Quite often, when discussing or debating the place of
Torah in the believer’s life, I receive the same argument. This argument can be
summed up as, “The only reason G-d gave Israel the Law was to prove that nobody
could keep it, so that we would sin more and need G-d’s grace more (Rom. 5:20).
So to keep the Law now is to abandon Grace.”
But is it really true that G-d
only gave the Torah to prove nobody could keep it? Not at all. The Torah, in
fact, has many purposes according to the Scriptures:
The Torah is the Way G-d
commanded us to walk (Deu. 13:5), the Truth (Psa. 119:142), and is the
fountain of life to those who keep it (Pro. 13:14, Lev. 18:5), just as Yeshua
is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6) for all who trust in and
follow Him. Indeed, the Torah is the very Spirit of Life in the Messiah Yeshua
Yeshua did not come to
abolish the Torah, but to fulfill it (Mat. 5:17)—that is, to make it full of
meaning both by His teachings and by His Life, Sacrifice, and Resurrection.
Therefore, we do not annul (cease to keep) the Torah through our faith; on the
contrary, we uphold it (Rom. 3:31), for Messiah is the goal to which the Torah
points (Rom.10:4) and it is not the hearers of the Torah who are justified,
but the doers of the Torah (Rom. 2:13).
Until heaven and earth
pass away, not one yod (the smallest letter) or one penstroke will pass away
from the Torah until everything is fulfilled (Mat. 5:18). Therefore, he who
stumbles at one command of the Torah is guilty of breaking it all (Jas. 2:10)
and those who break the least commandment of the Torah and teach others to do
the same will be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but those who do and
teach it will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven (Mat. 5:19, 23:23).
The Torah is not sin—that
is, keeping it is not sinful (Rom. 7:7)—but rather is perfect (Psa. 19:7),
more precious than gold and silver (Psa. 119:72), Spiritual—that is, of the
Spirit (Rom. 7:14)—holy, just, and good (Rom. 7:12), and a Torah of liberty
(Jas. 1:25, 2:12), provided that one uses/interprets it as it is intended (1
The Torah is neither too
difficult to understand nor too difficult to do, but is near to and written on
our hearts that we may keep it (Deu. 30:11ff, Psa. 40:8, Isa. 51:7)—this is
especially true under the New Covenant (Jer. 31:33, Heb. 8:10). The Torah is
easily summed up in loving G-d, loving our neighbor, and the Golden Rule (Mat.
7:12, 22:38-40; Luke 10:27; Rom. 13:8ff; Gal. 5:14; Jas. 2:8).
The righteousness of the
Torah is the mark of the greatness of G-d’s people (Deu. 4:8), for it takes
strength and courage to keep the Torah (Jos. 1:7, 23:6). In fact, the Torah
can only be truly kept by those who walk in the Spirit, not those who walk
after the flesh/sin nature (Rom. 8:4-9). ADONAI gave the Land to Israel for
the specific purpose that they might keep His Torah (Psa. 105:45), because
many of the Torah’s commands cannot be kept perfectly outside of the Land
(e.g., Tabernacle/Temple worship).
The Torah is only “weak”
and impossible to keep perfectly because we are weak in our flesh (Rom. 8:3)
and all fall short of its righteousness (Rom. 3:23, Gal. 2:16). The weakness
is in us, not in G-d’s Word. That is why we need the Grace of G-d extended to
us in the Messiah Yeshua.
The Torah curses those who
do not keep all of it (Deu. 27:26; Isa. 5:24, 24:5: Jer. 6:19; Rom. 4:15; Gal.
3:10). In fact, prayer is an abomination from those who refuse to hear the
Torah (Pro. 28:9). It was these curses that Messiah took upon Himself and
redeemed us from (Gal. 3:13).
The Torah brings
repentance to the soul (Psa. 19:7), for it informs us of our sin; that is,
what is sinful (Rom. 3:20, 5:13; 7:7)—indeed, the very definition of sin is
Torah-lessness (1 Jn. 3:4). Therefore, the Torah keeps the righteous from
stumbling (Psa. 37:31), for it is a light unto our path (Pro. 6:23), and those
who forsake the Torah also praise the wicked (Pro. 28:4).
The Torah also blesses
those who keep its commandments (Deu. 28:1ff, 30:9f). Now that the curses of
the Torah have been taken away, all that remains is for us to receive its
The blessed, righteous,
and wise meditate on the Torah day and night (Jos. 1:8; Psa. 1:2, 119:97),
take delight in the Torah (Psa. 1:2, 40:8, 119:70, 77, & 174; Rom. 7:22), and
keep it with their whole hearts (Psa. 119:34). Those who delight in the Torah
will not perish in their affliction (Psa. 119:92), for the Torah brings peace
and joy to those who love it (Psa. 119:165, Pro. 29:18).
The Torah makes the simple
wise (Psa. 19:7), and contains wondrous things for those whose eyes ADONAI
opens (Psa. 119:18). Blessed is he whom G-d teaches from His Torah (Psa.
94:12) and who walks in the way of the Torah (Psa. 119:1), for even obscure
agricultural details in the Torah have meaning (1 Co. 9:9).
Agreement with the Torah
is one of the tests of a true prophet (Deu. 12:32-13:5, Isa. 8:20).
Paul kept the Torah (Acts
21:24, 25:8), serving it with his mind, even though he often stumbled in his
flesh (Rom. 7:25), and the early Jewish believers—those closest to the Messiah
and His teachings in both space and time—were zealous for the Torah (Acts
21:20, 22:12). In fact, Circumcision (being Jewish) only profits one if he
keeps the Torah (Rom. 2:25, Gal. 5:3f).
And yet, the Torah is not
for Jewish believers alone, for if one uncircumcised (a Gentile) keeps the
Torah, it is counted to him as if he were circumcised (Jewish; Rom. 2:26), and
one’s Jewishness or Gentileness is considered nothing compared to whether one
is keeping G-d’s commandments (1 Co. 7:19).
In the End Times, many
will go to Jerusalem to learn the Torah, for the Torah will go forth from
Jerusalem (Isa. 2:3, Mic. 4:2). ADONAI will magnify the Torah and make it
honorable (Isa. 42:21). In connection with the coming of Elijah, G-d commands
us to remember the Torah of Moses (Mal. 4:4).
Properly interpreted and
understood, the Torah is not “a burden too heavy to bear,” nor does seeking to
follow it out of faith annul faith. Indeed, by continually convicting us of
falling short, the Torah forbids anyone from boasting about their works, but
forces everyone, Jew and Gentile alike, to continually throw themselves on ADONAI’s grace as we repent day-by-day. The Torah is a font of wisdom and
instruction for those that believe, telling us how to be like our Messiah:
I do not try to keep the Torah in order to be saved. I strive
to keep the Torah because I am already saved, and I want to be like my
Savior in every single way.