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What Does the Bible Say About the Torah?

by Michael D. Bugg

 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:

  1. 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 (Rom. 8:2).
  2. 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).
  3. 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).
  4. 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 Ti. 1:8).
  5. 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).
  6. 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).
  7. 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.
  8. 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).
  9. 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).
  10. 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 blessings.
  11. 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).
  12. 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).
  13. Agreement with the Torah is one of the tests of a true prophet (Deu. 12:32-13:5, Isa. 8:20).
  14. 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).
  15. 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).
  16. 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.



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