JESUS CHRIST AND THE LAW OF MOSES
Note: This email was sent back to a reader in reference to a comment he gave after the discussion of grace, law, and good works. He mentioned that Jesus would help us live in harmony with the Torah, as He did. I needed to clarify what that meant, and guard against misunderstanding.
I must answer your email with several questions and comments. Please reply if you wish.
You said that our good works must be "in harmony" with the Torah, as Jesus' good works were in harmony with the Torah. Did you mean that we look to the Torah and its 613 commandments to know what good works we are to do? Did you also mean that we are to adhere then to the oral traditions of the elders known as the Talmud and the Midrash? Did you mean that those who are in Christ will live according to the 365 negative commands and the 248 positive commands which the Jewish elders determined are in the Mosaic Law?
I'm hoping that are you saying that those living the Christ-life will be instructed and empowered by the Spirit of Christ in us to do good works, and that these will far more than fulfill the intent and purpose of the law, which was to lead us to grace and mercy and love in Christ.
I'm seriously asking these things, because they are of utmost, and eternal, importance.
When you quote John 15:10, you are quoting Jesus about His New Commandment He had just given the disciples, which was to love one another as He had loved them. He was not talking about the Torah, or any form of the codified laws or traditions of the Jews. His conversation with them at the Last Supper was entirely devoid of any references to keeping the Mosaic Law or these traditions.
He was making a New Way, through His death and resurrection. Certainly His apostles, who were with Him not only then, but for forty days after His resurrection, would have known if the resurrected Christ was giving them instructions to keep the Mosaic Law. Instead, like Christ, these men had to withstand tremendous persecution from the Jewish leaders throughout the known world because they did not require that Christians keep the Jewish law.
Jesus said to His disciples that same night: "All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue..." (John 16:1,2) If Jesus planned that these men would be preaching and adhering to the Mosaic Law, why would they have been put out of the synagogue and hunted down by men like the young Pharisee Saul of Tarsus? Saul knew they didn't adhere to the Law, and that was his measure for hating them.
It is a fact of Scripture, and taught in clarity throughout the New Testament, that to try and mix the Torah with Christ is to negate the sacrifice Christ made for us. Read Romans, Acts, Hebrews, Paul's letters, Peter's letters, James, and John's letters. These all speak to this issue. There is no mixing of the law with grace.
Why? Is it because the law is so high and unreachable? No. It is the opposite. Like telling a student he must maintain a D average in school or lose his scholarship, the law is only a bare minimum moral code.
The requirements of grace are far above the lowly requirements of the Mosaic Law.
Jesus said the law requires you to love your friends, but now He requires you even love your enemies. He said that those who gave the tithe were giving of their excess, but the woman who put in all she had was giving by His new standard. The religious leaders judged everyone by their adherence to the law, and He said that we are to judge nobody, because not even He came to judge, but to save. He said that the law requires an "eye for and eye and tooth for tooth", but He requires us to give to everyone who asks, and let anyone take advantage of us who wishes. He pointed out the law says not to murder anyone, yet Jesus says we are not even to call our brother a fool or be assigned to hell. He said that the law and the prophets are summed up by the two greatest commandments of the Torah: Love God and love one another. He taught the disciples this, and they passed it along in their New Testament writings.
One last thing. Please look at Scripture in the life of Jesus. You said He was in harmony with the Torah, yet He was many times being persecuted by the Jewish leaders because He was not keeping the Mosaic Law. Do we believe Jesus would require of His disciples (us) something He did not require of Himself?
I write these things to clarify, because in these days many are preaching and teaching what I call "hybrid gospels" that combine certain elements of the law or men's traditions with Christ. These gospels are no gospel at all, and must be stood against by all who would truly follow Christ on the Narrow Road.
Our teaching is that Christ is all, and in all, and that one can never be saved, or win points with God somehow, by adherence to any law or human principles.
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Gal. 5:1
"But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law." Gal. 5:18
Christ in us will empower us to live lives of love, sacrifice and purity far above whatever any laws handed down can do.
May we all know His love and mercy and grace and freedom today.
A. Brother Gary