I hear it all the time, and if you have begun to follow the teachings of even one Torah-positive ministry—be it a Christian Pastor, a Messianic Rabbi, or someone from the controversial “Hebrew Roots Movement”—you probably have too. Some well-meaning Christian who is the victim of 500 years of Protestant Christian Theology tells you “we’re not under The Law today”. There are, of course, a great number of problems with this ideology, of which I will only be able to touch on a few in this message.
Recently I had a brief exchange with a fellow I have known for a very long time. He is very passionate about standards of holiness that have long been held by the majority view of Christianity, one of those being that the sexuality of those under what is today generally referred to as the LGBT+ community is an abomination according to The Bible. However, when I pointed out that eating unclean things like pork and shellfish, as detailed in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, is equally called an abomination his response was the typical: “The problem with that is we’re not under The Law.”
Something else I have seen him stand in strong opposition to are things like yoga/pilates that is rooted in Eastern mystic religions—worshiping other gods and practicing pagan religion is also called an abomination in Scripture. Of course, he is also among the ranks of Christians who vehemently defend the celebrations of Christmas and Easter, despite the conclusion of many scholars and a plethora of historical records indicating that these “holidays” are rebranded pagan festivals. It’s no wonder so many people today find it hard to take Christianity seriously. Either both yoga fitness and the Christmas/Easter celebrations are acceptable Christian practices or they are both to be opposed by Christians. Either sexuality under the banner of LGBT+ and eating unclean things like pork and shellfish are both equally an abomination or they are both equally acceptable practices for Christians. But it’s extremely hypocritical to stand against one and stand for the other.
To begin this topic, I want to examine why the popular Christian interpretation of “not under The Law” is wrong and cannot possibly mean what most Christians today believe it means. For this I will be drawing heavily on a recent message by a popular Messianic Jewish blogger by the name of Judah Gabriel Himango titled 3 reasons why “You are not under law, but under grace” doesn’t mean what you think it means. I don’t normally make a habit of using another person’s complete work as a reference. However, this is one of the absolute best explanations of the passage in question I have come across and I highly recommend everyone take time to read it as a companion to this message (it’s linked in the text, just click on it to open).
After examining why Paul could not possibly be saying we have no obligation to follow the mandates of God’s Torah when he said that famous “Not under The Law, but under grace” line that so many Christians love to use as the proof-text to support their rebellion I will go through a brief systematic theological study to show how the prophets from Joshua to Malachi, Yeshua in the Gospels, and all of the first century Apostles who contributed to Scripture through epistles to the Body of Messiah are all always pointing people back to the Torah.
Not Under The Law
… for you are not under law but under grace.
~Romans 6:14b (TLV)
Do you notice anything strange about the way I cited this verse?
Yes! That’s right! I quoted only part of the verse and used the standard three dots (called an ellipsis) to indicate that there is more to that verse. So what happens when we cite the rest of the verse?
For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
~Romans 6:14 (TLV)
This is interesting, because 1 John 3:4 (CJB) says, “Everyone who keeps sinning is violating Torah — indeed, sin is violation of Torah” and Romans 7:7 (TLV) says, “What shall we say then? Is the Torah sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the Torah. For I would not have known about coveting if the Torah had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’” So if sin is the violation of the Torah, and we apply this to the favorite “proof-text” of hyper-grace Christianity, our text begins to read something like this: For violation of Torah shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Romans 6:14, from the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB), a popular Messianic Jewish translation, presents a unique interpretation of the text that is worth looking at: “For sin will not have authority over you; because you are not under legalism but under grace.” So, if we now apply this same biblical definition of sin to this translation we come up with this: For violation of Torah will not have authority over you; because you are not under legalism but under grace.
Now let’s look at one more translation, the controversial paraphrase called The Message Bible: “Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God.” And, if we apply our biblical definition of sin to this interpretation of the text, it now reads: Violation of Torah can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God.
What would be the old tyranny being spoken of here? What is the legalism alluded to in the CJB? If you read my article Legalism, you know that one of the two forms of legalism in regard to biblical religion is the use of God’s Torah as a means of earning or maintaining one’s salvation. This leads us into tyranny, which is a type of bondage to harsh ruling governments with strict and unreasonable rules. It would be like the tyranny of a dictator if we were required to keep the Torah as a means of earning or maintaining salvation. But none of this means that Kingdom freedom is void of a requirement to obey. Consider these statements from C.E.B. Cranfield from his A Critical And Exegetical Commentary On The Epistle To The Romans (translation of Greek citations added in brackets for clarity):
οὐ γάρ ἐστε ὑπὸ νόμον ἀλλὰ ὑπὸ χάριν [for you are not under law but under grace] is widely taken to mean that the authority of the law has been abolished for believers and superseded by a different authority. And this, it must be admitted, would be a plausible interpretation, if this sentence stood by itself. But, since it stands in a document which contains such things as 3:31; 7:12, 14a; 8:4; 13:8-10, in which the law is referred to more than once as God’s law, and is appealed to again and again as authoritative, such a reading of it is extremely unlikely. The fact that ὑπὸ νόμον [under the law] is contrasted with ὑπὸ χάριν [under grace] suggests the likelihood that Paul is here thinking not of the law generally but of the law as condemning sinners; for, since χάρις [grace] denotes God’s undeserved favour, the natural opposite to ὑπὸ χάριν [under grace] is ‘under God’s disfavour or condemnation’. And the suggestion that the meaning of this sentence is that believers are not under God’s condemnation pronounced by the law but under his undeserved favour receives strong confirmation from 8.1 (Οὐδὲν ἄρα νῦν κατάκριμα τοῖς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ [Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Messiah Yeshua]), which, in Paul’s argument, is closely related (through 7.1-6) to this half-verse. Moreover, this interpretation suits the context well; for an assurance that we have been set free from God’s condemnation and are now the objects of His gracious favour is indeed confirmation (γάρ [for]) of the promise that henceforth sin shall no more be lord over us, for those who know themselves freed from condemnation are free to resist sin’s usurped power with new strength and boldness. It is perhaps possible that in Paul’s ὑπὸ νόμον [under the law] here there was also another thought present, namely, the thought of labouring (as so many of his Jewish contemporaries were doing) under the illusion with regard to the law that a man has to earn a status of righteousness before God by his obedience. Since χάρις [grace] denotes God’s free, undeserved favour, the contrast with ὑπὸ χάριν [under grace] might perhaps be not unreasonably claimed as support for this suggestion.
Now let’s look at the very next verse in Romans 6:
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!
~Romans 6:15 (TLV)
Let’s continue with our replacement of the word sin with the definition of sin in the text: “What then? Shall we violate Torah because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!” The CJB continues this passage with the same use of legalism in place of the law: “Therefore, what conclusion should we reach? ‘Let’s go on sinning, because we’re not under legalism but under grace’? Heaven forbid!” I’m sure at this point you see where this is going and I need not fill in violate Torah in place of sin. Now let’s look at a few other things Paul says in regard to Torah in his letter to the Believers in Rome:
Do we then nullify the Torah through faithfulness? May it never be! On the contrary, we uphold the Torah.
~Romans 3:31 (TLV)
So then, the Torah is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
~Romans 7:12 (TLV)
For we know that the Torah is spiritual…
~Romans 7:14a (TLV)
Owe no one anything except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the Torah. For the commandments—“You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and any other commandment—are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fullness of the Torah.
~Romans 13:8-10 (TLV)
Notice that last passage says and any other commandment, meaning that any commandment in Torah is related to loving your neighbor. So many “Christian Churches” today are riding on a mantra of love God, love people. What they fail to realize is that these two commandments are supported doctrinally by passages like this from Romans 13. This means that not only are things like “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, etc.,” related to loving people, as Paul points out, but “Don’t eat unclean things like pork and shellfish, remember The Sabbath Day, keep the biblical Feasts of Yahweh, and don’t turn pagan practices into ways to worship Yahweh (as Christmas and Easter very likely do),” also pertain to loving your neighbor. And I will also point out that every commandment in Torah relates to loving God because Yeshua said: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
To further demonstrate that Paul could not have been saying in Romans 6:14 that new covenant Believers have no obligation to follow The Torah, we can look at his interactions with the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem from Acts 21-24. In these chapters Paul had gone to Jerusalem despite the warnings against it by the Prophet Agabus. Upon his arrival into the city he was arrested and charges were brought against him with claims that he was teaching heresy. We see this in Acts 21:21 (TLV) where it says, “They have been told about you—that you teach all the Jewish people among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or to walk according to the customs.” Let’s take a look at Paul’s defense of himself against these accusations:
When the governor nodded for him to speak, Paul responded: “Knowing that you have been judge over this nation for many years, I gladly make my own defense. As you can verify, it is no more than twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship. They did not find me arguing with anyone or inciting a riot—not in the Temple or in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city. Nor can they prove to you the charges they now bring against me. But this I confess to you, that according to the Way (which they call a sect), I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything written in the Torah and the Prophets.”
~Acts 24:10-14 (TLV, emphasis added)
Modern Christian theology often wants to lead people to believe that Paul renounced his Hebrew identity upon his conversion, but this simply does not line up with what we read in the biblical record. In Acts 23:6, once again appealing to his defense against the false accusations, he says, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees!” Then in Romans 11:1 he says, “For I too am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.” Finally in Philippians 3:4-6 he says, “I far more—circumcised the eighth day; of the nation of Israel; from the tribe of Benjamin; a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the Torah, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting Messiah’s community; as for Torah righteousness, found blameless.”
Paul did not oppose keeping the Torah. Quite the contrary! Paul taught in favor of keeping the Torah in perfect harmony with what Yeshua said in Matthew 5:18-19, “I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or serif shall ever pass away from the Torah until all things come to pass. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever keeps and teaches them, this one shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Paul, to the very end of his known ministry as recorded at the end of the Book of Acts, remained a Torah-observant Pharisee of the tribe of Benjamin who taught others to keep the Torah. Apparently he must have wanted to be called great in God’s Kingdom.
“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Messiah” (1 Corinthians 11:1, TLV) was Paul’s call to the community of Believers. He understood what his colleague John said: “whoever claims to abide in Him [Yeshua] must walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6, TLV). And just in case there is still some doubt in your mind that Paul could have been promoting observance of the Torah, consider what Peter said about his teachings:
Bear in mind that the patience of our Lord means salvation—just as our dearly loved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom given to him. He speaks about these matters in all of his letters. Some things in them are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist (as they also do with the rest of the Scriptures)—to their own destruction. Since you already know all this, loved ones, be on your guard so that you are not led astray by the error of the lawless and lose your sure footing.
~2 Peter 3:15-17 (TLV)
It is ignorant and unstable people who Peter says do this. He then calls this the error of the lawless. If you have read my blog Lawlessness you know that this term lawless in a biblical context means Torahless. It is people who oppose keeping the Torah who twist Paul’s words, as well as the rest of Scripture. In other words, anyone who uses Romans 6:14 to claim that we have no obligation to follow the Torah today is the very person Peter warns us against.
A Torah-Based Hermeneutic
Recently I was asked by a Reformed Calvinist about what my hermeneutic of The Bible is. If you are not familiar with the term, it is a “big theology word” that simply means: the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation, especially of the Bible or literary texts. So, basically this person wanted to know how I approach interpretation of The Bible.
Of course, I told this person that it is my belief—which I will be presenting throughout the duration of the rest of this message—that Yahweh’s Torah is the basis for everything else in The Bible. Moving forward in Scripture, starting with the Book of Joshua and going all the way through Revelation, there is a clear trend where every major “man of God” figure, be it a Prophet, an Apostle, or even our Messiah Yeshua, directs people back to following Father’s Torah.
A common Christian error today is that it is impossible to keep Torah. Some of the most popular preachers today have gained prominence by telling people such things as: God gave The Law to prove that it is impossible to keep The Law. This is actually one of the most unbiblical statements among the many heretical claims of today’s false prophets. Consider what Scripture tells us regarding the ability to keep God’s Torah:
“For this mitzvah that I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it far off. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, ‘Who will go up for us to the heavens and get it for us, and have us hear it so we may do it?’ Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross over for us to the other side of the sea and get it for us, and have us hear it so we may do it?’ No, the word is very near to you—in your mouth and in your heart, to do it.”
~Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (TLV)
For this is the love of God—that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
~1 John 5:3 (TLV)
These passages, one from the Torah and the other from the Apostolic Writings of John, tell us that it is easy to obey the Torah. Religion always wants you to believe it is difficult or impossible to obey The Bible because that is how it maintains its stronghold over your life. What most Christians are oblivious to today is that corporate Churches and paid Pastors need you to stay in business, but you don’t need either of them to live a life of obedience to God.
I’m not saying your should stop attending whatever fellowship you may belong to currently (unless you find they are teaching in error, but that’s a different matter). What I am saying is that there is nothing commanded in Scripture that requires a Church building or a paid Pastor for you to accomplish. And receiving that revelation is very freeing.
Yeshua, The Chief Cornerstone
Yeshua said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures? ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this has become the chief cornerstone. This came from Adonai, and it is marvelous in our eyes.’”
~Matthew 21:42 (TLV)
This Yeshua is ‘the stone—rejected by you, the builders—that has become the chief cornerstone.’
~Acts 4:11 (TLV)
One of the areas where I feel Christianity errs is in a theological view that Yeshua and the Gospel is the foundation of our faith. This is actually not true—at least not completely true.
Now, hang with me for a moment. I know there are people reading that are ready to just quit reading this because it seems incomprehensible to their religious mind that anyone would dare deny Yeshua and the Gospel as the foundation, but I am about to prove it to you from the Apostolic writings of Paul himself.
As we see from the above passages, Yeshua is the chief cornerstone. If you understand how foundations were built in ancient times—and even in some places to this day—a cornerstone was set before anything else. This was the first stone to be placed and it had to be absolutely perfect in every way because it would be from this stone that the rest of the foundation would be aligned with. So Yeshua’s role then as the chief cornerstone was not the whole foundation but the most important part of the foundation and the point to which all other truth would be aligned with. Now, with that in mind, take a look at this verse:
You have been built on the foundation made up of the emissaries and prophets, with Messiah Yeshua Himself being the cornerstone.
~Ephesians 2:20 (TLV)
If you recall, in the opening statements of this message I noted that every Prophet and Apostle in the biblical record pointed people back to the Torah. I will get into that in more detail in just a moment, but if these agents of God’s Kingdom consistently pointed people back to the Torah, then it is not out of line with this passage to say that the foundation is the Torah itself. To further consider this, look at what Jacques Baldet points out in his book Jesus The Rabbi Prophet: A New Light On The Gospel Message:
To understand Jesus’ message, we must first understand the religion in which he was educated. As we shall see when we discuss his mission, the available sources clearly demonstrate that Jesus had no intentions of founding a new religion, nor a new church. For him, what the Jews customarily called “the Law and the Prophets”—or the teachings of the Torah—was the foundation of his relationship to God. His concern, often found in the Sayings of the gospels, was to bring the “strayed sheep,” or the “sheep without a shepherd,” back into the way of the Torah.
We see this statement validated in the passage we already looked at from Matthew 5, as well as the statement that immediately precedes the passage we already looked at in verse 17, where He says: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Torah or the Prophets! I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.” This is a very often misunderstood statement. Much like the wrong interpretation of Romans 6:14, many today seem to view this in a way that says Yeshua didn’t come to abolish The Law, but that He came to abolish The Law. It doesn’t make sense when you say it like that, but that’s how many interpret the text. They somehow think that “fulfill” means that we have no further obligation to obey the Torah. So let’s take a moment to look at what this statement really means.
- Abolish is the Greek word kataluó. It means: destroy, overthrow, tear down, unyoke, unharness.
- Fulfill is the Greek word pléroó. It means: accomplish, amply supplied, complete, fully carry, fully preach/teach.
Another way to understand “fulfill” is to break the word down into its roots: fill full. This fits with the above definition, particularly with the idea of fully preaching or teaching. So, knowing this, we can read the verse this way for a more proper understanding:
Do not think that I came to abolish the Torah or the Prophets! I did not come to destroy them, overthrow them, unyoke them, or tear them down, but rather to accomplish them through you, supply them to you, complete them in your presence as an example, fully carry you in them, fully preach and teach them to you—I came to fill you full of the Father’s Torah.
Now, if you are not so sure you can accept this rendering of the text via a paraphrasing of what was said, consider the identifying seal of the new covenant as described in Jeremiah 31 and Hebrews 8: “I [Yahweh] will put My Torah within them. Yes, I will write it on their heart. I will be their God and they will be My people.” That sounds like it is very much in harmony with the idea that “fulfill” means that Yeshua came to fill you full of the Torah!
Prophets, Apostles, Torah
Let’s turn our attention now, having established that Yeshua is the chief cornerstone and the rest of the foundation is made up of the Prophets and the Apostles, to what these men said about Torah. As I have stated, from cover to cover in Scripture we find these men who spoke to God’s people always pointed people back to following His Torah. Allow me to highlight for you statements from the most recognized names in Scripture, that includes the patriarch Joshua, Israel’s most recognized king David, Prophets, and Apostles. You will see that they all endorse following the Torah as given to Moses by Yahweh our God.
Joshua, the patriarch who succeeded Moses:
Only be very careful to observe the mitzvah and the Torah which Moses the servant of Adonai commanded you, to love Adonai your God and walk in all His ways, and to keep His mitzvot, cling to Him and worship Him with all your heart and with all your soul.
~Joshua 22:15 (TLV)
King David to his son Solomon:
Keep the charge of Adonai your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His decrees, according to what is written in the Torah of Moses, so that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn so that Adonai may fulfill His word which He spoke concerning me, saying: ‘If your children watch their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’
`1 Kings 2:3-4 (TLV)
Isaiah, one of the major Prophets of God:
Listen to Me, you who know justice, a people with My Torah in their heart: Do not fear the taunt of men, nor be dismayed at their insults.
~Isaiah 51:7 (TLV)
Jeremiah, one of the major Prophets of God:
Hear, O earth! See, I will bring disaster on this people —fruit of their schemes— for they did not listen to My words and rejected My Torah.
~Jeremiah 6:19 (TLV)
Hosea, a Prophet of God:
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Since you rejected knowledge, I will also reject you from being My kohen. Since you forgot the Torah of your God, just so I will forget your children.
~Hosea 4:6 (TLV)
Malachi, a prophet of God:
Remember the Torah of Moses My servant, whom I commanded at Horeb—statutes and ordinances for all Israel.
~Malachi 3:22 (TLV)
The author of this psalm is not given, but it is commonly attributed to king David:
Happy is the one who has not walked in the advice of the wicked,
nor stood in the way of sinners,
nor sat in the seat of scoffers.
But his delight is in the Torah of Adonai,
and on His Torah he meditates day and night.
~Psalm 1:1-2 (TLV)
Solomon, one of Israel’s most recognized kings:
One who turns his ear from hearing Torah —even his prayer is an abomination.
~Proverbs 28:9 (TLV)
James, an Apostle and the half-brother of Yeshua:
But the one who looks intently into the perfect Torah, the Torah that gives freedom, and continues in it, not becoming a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts—he shall be blessed in what he does.
~James 1:25 (TLV)
John, an Apostle of Yeshua and one of His twelve primary disciples:
Everyone who keeps sinning is violating Torah — indeed, sin is violation of Torah.
~1 John 3:4 (CJB)
Paul, an Apostle of Yeshua:
For it is not the hearers of Torah who are righteous before God; rather, it is the doers of Torah who will be justified.
~Romans 2:13 (TLV)
While Peter does not refer specifically to Torah in his two letters, I will note that he speaks of the error of the lawless (2 Peter 3:17), the term lawless referring specifically to those who do not follow God’s Torah. I will also mention that there is clearly a lot more stated by Paul that is positive toward keeping Torah, but seeing as we already went through a pretty full study of his statement “not under the law” I do not see a need to bring out too much more of his endorsements of following Torah at this time.
As stated earlier, the foundation is made up of the emissaries (Apostles) and the Prophets. It seems very apparent that the unanimous belief and teaching of all Prophets, Apostles, and anyone else who led the people of God throughout the record of Scripture was to point people back to following the Torah. Consider also what Jeremiah called God’s people to do:
Thus says Adonai:
“Stand in the roads and look.
Ask for the ancient paths—
where the good way is—and walk in it.”
~Jeremiah 6:16 (TLV)
This passage continues with the people responding to the call of God through His Prophet by saying, “We won’t walk in it.” As you read on you come to a verse that should shake anyone to their core as God declares in Jeremiah 7:16, “As for you, do not pray for this people. Do not offer any supplication or petition for them, nor entreat Me, because I will not hear you.”
Let me ask you a question: What do you think the ancient paths that a Prophet still living under the old covenant time period were? Clearly, and especially having established what was the entire mission and message of these Prophets, this phrase “ancient paths” was a metaphor of God’s Torah and the Prophet was essentially saying: return to the way of Torah and follow it.
Another term that refers back to Torah is commandments. While it’s true that Torah means “instructions” more than the rigid nature of commandments, it is also true that most Bible translations use the word commandments, probably because it’s what was used and just stuck. Regardless, it’s the word we generally see throughout the Scripture to refer to individual instructions or mitzvot throughout The Bible. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some other statements John makes in his first and second epistle:
Now we know that we have come to know Him by this—if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
~1 John 2:3-4 (TLV)
We know that we love God’s children by this—when we love God and obey His commandments. For this is the love of God—that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
~1 John 5:2-3 (TLV)
Now this is love: that we walk according to His commands. This is the commandment—just as you heard from the beginning—that you walk in love.
~2 John 1:6 (TLV)
It is, perhaps, no coincidence that John is also the one Gospel writer who records these words of his Messiah, Yeshua: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15), “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me” (John 14:21), and “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10). The only other similar statement made in the other three Gospel records is Matthew’s quoting Yeshua as saying: “…but if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17).
Let me be perfectly clear: From cover to cover the theme of Scripture and redemption involves obedience to the Torah of Yahweh. There is no way around this. Liberal views of theology and the basis of “we’re not under The Law” absolutely must ignore these very clear statements from throughout Scripture, from statements made in the Torah itself to the call of the Prophets and all the way through the teachings of the Apostles.
Do you recall what I said in the second and third paragraph of the opening portion of this message? My friend stands quite dogmatically against anything and everything The Bible says about sexual perversion, but when you mention that the same Bible equally calls eating things like pork and shellfish an abomination (or detestable, depending on what translation you are reading) he is quick to say: “The problem with that is we are not under The Law today”. No! The problem with his interpretation of “not under The Law” is that it must ignore both the context of the Romans 6, the context of the Book of Romans as a whole, and the theme of keeping Torah found from cover to cover in the entire canon of Scripture—including the teachings of the Apostles. I can only hope that he and others I know who hold these errant views of the new covenant would read a message like this and see that they have bought into the lies of false doctrine.
Recently I put out a message titled Hath God Said? It’s a shorter article, one that would take the average person a mere fifteen minutes to read. But it is a powerful message that leads the reader to imagine they are in Eden and happen upon the serpent at the Tree of Knowledge. It is built around the fact that the serpent is the only being in the entirety of Scripture to ever dare question a commandment of God with that question: “Did God really say…?”
You see, the whole concept of using passages like Romans 6:14 to say that we have no obligation to keep Torah is built on that very same serpent and its demonic question: Hath God Said? To top it off, when you look at the whole issue it becomes clear that most Christians actually believe in keeping The Torah—with but only a few exceptions. When people say they are not under The Law, really, they are only objecting to about four things, with maybe a few others that are probably insignificant to modern cultural practices. These four primary things that today’s Christian objects to with their misinterpretation of “not under The Law” are:
- The biblical food laws outlined in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14.
- The biblical Feasts of Yahweh outlined in Leviticus 23.
- The Sabbath Day, which is one of the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20.
- The rebranding of paganism into worship of Yahweh as addressed in Deuteronomy 12, of which Christmas, Easter, and “Christian” versions of Halloween all likely are a result of.
You see, nobody throws up the “not under The Law” rebuttal against commandments such as: Do not murder, Do not lie, Do not steal, Do not commit adultery, etc. Most Christians don’t even use this objection to justify things like cross-dressing. It’s just this list of four things and maybe a few others like not wearing wool and linen together, not cross-breeding animals and cross-pollinating plants, and building a safety border around a flat-roof home, all of which likely would not even be relevant to the lifestyle of a twenty-first century American, regardless of whether or not they are a Christian.
Of course, as already detailed above, this understanding of the phrase “not under The Law” as used by entirely too many professing Christians today is ludicrous. Be very cautious of anyone who would dare to use this phrase to say we have no obligation to particular commandments from God’s Torah. Such are among the highest of hypocrites and blasphemers. They are tares among the wheat, sent by the enemy of God to invade the truth. They often don’t even know they are tares, as the enemy has even convinced them that they are true Believers.
In Matthew 5:18 (CJB) Yeshua is recorded as saying: “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.” Do you know that The Bible actually tells us when this passing away of heaven and earth will happen?
Revelation 21:1 says: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…” This happens on the biblical timeline after all other eschatological events. It doesn’t matter what order you believe specific end-time events will happen. It doesn’t matter whether or not you believe there will be a rapture or if it will happen before, during, or after a seven-year tribulation. It doesn’t matter what you believe regarding the Second Coming of Messiah or the Millennial Reign. This passing away of heaven and earth is the last thing that will happen on the “end-times” list of events and there is no way around that. So, since clearly we have not seen a rapture, a tribulation, a return of Messiah, and a Millennial Reign, it stands to reason that nothing in The Torah has been made obsolete. Whether or not anything in God’s Torah is abolished after Revelation 21:8 is irrelevant to the fact that we are living in a time when it is still in full effect.
You know, The Bible is so simple to comprehend if people would throw out all of the religious nonsense they learned in Churchianity. If people would get a fire in their belly and read The Bible with an intent to obey God out of love they would know what is in it and what is not and they would be able to ask these “pastors” and “preachers” of the day that one question they so often cannot answer: WHERE IS THAT IN THE BIBLE?
I’ll tell you, I am so often frustrated with all of it! I’m not frustrated with Christians, Churches, or even Pastors. I realize that in most cases these people honestly don’t know any better. I’m frustrated with the fact that all indications are that Satan is winning in the lives of billions of individual Christians because he has convinced them of a Christianity based on a counterfeit view of grace.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer states in his book The Cost Of Discipleship: “Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything, they say, and so everything can remain as it was before.” Let me tell you, anyone who uses “grace” and passages like “not under The Law” to claim that we can eat pork or that we don’t have to keep The Sabbath or anything else is a liar and a heretic. They are a tare in the wheat and they are to be rebuked. Should they not heed the rebuke they should be cut off and cast away. You say that sounds harsh, but let me tell you that souls are hanging in the balance and the moment you become passive to a deceiver is the moment you become personally responsible for the souls that they lead to hell’s fire.
One of the biggest mistakes an overwhelming majority of Christians have made is in making Yeshua a part of their life. I have made that statement in the past and you can only imagine the backlash I get when I do. But allow me to finish.
We are not to make Messiah a part of our life, adding Him and Christian religion to our existing sin-infested life. We are to crucify ourselves, lay down our life, and submit wholly to His rule. Paul said it this way in Galatians 2:19-20: “I have been crucified with Messiah; and it is no longer I who live, but Messiah lives in me.” If you truly allow the one who said “Do not think that I came to abolish the Torah or the Prophets, I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill” to live wholly in and through you, I assure you the words “we are not under the law” would never come out of your mouth as a misguided excuse to transgress His Father’s Torah.
Turn From Sin!
From then on, Yeshua began to proclaim, “Turn away from your sins, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
~Matthew 4:17 (TLV)
Many traditional Bible translations, such as the King James Version, use the word “REPENT” where the Tree Of Life Version says “Turn away from your sins”. While “REPENT” certainly is a more powerful declaration, I think it’s important to realize that repentance literally is, in this context, the turning away from sin.
As already brought up in this message and many others I have put out the primary biblical definition of sin is found in 1 John 3:4—Sin is the violating of Torah. It’s so simple! “Turn away from your violating of Torah, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” That’s what Yeshua was saying! Take a look at two passages that are truly at the height of the Gospel message:
“She will give birth to a son; and you shall call His name Yeshua, for He will save His people from their sins.” ~Matthew 1:21 (TLV)
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Yeshua said. “Go, and sin no more.” ~John 8:11b (TLV)
Earlier in this message we placed our 1 John 3:4 definition of sin into several verses of Scripture where “sin” was used. Let’s do that again here. Matthew 1:21 would then be rendered: “She will give birth to a son; and you shall call His name Yeshua, for He will save His people from the violation of Torah.” Likewise John 8:11 would say: “Then neither do I condemn you,” Yeshua said. “Go, and violate Torah no more.”
So much of the time I am amazed by the things Christians say to me. Recently I ran into someone I used to know from Church, but he had left that Church some time back and I have not seen him since. It was on a Saturday and I asked how he was doing. He explained that his legs were sore because he had been out doing work in his yard all day.
Me being me, I said to him with a light chuckle to try not sounding too demeaning, “I bet your legs wouldn’t be hurting if you weren’t out working on The Sabbath.” He looked at me perplexed and said something about Sunday. So I reminded him that The Bible says it is the seventh day that is The Sabbath. Well, he started to say Sunday is the seventh day—to which I was now quite perplexed for a brief moment—and then he caught himself and acknowledged that Saturday indeed is the seventh day of the week. Then he said something very interesting: “Well, I don’t think God’s going to send me to hell for it.”
I looked at him and said, “You know, that’s the problem with Christians, they think that if God doesn’t strike them down He must somehow be OK with what they are doing.” This guy turned on me and started frantically saying, “Oh, you’re getting way too serious for me now…. You’re getting way too serious.”
What happened? He was offended for one thing. For another thing he had no desire to face the fact that he was being called out for breaking the Fourth Commandment from the “Big Ten”.
The other day I heard a popular Pentecostal minister preaching on the Book of Acts, and it was a pretty good message for the most part. But at one point, early in his sermon, he was at the part where we see the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. This prompted a thought in my mind and I opened to the Book of Joel and began looking over the text.
So much of the time Christians love to go to this passage in Acts because it’s the “cool and trendy” part of Joel’s prophecy. After all, who doesn’t love the idea of God pouring out His Spirit on all flesh where everyone starts to prophesy, dream dreams, or see visions? But there’s more to the short prophetic Book of Joel than what we read in Chapter 3. Consider these words from the chapter preceding this popular passage:
“Yet even now”
—it is a declaration of Adonai—
“turn to Me with all your heart,
with fasting, weeping and lamenting.”
Rend your heart, not your garments,
and turn to Adonai, your God.
For He is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger, abundant in mercy,
and relenting about the calamity due.
Who knows? He may turn and relent,
and may leave a blessing behind Him
—so there may be a grain offering
and a drink offering for Adonai, your God.
~Joel 2:12-14 (TLV)
In the Tree Of Life Version, from which I cited this passage, it is given a heading of: Call For Teshuvah. This heading, of course, is added for additional understanding in study, a common practice in Bible translations. But consider that word: teshuvah. What does it mean? It is the Hebrew word for REPENT.
Before Joel got to the part about pouring out the Holy Spirit on all flesh, he tells God’s people to REPENT. Why doesn’t anyone talk about that when they are in Acts 2? It’s as if everyone has lost their mind and forgotten that Acts 2 is built on top of the Gospel and the ministry of Yeshua, and the Gospel and ministry of Yeshua was built on the statement: REPENT! For the Kingdom of God is at hand!
Repentance, at it’s core, from cover to cover in The Bible is a call to return to obeying God’s Torah. Every time people are told to repent it is because they are violating something commanded in The Torah.
I believe I have mentioned this before, but a while back I was listening to a Pastor who I have since developed a connection with. In his message on this occasion he was talking about commandments and making an illustration using a hypothetical child. He had his audience imagine that they gave the child a set of rules to follow, and to keep it simple he set this list of instructions at ten. Then he said that the child followed eight of these things perfectly, but broke two of the rules.
He then asked if anyone would sit the child down and have a discussion about the eight commandments that they obeyed. Of course nobody would do that, there is no need to lecture a child on rules they are following. The things you would have a conversation about are the two instructions that they didn’t follow.
Well, we can apply this to what was happening when the Apostles were writing to the Messianic fellowships of The Way as well. Often times I hear people say things like: Well, you know, the Sabbath was not repeated in the “New Testament”—“Jesus” repeated nine of the Ten Commandments, but left out The Sabbath. Well, those “food laws” are not repeated in the “New Testament”, so they must be abolished. Well, those “Jewish Feasts” aren’t repeated in the “New Testament” and now we celebrate “Christmas” and “Easter”.
First of all, none of that is actually true. The Sabbath is repeated, Hebrews 4:9 says, “So there remains a Shabbat rest for the people of God.” The Feasts are repeated, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:8, “Therefore let us celebrate the feast…” Clearly he was talking specifically of the Spring Feasts based on what he said surrounding this statement, but it would stand to reason that he would say the same of the Fall Feasts. Acts 18:21 shows that Paul was eager to keep one of the Feasts in Jerusalem. Scholars debate over what Feast this was, but it was most likely the Spring Feasts, Fall Feasts, or Shavuot (Pentecost), as other celebrations like Hanukkah and Purim were and are minor celebrations not likely to be something Paul would express such a deep desire for. Also, Zechariah prophesied that in the Millennium all nations would be required to keep the Feast of Tabernacles (see Zechariah 14).
Then we get to the food laws. I have addressed many times how passages like Mark 7, Acts 10, and 1 Timothy 4, when understood in context, are actually a ringing endorsement for keeping the food laws. But what about repeating the commandment to keep them? Well, let’s take a look at some facts about these laws regarding what we are to eat and not eat.
In Acts 10 we see Peter, in a vision, consistently saying that he has never eaten anything common or unclean. Now, I cannot get into the depths of this passage here, if you would like to read a full contextual study of Acts 10 you can check out my message Get Up Peter! Kill And Eat! What I will say here is simply that this event took place ten years after Yeshua left things in the hands of His disciples, if the food laws were done away with it wouldn’t make sense that Peter was still keeping them.
Then we have Paul in Acts 21:26 and 24:18, where he was “ceremonially clean” so that he could enter the Temple. In order to be “ceremonially clean”, one would absolutely have to be living a life of adherence to the biblical food laws as detailed in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. You could touch a dead body and be “unclean” for a day, but then be permitted after purification. But people who ate unclean things would not be considered clean at all. And this record took place much later than Peter’s vision, and it involved Paul, the “Apostle to the Gentiles” that everyone thinks changed the rules and taught the abolishing of the Torah, despite his entire defense of himself being that he believed everything written in the Torah and the Prophets (Acts 24:14).
And then we come to a peculiar passage that I want to take a moment to examine.
Therefore, come out from among them,
and be separate, says Adonai.
Touch no unclean thing.
Then I will take you in.
~2 Corinthians 6:17 (TLV)
Do you recall how I opened this message, comparing how The Bible calls both sexual perversions and eating unclean meats an abomination?
You see, the unclean thing mentioned here is clearly a reference to eating unclean meats—things like pork, shellfish, rodents, sharks, catfish, eels, skates and rays, birds of prey, and numerous other things. Paul was drawing from Isaiah 52:11 here, which says: “Leave, leave! Get out of there! Touch no unclean thing. Go out of her midst. Purify yourselves, you who carry the vessels of Adonai.”
Isaiah, I will remind you, is where eating unclean things is mentioned in 65:4-5 as a smoke in God’s nostrils and a fire that burns all day and in 66:17 as one of two categories of people who will be consumed in the wrath upon Messiah’s return (the other being idolatry—like the yoga my friend opposes, just thought I’d throw that in there). So it is very clear that the unclean thing referenced in 2 Corinthians 6:17 at least includes the eating of that which God called detestable/abomination.
Still not convinced? Let’s compare this to a particular act of sexual perversion: bestiality (having sex with animals). There are only 3 verses in the entire Bible that addresses this extreme perversion:
You are not to lie with any animal to defile yourself with it, nor is any woman to give herself to an animal, to lie down with it—that is a perversion.
~Leviticus 18:23 (TLV)
If a man lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death, and you are to kill the animal. If a woman approaches any animal, and lies down with it, you are to kill the woman and the animal. They shall surely be put to death, and their blood shall be on them.
~Leviticus 20:15-16 (TLV)
‘Cursed is the one who lies with any kind of animal.’ Then all the people are to say, ‘Amen.’
~Deuteronomy 27:21 (TLV)
Now, I have brought this up in the past that this is only found in The Torah and so if it’s not repeated in the Apostolic Writings (the “New Testament”) then we must also equally say this is now permitted in Christianity. Of course, this gets the same type of reaction as my old pal who was working on The Sabbath and had tired legs. But then you get people who will say that this is covered by the general repeating of sexual immorality continuing to be sin in the “New Testament” (see Matthew 5:32, 15:19, 19:19, Mark 7:21, Acts 15:20-29, 1 Corinthians 5:1-11, 6:9-18, 10:8, 2 Corinthians 12:1, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:3, Colossians 3:5, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, Hebrews 13:4, Jude 1:7, and Revelation 2:14-20, 9:21, 17:2, 18:3-9, 21:8, 22:15).
Let’s take a moment and look just at the passage from Acts 15, what is commonly known as The Council Of Jerusalem. Verse 20 begins the segment, listing four things that are determined new converts should abstain from: the contamination of idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what is strangled, and from blood. Since something like bestiality fits under the “banner” of sexual immorality in most Christian circles, then this prohibition from Acts 15 would include that, right?
There are many problems with using passages like Acts 15 to create a complete list of “the only things Christians need to obey”, particularly when the very next thing said, in verse 21, is, “For Moses from ancient generations has had in every city those who proclaim him, since he is read in all the synagogues every Shabbat.” So, basically this list of four things must be a starting point if they are saying these new converts will learn the rest of the teachings of Moses (The Torah) as they attend the weekly Sabbath services at the Synagogues. But another huge problem presented here is that if we can use this “rule of interpretation” to cover bestiality under the “sexual immorality” prohibition in Acts 15, we have an obligation to use this same “rule of interpretation” elsewhere. This would include 2 Corinthians 6:17 where everything The Bible calls “the unclean thing” must be placed under that banner, and obviously the food laws from Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 are a major part of what The Bible calls “the unclean thing”.
It’s very simple folks: If bestiality is covered by general statements against sexual immorality being sin then the food laws continue to be upheld by the general statement to not touch the unclean thing in 2 Corinthians 6:17. You cannot have a double standard. The methods you use to interpret The Bible must be consistent. If bestiality is still a sin in the new covenant, then so is eating unclean meats. If eating unclean meats is permitted in the new covenant, then so is having sex with animals. So, I would really like to know why all the Christians who endorse eating pork and shellfish and the abomination aren’t going out and getting themselves a lamb, not for Passover, but for………
Look: God wants you to be free through Messiah Yeshua. But that freedom is a freedom from sin, not a freedom to sin. The Bible calls various sexual perversions an abomination. The Bible also calls eating unclean things like pork, shellfish, and a host of other animals an abomination. These things are equally called the same thing! It’s really simple. God wants you to be free from sin through Yeshua. It doesn’t matter what the sin is. His desire is just as much for you to be free from the sin of eating unclean things as to be free from sexual immorality.
I know that’s a hard pill to swallow, but I am not playing games here. The deception runs deep and the heresies of the modern Church are thick. This isn’t about whether or not something people are calling the “Hebrew Roots Movement” is some sort of cult or heresy. I know there are groups under that banner teaching nonsense that distracts from what is truly important.
I know that there are those fringe groups that put more faith in extrabiblical books like Enoch and Jasher than they do in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I know there are people who would promote the teachings of a Christ-denying Jewish Rabbis like Rambam and Rashi than in pillars of holiness like Tozer and Ravenhill. I actually saw a blog post one time lashing out against Messianic and “Hebrew Roots” Believers quoting Tozer because he was not “Torah-observant”. There is a lot of wisdom that can be gleaned from apocryphal/pseudepigraphal books or the teachings of historic Jewish writers and scholars, but I promise you I will lean on the teachings of those who named the name of Yeshua (or “Jesus”) and stood for righteousness through the Gospel over those who denied Him as Messiah every time. They may have got some things wrong, but at least they accepted the one thing that matters most: Yeshua/”Jesus”.
The reality is that most people I have connected with in this “Hebrew Roots Movement” have solid teachings. Sure, I don’t agree with everything they teach, but for the most part they are Christians rooted in sound doctrine who believe in obeying the whole Bible. My issue most of the time is that they are so wrapped up in teaching the depths of things like the Temple when there is no Temple in Israel right now and 2.2 billion professing Christians are transgressing basic Torah commandments because they simply don’t know any better. How about we get people saved from their sins first, and then we can talk about the Temple or Ancient Near East culture?
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that the opinions of some are true and this “Hebrew Roots Movement” is a cult. I do think some of these fringe groups under that banner are something of concern, but let’s say the whole thing is heretical or a cult. Well, just because some cult group follows something in the Bible does not make it wrong for Christians to obey that part of the Bible. Some questionable cult or heresy group taking something from God’s Word and following it does not automatically make that thing heretical for true Believers. That would mean Satan has the power to void parts of The Bible by simply telling his followers to obey that thing. If that were the case, there wouldn’t be anything left of Scripture for those who follow Yeshua to obey!
Look, I agree with things the Baptists teach too, despite believing that Calvinism is one of the great heresies of Church history. But it’s not about any of that and it’s not about some “Hebrew Roots Movement” and whether or not you believe that to be some type of cult. This is about obeying The Bible. Plain and simple. Whether or not some groups are teaching blatant heresies and soiling the witness of the Holy Spirit who is trying to open the eyes of God’s people to the Torah from which all the rest of Scripture is built upon should be irrelevant. You don’t refuse to see a doctor because there are quacks out there, to quote the great Evangelist Billy Graham, do you? Then why would you refuse to obey The Bible in a few things because there are some whackos out there associating these commandments with non-biblical nonsense?
It’s like I often say: You better be careful about taking vague statements from later in Scripture and applying them in a way to negate the clear commandments of God. The Bible says that God is not the author of confusion. So why then do Christians think that He would abrogate His own commandments with vague statements that everyone is arguing for the past two-thousand years over whether or not they actually do abolish some particular commandment? Why would God equally call two things an abomination and then say that one (sexual immorality) you must not do and the other (the clean/unclean food laws) you are free to ignore Torah and do it? Why would God tell us not to engage in the ways of the pagans and expect us to follow that regarding our exercise regiments but not worry about it when it’s time to celebrate popular holidays?
Look, if God did away with the Feasts, He would have told Paul or some other Apostle to write it as clearly as the commandment to keep the Feasts in Leviticus 23—The Feasts are now ended, you are no longer to keep them. Instead we have Paul telling us TO keep the Feasts. If God ended The Sabbath then The Apostolic Writings would clearly say that The Sabbath was ended, not: So there remains a Sabbath for the people of God. And if the food laws were really cancelled we would have a very clear indication of it outright telling us so, not some vision that was interpreted by the one who had the vision as meaning to take the Gospel to the Gentiles, not some vague statement about every creature of God is good and nothing to be refused, not some parenthetical insert about declaring all foods clean after the disciples were accused of eating bread without washing their hands, and we certainly would not have a statement like: Touch no unclean thing. Then I will receive you.
God is not the author of confusion. He gave clear commandments. If they really were done away with, He would make it abundantly clear. He would not give us vague and confusing statements for us to try and figure out whether or not they are still imposed upon His people. Why do so many Christians want to debate about vague statements than to just to the logical and easy thing and obey the plain commandments of God?
It’s really quite simple when it’s all said and done. You can either take up the popular Christian interpretation and take your chances hopping and skipping down that happy broad path of religion that is spoken of, or you can take that narrow path and simply obey the commandments—The Torah—and not have to worry about whether or not these things are still binding on Believers. Unfortunately, most Christians want to take their chances because bacon is more important to them than common sense.
I’ll remind you that the words “Depart from Me” are followed by the words “worker of LAWLESSNESS”. Yeshua doesn’t say “Depart from Me, you were obeying that Torah”. So I will stand here and call any who would heed the words of logic, common sense, and if need be erring on the side of caution and repeat the words of my Messiah: REPENT! For the Kingdom of God is at hand!
Are you absolutely, positively, 100% certain that you are allowed to break The Sabbath, not keep the Feasts, eat all those unclean things, and whatever else you have been told is no longer valid today? If this message has even given you so much as an ounce of doubt, I suggest that you REPENT—stop doing things that God said not to do and start doing things that God said to do in His Torah—and start living holy and wholly for God.
~Blessings and Shalom~
To learn more, CLICK HERE and check out all of the Truth Ignited articles.