Dividing Torah & the Grace of Elohim
This morning I printed out all 613 of the Laws of YHVH found in the Torah (the Mitzvot). I have been looking at both sides of the Law vs Grace debate for quite some time now, so I was really curious to get down to the nitty-gritty of what this fuss is all about.
I know, I know, many well-meaning believers love to quote Galatians 5;4 which states:
“Christ is become of no effect to you, whosoever of you are justified by the Law, ye have fallen from grace.”
Also Romans 6;14 which states:
“For sin shall have no dominion over you, for you are not under Law but under Grace.”
And we certainly can’t forget that it was Jesus who said:
“You shall love the Lord your God will all your mind, all your strength, and all your soul…. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Then we get into other camps, who stand by the argument that Paul, in fact, never taught a separate gospel from Christ by citing Romans 2;12-13 which states:
“For as many have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and as many have sinned in the Law will be judged by the law, for not the hearers of the Law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.”
And there’s also Paul, saying in Acts 24;14:
“But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the Elohim of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.”
And going back to Romans, we see that Paul stated in chapter 3, verse 31:
“Do we then make the Law void through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we uphold the Law.”
And just for your extra, it was The Messiah Himself who plainly stated that those who love God will keep His commandments.
Still, there seems to be so much confusion with understanding this properly. And we must remember that no matter what side of this debate you happen to be on, there is always the threat of misunderstanding, legalism, interpretation, and incorrect motives. However, a careful study reveals much.
Remember when YHVH said that He was ushering in a day when He would write His Laws on the hearts of men instead of using the tablets of stone? Remember when The Messiah gave the Great Commandments at the Sermon on the Mount and then made sure to add that on all the Law and the Prophets hung those two commands to love YHVH and love your neighbor as yourself? I do. What I’m getting at is that there has to be a way that all of this makes sense without contradicting anything else in the entire Bible, if we expect the Bible to be true. Do you believe YHVH? Let me explain.
Out of all 613 “do’s” and “don’ts” (the Law, or Mitzvot) found in the Torah, there are originally 365 “don’ts”- one for each day of the year, and 248 “do’s”-one for each bone in the human body. If you look at the “do’s”, the positive Mitzvot, you will see that only 90 can even really apply to us as believers living scattered among the nations. Why? Because all the other ones refer to groups, places, and things that can only be applied in the Holy Land when there is a standing Temple. Things like the Levitical Priesthood, the Temple in Jerusalem that was destroyed, animal sacrifices, and tithes of agriculture for farmers in the land of Israel- these can’t apply to us. So while we will see the return of them in the Millenial Reign, we cannot walk them out as Biblically mandated today. The remaining positive mitzvot are concerned with things like the setting up of a judicial court system, torts, community, social, and family ethics and society-and most of us already follow these rules.
There are other positive ones that state that we are to believe in YHVH, love YHVH, say grace after meals, pray to YHVH, serve YHVH, sanctify His name, walk in His ways, swear an oath to Him, cling to Him and acknowledge His unity. If you are a believer at all, you likely do all of these. At least I hope so! That just about covers all the positives, the “do’s”.
So… what about the “don’ts”? The so-called negative Mitzvot?
As it turns out, there are- again for the reasons stated above- only 195 of these that can even possibly apply to us. Out of the ones that do apply, some of them have been repeated from the “do” list. Things like how to keep Passover, how to observe Sabbath, how to deal lawfully in business and when loaning other people money or items, etc. Again, we have all based our code of ethics and justice systems on these laws. I want to make that clear. We’ll get to why that’s important in a minute.
The only ones that are left, then, in the “don’t“ category are the social, economic, community, family, and sanitary rules of conduct. Like, not having sexual relations with the family pet or those to whom you are related. Not Murdering. Not lying. Not dealing falsely. Not cheating. Not committing adultery. Again, we call these things crimes and they are perfectly punishable by the aforementioned justice system that we modeled after the Torah, and I’m sure we can all (hopefully!) agree that these aren’t things we should be engaging in as believers. None of this so far sounds like it’s impossible, especially considering that most of us follow most of these without even thinking about it. So, why do some people think that the Torah is such a burden? In reality, the only laws that people may take issue with are the ones that have been burned on the stake of bad theology. The Dietary laws, the wearing of tzit-tziyot, the seventh-day Sabbath, and God’s Holy Feast Days. That’s about it.
The idea that none of the Torah’s laws apply to you as a believer because “they were only given to the Jews”, because “Jesus nailed them to the cross” just simply isn’t true. The law of “sin and death” was nailed to the cross, but not the Law itself. We are still called to walk in it as believers today. But what about the charge that says that if you put yourself back under the Torah (the law) that you have actually lost your salvation! Is this true? Let’s look at the verses they employ to make that point.
Galatians 5;4 “…Christ is none effect to you, ye have fallen from grace.”
James 2;10 “Whoever keeps the Law and yet stumbles at just one point, is guilty of breaking it all.”
This view posits that because there are so many Laws, that no one can follow them all, and salvation would be impossible, and so God sent Jesus to take the curse for us, live perfectly, sacrifice himself in our place, and give us abundant life. This is great news! It relies, however on two really large presuppositions. One is that this line of reasoning implies that the Law has the ability to save. It does not. If the entire Old Testament points to Yeshua, what can the Law do for Salvation? Nothing at all. We are saved by grace through faith in Messiah alone. And two, this sort of thinking is proven wrong by the fact that if you live on planet Earth, you already abide by parts of the Torah (remember the justice and socio-economic systems we have in place?). There’s no way around it.
Now you see! Let’s follow the reasoning of those who believe that the Law will condemn you if you practice it… If you break only one point you are guilty of breaking all of it, and if you practice it AT ALL you have gone back under the Law, thereby rejecting grace and have somehow lost your very salvation! Those are some pretty big words coming from people who regularly practice parts of the Torah by both their faith and their governmental systems! By their own logic, no one can be saved! It’s a self-defeating argument and under further study, doesn’t hold up. Not to mention the fact that there can’t even be grace without the law, because grace is only afforded to those who have sinned- which is breaking the law. If the law doesn’t exist, then you haven’t sinned, and there’s nothing you need forgiveness for- and truly Christ is become of no effect to you!
YHVH told us in Jeremiah that He would write His laws on the hearts of all men. He did. It’s the Torah. All 613 commandments. They can best be summed up by the Decalogue, which is the essence of Torah. The beautiful moral code that YHVH gave us to apply to our lives so that we may find Him when we seek Him with all our hearts! You see, Torah is not a curse. If you understand Paul, you will see that he preached the same Gospel as Yeshua and all the other Apostles. And if you understand James, you know that living in obedience to the Torah is the way to those good fruits we hear so much about in the Good Book. Faith without works is dead.
Yeshua is the root, and obedience is the fruit; and we show Him that we seek Him and long to walk as He walked by following the perfect and beautiful Law of God. The Torah.