When I first came to understand that Torah is still relevant for believers today, I was immediately confronted by several naysayers who tossed out the typical verses in the Apostolic Scriptures that, on the surface appear to say that the “Law” had been done away with. The same individuals also felt the need to recite a handful of verses they use to justify the eating of bacon and other unclean things. Fortunately, by God’s grace I held fast and didn’t let anyone deter me from this quest.
Even as I grew in understanding, and as I gained the ability to refute most of the erroneous logic which was used by fellow Christians to condemn me, I still struggled somewhat with Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Galatians is definitely one of those instances where the words of the Apostle Peter ring true.
2 Peter 3:16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
This verse begs the question, what “things” is Peter speaking of. Backing up a couple verses we find the answer to this question.
2 Peter 3:13-14 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
Peter is talking about looking forward to the fulfillment of the promises of God, and that while doing so we should be diligent so we are “found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” Now to be spotless and blameless before God requires a deeper look.
Before I get too deep in to this I want to get a few things clear. Generally, the first thing that I hear when talking about this topic with others is that we are made spotless in Christ. While I absolutely agree with that statement, I do not believe that it ends there. Yes, Salvation is by Grace alone through Faith alone, always has been and it will continue to be so until Yeshua (Jesus) returns. I get it, but what is faith? Is it simply an understanding of the truth that Yeshua is the Messiah, or is it a catalyst that drives you to do something? Is faith just words that we say or a feeling that you get when you are “under conviction”, or is it something much bigger that transforms your very nature? This is a very important question to understand properly, because how you define faith will also define how you understand Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
For the record, I am of the belief that to truly have faith, it must as James says have “works” attached. The faith that converts the soul brings with it certain evidences that prove it is genuine. Don’t take me wrong, these so called “works” are not done to gain righteousness, but as an act of submission to the authority of God in our lives. A good “New Testament” example of this is Zacchaeus. This man was apparently a corrupt tax collector that was hated by the people because he probably used extortion to gain wealth. Yet we see that when he comes to truly believe in Yeshua, he pledges to give half of what he has to the poor and to restore anything that he has taken fourfold. If you know your Tanakh (Old Testament) you will also understand that the faith he displayed also caused him to submit to the authority of God’s Torah.
Exodus 22:1 If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.
There are many other examples of individuals, that as an act of repentance, turn to God and submit themselves to His Law. This I believe is what Peter was referring to when he says that we should be diligent to be found without spot and blameless. And this is what I believe that James is referring to when he says that he will show you his faith by his works. If we say that we have faith we should also be submitting ourselves to the very authority that we claim to believe in. And it was on this topic (according to Peter) the unlearned and unstable have a hard time understanding Paul. In fact, he goes on to say that they “wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction”. Sounds like pretty dangerous ground to me, so I want to make sure that whatever I take as fact rings true throughout scripture.
For those of us that hold fast to the scriptures as truth will likely agree that God does not change. Even moderate Christians will generally agree with that statement. Why then do we think that God would send His Son to disannul the Law that He instituted, when in doing so He would have violated the very Law Yeshua came to fulfill? Either our understanding of the scriptures is twisted or God has in fact changed, which would also make Him a liar. “God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar”.
Fact is, Yeshua did not come to disannul the Law but to make it whole.
Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
The word fulfil is πληρόω, play-ro’-o in the Greek
from G4134; to make replete, i.e. (literally) to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), or (figuratively) to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify (or coincide with a prediction), etc.:—accomplish, × after, (be) complete, fill (up), fulfil, (be, make) full (come), fully preach, perfect, supply.
Nowhere in that definition do we see anything that would indicate that to fulfil something would make it void. Quite the opposite. For example, if I fulfil my marriage vows with my wife, are our vows now void? Um no… So why then do we think that Yeshua came to void out the marriage covenant that God had made with His people? If you study scripture, it will become clear that He came to fulfill that which had been corrupted and to restore or renew the covenant of God with His people.
I would challenge anyone to point to a single “old Testament” verse that would indicate that just one precept of God’s law would ever been done away with. I dare you, because it’s not there. So, the question then becomes, has our understanding of the scriptures become skewed by the false teachers that Paul and the other apostles warned about? Quite possibly.
I can attest to this one fact. Since I have become resolved in my effort to submit to the authority of God in my life, and to walk in the statutes that He has outlined for us in His Torah, my life has changed. I now for the first time in my life I understand what David meant when he said “O how I love thy Law”. And I also understand for the first time what it means to be persecuted for your faith. Unfortunately, that persecution often comes from those that also claim to be in the faith.
So yes, I believe that as a byproduct of our faith in and our love for God, we should in fact be fully submitted to the authority of God and be obedient to His Law. Not that we look to the acts or “works” of the Law for righteousness, but unto Yeshua. For it is through Him and by Him that we have been reconciled unto God.