th Gospel 12:49-50)

It is the Father's command that leads to eternal life.  Thus, Messiah only commands what the Father commands.  But, in case this isn't enough, we might ask, "Can Messiah speak on his own, and should we believe him if he does?"  He said,

Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. (4th Gospel 10:37)

Next, we consult the teachings of Messiah.  Did he teach a new thing, or did he always teach obedience to the Law of Moses?  The Sermon on the Mount is a classic example of the teachings of Messiah.  In it, Yahusha recalls many of the commands and teachings of the Torah and explains the correct meaning and application for his disciples.  Never does he tell us that any of those commands are invalid or done away with.  On the contrary, he had come to fulfill them - that is, to give the correct interpretation of them - so that his disciples might walk in the perfect Law that brings Liberty (as James puts it, see James 1:25; 2:12).

Those Who Keep the Law are Trying to Earn Their Salvation by Works

This objection by Christians who continue to resist the thought that God actually wants his people to be obedient to his commandments amounts to another tactic of diversion.  That is, the Christian who makes this accusation is trying to muddy the waters of dialogue.  It is a misperception and misunderstanding of keeping commandments that causes Christians to think this way.

We who understand the work of Messiah and his atoning sacrifice on the tree understand that his death is the only work which brings salvation.  But commandment keepers are not trying to earn their salvation.  They are trying to diligently follow through with a profession of faith by immersing themselves in what Messiah told us to do as his disciples.  What was his great commission:  "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20).  Commandment keepers are merely following through with the command of Messiah to "teach them to obey...."

Even Paul taught us that Elohim saved us so that we would do good works:

For we are Elohim's workmanship, created in Messiah Yahusha to do good works, which Elohim prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

What are "good works" if they are not the obeying of Elohim's commandments?  The charge that commandment keepers are trying to earn their salvation is ridiculous if not laughable.  It betrays a severe lack of understanding of the duty and mission of all believers in Messiah.

We are Not Saved by Works of the Law, But By Faith

Next, Christians point out that Paul tells us that no flesh can be declared righteous by the works of the Law.  The citation in Galatians is here:

We who are Yehudim by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Yahusha Messiah. So we, too, have put our faith in Messiah Yahusha that we may be justified by faith in Messiah and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:15-16)

Paul says is here three times!  No one can be justified (i.e. "saved") by works of the law.  Conversely, we are justified by faith in Jesus (or Yahusha, using his Hebrew name).  What could be more clear?  Thus, dispensational Christians conclude that we should not be obeying the Law of Moses, because it profits nothing.

Unfortunately, this theology of Paul (if we have correctly understood it) flies in the face of the plain teaching of the Torah.  The teaching of the Law of Moses is summed up in the following:

Yahuwah commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear Yahuwah our Elohim, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today.  And if we are careful to obey all this law before Yahuwah our Elohim, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness." (Devarim [Deuteronomy] 6:24-25)

Here, the keeping of all the commandments of Yahuwah is counted as righteousness for those who obey the Law.  How then can Paul say just the opposite?

Christian systematic theologies are aware of this apparent contradiction.  Their answer to this dilemma is that clearly the Old Testament Law must have been "done away with" and a new law established.  This, they say, is what Jesus did, and which Paul is reflecting in these statements about the law.  But the difficulty of this view is that Messiah said quite the opposite.  He stated:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. (Matthew 5:17-18)

If Yahusha declared to his disciples (the founding "fathers" of Christianity) that he was not abolishing the Law, but that the Law was to be in effect "until heaven and earth disappear," then maybe we have been misunderstanding what Paul is saying in Galatians.  After all, he cannot contradict the clear teaching of the Master Messiah.

The correct interpretation of Paul's enigmatic statements about righteousness is in realizing that Paul was dealing with two very different "laws."  As a Pharisee, Paul was taught from his youth that the Pharisees law - what is now known as the Oral Torah - was to supersede the written Law of Mosheh.  The Pharisees taught a very different law code than the written Torah of Mosheh.  Their law was like a fence around the Torah.  In other words, they created a whole new set of laws and commandments which must be kept.  They justified it by noting that their laws would keep the people from accidently transgressing one of Elohim's laws.

One of the features of the man-made laws of the Pharisees is what is known as the "works of the law."   These works (Hebrew hv[m or ~yv[m “ma-aseh” or pl. “ma-asim,” which is defined as an action, deed, work; precedent) are not the same as the "works" of obeying Elohim's commandments.  No.  The Pharisaic and Rabbinicr term "works of the law" means something very different.  For a Pharisee, the "works of the law" is an action of a Rabbi or sage that justified the practical manner in which a tradition should be observed.  Thus, the "works of the law" were laws based on the actions or “works” of a rabbi.  If a Pharisee or Rabbi performed a certain action, then that action was established as law, and was known as a "work of the law."

The “works of law” are those precedents set by rabbis and sages which convert an action, work or practice into Law.  When the Oral Torah is unclear about a matter, one may default to the precedent laid down by a rabbi, to guide you in your experience.  An example of a "work of the law" is the law concerning the reciting of the Shema.

Once it happened (ma-aseh) those of R. Gamaliel came home (late) from a wedding feast and they said to him: We have not yet recited the (evening) sh’ma.  He said to them: If the dawn has not yet come up you are still bound to recite.  And not in respect to this alone did they so decide, but whenever the sages say until midnight, the precept may be performed until the dawn comes up. (Berachot 2a)

This "work of the law" establishes as law that the evening reciting of the shema can be done up until the following dawn and be accepted as having been done on time.

So, when we come to Paul - and remember that Paul is battling the unbelieving Yehudim who elevated their own law over the Law of Elohim - we see Paul contrasting "faith in Messiah" with "the works of the law."  These must be two very different things in Paul's mind.  And we see that they are.

"Faith in Messiah" must be understood in the context of what it means to belong to Messiah.  Yahusha said to his disciples,

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." (4th Gospel 14:21)

If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. (4th Gospel 15:10)

Those who belong to Messiah obey his commandments.  This is how we can identify the true disciples of Messiah, as Yochanan also says,

Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. (1 John 3:24)

This is how we know that we love the children of Elohim: by loving Elohim and carrying out his commands.  This is love for Elohim: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome. (1 John 5:2-3)

So, faith is Messiah literally means to obey his commandments!  This is in agreement with what the Torah of Mosheh teaches.  Faith in Elohim means fidelity to him as expressed in faithful obedience to his commandments.

So, here is the rub of the Galatians 2 teaching.  There is a very real contrast between "faith in Messiah" and "works of the law."  "Faith in Messiah" translates to mean obedience to the commandments of Elohim and Messiah.  "Works of the law" translates to mean obedience to the man-made laws and traditions of the Pharisees.

Let's go over again what Paul is saying.  "We, Yehudim by nature, and not of the gentiles, sinners, know that a man is not declared right by works of law, but through faith in Yahusha Messiah."  And so it is that Paul is correct in this statement.  No one can be justified before Elohim by "works of law" because these "works of law" are merely enactments of men.  But even the Torah of Mosheh teaches us that righteousness is reckoned to all who obey all the commandments of Elohim.  Thus, belief in Messiah is obedience to his commandments.  So, Paul says,

And we have believed in Messiah Yahusha, in order to be declared right by faith in Messiah and not by works of law, because by works of law no flesh shall be declared right.

Those who obediently have faith in Messiah are indeed justified by their fidelity to Messiah as expressed by their obedience to his commands.  Because no one can be justified by doing the commandments of men.

The term "works of law" is not a reference to obedience to the written Torah.  On the contrary, it is a phrase that refers to obedience to the man-made commandments, such as the Pharisees Oral Torah (oral teachings and tradition), as a means of earning one's salvation!    But human effort and human example (works of law) cannot gain favor with Yahuwah.  Only by faithfully following and obeying Messiah can one be righteous.

Paul goes on to say,

And if, while seeking to be declared right  by Messiah, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Messiah then a servant of sin? Let it not be!  For if I rebuild what I once overthrew, I establish myself a transgressor.

Paul cannot return to the Pharisaic practice of obedience to man-made tradition because it makes that man a transgressor of Scripture.  You cannot obey man's law and Elohim's law at the same time.  These are at odds with one another.

So once again, the Christians have misunderstood Paul.  They have interpreted him as saying that one cannot be justified by obeying God's Laws.  But that's not what he is saying.  He is saying that you cannot be justified by man's laws, but you can be justified by faith/faithfulness to Messiah, which issues in obedience to Elohim's Law.

We are Not Under the Law, but are Under Grace

Another objection Christians raise against keeping the Law of the Old Testament is Paul's statement that indicates that the believer in Messiah is not under the Law.  Paul says so in Romans:

For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)

Thus, Christians insist that because we are under grace and not under law, we are no longer obligated to keep the commandments of the law.  They further argue that we can, therefore, ignore the law and regard law keeping and commandment keeping in hostility.

Yet, this couldn't be further from what Paul is actually teaching in Romans 6.  You only need to read and understand the very next verse in Paul's teaching to see this.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!  (Romans 6:15)

Here Paul is clarifying what it means to us in a practical sense that we are not under the law.  Does this mean that we can transgress the Law?  No, absolutely not, says Paul.

In order to fully grasp what Paul is teaching, it helps to understand what he means by being under the law.  This expression does not have the theological meaning that most modern Christian teachers and theologians place on it.  It does not mean that the law is done away with or has been abolished.  Being under the law is shorthand for saying being under the condemnation of the law.

Those who break the law are those who are under its condemnation, just as Paul writes,

Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law. (Galatians 3:10)

Of course, Paul is citing the Law in Deuteronomy 27:26

Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.

What this means is that everyone must keep all the law are they are under its condemnation.

So, when Paul says we are not under the law, he means we are not under its curse or condemnation.  The only way this could be so were to be if we obey all of the law.  Now the definition of sin is "transgression of the law."  John tells us this plain and simple:

Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. (1 John 3:4)

This is what it means to sin: breaking the law.  But John then goes on to say,

But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.  No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (1 John 3:5-6)

Those who are in Messiah stop sinning; they no longer go on sinning.  And if someone continue to sin by breaking the law, that person does not know Elohim or his Messiah.

This is exactly what Paul is teaching us in Romans 6.  He tells us that we are no longer under the condemnation of the law, but are under grace.  But this is not license to sin.  On the contrary, we are to keep all of Elohim's laws now because we have the power of Messiah and the Holy Spirit to enable us to keep from transgressing Elohim's commandments.

Paul uses the master/slave metaphor to describe our new relationship to Messiah.  He says in Romans 6,

Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey-- whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?  But thanks be to Elohim that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.  You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (Romans 6:16-18)

We have become slaves of righteousness in Messiah.  What does this mean in practical terms?

I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.  When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.  What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!  But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to Elohim, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Romans 6:19-22)

Paul is saying that we used to give our bodies to the exercise of sin, but now that we have been redeemed by Messiah's death on the tree, we are to offer our bodies to the exercise of righteousness.  We are now slaves of Elohim and slaves of righteousness.  This means that we are to be controlled by obedience to his commandments, because his righteous commands are what lead us to holiness.

At the end of the day, Paul is saying that grace does not exempt us or excuse us from keeping God’s Law. On the contrary, Elohim's grace is why we need to be slaves to righteousness and slaves to obedience to Elohim's Law.

Those Who Keep the Law have "Fallen from Grace"

 Another common objection by Christians to the concept of keeping all the commandments of God is that those who do so have "fallen from grace."  Again, its the misperception of the meaning of Paul's teachings that leads them to this irrational conclusion:

You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Messiah; you have fallen away from grace. (Galatians 5:4)

We have explained earlier that commandment keepers are not trying to be justified by the law.  They are keeping the Law because that is their faith response to the justification we have in Messiah.

Besides, Paul's word in Galatians 5:4 has been twisted once again by the Christian teachers and preachers.  Paul's main thought in the Book of Galatians is the argument against keeping the man made law established by the Pharisees.  Even Messiah was in constant conflict with the Pharisees because they would continuously transgress the commandments of Elohim for the sake of obeying their own traditions (see Matthew 15, for example).  Paul is saying that there is no justification before Elohim by keeping man's laws at the expense of obedience to Elohim's laws.

Therefore, those who put their trust in obedience to the laws and traditions of the Pharisees, or any other man made law code, are trying to gain acceptance to God through worthless "law keeping."  There is no justification by doing this.  So those who continue to hold to man's laws and man's traditions after they have received Messiah are actually falling back into the old ways which brought them slavery and guilt.  Indeed, those who break God's commandments for the sake of keeping man's traditions and laws have fallen away from grace.  They no longer are walking in Elohim's favor.

Though Christians are sometimes fond of pointing the finger at commandment keepers and saying that they have "fallen from grace," in reality, those Christians who elevate their own dress codes and church laws and rules for conduct above the commandments of God are the ones who really have "fallen from grace" because they are committing the sin of the Pharisees!  God's law is what counts, not man's law.

People Who Obey the Law are Under a Curse!

And finally, Christians actually think that those who express their love for God by obeying God's law are under a curse!  What could be further from the truth?  The very notion that obeying God is an expression of unbelief is upside down and inside out.  What, Christian?  Would you have all those who "love" God go out and disobey God at every point, and thus demonstrate their "faith" that God can forgive any gross sin?

Again, Christians have maligned the writings of Paul.  Isn't it amazing how Paul could be so distorted by the people who claim to believe and follow him?  Just like Peter said,

Bear in mind that our Master's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that Elohim gave him.  He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:15-16)

Even in Paul's day, people distorted his writings, as they do today.

The passage which (this time) is being distorted is as follows:

All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." (Galatians 3:10)

and

Messiah redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." (Galatians 3:13)

The Galatians 3:10 passage was explained earlier in this study.  Those who were "relying on the law" were those Pharisees who were obeying their own man made law code while ignoring the Law of God.  Thus, in relying on their own law they were transgressing God's law and in doing so were under the curse of God's law which was stated in Deuteronomy 27:26:

Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.

Those who transgress the Law of God are cursed.  The law of God is not a curse, but it holds a curse for those who don't obey it.

So, Messiah redeemed us from that curse of Deuteronomy 27:26 by becoming a curse for us.  Our response to his redemption is not to go out and continue to break the same law of God, which brings a curse on those who transgress it.  The correct response in Messiah is to obey the Law of God which Messiah showed us how to do and gives us the power to do.

Summary

All of the arguments and objections raised by Christians against obedience to God's law are false because they are based on false premises, misunderstandings of what Paul or other New Testament writers are saying, or are misguided as they end up insisting that Christians do not need to be obedient to God.  It is always right and good to obey God's commandments.  Jesus said very plainly that the Law would be in force until heaven and earth disappear.  So why would Christians - those who benefit from the grace of Messiah - be so bold in insisting that they don't have to obey the commandments?

Commandment keepers and all those who "keep the Law" are doing so because they want to have a proper and righteous response to the love of God in sending his Son to die on the tree for us.  What other response should the grateful subjects of Messiah offer if not in complete compliance with the will of God as expressed in obedience to his commandments?  May all who love the Creator and his Messiah show true faith and fidelity to God by obeying his every commandment!

 

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