Is the Torah of YHVH valid today?
There seems to be a lot of division surrounding the idea of whether or not the Torah of YHVH is still valid for believers today, and what that might mean for us as followers of Messiah. Today we will be unpacking several verses and ideologies that point to the truth of the matter as we find it in the scriptures. I pray that you keep an open mind and heart during this lesson and as always, if you have any questions, please reach out to me. I would love to pray with you.
My aim during this study is to shed some light on the division between the Torah and the modern Christian ideal and clear up some of the confusion that has surrounded them both for so many years.
Most people in the mainstream church these days believe in something called “hyper-grace”, or as it is known in many circles “the cheap grace doctrine”. It is the idea that we, as believers, will come to have faith in the Messiah, Jesus, and we will confess this with out mouths and believe in our hearts. This not only gives us a first class ticket to heaven, but it also gives us the free gift of salvation, as so many love to point out using books like Galatians and Romans. This is very different from the idea that most people in the Hebrew Roots and Messianic Movements hold; which is that because of YHVH’s divine grace and Him drawing us to Himself, we come to faith in Yeshua as our Messiah, and we then set about the task of following Him with all our hearts according to the scriptures. This gives us the opportunity to be saved by faith in the Messiah, should we continue to run the race set before us.
These are admittedly, two very different perspectives, but without a proper study of the scriptures, we might never truly understand what the Bible teaches us. Let’s be like the Bereans and search out the scriptures to see what they have to say. Let the reader understand, I am not saying that the entirety of those who are in the mainstream church have obtained “cheap grace” any more than I am saying that all Messianics believe in works-based salvation. There are many shades in both camps. I believe, frankly, that there is somewhere closer to a happy medium between these two extremes.
Many people in the modern Christian church are quick to point to Paul, who wrote 51% of the New Testament, as the verification for the idea that salvation in a free gift. They will tell you that, as a believer, there is nothing you can do to keep from sinning. However, you are given limitless grace by the Creator to cover the sins that you will, by default, continue to commit, seeing that you are both born into sin and living in a fallen world (for more information on whether we are born into sin, please see my article on the Original Sin Doctrine in the Christian Mythology Series). Modern Christians tend to stick by the idea that because Jesus was without sin and lived in obedience to the Father as the only one who can atone for each of our individual sins that we must both believe and confess that He is the Messiah in order to gain a covering for our sins in the eyes of YHVH, gaining us access to Heaven. But is this correct? (For the sake of those who believe that the Old Testament doesn’t apply to us today, I have only included references in the New Testament, so that there is no confusion.) First, let’s see what Paul tells us concerning sin:
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Do we then nullify the law through faith? Absolutely not! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;
13 For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
9 “Thou hast loved righteousness (The Law) and hated iniquity; therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.”
So we see here that Paul seems to be pointing to the idea that there is a clear need to follow YHVH’s Laws in order to be counted as righteous- and that upholding Torah is something that is still needed in conjunction with our saving faith and belief in Messiah. However, there are many who will reference Galatians chapter 3 as a proof text that the law (Torah) has been done away with. Let’s look at Galatians 3 in detail:
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? 4 Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? 6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” 9 So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. 10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” 13 Christ 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 pole.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
This seems pretty clear that there is no need for the Law anymore, right? Well, before we jump to conclusions, let’s remember something. Paul is the ONLY writer in the entire Bible that comes with a proviso. We hear that from Peter who told us that Paul is difficult to understand:
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 twist, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
So we can see that Peter tells us that Paul can be difficult to absorb properly if we don’t know the rest of the scriptures very well, and that there will be those who use his words to bolster their own agendas instead of taking the real meaning behind his words. What Paul is actually in Galatians 3 and other similar Bible passages is that those who are deemed righteous by YHVH are those who, like Abraham, live by faith. (See Hebrews 11) What does this mean? Living by faith is both the simple, child-like belief that Yeshua is our Messiah who has come to save us from our sins, and it is the idea that we are obligated to steer our lives clear of the things that YHVH deems unholy. We must live both of these realities out daily if we are to walk on the narrow path. But, how can we have any understanding of what YHVH deems unholy? We must look in the Bible to find those things out.
1 John 1:6-9
6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect LAW that gives freedom, and continues in it-not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
John 15:4 says “Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”
So, we can see from just these few examples that the Torah-what most people call “The Law” is absolutely relevant today in the life of the believer, as it was even way back in the days of Mount Sinai and even before. Indeed everyone has been saved by the grace of our Messiah, but only those who LIVE OUT THEIR FAITH are the ones who are considered to be righteous. (See Ephesians 2: 8-10) We see that literally everyone (since the beginning) who is saved is afforded that gift by grace through faith and that following the Torah, the instructions of YHVH, is necessary for living in obedience and righteousness before the LORD.
If those who are in the mainstream church today are being taught that the entire Law and indeed, most of the Old Testament is no longer valid or doesn’t apply to believers today, how can they possibly have a solid enough understanding of the scriptures to understand what Paul is really saying? How can they know how to properly walk in obedience to the God they love unless they know how to love Him, which is detailed in the Torah? For the answer to these questions, I encourage you to study the word and pray that the Father will give you wisdom in your search for the truth. Shalom and many blessings!