The Law and the Believer

“ One law and one ordinance shall be both for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you.” (JPS)

It has been my personal conviction for several years that the commandments of God did not became null and void after the resurrection of Messiah.  Personally, I feel they still have a role in the life of every believer and in the church.  Theologians over the past thousand years would agree that the Law has a role in the life of a believer  and have sought to determine which commandments were morally binding versus the ones that were ceremonial.  I feel this position is a grave mistake for two different reasons.  First, God Himself, when giving the Law, never made a distinction between that which is morally binding and that which was only ceremonial and symbolic.  When we begin to dissect which commands are binding for us morally but not binding for us ceremonially, we have in effect, to quote the old rabbis, “destroyed the Law.”  We are making distinctions that God has not made in Torah (the Hebrew word for law).  Secondly,  when we vanquish a particular commandment because it is ceremonial, we lose the prophetic and spiritual aspects of executing this commandment.  Here is what I mean:  Scripture is filled with seemingly ceremonial acts that moved the spiritual world which, in turn, impacts the physical realm.  For example, Jacob has a dream in which the Angel of God tells him that all of the flocks will become spotted and speckled and God has ordained this to take place.  On his part, Jacob performs a seemingly ceremonial act.  He takes rods and strips of pieces of bark, making them striped, and places them in the watering trough.  It is my conviction that this ceremonial act was actually a prophetic action displaying Jacob’s faith in the dream and the message of the Angel.  This prophetic and ceremonial act of faith, moves the spiritual realm, and the flocks bore stripped spotted young.  When we, as the people of God, make void the commandments of God because we feel it has no benefit for us today, we negate the spiritual and prophetic blessings that obedience brings.  Having said all of that, I believe that the Law has a role in the life of a believer and it is the object of the next series of posts to determine exactly what that role is.

We must speak bluntly from the outset:  the Law was never intended as a vehicle of salvation. God never gave the Law to Israel so they could be “saved” by their own ability to obey the commandments.  This is works based theology and it is unbiblical from Genesis to Revelation.  The Law is filled with God’s acts of grace and the people’s response of faith or, as in some cases, the seemingly, lack thereof.  Nevertheless, obedience to the Law for a mechanism to earns one’s favor with God is not the divine intention.  Again, let me reiterate, that my position has neither been, nor will it ever be, that keeping Torah merits one favor with God.  We don’t keep the Torah so as to get into the Kingdom.  On the contrary, we keep Torah because we already have the favor of God and we keep Torah because we are already in the Kingdom.  This was the divine intention of the giving of Torah to Israel.  Let’s review the circumstances surrounding the giving of the Law.

Israel is in bondage to Egypt.  They are slaves and are being cruelly mistreated and oppressed.  God, in his mercy and grace, hears their pleas and chooses Moses, a most unqualified candidate who doesn’t even want to go, to deliver Israel.  God gives Moses some supernatural ammunition in the form of three signs which work well with the Jews but not so well with Pharaoh.  This leads to much more oppression from the Egyptian and a loss of the trust of the Jews in Moses.  (So much for the theology that miracles and supernatural signs save people)  God cries out to Moses, and in His Grace, delivers a series of plagues which desecrate all of the Egyptian gods and destroys the most powerful kingdom in the world.  Israel is delivered.  How?  By the last plague.  God was going through Egypt to destroy the firstborn sons.  If Israel wanted to be exempt, they had to sacrifice a lamb and put its blood on the doorpost, then God would “pass-over” that house.   Here in the Old Testament, an act of faith on the part of the people followed by an act of Grace by God.  Israel was not delivered from Egypt by the high moral standards of their conduct. They were not delivered because of their works, they were delivered and saved by the blood of the Passover Lamb.  Likewise, we in the New Testament church, as saved by the blood of the Lamb of God.  This is the only means of salvation available to mankind.   An act of faith on the part of the people to believe in the blood of the Lamb followed by an act of grace from God to pardon all our sins.  It is important to note, that God had not given Israel the law before they were saved.  No, that only followed after they were saved.  This is a deadly blow to works based theology because if God was works oriented, He would have given Moses the law to give to Israel and when they were “good enough by their works” He would’ve saved them and no shedding of blood would’ve been necessary.   The apostle Paul understood this all to well when he writes, “I do not set aside the grace of God;  for if righteousness come through the law, then Christ died in vain.” (Gal 2:21)

God leads the children of Israel out to Mount Sinai, and some fifty days later around the feast of Pentecost, God declares His intention for Israel.  God’s desire has been and continues to be, “a Kingdom of priest.” (Exodus 19:6)  Peter echoes this same sentiment in the New Testament when he states, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (I Peter 2:9)  God’s proposal was for the entire nation of Israel to minister to God.  Why?  Because they were already chosen, they already had God’s favor and blessing, they were already in His Kingdom.  God had chosen them as His Special People, the Divine Presence was with them, “a cloud by day and a fire by night.”  No other nation in the world enjoyed that favor.  Then., God delivers to them His commandments.  Why?  Because God’s Special People have a holy standard in which to order their lives by.   This standard of holiness is what separated the Jews as God’s special people from the rest of the world.  Their keeping of God’s commandments made a proclamation to the world that they were, in fact, the people of God.  It should be no different today.  Our actions should proclaim to the world God’s holiness and our favor with Him.  When we obey God out of our love for Him we release the supernatural power of God in our lives.  “If you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.” (Duet 28:1)  Please understand, we must make a choice.

God created all of us with a free will.  Why?  It is the only way that love can exist.  Love requires a conscience choice.  The only way for love, devotion, and worship to happen, is that the believer must have the ability to reject or to accept the Lord.  We have this ability.  Hence, when we moved into the Kingdom by our faith in what Jesus has accomplished, we remain agents of free will who need to choice to obey the holy standards of the Kingdom.  When we do this, we release supernatural power over our lives, when we reject it, we don’t.  This is not works theology, this is the theology of using the free will to turn our lives into an expression of our love and devotion  to  God, not only by our words but by our actions.  When we do not, “And My Name is blasphemed continually every day.” (Isaiah 52:5)  John echoes the same sentiment when he writes, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” (I John 5:2)  Paul also makes a similar statement, “You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?” (Romans 2:23).  Then he quotes the aforementioned passage from Isaiah.  We do not make our boast in the keeping of the Law, this is the spirit of self-righteousness, we make our boast in being the holy people of God by His grace and justified by our faith.

The Law was never intended to be a vehicle of salvation, it was intended to be the unifying cultural pattern in which the people of God declare their love of Him to the people of God could become more like Him.   Practicing righteousness and choosing to love Him over the flesh, the world, and the devil.  The Law was intended to unite the people of God under one cultural umbrella which allowed for the unique expressions of each individual.  (see future post entitled, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”)

It is the purpose of this series of posts to demonstrate through biblical and historical evidence that this was the faith of the first century church and has, subsequently, been lost.  It is my personal conviction that God is restoring this position to His Church.  In conclusion, the law is a standard of holiness for believers to choose, it is a unifying cultural factor for the church, and it releases supernatural power over our lives.  It is my position that history and scripture will support this idea.  In order to demonstrate it, we must look at the misguided theology of the last thousand years of biblical interpretation in order to restore what has been lost and debunk was has been accepted as the norm.  We will begin with Jesus, then move into the lives of the apostles, then, to the historical evidence of the first-second century church, and lastly, examine where it was in history that the church rejected the law of Moses, the law of God’s people.  “ One law and one ordinance shall be both for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you.” (JPS)

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