Ok this is going to be a fun one and a long one, but there is a huge issue going on today that needs some clarity.
Matthew 5:17-20 is fascinating and wonderful, but verses like this have caused confusing and even passionate hatred between Christians and I want to help mend that by giving both side a perspective of the others, that neither are seeing in their agression.
First thing: check this out.
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
If you're like me, you'e grown up in church and heard the exact opposite which is that Jesus did away with the law. Sometimes preachers even say "Jesus abolished the law." And this probably makes you want to start learning what the Law says, simply just to get a fuller picture of the Bible as a whole. So naturally the next question is "should I paying attention to these and start keeping these commandments?" However it it seems many people have turned to keeping God's commandments instead of living under the grace of what Jesus did for us. People have given these people the term Hebrew Roots Cult or it could even be a Messianic Jew.
Anyone who discounts the grace of Jesus, has entirely missed the point and is certainly in a bad place, but that's not to say God won't use it to teach them and help others. One of the best promises of the Lord is that all YHWH's ways will be written on his people's hearts one day in the New Jerusalem. Some of them are now, but that practice and knowledge will be perfected them. (Praise the Lord!) at the moment the Holy Spirit is still growing us in those.
And that's exactly what I want to talk about. The Holy Spirit and the roll it plays in this balance of keeping God's commandments and living under grace, through Jesus.
GOD'S LAW HAS ALWAYS BEEN GOOD
In short, we know that YHWH has been unchanging since the beginning and frankly that is what makes Him stand out above all the other religions who's leaders either die or change their standards. So that leads me to believe that His standard does not change. That lines up with that quote from Jesus in Matthew 5 too. But it's easy to get lost in this new understanding and totally miss what it means to no longer be under the Law. (Read that in Galatians.)
God's Laws for today's believer are not about your righteous standing in the Father's eyes, because only Jesus can make you spotless. They are about obedience to what His Spirit leads you to do.
Think about it like this.
God has set an eternal standard. If everyone followed that standard perfectly, it would create a perfect existence of people on earth. Wow! (Also the angels follow this same standard. Neat!) So when YHWH's holy mountain descends and He is physically able to be back with his people (due to having resurrected bodies made of Water and Spirit (John 3)), we will be following His ways. So for now, God sends His Spirit to be with us and instruct us in...this is what people miss....those very same instructions. This is literally what it means to "grow in righteousness" and praise the Lord that we don't need an earthly priest. We have God's own Spirit if we just believe that Jesus paid the price for our sins and He atones for them in Heaven on our behalf! (Heb 8) wow! So let's not miss what Jesus did.
So if your still tracking with me, then you're probably wondering....
WHICH OF GOD'S LAWS TO FOLLOW TODAY?
First of all most people follow at least a couple of these laws and all Christians follow quite a few. We all agree the ten commandments are good, but you may wonder how to deal with the rest? You obviously don't need to go to the temple in Jerusalem once o year, or make a burnt offering for sin, (praise Jesus!) but what about these people who are celebrating Passover instead of Easter? Or trying their best to not work on Saturday and calling a Sabbath. (Also one of the 10 commandments.) Solid question, cause I know, it seems ...odd? And possibly ok, but still odd...at least at first.
I've learn through my own experience to break it down into two categories of Laws.
1 - PRACTICAL LAWS & ETERNAL LAWS
PRACTICAL LAWS & HEALTHY LIVING STANDARDS
The thing people don’t get is that it’s not that eating bacon makes you unclean. It’s that God put those laws as a protection for his people's health.
If bacon was healthy today then no big deal, but it’s amazing how even to this day, it’s still processed in ways that are disgustingly bad for our bodies. So I won’t eat it because it’s simply unhealthy and “oh by the way,” God’s law protected his people then AND now. He wants us to be healthy and I want to do what He says makes you healthier. Simple as that. It’s not about being unclean anymore if I eat piggies. We are spotless in God’s eyes through Jesus. Amen!
So it is part of God's standard, but it's about obedience.
Let me put it this way.
So if God says “Hey I’m trying to keep you healthy. This is a bad time to be eating pork.” And we say “OK thanks God. I’ll do it your way” and then revert back to eating it a month later, because we miss the fiiiiine bacon taste… it’s not a sin in the sense of the Law was broken.
It’s simply disobedience, because God revealed to me what was good for me and I said I would do what He told me. Praise the Lord that thanks to Jesus, there is forgiveness for that too. Don’t mock Jesus by continuing to do something God told you was not good. It becomes a very personal thing and it’s not about the Law anymore.
This shows you how personal this becomes, which means you can't hold anyone to this same standard unless the Lord did the same for them. Wow.
It's the same with all the law now. The Holy Spirit puts each of us on a journey to the same place, but we all start at different points. Instead of all the standards being pushed on a tight-knit community (Israel) we have a custom guide that knows us personally and how to give us what we can handle.
2 - ETERNAL TORAH
This is simple and probably makes the most sense out of all this.
Anything God asked his people to do eternally means thats it’s not wrong to do now, because we have been told that we (gentiles) are grafted into God’s people.
Again - Praise Jesus!
So this could be things you see Christians doing like Passover or Sabbath or another feast.
And by the way the Feast can be a great way to refocus and celebrate the story of what God has done for his people, as well as what he will do with the Return of the King Jesus. What I mean is that in our nice little Vatican-style man-made "holy days" like Christmas or Easter you may find that because of the rush from here to there and the addition of secular activities you lose track of what they should be about. That is Jesus. In the event that the Lord leads you away from those, you can rest in the fact that every single holiday has another feast/celebration in the year that has so much of Jesus built into it that you can't miss it!
Passover is a great example. It fall near Easter. Jesus is celebrating Passover with his 12 disciples in the upper room when He says "do this in remembrance of me." (Talking about passover you think?) Jesus is the spotless "Passover lamb" who gave himself up to cover our sins. Thousands of years befreo YHWH built into this celebration things that pointed to Jesus, like how you are not supposed to break any of the bones when you cook a lamb and guess what? ...They did not break any of Jesus bones on the cross! It's so freakin epic man! I can't help but WANT to do God's celebrations over the holidays that are partially about Him, however they're still man made traditions.
We have this amazing blessing of being able to take our time with all this, but we should strive to do these things when led to. We can have patience when doing so, because we are under grace. As long as we are still being obedient to the good things he has shown us.
Do we need to follow the Law?
It’s about spiritual growth and faithfulness to God’s ways, not keeping of God's Law for righteousness sake.
If we want to just to honor God and learn His ways, thats’ not bad at all. In fact that’s by definition “growing in righteousness” which is what the Holy Spirit guides us in doing. Thats different then the Law “making us righteous.” Jesus did that.
It’s not always everyones turn to learn how to do Passover (for example), but we all have something God’s Spirit is teaching us and all of it is derived in one way or another from the standard of living God set in the beginning - His Law is, in other words His standards. They are the opposite of the world. If you don’t want to be like the world look at what Jesus said, who preached a return to God’s standards at the time that required removing the man-made laws of the pharisees. This we still have to do today or we can be burned just like the people would left Hebrew Roots and were really hurt. In fact, until Jesus’ return, this will continue. It’s just part of being a Christian. You gotta know your stuff so you can discern bad teachers.
A QUICK BRAIN BREAK
Is this blowing your mind? Or rather is it making sense? I feel like this brings so much clarity.
I've watch lots of videos of people who say these things are bad because they were hurt by people in a "Hebrew Roots Cult" and it was frustrating because I felt like they went the complete opposite direction and totally missed something good that God has for them. Then again, doesn't that sounds exactly like the kind of trap Satan sets? He takes the truth in your face and twists it right in front of you, to get you to miss the bigger point. That in turn leads you to frustration with what you thought was right and sends you into a storm of anger, which then leads others away from something good God has for them!
Wow dude. Satan sucks, but he is hella crafty.
THE BIG MISUNDERSTANDING
Here is what almost everybody immediately thinks when you try to keep God’s commandments even just in a little, minor, way that is new to someone.
Let’s start with this very good statement from this video.
It claims that Hebrew Roots people believe this (and they very well may), but I think this article is proof that this issue has been too convoluted to label people that easily. I don’t like labeling people at all without talking to them, but it claims they say these thing.
“The keeping of Mosaic rituals, like kosher diet, the Torah Feasts or the weekly shabbat or circumcision will some how add any amount of righteousness to what Jesus has already done for you. Or that keeping those things somehow makes you more holy or is how you show your love for God today. Or elevates you in God’s eyes. Or that not doing those things is sinful.”
Ok that was a really helpful summary of what a lot of people think, so let’s break it down piece by piece.
1. “The keeping of Mosaic rituals, like kosher diet, the Torah Feasts or the weekly shabbat or circumcision will somehow add any amount of righteousness to what Jesus has already done for you.”
Jesus has paid the price for our sin and that alone makes us spotless in YHWH’s eyes. Anything we do would be a fail. In a conversation it would be crucial that you clarify if the individual really believes that “it will somehow add to what Jesus has done for you.” They may not think that at all, meaning there would be another reason for this behavior.
2. “Or that keeping those things somehow makes you more holy….”
Again we cannot look more holy in YHWH’s eyes than “spotless”, which was done through Jesus and definitely not ourselves.
3. “…or is how you show your love for God today.”
You show you love YHWH by keeping his commandments - true. But the point is that it doesn’t save you. Don’t you think God is more pleased when you put your faith in Jesus. Absolutely! All the angels celebrate in Heaven over one sinner that repents. However is God also pleased when we choose to spend our Saturdays resting like He did and studying His word? Certainly. You just don’t do it for salvation, but because He is a loving Father who leads by example. Usually it’s for your own health benefit too.
4. “Or elevates you in God’s eyes.”
Pleasing God and elevating ourselves in His eyes are two opposite things. He is pleased when we follow his example and respect what Jesus has done to give us right standing in His eyes. Therefore abolishing the need for keeping the Law. It’s purely a want to, because through the grace of Jesus we are feed from the law to do good works. What is good works? God’s ways are the only good works frankly.
5. “Or that not doing those things (keeping the commandments) is sinful”
Sin is defined as “missing the mark.” If the mark is God’s standard, then of course we fall short, but through Jesus we are seen spotless in YHWH’s eyes. Think of any sin. Let’s pick lust. It’s equated with adultery and we all grew up knowing that at church. One of God’s commandments is to not feed lustful desires. So if we do, then we sinned. So yes, not keeping God’s commandments is a sin, but what we've realized in this article is that the sin becomes an issue of obedience and not obeying the Law for the sake of being seen as more righteous.
THE LAW TODAY
Always ask yourself two things.
- “Is God trying to teach me how to better take care of myself?
- “Is God teaching me something new about Him that we may have glanced over because I was taught to ignore the Law.” (Meaning I didn’t read it.)
The difference is that now we have the Holy Spirit instead of a Levite and so God may very well lead us to something in the Torah that would benefit us today. It could even teach us more about Jesus or our Heavenly Father and we shouldn’t discount that just because people are calling some people who follow those things a cult. That would be trying to control the direction of the Holy Spirit in your life. That would suck. Don’t do that.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will keep your path, straight. - Proverbs 3:5
“Straight” means it’s not confusing. It’s simple. Don’t make it hard. A perfect Heavenly Father means he is a perfect communicator. The question is are we good listeners? Ha!
Praise God! He is Good! Praise Him on high and praise him down low. Praise Him everywhere you go.
Just as some clarifying questions to those people who are keeping some of God's commandments that seem a little odd at first. Understand their motives before you judge too quickly. Often times, as in this case, it's a loooong story and you may need to sit down for a couple hours to hear what they've gone through to get there.