• What JGIG Is:

    Joyfully Growing In Grace engages in an examination of beliefs found in the Hebrew Roots Movement, Messianic Judaism, and Netzarim streams of thought and related sects.

    The term “Messianic” is generally understood to describe Jews who have come to believe in Yeshua/Jesus as their Messiah. Jews who are believers in Jesus/Yeshua typically call themselves Jewish/Hebrew Christians or simply, Christians.

    Many Christians meet folks who say they are ‘Messianic’ and assume that those folks are Jewish Christians. Most aren’t Jewish at all, but are Gentile Christians who have chosen to pursue Torah observance and have adopted the Messianic term, calling themselves Messianic Christians, adherents to Messianic Judaism, or simply, Messianics. Some will even try to avoid that label and say that they are followers of "The Way".

    These Gentiles (and to be fair, some Messianic Jews) preach Torah observance/pursuance for Christians, persuading many believers that the Christianity of the Bible is a false religion and that we must return to the faith of the first century sect of Judaism that they say Yeshua (Jesus Christ) embraced. According to them, once you become aware that you should be 'keeping' the edicts and regulations of Mosaic Covenant Law, if you do not, you are then in willful disobedience to God.

    It has been my observation that Christians who adopt the label of Messianic identify more with the tenets of Judaism than they do with the tenets of Christianity. Many reject the label of Christian altogether and some eventually even convert to Judaism.

    1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 says, "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil."

    Joyfully Growing in Grace examines the methods, claims, and fruits of the Hebrew Roots Movement, Messianic Judaism, and Netzarim streams of thought and related, law-keeping sects.

    To borrow from a Forrest Gump quote, “Law ‘keepers’ are like a box of chocolates - ya never know what you’re gonna get!” The goal of JGIG is to be a resource to help those affected by the Torah pursuant movements to try and sort out what they’re dealing with. Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.

    Be sure to click on the many embedded links within the posts here - there's lots of additional and related information for you to access that way, as well.

    Welcome, and may God grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider all of these things.

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Identifying False Teaching

(Edited and expanded 4/6/13.)  A commenter recently asked, “Would you be willing to submit names of those teachers who are the most widely known [in the Hebrew Roots Movement]. I know at ‘The Final Return’ conference in St. Louis this past weekend, there were several teachers including Bill Cloud, Brad Scott, Jim Staley, etc. What are your views on these people in regards to this movement?”

That is a great question.

When I purposed to start Joyfully Growing In Grace, I prayed a lot about what it should look like and what the content would be like. I had done lots of research into the HRM and its prominent teachers, and knew that there is a lot of info out there regarding aspects of Law ‘keeping’ sects and teachers.  As I did that research, I couldn’t find anyplace where core issues of Biblical Christianity which were under attack by the HRM and related sects were defended in a comprehensive, step-by-step way, or if they were, many of those sites also had agendas of their own (heresy-hunters who find error with everybody but themselves, KJV-onlyism, or legalistic in their own rights with their own pet doctrines).

I also thought about how I had come to the conclusion that the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism movements and related sects were in error . . . it was by having a good foundation in the Scriptures, many of which had been committed to memory growing up that came bubbling up in my heart and mind as I was presented with false teaching.

So where I stand is here:
It is not by the refutation of every Jim, Jon, Bill and Michael (or Eddie, Moshe, Avi, Monte, Brad, etc. list goes on ad nauseam) HRM/MJ teacher that believers will become equipped to recognize false teaching; it is by presenting the truths of the Scriptures that believers will become equipped to discern error.  The particular area of error to which God has called me is the error found in the Hebrew Roots Movement and related Law ‘keeping’ sects.
false prophet tape
This is key to the vision at JGIG:

It is on the core issues of the Faith that a belief system will stand or fall, not in refutations of who’s teaching what at any particular time.  The primary goal at JGIG is to equip believers in the core issues of the Gospel:  Who Jesus is, what He came to do, what that actually accomplished, and who believers are in Him.  When one has a firm grasp on those foundational Truths, falsehoods become more obvious and tend to fall away.

Teachers in the HRM are a dime-a-dozen. The movement is spreading.  They troll our churches and pick off those who are discontent with their church, wounded by their church, are rebellious in one way or another, or simply have itchy ears.  Then there are those believers who succumb to the “If you really love God, you will . . . ” appeal, because they really do love God!  I think sheepwrecked’s testimony relays that heart condition so well.  Sheepwrecked was well churched her whole life – but felt like she had “missed it” and been deceived by the Church after influence from the HRM.

Do I know about the teachers listed above?  Yes.  And it’s really tempting to write about them, but defending the faith is not about them.  It’s all about JESUS – Who He is, what He came to do, what that accomplished, and who we are in Him.  There are a million (at least) rabbit trails one can go down when investigating the HRM/MJism/Netzarim streams of faith.  As I was exposed to Law ‘keeping’ teachings, the thing that kept me on an even keel was not having information about who was teaching what (though some of that was helpful), but in holding fast to the Cross of Christ and the Gospel (1 Corinthians 2:2).

If you go to this page at JGIG, you can find out about how I became aware of the Law-keeping sects and read several posts dealing with issues that have come to my attention as I have had time to write about them.  The Glossary is also a good resource, along with the Articles page.  The GIG Media page has good, foundational teaching with an emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant issues.  On all of those pages/posts you will find many embedded links as resources should you want to examine different issues more closely.  Also be aware that teachers seeking to educate the Body about Her ‘Hebraic Roots’ may sound like they believe what other Christians believe, but beware:  it is often what they believe in addition to the core issues of the Gospel which result in the nullification of those core issues and the preaching/teaching of a different jesus and a different gospel.  Note also that the HRM has very little interest in reaching the lost with the Gospel, but rather is very concerned about putting the Body of Christ under Old Covenant Law.

The goal at JGIG is for believers to have resources to help them make up their own minds about all of this and to have tools available to help equip them to contend for the Gospel when called to do so.  If I go head-hunting, then it becomes about false teachers, not about false teaching and refuting THAT with Biblical Truth.  I’d rather not give those blokes any more screen time than they already get, know what I mean?

[Edited to add 10/21/13]  Due to the volume of emails and private messages I get asking about Jim Staley and Passion For Truth Ministries, and due to the aggressive marketing that PFT does, there is now a page here at JGIG that addresses Staley’s signature teaching, ‘Identity Crisis’ and related teachings.  The page also examines his leadership style and his testimony about how PFT started.  The page can be viewed here,  Gateways into the Hebrew Roots Movement  –  An Examination of ‘Identity Crisis’ and Related Teachings of Jim Staley, and can also be accessed from the Articles page.

Identifying False Teaching
When looking at what any teacher is teaching, look for where they stand on the core issues.

Watch for the systematic redefinition of terms and the following progression in their teachings.  From the Glossary Introduction here at JGIG:

Language. Powerful stuff. If you can control the language, define the terms, manipulate the paradigm of a thing – you exercise great power.  [par•a•digm – A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.]

An Incorrect Paradigm

As this illustration demonstrates, having an incorrect paradigm can change the picture of a thing quite a lot! Is it any wonder that those in the Hebrew Roots Movement have claimed the area of language as their primary pillar of “expertise” as they purpose to lure Christians away from the canon of Scripture to a more “enlightened” way of reading/interpreting Scripture and discerning doctrine?

It’s a seductive way to change a Christian’s paradigm, and ends up in a set of beliefs and practices that is not supported by Scripture.  It turns Christianity as inside out as the above illustration turns the concept of the solar system inside out. The picture is recognizable, but is totally false and unworkable when measured by reality.

It’s been amazing, disturbing, and somewhat amusing to discover how those in the HRM have determined to re-define terms and doctrines as well as pseudo re-translate the New Testament.

I’ve written this before but it’s worth repeating here – One of the things that is really important to be aware of regarding this and other heretical movements is that they engage in the re-definition of terms. Once that is accomplished, those re-defined terms become fields in which seeds of questionable doctrine can be cultivated.  And it’s the perfect set up for the same thing cults do: Convince you that what you know isn’t true, or is “incomplete”, then come in with fresh revelation based on previously “hidden” information.

At HRM websites and in HRM teaching materials a consistent technique is employed to bring the reader to where the writer wishes them to go, and I can’t stress this strongly enough:

Faulty definitions, examples, analogies and reasonings are constructed, then those same faulty definitions, examples, analogies and reasonings are built upon as FACT to take the reader/listener/viewer to the next doctrinal place the teacher wishes them to go.

I have seen the same technique over and over in articles and teachings on HRM websites and in discourse with those who hold to Law keeping doctrine from all points on the spectrum.

Determine What the Core Issues of the Christian Faith Are and Go From There
I try to keep it simple.  For me the two things I look for when examining any belief system are:

  1. Do they deny the Deity of or diminish Who Jesus Christ is or His Work in any way?
  2. Do they repeat the Big Lie told by the Serpent in Genesis 3?

If either or both items above are present, I consider the belief system to be fatally flawed and false.

Regarding #1
1 John 4 is one good passage by which to gauge what someone thinks about Who Jesus Christ is.  The entire letter to the Ephesians is a great book to read through to see how Christ is exalted and the authority that He has.  And of course, John 1, where it is made clear that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh.  The letter to the Hebrews further establishes Jesus as God and as our Perfect High Priest, as well as explaining in great detail the superiority of Jesus’ Priesthood and the New Covenant over the Old..  As one reads through the New Testament, one clearly sees the Lordship of Jesus Christ and His authority.  Anything that denies the God-hood of or diminishes Jesus Christ’s Work, Authority, or Position as the Perfect High Priest in any way and/or takes our focus away from Him and His Work, Authority or Position is error.

Let me repeat here: be aware that teachers seeking to educate the Body about Her ‘Hebraic Roots’ may sound like they believe what other Christians believe, but beware:  it is often what they believe in addition to the core issues of the Gospel which result in the nullification of those core issues and the preaching/teaching of a different jesus and a different gospel.

Regarding #2
From Genesis 3 –  Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say . . . “ and “You will not certainly die,”  . . . “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

I had a hard time pinning down #2 in relation to the HRM until I kept hearing the ‘we must walk as Jesus walked’ phrase over and over again in regard to the keeping of Mosaic Covenant Law.  The Scripture used most often to convince believers that they should be living according to Old Covenant Law is 1 John 2:3-6, and taken out of context, is quite compelling:

1 John 2:3-6
3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

So how does all that tie into the ‘Big Lie’?

Part One of the ‘Big Lie’:
Those who say that we must walk in Torah as Yeshua/Jesus Christ did are teaching that before the work of Christ, man was not able to keep the Law, but that after the work of Christ, enabled by His Holy Spirit, we are able to keep the Law – as He did.

We cannot.  It is not possible.  Jesus Christ is God.  He is perfect.  He is sinless.  We are not God (anyone hear echoes of ” . . . and you will be like God . . . “ ?).  Even with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we are still bound by the imperfect flesh this side of our resurrection (Romans 7) and by a mind/soul in need of constant renewal (Romans 12).  To say/think/believe that we can walk as Jesus walked in the way of the Law is folly, and not at all how Jesus Himself commanded us to walk (John 13:34-35, John 15:12-17).

So how do we ‘walk as Jesus walked’?
A commenter at the JGIG Facebook page quoted the above passage from 1 John 2, with the following emphases: 

“We know we have come to KNOW him if we obey his commands.  The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a LIAR, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him.  This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (I John 2:3-6—NIV)”

This is the argument we hear a lot from those in Law-keeping camps: that if you’re going to walk as Jesus walked – Jesus being a Sabbath-keeping, clean-eating, tzit tzit wearing, Torah-keeping Jew – His example is how you too, should walk – in Torah obedience!

Context, dear ones, please  .  .  ..  .  .

What are God’s commands after the Work of Christ?  God is very clear in the same letter written through John that the commenter quoted from above:

1 John 3:21-24
21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.  23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

Regarding, “This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did”, again, let’s go to what God also says through John:

1 John 4:13-21
13 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. (This again reinforces 1 John 3:23) 

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.  [This, inclusive of the verses before and after this statement, and shows us how we are to walk as Jesus walked – in love.]

18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

John never points us to Law-keeping, and he never instills fear in the believer because those in Christ need not fear punishment; all of our sins have been dealt with at the Cross and we have received the free gift of righteousness (Romans 5) – he points us to belief in Christ, recognizing that we receive His Spirit when we do that (New Life), and points us to love.  John is absolutely consistent in all of his writings.

If we are in Christ and love others, “in this world we are like Him”!  Love is a command – a law, yes?  One could say that.

A commenter at JGIG’s Facebook page asked this excellent question out of frustration regarding that very point:

Andrea wrote, “But I can’t love because it is a command – Because I am under grace. Do see how you guys make absolutely NO SENSE?!”

Andrea was referring to the quoting of this passage (HRMers have a hard time with this one):

1 John 3:21-24
21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

It’s a great question!  If we’re not under Law, but after the Cross God commands us to love – sometimes referred to as the Law of Christ – what’s up with that?!

Here’s the really cool thing:  Love is a Fruit of the Spirit as well as a command.

Though love is a command, if you don’t do it, (which would be sin), you’re already forgiven.  If you are in Christ, you are not under law, and where there is no law, there is no sin (Romans 4:15, 5:13).  God makes clear to us that sin and the Law are dealt with from two angles: the sins of the world were forgiven at the Cross (John 1:29, 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, 1 John 2:2 and others), and we who are in Christ are dead to the Law (Romans 7:1-4, Galatians 2:19).  Furthermore, as if that weren’t enough (!), God imputes the Righteousness of Christ to us (Romans 5:15-21).  There is nothing we can ‘do’ to improve or add to the righteousness of Christ that has been given to us in Christ.  These are the Truths of the Gospel that establish the position of the believer in the sight of God!

No Striving in Abiding

THAT SAID – If you are in Christ and are led by His Spirit, love will be a fruit produced in you.  We love because He first loved us and He lives in and through us.

Do fruit-producing plants strive to produce fruit?

No . . . they produce fruit because they are attached to the vine/tree/plant which nourishes them.

Fruit is the by-product of LIFE.

If you are alive in Christ and abiding in Him, allowing His Holy Spirit to live through you, love is an unavoidable by-product and fulfills the law (Romans 13:8-10, Galatians 5:14)!

Commanding the one in Christ to love is like commanding a person who has life in them to breathe because it’s a law.  If we have life in us, we automatically breathe – it’s something that we just DO.

If we are in Christ, loving others is something that we just DO. 

To command those in Christ to love is a ridiculously-unfair-in-our-favor-win-win-deal!

By resting in Christ and letting Him live His Life through us, God’s command to love is obeyed (John 15:12, 1 John 3:23) as a Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:18, 22-23) and the Law is fulfilled (Romans 13:8-10, Galatians 5:14).

That is Grace.

What about sin?

Part Two of the ‘Big Lie’
We hear constantly from those in the HRM, “How do we know what sin is, anyway?”  And out comes 1 John 3:4 – “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”  From there they live, breathe, and eat Torah Law, studying and attempting to keep Old Covenant Laws to avoid sinning.  (Anyone hear echoes of, “. . . your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. ?)  While saying that Jesus’ Blood is for our salvation, they leave Him at the curb and turn to Law-keeping for sanctification and sin reduction, not relying on and resting in the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised would come to be our Comforter, Helper and Counselor, leading His Body into all truth (John 14:26, John 16:8-15), yet claiming that it is the Holy Spirit Who ’empowers them’ to ‘keep’ Old Covenant Law.

Torah folk run to that which actually stirs up sin, that which the Bible says is the power of sin: the Law.  What should we do we do when we do sin (and those in both the Law and Grace ‘camps’ do sin!)?  Run back to that which we died to and the Bible says stirs up sin to try to straighten ourselves out (Romans 7:1-4)?  Is that what we who have a Perfect High Priest have to do?  Go back to an old, weak and useless system that made nothing perfect (Hebrews 7:18-19)?

Hebrews 4:14-16
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Instead, those who advocate Torah observance tell us that unless we live by Old Covenant Law, we are engaging in willful sin, implying to believers in Christ who walk in the love of Christ that the Holy Spirit Who lives in them will somehow lead them into sin if they’re not walking in Torah Law:

Galatians 5:13-18
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Wrapping up the ‘Big Lie’
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  It was the birth of Gnosticism, and it is woven into every false belief system out there.  We are often told by those who are pursuing ‘their Hebraic Roots’, “Did God really say . . . “ when it comes to the New Covenant and that you can avoid sin if you can define it, ” . . . and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  They have chosen the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil rather than the Tree of Life and they don’t even know it.

We are told we need to ‘dig deeper’, that Christianity has had it wrong for the past two thousand years, that their (HRMers) eyes have been opened, and that they now know how to identify sin and how to avoid it.  Some engage in the practice of consulting the writings of the sages and rabbis through the ages – most of whom have arrived at their teachings through the use of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism).  Others have adopted teachings derived from those who have consulted the sages and rabbis and their mystical methods and they don’t even know it.

For the believer in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the methods utilized in the practice of Kabbalah are strictly off-limits.  Even a cursory examination of the practice of Kabbalah will confirm this.  I always marvel at the stand HRMers will take against perceived paganism in the celebrations of the Birth and Resurrection of Christ, but how they will not give the same examination to many of the beliefs in the HRM to which they adhere.  (For more on this topic, see, “Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – The Use of Kabbalah and Gematria”.)

Beyond that, the Bible is clear that the Law actually stirs up sin, the power of sin is the Law, and the Law produces fruit unto death (Romans 7, 1 Corinthians 15:56).  Grace and the Spirit, on the other hand, produce godliness, life, and the Fruits of the Spirit (Titus 2:11-14, Ephesians 2, Galatians 5).  Those who buy into the ‘Big Lie’ latch onto that which takes them to the exact opposite place they really want to be.

As for the HRM stream of thought in which any teacher you come across swims, after you evaluate what they teach by items 1 and 2 above, if they fail either one or both of those core issue tests, the rest is all suspect.  For example, many teachers in the HRM teach the ‘Two House Theology’ or the ‘Northern Kingdom’ bit.   That teaching is a re-hash of British Israelism with a Hebrew Roots twist. Most of it is taken straight from the Worldwide Church of God, aka Armstrongism.  If you feel you need to go past items 1 and 2 above, you will find alternate interpretations of teaching after teaching from all parts of the Bible by those in the Hebrew Roots Movement – most requiring much effort and linguistic contraption-making to get them to fit into the Law-keeping mold.

About fruit . . .
If you’ve found this site, the ‘nice’ Law-keeper in your life has either tried to teach you some things that seem really ‘off’ to you, or you have dared to challenge them and they’re not so nice anymore and, well, you’ve experienced the fruits of one who is walking in self-righteousness.  Jesus summed it up pretty succinctly:

Matthew 7:15-20
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”

Holy Spirit Spidey Senses
Don’t discount when the Holy Spirit puts a check in your spirit.  Pay attention.  Get in the Word.  Look stuff up.  Check the language.  discernmentEspecially when someone is machine-gunning Scripture at you.  That’s just another technique that those in Law-keeping sects use – to fire off so much Scripture so fast that you don’t have time to check it out.  Like I said above, they establish false premises and then build upon those premises as fact, taking you to the next doctrinal place they want you to go.  This is especially true in when it comes to the re-definition of terms.  (For a more in-depth look at methods used by the HRM, see “Hebrew Roots Movement – Salesmanship 101”)

So take your time and really examine what anyone is teaching you!  Pray that God would guard your heart and mind and give you discernment.

May God grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider all of these things.

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Other articles of interest:

For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.  Good, foundational studies with a special emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant Truths can be found HERE.  Be sure to check out the Testimonies Page, as well.   Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.

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Romans 14: Indisputable Matters – Torah or the Gospel?

Occasionally as I’m researching, writing, or compiling subject matter for JGIG, a new doctrinal blip will appear on my radar screen.  The latest blip?  That Torah and not the Gospel is considered  to be the indisputable matters spoken of by Paul in Romans 14 in Law-keeping doctrine.  Knowing what I now know about the belief system that is the Hebrew Roots Movement (and other Law-keeping sects), it does make perfect sense that within the parameters of that belief system, once again, they put the Mosaic Law in a doctrinal place where the Law of Christ rightfully belongs.

This doctrinal blip appeared on the mom’s forum I subscribe to, stemming from a discussion concerning clean/unclean foods (there are several families on the mom’s forum that are Torah observant, including adherence to the dietary laws).  As I’ve done some more research about this Torah-rather-than-the-Gospel being the indisputable matters spoken of in Romans 14, it’s become clear that the concept is not uncommon among several facets in the Law-keeping community, including but not limited to those in the Hebrew Roots Movement, “Messianics”, Seventh Day Adventism, and Church of God sects.

I’ve written this before, but for the benefit of new readers, I want to make clear that my purpose with writing this is not to put down those who have chosen to keep Torah.  Most who have chosen to do so have sincere hearts and truly do want to please God because they love Him.  They have received false teaching that is very persuasive and deceptive – even seductive, because it is labeled as “hidden”, “forgotten”, “lost” or “previously mis-translated” truth.  They have been subjected to a progressive chipping away of sound doctrines, having had them replaced with distorted doctrines.

Back to Romans 14.  The wholecooking-rabbit thing started on the mom’s forum with someone posting about the ins and outs of raising rabbits for food and that led to the Law-keeping moms pointing out the dietary restrictions mandated by Torah and whether or not one should even be eating rabbits (or any other meat considered unclean by Mosaic Law standards).  Then one mom stated that the “indisputable matters” referred to  in Romans 14 were the dietary laws found in Torah – the Law of God.

Her premise was that since, in the context of Romans 13, we are called to live in the Spirit and not in the flesh, that we are to “not make provision for the flesh and fulfill the lusts thereof.”  The premise continues that the weaker in the faith spoken of in Romans 14 are those who have not come to an understanding of Torah and adherence to the Law – and, in this case specifically, the dietary laws found in Torah.

The concept of disputable/indisputable matters therefore breaks down like this in the Law-keeping paradigm: Disputable matters of the faith have to do with the traditions of men, rooted in man-made opinions – things that can be debated.  Indisputable matters are the points of the Law, specifically in this case whether or not to eat unclean meats (not considered to be defined as “food” and even classified as abominations in Scripture according to the Law).  In other words, eating unclean meats, not to be considered as food, was prohibited by the Law, and therefore was not a “disputable” matter.  She went on to assert that consuming “food” (which in her definition would mean only “clean meats”) sacrificed to idols was a disputable matter, since the food in question would have been clean meats (they had to be in this view or they would not have been referred to as “food”).  I guess in that view the pagans kept track of which meats they properly slaughtered and prepared according to the Laws of Israel and labeled them as such!  How considerate of them!

Other indisputable matters (again, in her view) according to the Law include the 7th day Sabbath and the observance of the Feasts, which she contends are indisputable matters as they were at the time of Christ and Paul.  According to her premise, the disputable matters of the day were what days to fast or special prayer days, citing extra-biblical historical records to prove her point, though no references for those sources were given.

She wrapped up her post saying that the indisputable things are found in the Old Testament, that being the Law.  That we, even as Spirit-filled believers cannot determine what is right or wrong apart from the repeated instruction of the Law.  Perhaps in her view not  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”  (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Though the concept of the points of the Gospel being the indisputable matters  never did come up in her interpretation of Romans 14, she did at least mention Jesus, in the context that He walked out the Law perfectly as an example for us to follow.  The Law, however, remains central to her belief system, not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  And there is NEVER a mention of a New Covenant.  The Law Keeper’s central core is always the Law.  Christ, in their belief system is secondary (at best), not primary.

Does the above sound a bit confusing and twisted?  I thought so too, and felt a look at Romans 14 through the lens of the Gospel was in order.  Following is my post responding to the “Law mom’s” post [edited, reorganized, and expanded slightly for this venue].

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Setting Up the Context of Romans 14
In the book of Romans, Paul is talking to the fledgling Church, the Body of Christ. The Gospel came first to the Jew – those who were accustomed to keeping the Law, then to the Gentile – those not accustomed to keeping the Law (Romans 1:16).  So on a practical level, there were people who were Jewish, people who were Gentiles, people who were pagan – ALL coming to New Life in Christ.  ALL were new believers in the completed work of Christ.  They ALL were bringing their backgrounds with them, and Paul recognizes and addresses this in Romans 14,
setting up a foundation of the Law of Love in Romans 13 before delving into the religious and cultural soup that is the early (us, too!) Church (Body of Christ).

To the Jews (primarily but not exclusively), Paul addresses in his letters the surpassing glory of the New Covenant in comparison to the Old Covenant in 2 Corinthians 3:4-18 as does the writer of Hebrews in chapters 8-10.  To the Gentiles (again, primarily but not exclusively – remember we are one new man in Christ, there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female – Galatians 3:28), the Epistles are packed full of practical instruction about how we in the Body of Christ are to live. 

There is no mistaking in the New Covenant (New Testament) Scriptures that paganism new-creationand worldliness are to be put away and that believers are to walk in righteousness and maturity in Christ.  Ephesians 4:14-32 and  Colossians 3 are just two passages that deal with the Church at large about how Gentiles (indeed how all in the Body of Christ) are to behave as believers.

Romans 14, however, deals with the practicalities of things like eating food and observing days of worship and issues of tradition – all issues bubbling up as the Gospel reached across cultural and religious boundaries – people brought together as new believers in Christ, one new man, the Church, the Body of Christ (Ephesians 2:11-22).  People who would NEVER have thought to cross paths before Christ were now fellowshipping together in ChristALL of these believers were learning to become mature in the Law of Love, no matter their background. This was the day-to-day reality for the Church at Rome into which Paul forged with his letter, our present-day book of Romans.

[As I relayed above, the “Law mom” wrote that the indisputable matters were issues of the Law.  The following is a refutation of that idea.]

Indisputable Matters:  Torah or the Gospel?
The “Law-keeping” interpretation of Romans 14 is an interesting one.  I re-read Romans 13 and 14 just now and find the flavor (since we’re talking partly about food, here) of the text, comparing it to what you wrote, to be different than what you described. [Responding to the “Law mom”.]

Let’s start with Romans 13 as you [the Law-mom] suggested – to set up the context.  Verses 1-7 instruct believers in submitting to the governmental authorities which God has allowed to rule over them – also there are some basic civil instructions for believers.

Romans 13:8-10 are a reinforcement of Jesus’ second of two commandments (in which He summed up the whole Law – Luke 10:25-37) saying “Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:10).  I find that especially interesting in relation to the Law, because Paul does list in verse 9 “‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet’ and whatever other commandment there may be . . .” 

If Paul were gearing up to make the Law the central basis for the indisputable matters spoken of in Romans 14, wouldn’t it make sense to reinforce the Mosaic Law here?  Instead, what does Paul do?  He expressly sets aside the particulars of the Law and goes straight to the Law of Love, which is the New Covenant, the Law of Christ.  Again, from Romans 13:10, following the phrase in verse 9, “and whatever other commandment there may be” and “Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”    

Romans13:11-14 talks about leaving the old, dead, man that we were outside of Christ behind and instructs “So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” and “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” 

Couple that with what Paul wrote in Romans 7:4-6 – “So, my brothers [clearly speaking to believers], you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, [speaking here of unbelievers]  so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, [sin]  we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, [resulting in sanctification by the working of the Holy Spirit, not by adherence to the Law] and not in the old way of the written code”.  Again, Paul is emphasizing the proper place of the Law in the believer’s life and their position under the New Covenant. 

Paul is saying that we, as believers, are to recognize that “we have been released from the law so that we serve in a new way of the Spirit, And not in the old way of the written code.”  We don’t have to go through life checking off the boxes of the Law  – we’re free from that as believers. As for the the sins outlined by the Law, it’s not the written code that convicts believers of wrongdoing, it’s the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  He brings to us the things that we need to get rid of (sin), not the things that we don’t.  He doesn’t even bring them up – it’s not necessary.   As a very basic example, if you tell me to not think “pink”, that’s something I’m now thinking about.  Some term that as the Law “stirring up sin”.  By repeatedly focusing on the specifics of the Law, one is exposed to things he/she may never think of doing as a believer.  Our focus as believers is not to be the Law, it is to be on Jesus Christ!

It really is very clear.

Romans 7:7-13: “What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘Do not covet.’  But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead.  Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.”

Now back to Romans 13:14:  “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”  Which is what happens when one puts on the Law in place of the Gospel!

Romans 13:14 is not saying to put on the Lawit is saying to put on the Lord Jesus Christ an important distinction to make here  before addressing the “Law mom’s” view of Romans 14.

In view of clothing ourselves in Jesus Christ, rather than the Law, let’s now look at Romans 14:
Verses 1-4:Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”  Did anyone see where “eat everything” in these verses was broken down in to clean or unclean meats, food or “non” food?

Based on the context that Romans 13 and the rest of the letter to the Church at Rome provides, operating within the framework of the Law of Moses – that *was* one of several disputable matters.  The core issues of the Gospel – The perfect life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ and what that meant – those were the indisputable matters.  “Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ” – that was the New Covenant – the Law of Love – that was indisputable.  And that was what Paul was exhorting believers in Rome to do!

For the Jew, the Law was part of their heritage and birthright.  Not keeping the Sabbath or eating anything which to them was unclean under the Old Covenant was completely and utterly unthinkable.  For the Gentile or former Pagan, submitting themselves to the Law of Moses given to Israel was, in light of their culture and the New Covenant, equally unthinkable.  [There was another issue kicking around in this arena – that of former Pagans not wanting to have anything to do with food sacrificed to idols.  I do recognize that, and believe that the principles that Paul lays out here covers that issue as well, though that is not the issue being dealt with in this post specifically.]

Jewish and Gentile believers alike with a thorough understanding of the New Covenant did not concern themselves with the specifics of keeping the Law of Moses.  The Law of Christ, the Law of Love, the New Covenant, was now their concern.  Was it okay for both Jew and Gentile to walk in their respective heritages and traditions?

Romans 14 verses 5-8 gives us the answer: “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”

Continuing in verses 9-12, “For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written:
‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God.’   So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.”

Paul places the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ in their proper contexts in verses 12-18: “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.”

Interestingly, Paul repeats the New Covenant view of the issue at hand here regarding clean/unclean foods in verses 19-21: “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.”

Take note that Paul does not differentiate between Jewish food and Gentile food.  He says “All food is clean”.       Twice.

Try as one might, the “Law-keeping”  interpretation espoused above is just not there, on a number of levels, food being one of them.  While Paul, being Hebrew, likely was thinking like a Hebrew, he was thinking like a Hebrew under the New Covenant.

Not only that, but Paul knew his audience.  Read the passage again.  Paul is known for his “get right to the point” ability and his audience was made up of both Jews and Gentiles.  If his audience were only Jewish, Law-keepers might have a case, as the definition of food could be assumed.  Being that the audience was made up of Jews and Gentiles, Paul would have, in deference to his combined audience, clearly defined what was considered food and what was not for the benefit of the Gentiles also being addressed if that were truly the issue.  He does not do that because food is not the underlying issue.

So how did verses 9-21 flesh out for the Church at Rome on a practical level?
If Fred Gentile Christian invites Joe Jewish Christian over for supper, don’t serve him something he would consider unclean, if that’s something Joe considers important to his faith.  Joe Jewish Christian, if your brother Fred serves you something in ignorance of your heritage or tradition you consider to be unclean, lighten up.

eat-2

Does Paul say to eat up?  No, but he does say that you could, because “As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself” and repeats for emphasis that “All food is clean”.  If Brother Fred and Brother Joe are both on the same page where the Law of Love is concerned, Brother Joe will not be offended with what was served to him in ignorance and Brother Fred will not be offended if Brother Joe just cannot bring himself to partake and as a loving host will provide some more acceptable fare.  Paul exhorts, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”

And grace is extended to those who are weaker in their faith, but they are also instructed in Romans 14 verses 22-23: “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.  But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”

God allows that for some, eating this food or observing that day or celebrating a particular holiday, or on the flip side, not doing any one or all of those things, for them, it would be sin.  If they have doubts, and do (or do not do) those things, for them it is sin, and they should not do (or do) those things.  Does that mean that those things are sin for everybodyNo. The deeper the understanding of the New Covenant and the freedom we have in Christ, the less important edicts become and the more important the Law of Love becomes as with the “Fred” and “Joe” scenario above.

Grasping hold of the New Covenant was (is) vital for the Body of Christ – for them (us) to understand on a fundamental level – it goes to the very basic functions of relationships and unity in the Body of Christ. 

The Freedom to Evangelize World/Culture – Wide
Beyond that, if the Body of Christ is to obey the commandment of Christ to “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you [The Law of Christ, not the Law of Moses]. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20), the application of Romans 14 frees the believer to obey the Great Commission.

For the Jewish Christian, if they were indeed still under the Law of Moses, the Great Commission would be an especially challenging thing for them to obey.  Take just one example – that of observing the feasts that require attendance in Jerusalem 3 times per year.  For the Jewish Christian, taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth – without modern modes of transportation available in those days and for centuries to come – it’s obvious that travel to Jerusalem would have been an impossibility.  At the very least, that part of the Law of Moses was passing away for the Jewish Christian obeying the Great Commission.

Equally challenging in delivering the Gospel to the ends of the earth would be the issue of clean/unclean foods.  The Jewish Christian needed to recognize that the laws regarding unclean meats and other edicts designed to set Israel apart from the world around them were because the Law of Moses was given to the nation of Israel to separate them from the world.  Here was Jesus, telling believers to go out into the world . . . to preach the Gospel to them!  A much different command than Israel was used to hearing! 

If Joe Jewish Christian was called and went out in obedience to spread the Gospel to the Nations, he would at times necessarily have to give up his *right* to eat within the boundaries of his heritage and traditions.  I do not say according to the Law of Moses there, because if Joe is a Jewish believer in Christ he is positionally under the New Covenant, the Law of Christ – he is no longer bound by the Law of Moses.

 clean

It is likely to be the more mature believer, Jew or Gentile, who will set aside their wills, rights, traditions, heritages, and birthrights, to go out into all the world anyway.  Can you imagine a missionary whipping out his Clean/Unclean Foods chart to an unreached people group when all they really need to hear about is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the freedom from sin that He brings?  There are people on this earth that don’t even know what a sheep is!  What bread is . . . and who may have limited food sources consisting of “unclean” things according to Mosaic Law.  God is concerned whether or not the peoples of the earth are redeemed, not whether or not they’re eating shellfish or snails!

[I want to interject something here that this particular “Law mom” and I discussed off-forum regarding the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ as they pertain to the Great Commission.  She tried to show me that the Law could not be “set aside” for the sake of ministering in different cultures.  She gave two examples:

1)  What if the missionary was asked to commit adultery instead of eat something unclean?
My response:  They would say no, because it is not the most loving thing to do.  Covered under the Law of Love.

2)  What if the missionary were asked to sacrifice their children to the god of the unreached people group?
My response:   Again they would of course say no. Murdering a child for sacrifice to a false god would not be the most loving thing to do.  Again, covered under the Law of Love.  What an incredible, wonderful, open door to minister the Gospel to people, telling them that they don’t have to sacrifice their children . . . To be able to tell them (especially the parents!) that the true God is a God of mercy and grace and compassion and that He provided One Sacrifice for all?  What amazing news!  What good news!  It’s the Gospel!

These issues are addressed in a superior way by the Law of Christ, the Law of Love, The New Covenant.  The Mosaic Law was given to the people of Israel as part of a covenant.  The rest of mankind was never to be put under the Law of Moses.  There’s a really interesting article I came across on this very issue about translation of the Sabbath (for the purpose of Sabbath-keeping – an integral part of Law keeping) and the challenges that posed for one missionary who was serving an unreached people group.  You can read that article HERE.

The Gospel, the New Covenant, can go anywhere, into any culture, and be understood by anyone!

She also chided me for “equating” the Law with tradition and heritage.  

My response:   I didn’t.  I did not equate heritage and traditions with the Law.  Certain edicts of the Law, such as feast and sabbath keeping and dietary laws become a matter of personal preference under the New Covenant.  It in no way diminishes the significance of those things in a Jewish believer’s life, should he/she choose to continue in them, but they are no longer required of them under the New Covenant.  The purpose of the Law to show us our sin and our need for a Saviour translates into all cultures very well . . . but the edicts of the Law – the parts that set Israel apart – those don’t and were for Israel AND they were for a season.]

Romans 14 is such a love letter to believers, because God gets us.  He gets our tendency to hold onto that which is is old and familiar. He gets that we feel like we have to do something to be good enough before Him.  Yet He firmly reinforces the Gospel and gently instructs us to love one another, spurring us on to operate in the Fruits of the Spirit, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.” (vs. 17-18)

Two believers of opposing views on secondary disputable matters in reality view the other as the weaker brother.  In which case we are to show deference to one another.
 If some are more focused on their “pet theology” than on the Gospel and loving God and their neighbor, then there’s a problem.  The design of the Body of Christ as God has set it up is one of necessary differences, (talents and giftings), rooted and grounded in Christ, with the underlying framework being love (1 Corinthians 12-14).  If we’re operating within the parameters of that design, Romans 14 is easy.

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Hebrew Roots Movement – The Redefinition of Terms 2

Re-defining terms is one thing the Hebrew Roots Movement does very effectively.  Following entries will be posted here on the home page as well as having their own page on the sidebar for easy reference.  Some of you have seen the introduction content before . . . keep scrolling down . . . “Glossary G-L” follows in this post.

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Glossary Introduction

Language.  Powerful stuff.  If you can control the language, define the terms, manipulate the paradigm of a thing – you exercise great power.  [par·a·digm – A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.]

An Incorrect Paradigm

An Incorrect Paradigm

As this illustration demonstrates, having an incorrect paradigm can change the picture of a thing quite a lot!  Is it any wonder that those in the Hebrew Roots Movement have claimed the area of language as their primary pillar of “expertise” as they purpose to lure Christians away from the canon of Scripture to a more “enlightened” way of reading/interpreting Scripture and discerning doctrine?  It’s a seductive way to change a Christian’s paradigm, and ends up in a set of beliefs and practices that is not supported by Scripture.  It turns Christianity as inside out as the above illustration turns the concept of the solar system inside out.  The picture is recognizable, but is totally false and unworkable when measured by reality. 

I’m no linguist, but I’m no dim bulb, either, and it’s been amazing, disturbing, and somewhat amusing to discover how those in the HRM have determined to re-define terms and doctrines as well as pseudo re-translate the New Testament. 

I’ve written this before but it’s worth repeating here –   One of the things that is really important to 260px-planting_seedsbe aware of regarding this and other heretical movements is that they engage in the re-definition of terms.  Once that is accomplished, those re-defined terms become fields in which seeds of questionable doctrine can be cultivated.  And it’s the perfect set up for the same thing cults do: Convince you that what you know isn’t true, or is “incomplete”, then come in with fresh revelation based on previously “hidden” information.

At HRM websites and in HRM teaching materials a consistent technique is employed to bring the reader to where the writer wishes them to go:  Faulty definitions, examples, analogies and reasonings are constructed, then those same faulty definitions, examples, analogies and reasonings are built upon as FACT to take the reader to the next doctrinal place the writer wishes the reader to go.  I have seen the same technique over and over in articles on HRM websites from all points on the spectrum.  A good example of this can be found Here, where the author takes on both the Trinity and the full Deity of Christ.  Please, read any Hebrew Roots materials with caution. 

Following are some terms that I’ve become familiar with in the HRM.  Some terms are simply defined outright, others will be defined outright as well as include the Hebrew Roots definition in an attempt to explain HRM doctrine in certain areas.  To understand the “re-definitions” and terminology in which the Hebrew Roots Mindset engages is key to sorting through the subtle and not so subtle doctrinal errors and concepts they espouse.

Following are glossary pages A-F (available now), G-L , and M-Z (coming soon).  Those designations may change over time, but will be clearly re-labeled and linked to as necessary.  The goal is easy navigation!  

Compiling this Glossary has proven to be very challenging and time consuming.  It’s length has resulted in a formatting challenge, hence the necessity for nested pages.  As entries are completed, they’ll be added to the appropriate page, so be sure to check back every now and then. 

May God grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider all of these things.

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Glossary G-L

Gematria  From Wikipedia’s article, “Gematria” (Click HERE for complete article):  (Rabbinic Hebrew גימטריה gēmaṭriyā), is a system of assigning numerical value to an alphabet. The word Gematria is believed to have been formed from a metathesis of the Greek word grammateia (”play upon letters”), from gramma (letter) andgematria_ill2 literally means ‘that which is written’. It is extant in English since the 17th century from translations of works of Tanakh and Talmud, notably in those associated with the Kabbalah.  Some identify two forms of gematria: the “revealed” form, which is prevalent in many several hermeneutic methods found throughout Rabbinic literature, and the “mystical” form, a largely Kabbalistic practice. [Bolding mine.] 

Rabbinic literature is in part a source for Hebrew Roots Movement doctrine.  Both Kabbalah and Gematria are occult based.  See “Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – the Use of Kabbalah and Gemetria” for additional information.  Also see “Kabbalah” below.

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Gnosticism: – In an attempt to put an abbreviated definition of Gnosticism here, I faced the fact that defining Gnosticisim is somewhat like trying to nail Jello to a wall.  Why is “Gnosticism” even on the list?  In one of my discourses with a Hebrew Roots Movement  adherant, it was that person’s opinion that the New Testament concepts I was communicating were “gnostic thought”.  These concepts were Scriptural New Testament principles coupled with the Scriptural concept of an intrinsic, progressive heart change (sanctification) brought about by the Holy Spirit vs. the HRM view of sanctification via adherence to Mosaic Law.  I expand on those concepts in the post, “The Hebrew Roots Movement – So What?”.

Gnosticism, as are all false belief systems, is a counterfeit of what God has established.  It distorts the character of God put forth in Scripture, (even putting man on equal footing with God once “enlightened enough”) denies the Deity of Christ and the work of the Cross, and skews the concept of salvation and the doctrines clearly laid out by God through the Apostles in the New Testament. 

In modern terms, one could use Gnostic thought as a kind of catch-all for New Age thought – Westernized, you could perhaps say “Hellenized” – Eastern Mysticism, encompassing concepts taught by Buddhism, Hinduism, and other facets of Eastern Mysticism.  You begin to see the Jello now, don’t you? 

There is evidence that Gnosticism (Gnostic “thought”) existed at least 400 years before Christ, twisting the truths of God as laid out in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament).  In point of fact, one could trace Gnosticism and other belief systems like it back to the Original Lie, told by the Serpent to Eve: “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4,5) 

As Christianity dawned, Gnosticism attempted to attach itself to and pervert it as well as the Jewish faith.  Both Jews and Christians who held faithfully to Scriptural truths soundly rejected Gnostic thought and protected Biblical forms of Jewish worship and Christianity. 

Interestingly, Jews that did succumb to Gnostic thought were also those who had a bent toward Jewish mysticism.  Gnosticism and Kabbalah cross paths throughout history and there is Gnostic influence that later manifests itself in Judaism’s Talmud. The Talmud in turn influences many in the Hebrew Roots Movement leadership, and as a result many in the HRM laity are unknowingly subjected to Kabbalistic and Gnostic (both rooted in the Occult) concepts by exposure to their leadership’s teachings. 

(See “Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – The Use of Kabbalah and Gemetria” for more information on Kabbalah’s influence on the Talmud.)

There is much more to say on this subject, but as I compiled information here, it became evident (around 2000 words into it) that this issue deserves its own post.  That post is in progress and will be linked to HERE as soon as it’s published.

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(The) Instructions [See also “Law” below for a more complete definition.] Another term commonly used by the Hebrew Roots Movement  for the Law of God, implying that the Torah with its 613 laws and penalties are not burdensome, but are merely “instructions” about how God wishes for us to live.  While that is partially true (many of the ordinances and practices were for the viability and protection of Israel), the primary purpose of the Law was to establish the definition of both sin and righteousness.  Understanding that the Law could not be kept by human efforts, God provided a sacrificial system within the Law to “cover” the sins of His people until the full atoning work was accomplished by Jesus at the Cross, new life was given with the Resurrection, and the Priestly duties were retired at the Ascension (our High Priest ascended and sat at the right hand of God . . . something earthly priests never did – their duties were never done).  Jesus finished the work, and sat (rested) at the right hand of God, to intercede for His Church (Hebrews 8).

An example of the clear misunderstanding those in the HRM have of the purpose of Torah from Hebrew Roots site Torah of Messiah:

  1. we are to obey the Torah
  2. we are to teach the Torah
  3. we are to talk of the Torah
  4. we are to show that we love God through obedience to Torah
  5. we are to LIVE the Torah by sincerely striving to obey the God we claim to love.
  6. we are given the chance to accept the Mark of God, which is undeniably the Eternal Teachings given through Moses – THE TORAH!!!
  7. Despite this, there is literally a hatred of Torah – or at the very least apathy – within Christianity!

Compare the above Hebrew Roots Movement view with the instructions of Jesus:

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

And this:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and samaritanbandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

 Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”  (Luke 10:25-37)

The “Law Keepers” in the above story not only did not help the half-dead man, but when they saw him they actually passed by on the other side of the road!  Considering their positions as Priest and Levite, I’ll assume that they considered the man who lay dying on the side of the road to be unclean, as not only did they not want to help (touch) him, they went to the other side of the road to avoid any possible contact with him.  They were more concerned for their own “clean-ness”  than they were for the very life of the man bleeding, obviously needing aid, lying at the side of the road.  Who did Jesus say to imitate?  The consummate Law Keepers, a Priest and a Levite?  No!  He instructed the expert in the law to imitate the unclean man, a Samaritan. 

It’s a perfect example of the change and the freedom in behavior Jesus was ushering into the world with the New Covenant forged in His blood.  No longer was one to be bound by the restrictions of the Law, which, in the hands of humans could not be possibly be met by any stretch anyway, because Jesus met the requirements of the Law on our behalf  (Romans 7:4-6) .

Under the New Covenant, the Law of Christ, the believer is now free to love their neighbor without restriction.  We are able to bend down into the dirt of life and minister to those in need and love them with the love that comes from the very Holy Spirit of God. 

Why?  Because we are cleansed with the Blood of Christ, not merely covered by the blood of animals.  Our state of redemption and “clean-ness” is permanent and irrevocable – incorruptable – enabling us to obey both parts of the commandments (instructions) of Jesus – Love God, Love others, whatever the circumstance. 

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Hebrew-isms Okay, I made that one up.  “Hebrew-isms” is a word I’m putting here to describe how those in the Hebrew Roots Movement choose to speak and communicate matters of faith.  Using the Sacred Name(s) exclusively (YHWH/Yeshua), would be one example,  using the Hebrew “Ruach HaKodesh” instead of using English to refer to the Holy Spirit, another.  Leadership will also use Hebrew instead of English when referrencing Bible passages from their own “translations” (see “Hebrew Roots Movement – Messin’ With the Word” ) as will laity when exposed long enough to their new paradigm.  The book of “Matthew” becomes “Matityahu”, “John” becomes “Jochanan”, etc.  “Brit Hadashah” is a big one, which means “Renewed Covenant”, not “New Covenant”.  [Great article detailing the language errors the HRM engages in to “prove” that the Covenant is “renewed” not “new” can be found HERE.]   “Renewed Covenant” has the sense of going back to the Law, a renewing of the Old Covenant – not entering into the newness of life that the New Covenant brings.  The vernacular of the details of the Feasts is also an element, not a bad thing in itself, as the Feasts paint a powerful picture of the reality that is in Christ. 

However, all that astute language usage becomes a platform of superiority on which HRM leadership can stand upon above their “students” and on which HRM laity can stand upon above their potential “converts” as they lead them into a Hebrew Roots mindset.  That platform delivers in a couple of ways: 

1) It’s very impressive and gives one the air of superior knowledge and wisdom, enticing the hearer to place unearned and untested respect and weight in the speaker’s words.

2) It can be a diversionary tactic, distracting the hearer from the false doctrine being delivered amidst the flurry of unfamiliar language.

There comes with Hebrew-isms’ platform of superiority the prospect that the speaker does have special insight, secret knowledge, or hidden revelation, that before now, you, Joe Christian, were not privy to in the Church (Body of Christ).  Not only that, but the “truth” was purposefully hidden from you by the Church, corrupted through the ages, and you must rely on your new teachers to enlighten you.

Folks, the Gospel is simple.  It is not complicated.  The redeemed in Christ do not need to seek out secret knowledge or hidden revelation to walk in their new life, the free gift of God through the work of Jesus Christ at the Cross.  God has been faithful throught the ages to protect and preserve His Word.  Many have been brought to new life in Christ with the simple reading of the scriptures.  Is it all easy?  No.  But God has provided for His truth to be understood by the most simple among us as well as the most intellectually gifted. 

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Hebrew Thought From The Pristine Faith Restoration Society

Criterion for Understanding the New Testament – According to many teachers in the Hebrew Roots movement, the Gentile mind is not equipped to properly comprehend Scripture. They draw a distinction between ‘Gentile thinking’ and ‘Jewish thinking.’ This distinction is alleged to be more than merely having different presuppositions, but rather a completely different thought process and basis for understanding. Consequently, Gentiles need a thorough education in ‘Jewish thinking’ in order to understand the New Testament. This includes instruction in the Hebrew language. A converted Gentile cannot normally read the Old and New Testaments and arrive at a proper understanding without a Jewish teacher. Having been taught ‘at the feet’ of some Jewish scholar or rabbi is the claimed credential of several prominent ‘teachers’ of the Hebrew Roots movement. 

Being “taught ‘at the feet’ of some Jewish scholar or rabbi is the claimed credential of several prominent ‘teachers’ of the Hebrew Roots movement” is a ciritical flaw in the Hebrew Roots belief system because Jewish scholars and teachers are steeped in the Talmud.  This is an issue dealt with in the post   “Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – The Use of Kabbalah and Gemetria” here at JGIG.   See also “Gnosticism” above for additional reasons whey the Talmud has no place in the Christian’s belief system. 

Teaching that the truths of God can only be communicated to one after one has learned to think with a Hebrew mindset is insulting to God.  Did Jesus say to go out into all the world, teach the tribes and nations the Hebrew language and customs, and then make disciples of them?? 

I encourage you to go to an article written by a missionary translator that deals with the issue of the restrictions of communicating the Law vs. communicating the Gospel to a specific unreached people group.  The article shows in a very practical way how where the Law cannot translate into all cultures, the Gospel can.  Click HERE for “Bible Translator’s Problem” by Gil Prost.

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Hellenism (Greek Thought) From JewishEncyclopedia.com – for complete article click HERE“Word used to express the assimilation, especially by the Jews, of Greek speech, manners, and culture, from the fourth century B.C. through the first centuries of the common era. Post-exilic Judaism was largely recruited from those returned exiles who regarded it as their chief task to preserve their religion uncontaminated, a task that required the strict separation of the congregation both 800px-raphael_school_of_athensfrom all foreign peoples (Ezra x. 11; Neh. ix. 2) and from the Jewish inhabitants of Palestine who did not strictly observe the Law (Ezra vi. 22; Neh. x. 29). This separation was especially difficult to maintain when the victorious campaign of Alexander the Great had linked the East to the West. The victory was not simply a political one. Its spiritual influence was much greater. The Greek language became a common language for nearer Asia, and with the language went Greek culture, Greek art, and Greek thought.” 

Excerpts from Focus on the Faulty’s article entitled, “Was Early Christianity Corrupted by ‘Hellenism’?”What are we to make of this criticism? Is there evidence of wide-spread ‘Hellenism’ within the early church? If so, does this mean that central doctrines of the Christian faith were corrupted in the process?

What we do know is this: ‘Hellenism’ was a cultural force that touched most areas in the ancient Mediterranean world. Thus, since Christianity arose in the Mediterranean world, it is not surprising that early Christians had to deal with its effects. We know that there were various reactions to Hellenistic philosophy among early Christians. For example, Tertullian claimed that Christianity and Greek philosophy has nothing in common at all. On the other hand, Justin Martyr felt quite comfortable making comparisons between Christianity and Greek philosophy in order to attract Hellenistic pagans to the Gospel. Justin was not alone in trying to create bridges from Greek philosophy to Christianity. Like Justin, many early Christians were willing to borrow certain terms and ideas from the cultural world of their day in order to communicate the Gospel to those around them. Does this mean that, in the process, Hellenistic ideas were allowed to creep into the Gospel message and distort its true meaning? Although this is a common criticism of orthodox Christianity, it can be shown that, in fact, it is an argument with no real foundation. The following four points will serve to reveal the weaknesses of this view.

1.) The Jewish world, from which Christianity arose, had already been touched by Hellenism prior to the birth of Christ.

Critics who use this argument often make it sound as if the life and culture of Jesus and the first disciples was untouched by Hellenism, and that only in later centuries was it allowed to ‘infect’ the church. However, we know from history that this is simply not the case. In his groundbreaking study, Judaism and Hellenism, Martin Hengel has shown that, from the middle of the third century BC, Jewish Palestine had already experienced the effects of Hellenism in various ways. For example: (1) under Ptolemaic rule, the Jews were forced to deal with Hellenistic forms of government and administration; (2) as inhabitants of an important coastal land, Palestine served as a crossroads for international trade, which brought many Hellenized merchants through the area; (3) the Greek language–the common language of the Roman Empire–became a part of Jewish culture (and became the language of the New Testament!); (4) Greek educational techniques were adopted, in part, by the Jews. Thus, the idea of a pristine Judaism, untouched by Hellenism, giving rise to an equally untouched early Christianity that was later ‘corrupted’ by Hellenism is simply a false historical picture.

2.) Recent studies have shown that the influence of Hellenism on various peoples in the ancient world was largely superficial, and primarily attracted the ruling class and those with political and administrative hopes.

3.) Although Judaism and early Christianity were affected by the surrounding culture in certain ways, they diligently guarded their religious beliefs and practices from Hellenistic pagan influences, even to the point of martyrdom.

4.) Many of the central elements of the Gospel are diametrically opposed to the Hellenistic mind-set.

This claim can be demonstrated by offering the following examples: First, like Judaism, the Christian Gospel proclaims that God created all things ‘out of nothing’ (’ex nihilo’). This is contrary to the Greek view of pre-existing eternal matter. Second, since God created all things, including matter, Christianity (with Judaism) understands matter in general, and the human body in particular, as ‘very good’ (Gen 1:31). The Hellenistic worldview understood matter as questionable at best–if not down-right evil. The body was seen as something like an unnatural tomb, within which the eternal human soul was temporarily trapped until released by death. [This is a Gnostic view as well.]  Whereas, with Judaism, Christianity proclaimed that to be human was to have a body, and thus that we would experience resurrection of the body (an uncorruptible body!) in the after-life, the Greek view of the after-life was freedom from the body.

Some have noted similarities between certain Greek systems of ethics and New Testament teachings on morality. However, even here there are significant differences. While one can identify certain common features, such as literary styles and basic moral codes, there are prominent differences in the motivation (Christians are motivated by regard for God and His call to holiness; the Greeks by self-evident ‘reason’) and means for living a moral life (Christians are empowered by the Holy Spirit; Greeks rely upon their own innate wisdom and ability). Finally, unlike the Greek philosophical view, the hope of heaven provides the foundation for Christians to persevere under moral pressure.

Finally, we must address the claim that the doctrines of the deity of Christ and the Trinity are later Hellenistic pagan corruptions of the early and ‘pure’ Christianity. Two responses will suffice to show the weaknesses of these claims. First, the claims of those like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses [And now the Hebrew Roots Movement] that New Testament Christianity was corrupted by later Hellenistic influence fail to account for the fact that it is the New Testament data itself which led the early Christian fathers to confess the deity of Christ and the Trinity of God. While space considerations do not allow for a detailed biblical defense of these doctrines, reference can be made to a number of significant studies demonstrating that these doctrines are rooted in the New Testament witness to Jesus Christ (see endnote for suggested resources). Second, recent research has forcefully shown that the early Christian idea of Christ’s deity developed not in a Hellenistic context but in a distinctly Jewish thought-world. Richard Bauckham, a contributor to this relatively new scholarly movement (sometimes known as the ‘New History of Religions School’) states these conclusions succinctly:

When New Testament Christology is read with this Jewish theological context in mind, it becomes clear that, from the earliest post-Easter beginnings of Christology onwards, early Christians included Jesus, precisely and unambiguously, within the unique identity of the one God of Israel . . . . The earliest Christology was already the highest Christology . . . .

In conclusion, although the claim that early Christian belief and practice was corrupted by Hellenistic influence is commonly argued by critics of orthodox Christianity, the historical evidence does not support this claim. Rather, like the Judaism from which it arose, the Christian faith rigorously guarded its unique religious identity in the midst of the religious and philosophical diversity of the ancient Mediterranean world. 

The above is an excellent article with extensive references for further study.  Again, that article can be found HERE (Won’t link you directly to the article for some reason – When you get to the page, click on “Focus on the Faulty”, then on “articles” in the left-hand sidebar, then scroll down to and click on “Was the Early Church Corrupted by ‘Hellenism’?”).

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Kabbalah (Kabalah, Caballa, Qaballah) Note to readers: It is my intent to NOT detail too much about the occultic aspects of the Hebrew Roots Movement.  Not wanting this site to be a potential gateway for exposing someone to facets of the occult, references to and descriptions of Kabbalah, etc. will be limited.  Part of the reason for this is that *I* choose not to expose myself to the in-depth study of such things.  For me, this is discernment at a very basic and important real-life level of application.  There is no value in passing on information beyond something along the lines of “this doctrine/practice is rooted in Kabbalah/Gemetria” and leaving it at that.  Those practices are from the Pit, and while we need to recognize them when they cross our paths, a quick recognition and prompt rejection is what God calls us to. 

That said, basic definitions to facilitate that recognition will be provided here at JGIG.

From Wikipedia (full article available HERE):  Kabbalah (Hebrew: קַבָּלָה‎, lit. “receiving”) is a discipline and school of thought discussing the mystical aspect of Judaism. It is a set of esoteric teachings meant to define the inner meaning of both the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and traditional Rabbinic literature, as well as to explain the significance of Jewish religious observances.

zoharAccording to the Zohar, generally considered the foremost kabbalistic text, Torah study uses four levels (PaRDeS) of interpretation (exegesis) of its text:

  • Peshat (lit. “simple”)—the direct meaning.
  • Remez (lit. “hint[s]“)—the allegoric meaning (through allusion).
  • Derash (from Heb. darash: “inquire” or “seek”)—midrashic (Rabbinic) or comparative meaning.
  • Sod (lit. “secret” or “mystery”)—the inner meaning—a foundation of the kabbalah.

Kabbalah is considered, by its followers, as a necessary part of the study of Torah – the study of Torah (the Law of God) being an inherent duty of observant Jews. Kabbalah teaches doctrines that are accepted by some Jews as the true meaning of Judaism while other Jews have rejected these doctrines as heretical and antithetical to Judaism.

The origins of the actual term Kabbalah are unknown and disputed to belong either to Solomon ibn Gabirol (1021 – 1058) or else to the 13th century CE Spanish Kabbalist Bahya ben Asher. While other terms have been used in many religious documents from the 2nd century CE up to the present day, the term Kabbalah has become the main descriptive of Jewish esoteric knowledge and practices. The Kabbalistic literature, which served as the basis for most of the development of Kabbalistic thought, divides between early works such as Heichalot and Sefer Yetzirah (believed to be dated 1st or 2nd Century CE) and later works dated to the 13th century CE, of which the main book is the Zohar representing the main source for the Contemplative Kabbalah (”Kabbalah Iyunit”).

According to Kabbalistic tradition, knowledge was transmitted orally by the Patriarchs, prophets, and sages (Hakhamim in Hebrew), eventually to be “interwoven” into Jewish religious writings and culture. According to this tradition, Kabbalah was, in around the 10th century BCE, an open knowledge practiced by over a million people in ancient Israel, although there is little objective historical evidence to support this thesis.

From the same Wikipedia article regarding Gematria:

Among its many pre-occupations, Kabbalah teaches that every Hebrew letter, word, number, even the accent on words of the Hebrew Bible contains a hidden sense; and it teaches the methods of interpretation for ascertaining these meanings. One such method is as follows:

As early as the 1st Century BCE Jews believed that the Torah (first five books of the Hebrew Bible) contained encoded messages and hidden meanings. Gematria is one method for discovering its hidden meanings. Each letter in Hebrew also represents a number; Hebrew, unlike many other languages, never developed a separate numerical alphabet. By converting letters to numbers, Kabbalists were able to find a hidden meaning in each word. This method of interpretation was used extensively by various schools.

There is no one fixed way to “do” gematria. Some say there are up to 70 different methods. One simple procedure is as follows: each syllable and/or letter forming a word has a characteristic numeric value. The sum of these numeric tags is the word’s “key”, and that word may be replaced in the text by any other word having the same key. Through the application of many such procedures, alternative or hidden meanings of scripture may be derived.

See “Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – the Use of Kabbalah and Gemetria” for additional information. 

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Law (Law of God, Mosaic Law, Law of Moses)  This entry is a long one, necesarily.  I want to preface its definition and pupose by including part of a continuing discourse I had with a friend, clarifying my view of the Law.  The discourse will speak for itself (used with permission) . . .

 

JJ – Hi there,

After reading through your last set of exchanges on your blog, I had this thought – do with it what you want! :-P

Reading through your response to Sean about the law left me with the impression that your view of the law is a negative one. It was something broken, impossible – just wrong. I’m not saying that is or isn’t your view of the law, that was just my impression from reading your response.

JGIG – I view the Law in light of Hebrews 8 (a lot of the rest of Hebrews, too =o)) . . .

1The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.

3Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. 4If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. 5They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” 6But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.

7For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8But God found fault with the people and said:
“The time is coming, declares the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
9It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.
10This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
11No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”

13By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.

Those in the HRM put the Law above the work of Christ. They put their primary focus on the Law, and not on Christ. There are some that actually teach that Jesus is Torah incarnate . . . that He, himself is the Law in the flesh (an amazing twisting of John 1). The Law is central to everything they believe, not just the purpose of the Law, and certainly not what Jesus did to bring about the New Covenant.

JJ – My thought was, the Jewish people loved the law – it showed them how much they needed God to be righteous and how to reconcile themselves with God. It showed them how to live lives that pleased Him.

JGIG – Yes and no. Though the Law did show them what they needed to do to reconcile themselves to God and what was pleasing to (also required by) Him, it was like taking a test that they had no possible chance of passing. They could do what they could do . . . then they had to rely on the mercy and grace of God. Those who realized that fact were justified by their faith. Hebrews 11 chronicles this both before and after the giving of the Mosaic Law. Those who strive to keep the Law in the light of the New Covenant put themselves under its curse, according to Paul. If you put yourself under the Law, you subject yourself to the penalty of the Law.

JJ – I know that as a people they did not live that out, but I do think there was as deep love for God’s law. Having said that, the beautiful thing about Christ is that he completed the work of the Law on the cross when he reconciled God’s people with God forever. No more separation! No more animal sacrifices! It’s all done. So, while the law was good, Christ is better.

JGIG – Amen!

JJ – I just wondered if it might help those who presently revere the law to hear, yes, the law was a wonderful gift, but God has more for us. Don’t stop at the Law! Keep going!

JGIG – Re-read my “So What?” post . . . I do talk about how the Law is upheld as the standard. And I do understand the love of the Law . . . for the Jew it is direct revelation from and their connection to YHWH. My view of the Law is not a negative one . . . I just see it relative to Jesus and who He is and what He did. Understand that the HRM view is heavily skewed in that regard, and part of the purpose of the blog is to put the Law and Christ in their proper contexts.

As for Sean, also understand that he IS NOT a Jew . . . So when I speak to him, in particular, I am not minimizing his culture, or his birthright, or his heritage . . . He has learned an inappropriate view of the Law from Rabbinic (and probably Kabbalistic) sources that have no rightful place in determining Christian doctrine. I’m not even minimizing the Law . . . just keeping it in perspective relative to the work of Christ . . . which is where the HRM gets way off track.

When I read Psalm 119 I see the wonderful images of the Law as written on the heart of the believer and the working of the Holy Spirit to bring those things about in the life of a believer. The redeemed heart is where those things progressively take place, not by obedience to the written Law, as the HRM teaches. So the Law that I love is the fleshy written-on-the-redeemed-heart Law rooted in what the Holy Spirit renews in us through the completed work of Jesus Christ, not the do-this-this-way-and-that-that-way Law, which relies on the work of the flesh. 

 

An excerpt from THIS ARTICLE, “Isn’t Grace a Licence to Sin?” clarifies what I think JJ was trying to say and what I was trying to agree with:

To say that the Christian is not under the law is not to insult the law or say that it is bad. For those who lived in the Old Testament period, being a member of God’s Covenant people was an unspeakable blessing. The entire world had sunk into deep spiritual darkness, ignorance, and paganism. But in that world, one nation – Israel – knew the true God. Because they had God’s Word, they knew the truth about God, themselves, right and wrong, and the future. God intended them to be a light in a dark world. The Old Covenant did indeed “come with glory” (2 Corinthians 3:7). 

However, “What was glorious [the law] has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory” [of the New Covenant] (2 Corinthians 3:10). Again, to say that we are not under the law is not to downgrade the law; it is to maintain that something better has come!

More specifically, God used the law to manage His chosen people in the centuries before Christ. But ever since the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, we live in a different age. Rather than managing His people by law, God now wants His people to grow in grace through the leading of the Holy Spirit. This is why Galatians 5:18 says, “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” To be “led by the Spirit” means that we Christians have the privilege of walking in a loving, trust relationship with our heavenly Father! His goal is to grow us in grace as a result of our personal relationship with Him, not to “keep us in line” under the law.

It is important that we emphasize what God has provided above and beyond the removal of the law. To release someone from the captivity of law without adding something in its place is like letting a city dog out of his pen. He’ll just take off running as fast as he can to get away. God’s method of releasing us from the law is by replacing it with His indwelling life. Why does a country dog stay near the front door when he has miles of freedom? Because he knows and loves his master! His freedom is not freedom from bondage, but freedom to be with the one he loves.

In the same way, as I grow to know and love Jesus Christ more intimately I find myself experiencing incredible freedom and hardly think about the law at all. The issue is not what I can or cannot do. I am free to know my heavenly Father in an unhindered personal relationship. That’s what I concentrate on. Then through that relationship, God reaches my mind to think His thoughts. When I am wrong, He reasons with me. He doesn’t lock me behind some backyard fence!

People say some of the most thoughtless and foolish things in response to the message of God’s love and grace. “If you teach people that they are totally forgiven,” many say, “then they will go out and sin like the devil.” I reply, “When did the law ever stop people from sinning?” Others ask, “If what you are saying is true, that God accepts us in Christ regardless of our actions, then why shouldn’t I just sin up a storm?” In response to such foolishness I feel like replying, “If that really is your attitude, go ahead. Then in a little while you can come back and tell me why not!”

What questions like these clearly reveal is the slender, meager experience, which the questioner has had of the indwelling abundant life of Jesus Christ. Asking if we should sin because we are under grace is like someone facing an endless cafeteria line and asking permission to go eat out of garbage cans!

God cares about you. There is nothing you can give Him, there is no service you can perform, there is no self-discipline you can apply, that He wants more than He wants you. He wants to reveal Himself and His love to you, and He wants you to grow to love Him in return. This is how we grow in grace.

However, for this to happen, it is essential that we abide in the truth of God’s Word – particularly in those truths, which deal with our total acceptance, forgiveness, righteousness, and life in Jesus Christ. Only by abiding in the truth that Christ has done it all can we have the boldness to approach God and get to know Him in a personal way. If we have a law mentality, it will never happen. We must abide in His grace in order to grow in His grace.  [Emphases mine.]

On to the definition and purpose of the Law . . .

Excerpts from Bible.org,  (complete article available HERE):  In the Old Testament, the word “law” is used to translated the Hebrew word torah, “instruction.” The Hebrew word for “law” probably comes from the causative form of the verb yarah, “to throw,” “to shoot (arrows).” In the hiphil stem, the verb horah means “to point, guide, instruct, teach.” Hence, the law is that which provides authoritative guidance. In the New Testament, the Greek word used for law is nomos. Nomos means “that which is assigned,” hence, “usage, custom,” and then “law,” or “a rule governing one’s actions.”

The Nature and Content of the Mosaic Law

It is common to divide the Mosaic Law into three parts as illustrated below, but though this is helpful for analysis and the study of the Mosaic Law and the way it functions, such a division is never stated as such in Scripture. Rather it is seen as a unit. Arguments for this will be given below.

Part 1: The Moral Law or the Ten Commandments. This part of the Law governed the moral life giving guidance to Israel in principles of right and wrong in relation to God and man (Exodus 20:1-17).

Part 2: The Judgments, or the Social Law. This part of the Law governed Israel in her secular, social, political, and economic life (Exodus 21:1–23:13).

Part 3: The Ordinances or the Ceremonial Law. This was the religious portion of Law which guided and provided for Israel in her worship and spiritual relationship and fellowship with God. It included the priesthood, tabernacle and sacrifices (Exodus 25:-31: Leviticus).

The Recipients of the Mosaic Law

The Mosaic Law was a bilateral covenant made specifically for Israel alone to govern her life in the promised land. From the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen.12) we see Israel was a chosen nation, an instrument of God to become a channel of blessing to all nations. Yahweh was her Theocratic King who was to rule and guide the nation in her destiny that she might not become polluted or contaminated by other nations and could thus fulfill her purpose. For this the Mosaic Law was instituted to direct Israel as a nation in all spheres of her life—morally, socially, politically, economically and religiously. 

The Characteristics of the Mosaic Law

(1) The foundation and basis of the Mosaic Law is the covenant God made with the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In several places in Exodus and Deuteronomy, there a references to the Abrahamic Covenant which establish the fact that the giving of the Law at Sinai was based on the covenant with Abraham and God’s continuing plan for the nation of Israel as a priesthood nation (cf. Ex. 19:4-6; Deut. 4:4-8 with Ex. 2:24-25; Deut. 4:36-38; 29:31; 1 Chron. 16:15-19). God had promised to bless the descendants of Abraham and through them, the world. This was a promises reiterated and expanded to Abraham and to Isaac and Jacob. God would bless Israel and through them, bring blessing to the world (Gen. 12:1f; 15; 17:1ff; 26:24f; 28:13f). The Abrahamic covenant is a unilateral covenant. Its ultimate fulfillment is dependent on God’s sovereign and steadfast faithfulness to His promises to Abraham regardless of Israel’s continued disobedience (cf. Ezek. 20:1-44).

The Mosaic Covenant, however, was a bilateral covenant. Though its ultimate fulfillment is dependent on God, for any generation to experience the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant, there had to be faithfulness to God. Thus, enters the Law, a bilateral covenant given to Moses for the nation of Israel after their redemption out of the land of Egypt. It was through obedience to the Mosaic Covenant (the Law) that Israel would be able to experience the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant in the promised land. For obedience there would be blessings; for disobedience, cursing (cf. Deut. 28-30).

(2) The Mosaic Law is holy, good, and spiritual (Rom. 7:12, 14). It was, however, only temporary as the book of Hebrews so clearly teaches. As such, the Mosaic Law was designed to maintain a proper relationship between God and His people Israel (blessing versus cursing), but only until the coming of Messiah and the establishment of a New Covenant. The Law was never designed to be a permanent rule of life. It was merely a tutor or guardian to guide Israel in all areas of her life until Christ (2 Cor. 3:7, 11; Gal. 3:23-24; Rom. 10:4).

(3) The Mosaic Law is weak because it is dependent on man’s ability. It is especially weak when adopted as a system of merit (Rom. 8:3).

(4) The Mosaic Law was an indivisible unit, and is that which was terminated by the Lord Jesus. Though the Law is usually divided into three parts, as described above, it is important to see that it was an indivisible unit. Thus, when Paul stated that we are not under the Law, this included all three parts, including the Ten Commandments. Some will agree that parts of the Old Testament Law have been done away, but assert the Ten Commandments are supposedly still in force today. But all three parts of the Law were designed to function as a unit to guide Israel in all of its life. The Ten Commandments cannot be separated from the rest. Further, even though most recognize this three-fold division, the Jews so numbered all the commands that they approached the Law as a unit. Ryrie notes that,

“…the Jewish people either did not acknowledge it (the three-fold division) or at least did not insist on it. Rather they divided the 613 commandments of the Law into twelve families of commandments which were then subdivided into twelve additional families of positive and twelve additional families of negative commands.”10

Further, that it is a unit is evident by the fact that the recognition of any of its features, i.e., as a meritorious system of righteousness with God, obligates the person to fulfill the entire Law, as we are taught by both Paul and James (cf. Gal. 3:10, 12; 5:3; Jam. 2:8-11).

Further evidence that the Law is a unit is the penalty of death for disobedience is attached to all three parts of the Law.

Noticing the penalties attached to certain commands further emphasizes the unitized character of the Law. When the command to keep the Sabbath (one of the “commandments”) was violated by a man who gathered sticks on that day, the penalty was death by stoning (Num. 15:32-36). When the people of Israel violated the command concerning the Sabbatical Year for the land (one of the “judgments”), God sent them into captivity where many died (Jer. 25:11). When Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire before the Lord (one of the “ordinances”), they immediately died (Lev. 10:1-7). Clearly these commands from various parts of the Law were equally binding and the punishment equally severe. The Law was a unit.11

Finally, three times in 2 Corinthians 3:6-13 Paul declares that the Mosaic system is done away or abolished (vss. 7, 11, 13). In commenting on 2 Corinthians 3:7-13, Chafer wrote:

It is the law as crystallized in the ten commandments which is in view; for that law alone was ‘written and engraven in stones.’ In the midst of the strongest possible contrast between the reign of the teachings of the law and the teachings of grace, it is declared that these commandments were ‘done away’ and ‘abolished.’ It should be recognized that the old was abolished to make place for the new, which far excels in glory. The passing of the law is not, therefore, a loss; it is rather an inestimable gain.”12

(5) The Mosaic Law stands in contrast to the grace of God as now manifested in the coming of Christ (Rom. 6:14; 7:6; 8:3; Gal. 3:12).

The Purpose and Function of the Mosaic Law

The Purpose and Function Explained

What then is the purpose of the Law? Though given to Israel to govern her life in the promise land for blessing instead of cursing, there was an attendant purpose in the giving of the Mosaic Law to Israel—a purpose that still stands today. Simply put, its proper use is to show man his total helpless and hopeless condition before a righteous and just God.

1 Timothy 1:8-10 But we know that the law is good if someone uses it legitimately, 1:9 realizing that law is not intended for a righteous person, but for lawless and rebellious people, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 1:10 sexually immoral, sodomites, kidnappers, liars, perjurers—in fact, for any who live contrary to sound teaching.

In the study of the Bible, there are three specific purposes that surface in the proper use of the Mosaic Law.

(1) In a general sense, it was given to provide a standard of righteousness (Deut. 4:8; Psalm 19:7-9). In the process, the Mosaic Law revealed the righteousness, holiness, and goodness of God (Deut. 4:8; Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7; Rom. 7:12-14). The Law at Sinai was given to Israel to reveal who God is and to shed light on the reality of an infinite gulf that separates God from man.

Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

Romans 3: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

(2) The Law was given to identify sin and reveal man’s sin and bankrupt condition as guilty before God (Rom. 3:19f; 7:7-8; 5:20; Gal. 3:19). God’s holy Law reveals to man just who and what he is—sinful and separated from God by an infinite gulf that he is unable to bridge in his own human strength.

Romans 3:19-20 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 3:20 For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.

(3) The Law was given to shut man up to faith, i.e., to exclude the works of the Law (or any system of works) as a system of merit for either salvation or sanctification and thereby lead him to Christ as the only means of righteousness (Gal. 3:19-20, 20-24; 1 Tim. 1:8-9; Rom. 3:21-24). The ceremonial portion of the Law did this by pointing to the coming of a suffering Savior, “for without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22).

Romans 3:21-24 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God, which is attested by the law and the prophets, has been disclosed— 3:22 namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.3:24 But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:24-26 Thus the law had become our guardian13 until Christ, so that we could be declared righteous by faith. 3:25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. 3:26 For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith.

Summary: Keeping the Law in the True Sense

By keeping the Law, we are speaking about the true sense as God intended it, not as Israel and man tend to take it. The Ten Commandments showed the Jew his sin (and so all mankind) and that he was shut up under that sin. The Ten Commandments were designed to guide him, indeed to drive him to the Ceremonial Law (the tabernacle, priesthood, and sacrifices) for forgiveness through faith in the sacrifices which pointed to Christ. Then, the Social Law, regulated his life by showing him how to live socially, not to give him merit before God, but to enable him to experience the blessings of the covenant rather than the cursing as God warned in Deuteronomy.

The Limitations of the Mosaic Law

When approached as a meritorious system, the Law cannot justify (Gal. 2:16), give life (Gal. 3:21), give the Holy Spirit (Gal. 3:2, 14), sanctify (Gal. 3:21; 5:5; Rom. 8:3), make perfect, or permanently deal with sin (Heb. 7:19). It was designed to be a temporary guardian until the coming of Christ, the Suffering Messiah Savior.

The Effects of the Mosaic Law

The reasons for the effects listed below lie in the wrong reaction of Israel and people today, i.e., approaching the Law as a system of merit, shifting from a faith basis to a works basis (Exodus 19:8; Rom. 10:3). People often try to use the Law as a means of establishing their own standing before God. But Scripture emphatically teaches us that the Law brings a curse (Gal. 3:10-12), brings death, it is a killer (2 Cor. 3:6-7; Rom. 7:9-10), brings condemnation (2 Cor. 3:9), makes offenses abound (Rom. 5:10; 7:7-13), declares all men guilty (Rom. 3:19), and holds men in bondage to sin and death (Gal. 4:3-5, 9, 24; Rom. 7:10-14). This is because man in his sinful state can never fulfill the righteousness of the Law, especially in the spirit of the Law. He always falls short as Romans 3:23 tells us, and becomes condemned or guilty before a Holy God (Rom. 3:19).

The End of the Mosaic Law as a Rule of Life

The Fact Established

Several passages of Scripture clearly establish that the coming of Christ has brought an end to the Mosaic Law. Paul specifically states that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4). This instituted a new law or principle of life, i.e., the law of the Spirit, the one of liberty and grace (Rom. 8:2, 13). This fact was also clearly settled by the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. A council was convened in the church at Jerusalem to look into the issue of the Law and its place in the life of believers because some were saying “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved,” and because even certain of the Pharisees who had believed were also saying “It is necessary to circumcise the Gentiles and to order them to observe the law of Moses.” The conclusion of the council, consisting of apostles and elders, was to reject the concept of placing New Testament believers under the yoke of the Law (15:6-11). The only thing the Jerusalem Council asked was that Gentile believers control their liberty in matters that might be offensive to Jewish believers, but they did not seek to place the believers under the yoke of the Law for they realized the Law had come to an end.

Finally, the book of Hebrews demonstrates that the old covenant of the Mosaic Law was only temporary and has been replaced by the coming of Christ whose ministry is based on (1) a better priesthood, one after the order of Melchizedek which is superior to Aaron’s, and (2) a better covenant with better promises (see Heb. 7-10). The old covenant was only a shadow of heavenly things, and if it had been able to make men perfect before God there would have been no occasion for a second or new covenant (see Heb. 7:11-12; 8:1-13). This change in the priesthood also necessitates a change in the Law. Such a change shows the Law has been terminated or done away.

The Problem of Mosaic Laws as Commands for New Testament Believers

A careful reading of the New Testament shows us that nine of the Ten Commandments are repeated as obligations for believers. The one exception is the command to keep the Sabbath. If the Mosaic Law has been done away, then why are these commandments repeated in the New Testament? Further, some commandments outside the Ten Commandments are even repeated in the New Testament. For instance, as a motivation for loving others, Paul referred to four of the Ten Commandments because they demonstrate this principle, but then, to summarize, he mentioned one from Leviticus 19:18, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” So in what sense has the Law been done away?

The Solution

Part of the purpose of the Law was to point men to the coming Savior through its shadows and types. Through the moral law, man could see God’s holy character as well as his own sinfulness and the infinite gulf that separates God and man. Through the ceremonial part of the Law (the priesthood, sacrifices, and tabernacle), man could find the solution to his sin by faith in what this part of the Law represented, a suffering Savior, one who would die as the Lamb of God. But even though no one could perfectly keep the Law, it was also designed for Israel’s immediate blessing by setting forth righteous principles that would show them how to love God and their fellow man. This would produce a stable and secure society as well as a testimony to the nations (Deut. 4:6-8).

Thus, in 613 commands the Mosaic Law represented an ethical code given by God to Israel to govern the nation until the coming of Messiah, but at their heart, they represented the moral law of God—righteous principles vital to humanity. Today, we are not under this code, but many of its righteous principles, the eternal laws of God, have been carried over and are part of the law of the Spirit of life in Christ (Rom. 8:2) or the law of Christ (1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2). In this, some of the former commands are carried over (Rom. 13:9), some new commands and guidelines are added (Eph. 4:11f; 1 Tim. 3:1f; 4:4), and some have been revised, as in the case of capitol punishment which is to be exercised by human government (Rom. 13:4).

It needs to be emphasized that the end of the Mosaic law, including the Ten Commandments, does not cancel or detract one iota from the eternal moral law of God. The moral principles of the ten laws did not begin with Sinai but are as eternal and immutable as the character of God. To understand this should dispel the fears of those who think the abolition of the Mosaic law leaves only a state of lawlessness.

The moral principles embodied in the law of Moses Paul calls “the righteousness of the law” (Rom 8:4), and shows that such principles are the goal of the Spirit-directed life in the same context in which he teaches the believer is not under the Mosaic law (Rom 6—8).

This should be no more difficult to understand than the fact that a citizen of the United States is not under the laws of Canada, even though the moral principles underlying the laws of the two countries are the same. When a citizen of the United States becomes a citizen of Canada he does not remain under ten of the best laws of the United States. Nor does the fact that some of the laws of the United States are quite similar to some of the laws of Canada confuse or compromise his new exclusive responsibility to Canada. So the believing Jew of the first century moved entirely from the Mosaic economy of law into the new economy of grace instituted by Jesus Christ (John 1:17).14

The Lawful Use of the Mosaic Law

The Law is still good from the standpoint of its main function and purpose as seen above in The Purpose and Function of the Law (1 Tim. 1:8-10; James 2:1-10; Gal. 5:1-3; 6:1). This is how James uses the Law, to reveal sin (James 2:9), to get believers out of self-righteous legalism, and move them into a walk by faith in a living Savior.

The Relationship of New Testament Believers to the Mosaic Law

    1. He is never saved by keeping the Law (Gal. 2:21).

    2. He is not under the Law as a rule of life, i.e., sacrifice, Sabbath keeping, tithing (Rev. 6:14; Acts 15:5, 24).

    3. Thus, he does not walk by the Law but by the Spirit, which is the new law for the New Testament saint (Rom. 8:4; Gal. 5:5). This is law of liberty through faith in the power of God.

    4. He is dead to the Law (Rom. 7:1-6; Gal. 2:19) by virtue of his union with Jesus Christ who fulfilled the Law.

    5. He is to fulfill the righteousness of the Law, i.e., the spirit of the law as seen in Christ’s words in Matthew 10:37-40 love for God, and love for one’s neighbor (James 2:9). But this can only be fulfilled through a knowledge of Bible truth and the filling of the Holy Spirit, which furnishes the power or ability needed to live the Christian life according to the eternal moral law of God. So we are under God’s new law, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:2-4).

Christ, the Fulfillment of the Mosaic Law

Christ fulfilled the Ten Commandments by living a perfect and sinless life. Thus, when man trusts in Christ, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to that individual so we have justification. We have Christ’s righteousness so the Law can’t condemn us (Rom. 8:1; 7:1-6; Rom. 5:1; 4:4-8).

Christ fulfilled the ceremonial ordinances, the shadows and types of His person and work, by dying on the cross for us and in our place. This showed that God was also perfect justice and sin must be judged, but God provided His Son, the precious Lamb of God. The penalty which the Law exercised was paid. Again there is no condemnation because the believer is “in Christ” (Col. 2:14; Rom. 3:24-25).

Christ also fulfilled the Social Law, but now He replaces it with a new way of life fitting to our new salvation. He gives provision for the inner man—the indwelling Holy Spirit—who enables us to experience true sanctification so that we may experience also the righteousness of the Law (Rom. 8:2-4).

Summary

1. Christ is the end of the Law and believers are not under the Mosaic Law. New Testament believers are not under Law but under grace (Rom. 6:14).

2. Since the Lord Jesus Christ fulfills the Law by His person and work, believers are under a new law; the obligation to walk by the Spirit of Life through faith (Rom. 8:2-4). If we are led by the Spirit, then we are not under the Law (Gal. 5:18).

3. Against such, i.e., the fruit of the Spirit, there is no law because the believer is then operating under the highest law, the standards are met as we walk by the Holy Spirit and grow in the Word (Gal. 5:22).

Warning Against Entanglements with the Law as Believers Today

After salvation by grace there has always been the grave danger of reverting to Law or legalism by taboos and tactics of coercion, or some form of human manipulation (Gal. 3:1-3). To go back to the Law as a way of life puts one under the control of the flesh, it nullifies true spirituality by faith in the Holy Spirit, and defeats the believer. It results in human good and domination by the sin nature or the flesh (Gal. 5:1-5; Col. 2:14f). The fact that the Christian is not under the Mosaic Law does not mean, of course, that there is lawlessness or no proper sense of morality or ethics in the Christian life. Quite the contrary is true. But in dealing with the subject of morality or ethics, it must be understood that the clear teaching of the New Testament is that the moral life the Christian is responsible for is that (1) no one can be saved by virtue of his own works (Tit. 3:5; Eph. 2:8-9), and (2) that the morality of the Christian life is to be the result of the Christ exchanged life by faith and submission to the ministry and power of a Spirit-controlled life.

The Threefold Duties of the New Testament Believer

In the New Testament, then, completely adequate teaching is provided as to the principles of conduct the Christian will follow if he truly presents his body “a living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1) and walks “in the Spirit” (Eph 5:9). In Titus 2:11-14 is to be found a convenient outline around which to group these principles. First in this passage it is majestically stated that God’s grace brings us salvation. But His grace then teaches us to live soberly, righteously and godly. These are three important lines of responsibility: the believer is to live soberly with regard to himself (Rom 12:3); righteously with regard to his fellow men; and godly with regard to the Lord. The same truth can be more or less expressed in a somewhat different way: We should seek to live in accordance with the precepts of grace because (1) this will please God (Heb 13:16) and will demonstrate our love for Christ (John 14:15); (2) it will help others (Matt 5:16; Titus 3:8,14); (3) it will bring true joy and blessing to our own hearts (John 15:10-11). 15

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