Returning to Torah — Part 4 — Just Too Many Laws to Keep!

He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.

[Yeshua — John 14:21]

Whenever discussing the topic of keeping the Torah, Christians are quick to recoil at the notion that anyone could follow all those tedious, archaic rules. We have been preconditioned to believe that it is impossible to obey all of God’s commandments, so why even try? We often visualize the Torah as an endless bookshelf of bloated law manuals, full of useless ramblings of legal jargon.

As one popular meme says … “Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Furthermore, Christians have been taught that Jesus died to abolish the law and render it obsolete, meaning that those old laws have been destroyed and done away with. We find comfort in the thought of tossing all those burdensome law books in the trash, never to worry ourselves with them again. Like William Wallace in Braveheart, we revel in the cry of “FREEDOM!”

After all, anyone foolishly trying to keep the Torah and actually obey God’s commandments is exchanging freedom for the chains of legalism, which only produces joyless, judgmental, rigid, religious hypocrites. The world doesn’t need more Pharisees. We just need more Christians who love and live like Jesus, right!?

But wait, what does it really mean to love Jesus? Did Jesus ever tell us how we are to love Him?

Yeah. Actually He did.

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

[Jesus Christ — John 14:15]

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.

[Jesus Christ — John 14:23-24]

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

[Jesus Christ — John 15:10-11]

It is usually at this point that Christians begin to get a little uncomfortable. Virtually every single verse of Scripture that defines what it means to love Jesus directly corresponds to keeping God’s commandments. So unequivocally the Biblical definition of loving Jesus is keeping His commandments.

Keeping Torah = Loving Jesus

Which then begs the question. If loving Jesus is obedience to Torah, then how on God’s green earth has the Torah been rendered obsolete and tossed in the trash? If keeping the Father’s commandments is the very expression of love for the Son, then how is it possible that Jesus has gotten rid of the law?

There truly is no adequate answer to this question. Although the antinomians will try in vain to rationalize away this reality with desperate interpretive acrobatics, the truth of the matter is that not only is keeping God’s law possible, but according to Jesus it is the very standard by which our love for God is measured.

Heaven forbid that Jesus’s disciples actually walked by faith in keeping the same commandments He kept and obeying the same Torah that He obeyed! Heaven forbid Christ followers actually followed the example of Christ!

Putting all sarcasm aside, it is Biblically indefensible to cast the Torah out and replace it with some false system of cheap grace. When the standard of righteousness is abandoned, sin abounds. We should not be surprised that the modern Christian church is rank with perversion, immorality, and licentiousness. We have forsaken God’s commandments and drifted far off the narrow path of righteousness.

Clearly the law has not been abolished. Clearly God’s commandments are applicable for the believer today. Clearly our obedience to Torah is how we express love for Jesus Christ our Lord. Anyone who teaches otherwise is sorely confused and gravely in error, according to Jesus Himself (Matthew 5:17-19).

Now that has been established, let’s take a closer look at just how uncomplicated keeping God’s law actually is.

TOO MANY LAWS?

Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today, which you shall command your children to be careful to observe—all the words of this law. 47For it is not a futile thing for you, because it is your life.

[Deuteronomy 32:46-47]

Many have endeavored to determine just exactly how many laws are contained in the Torah. Traditionally the Jewish rabbis reached a consensus that the Torah consisted of 613 laws. Others have proposed that number can be refined to around 200 basic commandments. Of course all the laws can be categorized somewhere within the original 10 Commandments, which ultimately are established upon the two most foundational laws.

Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38This is the great and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

[Matthew 22:37-40]

Once again, we must remember that God’s Torah is a law of love. He desires right relationships both vertically (with God) and horizontally (with our neighbor). Every commandment God has given us to follow is for His glory, our good, and the good of others. God revealed His eternal value system to bless us, not burden us.

Still, it is difficult for many Christians to comprehend the practicality of incorporating over 600 laws into their lives. On the surface, such an endeavor seems overwhelming and exacerbating. Perhaps a little perspective will help alleviate any initial anxiety one may feel toward the Torah.

Take the United States for example. Between our state and federal governments, we literally have millions of laws on the books. Yet my life is overwhelmingly unaffected by 95% of them. I’m only concerned with the ones that apply directly to me. As long as I am a law-abiding citizen, then I am a free. If I break the law, then I immediately come under the law and must face the consequences.

But I certainly don’t lose any sleep over the millions of laws that do not apply to me, nor should I. I only need to obey the laws that I’m aware of. As Paul says, “where there is no law there is no transgression” [Romans 4:15].

I approach the Torah in a very similar way. Not every one of the 613 commandments applies to me. This allows me to simply focus on obeying the ones that do, which is not difficult at all (see Deuteronomy 30:11-14). Once I understood this principle, it actually was very liberating.

KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS

What does it mean to “keep” God’s commandments? We must make a distinction between keeping God’s law and actually doing it, or practically applying it to our lives. And before you think I am playing a game of semantics, let me explain.

First, it is important to understand the definition of the Greek word “keep” — téreó: to watch over, to guard, to preserve. To keep something means that you guard it, protect it, preserve it, treasure it, or observe it. To keep a law, however, does not necessarily mean that someone is able to practically do it. To keep God’s commandments means that you love, treasure, and guard Torah in principle, while not always applying the law in practice.

What if I told you that Jesus kept all of God’s commandments in fulfilling all righteousness, but at the same time He could not possibly have done or performed all of God’s commandments?

For example, there are dozens of commandments in the Torah that only apply to the Levitical priesthood and their role in temple worship. Since Jesus was neither a Levite nor served in the temple, those laws did not apply to Him. This means that Jesus did not practically do these laws, but He kept these laws in principle, meaning that He endorsed them, treasured them, and approved of them.

There are laws in the Torah that only apply to property owners. Jesus did not own any property as far as we know, not having a place to lay His own head. There are laws that only apply to women. Obviously, Jesus was a man and could not perform these laws, but He kept them by promoting and approving them. There are laws that involve the rules of war, yet Jesus did not command an army nor go to battle, so He never practically applied such laws in His life. There are laws only pertaining to husbands and fathers, and Jesus was neither during His lifetime.

I think you get the point.

Once we understand that “keeping” the law does not necessarily translate into practically “doing” it, then we can begin to understand that many, if not most, of the 600+ commandments in the Torah do not directly apply to our lives. And just like that, keeping the Torah became really simple.

As a general rule, each individual should strive only to obey the commandments that apply to him or her, while still “keeping” the whole Torah by endorsing, affirming, and guarding all the laws that do not apply. That is what it means to keep God’s Torah. Just like Jesus could not practically perform all 600+ laws, neither can we. We only live out and walk out the commandments that directly apply to us as individuals.

Now, it goes without saying that we will never be perfect in keeping the Torah. Of course God’s understands that we will fail and stumble and miss the mark. That is precisely why Jesus came into the world. I thank God for the obedient life of Yesuha our Messiah who fulfilled God’s law in perfect righteousness! I thank God for the substitutionary death of Yeshua on the cross, bearing the punishment I deserve for breaking God’s law. I would have no hope without Christ.

But just because I am saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus does not in any way give me the license to forsake or break God’s laws. If anything it should be my motivation and joy to strive toward obedience and pursue righteousness out of my love for Him!

As I continue in this series, I will do my best to address many of the individual laws in the Torah and examine if and how they apply to our lives.

In the meantime, I recommend you begin to study Torah for yourself and rediscover the heart of God for your life. As King David says …

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

[Psalm 1:1-2]

Returning to Torah — Part 3 — Are We No Longer Under the Law?

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. 15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!

[Romans 6:14-15]

Laws are just made to be broken … so the saying goes.

But we know that is not true.

Any good parent, for example, will set in place house rules and establish boundaries that are intended to bless and protect the children. The expectation is clear. These rules are for their own good and are to be obeyed without exception. Breaking the rules will only result in pain and punishment and erode trust in the relationship.

Man’s rebellious heart is naturally averse to the law. Our sinful nature wages war against the law — both the laws of God and man. Man is prone to break the rules in search of some false form of freedom, but lawbreakers always seem to end up in the same place — either dead or in prison.

The truth is that a lawless man is never free. He is a slave to his sin — a dead man walking. Lawbreakers are the only ones who are “under the law,” facing the consequences and bearing the full weight of impending judgment.

It is the lawful citizen, however, who is truly free. A man who obeys the law is not “under the law” but rather free to live and enjoy his life without fear of punishment. Once again, it is not the law itself that holds men captive and puts them in bondage. Quite the contrary! A man is only “under the law” once he has broken the law.

God put His law in place for our own good. Obeying the law is not sin. Just the opposite is true. The Biblical definition of sin is transgression of the law.

Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.

[1 John 3:4]

UNDER THE LAW

Yet entire theological systems have been built upon the flawed notion that Christians are no longer “under the law,” which traditionally has been interpreted to mean that God’s law no longer applies to our life. We have been told by our church leaders that the law has been done away with, rendered obsolete, and abolished at the cross. Christians are no longer under the burden of the law but are under grace, which means that we don’t have to keep those old, burdensome laws anymore but are free to do whatever we want!

But is that true? Is a Christian free to abuse God’s grace as a license to sin? Does God’s law no longer apply to our lives now that we have been saved by grace? Seems like the Apostle Paul said something about this dangerous mentality.

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. 15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!

[Romans 6:14-15]

Do you see it? Do you see how men have misinterpreted this one idea from the writings of Paul and twisted it to mean the polar opposite of what it really means? When Scripture says that believers are no longer “under the law,” that does not mean the law itself has been done away with or abolished.

It simply means that believers in Christ Jesus are no longer under the PENALTY and CURSE of the law — which is death! Paul reminds us that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” [Galatians 3:13].

Jesus willingly received the death sentence that stood against all lawbreakers (you and me), which means that we are no longer under the curse of the law. We have been set free from the condemnation of the law. This is good news indeed!

But this does not mean that the law itself is now somehow destroyed or that it is no longer applicable to our lives. God forbid! It means now that we have been redeemed from the penalty and the curse of the law, we have been given the grace to go and walk in obedience to His law — keeping His commandments and so fulfill the law of Christ!

We are no longer slaves to sin — as we once were disobedient lawbreakers. We have become slaves to righteousness — keeping God’s law out of love and gratitude for God.

The law has not changed. God’s house rules have never changed. God’s expectation for His children to be obedient to His rules has not changed. But when we sin against God and break His law, we willingly put ourselves back under the law, which breaks God’s heart and breaks fellowship with our Heavenly Father.

Of course we still belong to the family of God, but when we break the law, we are acting once again like slaves to sin. It is only when we obey God’s commandments that we are living in freedom.

 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

[Romans 6:16-18]

THE LAW OF LIBERTY

But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

[James 1:25]

So if breaking the law is sin that leads to bondage, then keeping the law is righteousness that leads to freedom. This what the Bible calls the perfect law of liberty. The law itself is God’s moral standard, His eternal value system. It is the way of life, and all who obey Torah are free! It’s that simple, and yet how many Christians today have a positive view about the law?

In my own personal religious experiences, the law was always cast in a negative light, as if Torah was contrary to grace and bondage for the believer. The law certainly was never taught as life and liberty, so like so many Christians, I developed an antagonistic attitude toward the law, as if Jesus had saved me and set me free from the law.

Now that I am rediscovering Torah, however, I realize just how wrong I was and how far off the path we have drifted.

Jesus did not save me from the law! Messiah saved me from the curse and punishment of the law — which is death. This one adjustment in my perspective has opened my eyes to see the joy and blessing and yes … the FREEDOM of keeping God’s commandments and obeying His laws.

THE SON HAS SET US FREE!

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free …” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

[John 8:31-32, 34-36]

Notice Jesus says that His true disciples are those who obey His teaching — aka Torah — and the result of obeying Torah is coming to a knowledge of the truth. Then once we discover the truth of Torah, the truth will set us free! Think about that for a moment. How profound! How many times have we missed this?

  • Jesus died in our place to take the punishment that we deserved for breaking God’s law (sin)
  • Once freed from the law of sin of death, Jesus calls us as His disciples to follow Him and obey His teachings (Torah)
  • As we learn Torah, we come to the knowledge of the truth and as we obey Torah we live out the truth as Jesus did
  • As we walk with Jesus in obedience to His commandments, we experience true freedom from sin and true joy in keeping the perfect law of liberty for God’s glory

Scripture is clear. It is impossible to Biblically defend the notion that followers of Jesus Christ are no longer expected to keep God’s law and obey His commandments. The meaning of the phrase, “under the law,” has been so twisted and perverted in the church that millions of Christians have been led astray and convinced that the Torah has been rendered useless and no longer applies to them.

Nothing could be further from the truth! God’s law has never changed and never will. Why would Jesus die for our sins and set us free from sin only to turn around tell us we are now free to sin? That’s absurd!

Jesus died to set us free from the curse of the law so that we would become beloved sons and daughters who walk in faithful obedience to God’s law. Keeping the law is not bondage. Keeping the law is the very definition of righteousness that leads to freedom! Since we have been set free from sin and death, we should never go back to being slaves to sin.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

[Galatians 5:1]

Returning to Torah — Part 2 — Do Not Add or Take Away

And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 2You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you.

[Deuteronomy 4:1-2]

The entire story of human history can be summed up in one thought — man makes a mess of things and God has to clean it up.

God says one thing, and man does another. Man wanders off the path and God calls him back. Man’s heart is deceitful, and by nature man seeks to do that which is right in his own eyes, which put him at odds with God’s word. As a result, we have become masters at twisting, perverting, and cherry picking God’s word to suit our own desires, or simply ignoring it altogether.

The Creator tells Adam in the garden … you are free, which means I am giving you a choice. Everything is yours! Take anything you want. I have just one simple commandment: do not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Did God really say?

Adam did what was right in his own eyes and transgressed God’s only command, making a big mess of things. And the rest is history.

As time passed and man descended into deeper depravity and sin, God progressively added more commandments to clearly establish His moral boundaries and righteous standards (see Galatians 3:19). The LORD revealed His Torah to Noah before and after the flood (Genesis 6-9) and later instructed Abraham in His commandments so that he and his family would live set apart from the world and be blessed. Most of us have never considered that Abraham kept the Torah 400 years before the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai. The LORD blessed Abraham, the man of faith, because he “obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” [Genesis 26:5].

By the time the LORD gave the Torah to Moses on Mt. Sinai, the law was nothing new. God’s value system is eternal — it never changes. God did not create the Torah at Sinai. He merely revealed it.

The LORD further expanded on His commandments to address the specific circumstances and situations that inevitably would occur in a covenant community living together in the same land under the same legal constitution. Israel was called to be a peculiar people, set apart from the nations. God engraved His laws in stone and told Moses to codify His commandments in writing, which have been preserved in the Bible to this day.

And once the book of the law was written, the LORD gave very specific instructions that no one is authorized to change His word — ever!

God especially made it clear that no one has the authority to add to the Torah or take anything away from it. To change God’s word is to reject His authority and pervert His character.

Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.

[Deuteronomy 12:32]

Yet here we are nearly 3,500 later, and that is precisely what has happened — men teaching as doctrines their own traditions above the commandments of God. This grievous error has cut both ways, in both adding to and subtracting from God’s word.

DO NOT ADD

Over the course of time, the Jews became notorious for adding to the Torah by ascribing authority to their oral traditions, religious commentaries, and rabbinic teachings. In many ways, Judaism elevates their man-made traditions found in the Mishnah and the Talmud above the pure and plain commandments of God.

This is precisely why Jesus was particularly harsh with the religious leaders of His day. Jesus had no issue with the Torah. He is both the Author and embodiment of the Torah and obeyed the law perfectly as our example. Jesus condemned the Jewish leadership for elevating their own traditions above the Torah and putting a stumbling block of unnecessary burdens on the people.

In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. 8You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”9And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” 

[Mark 7:7-9]

Man’s rules make a mess of God’s truth. The Jewish traditions had made the Torah burdensome and difficult, when God never intended His law to be difficult [see Deuteronomy 30:11-14]. This is why Jesus said His yoke was easy and His burden light. He came to expose the legalistic traditions of men that had perverted God’s word and to call His people back to the purity and simplicity of the Torah as God intended.

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2“The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 4They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.

[Matthew 23:1-4]

But the Jews are not the only ones to blame for making a mess of God’s word. While Judaism has been guilty of adding to the Torah, Christianity has been guilty of taking away from it.

DO NOT TAKE AWAY

The early church consisted predominantly of 1st Century Jews who believed in Yeshua of Nazareth as Messiah and were empowered by the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses first in Jerusalem and Judea and eventually to the nations. As far as the Apostles were concerned, Jesus had not come to start a new religion but rather to fulfill all the promises in the Torah and the prophets.

Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus and His Apostles all were avid Torah observers, keeping the Biblical feasts, eating clean foods, and worshiping at synagogue every Sabbath. Even Paul — who has become seriously misunderstood and grossly misinterpreted in orthodox Christianity — loved the law of God and kept Torah, saying “for I delight in the law of God, in my inner being” (Romans 7:22).

When Paul reached the Gentiles with the gospel and multitudes from the nations began to put their hope in Yeshua as Messiah, Paul reminded them that they were no longer strangers but had been brought near by the blood of Christ and incorporated as citizens in the commonwealth of Israel [Ephesians 2:14-21], being grafted in to Israel as God’s covenant people [Romans 11].

Even the Jerusalem Council [Acts 15] gave Gentiles four basic rules from the Torah to be an initial entry point for new believers, and then the Apostles instructed them to continue to grow in their faith by attending synagogue every Sabbath to learn how to live through Torah [Acts 15:21].

Consider, for example, the testimony of the Apostle John, who considered obeying the Torah as the purest expression of love for God.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 

[1 John 5:1-3]

But just exactly which commandments could John be talking about? Surely he wasn’t referring to all those Old Testament laws, but only the most obvious ones like do not murder or lie or steal or commit adultery. Surely John didn’t really mean to say that followers of Jesus should treasure all of God’s commandments, did he?

After all, Christians like to incorporate some of the Torah into their lives but at the same time are quick to dismiss and plainly reject others — taking away from God’s word.

Well, let’s look to our greatest authority to answer that question — Jesus Christ, the Author of the Torah Himself. What did Jesus say about picking and choosing which laws we want to keep and which ones we don’t? You may be surprised to find out what He has to say — and in the Sermon on the Mount of all places.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them18For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

[Matthew 5:17-20]

Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to do it — to perfectly live and embody it as our example. Last I checked heaven and earth still remain to this day, so not one stroke of the law has been done away with. That sounds pretty permanent to me.

And if that weren’t already clear enough, Jesus goes even further to emphasize that anyone who “relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of God.”

In Jesus’ own words … DO NOT TAKE AWAY FROM THE TORAH!

It does not get any clearer than that.

And yet the “church” is filled with self-proclaimed Jesus-loving Christians who have stripped away much of the Torah, showing blatant disregard to Jesus Himself. Christian leaders are guilty of changing the word of God and replacing it once again with their own traditions.

So where Judaism has added to the Torah, Christianity has taken away, creating two religious extremes that have strayed off the narrow path and made a mess of God’s word.

But God is sorting it out and cleaning up this mess we have made.

God is calling millions back to the unadulterated truth of His word and bringing people from all over the world — both Jew and Gentile — back the pure and simple way of Torah — to live as Jesus lived and walk as Jesus walked and to obey as Jesus obeyed in freedom and love.

Returning to Torah — Part 1 — Rediscovering God’s Eternal Treasure of Truth

The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.

[Psalm 119:72]

Have you ever felt like something significant was missing from you life, only to discover that it was right in front of you all along? Have you ever stumbled upon a valuable treasure in your possession that for years you assumed was worthless?

What changed? The value or importance of these things never changed. Only your understanding and perspective changed, allowing you to see its worth for the very first time. And the moment you came to the knowledge of the truth, you were filled with overwhelming joy and gratitude!

That is exactly what has happened to me.

I recently discovered a precious gift from God — an ancient treasure of immense value — that has been in my possession for decades, only I failed to see it and appreciate it for what it was.

What could be so valuable and yet remain hidden for so long?

I am talking about Torah … the eternal truth of God revealing His love for His people.

What is Torah?

I know what some of you may already be thinking. If Torah is so important and so valuable, then why doesn’t the church emphasize it? Why has orthodox Christianity ignored it for 2,000 years? Why doesn’t my pastor preach on it? Why haven’t I heard anything about it?

Even for those in modern mainstream evangelicalism who at least have some surface-level knowledge, the Torah remains totally foreign as old laws that only apply to the Jews anyway. What does God’s law have to do with me — a Gentile Christian? Torah sounds so Old Testament. Aren’t we living under the New Covenant?

Yes I know. I am well aware of the common objections, knee-jerk reactions, and visceral emotions that emerge whenever the controversial topic of Torah is broached among brothers. I know because I once felt the very same way. I will address all of these unfortunate assumptions in due time. For now, however, I would like to start by providing a Biblical definition of Torah.

The Hebrew word torah — תּוֹרָה — is used about 200 times in Scripture and simply means “law or laws.” Over time, the Torah primarily became identified with the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), yet sometimes it generally can refer to God’s word as a whole. At its heart, however, Torah represents one thing — the heart of God for His people.

Torah is God’s eternal value system that He revealed as a blessing to His people. Torah simply is the way to live according to God.

Many times in Scripture, God provides a litany of words that represent the comprehensive nature of His Torah. These often include His instructions, His ways, His laws, His commandments, His statutes, His principles, His ordinances etc…

Consider the following passage from Deuteronomy 30 as a prime example [emphasis mine].

And you will again obey the voice of the LORD and follow all His commandments I am giving you today. 9So the LORD your God will make you abound in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the offspring of your livestock, and the produce of your land. Indeed, the LORD will again delight in your goodness, as He delighted in that of your fathers, 10if you obey the LORD your God by keeping His commandments and statutes that are written in this Book of the Law and if you turn to Him with all your heart and with all your soul. 11For this commandment I give you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12It is not in heaven, that you should need to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it for us and proclaim it, that we may obey it?’ 13And it is not beyond the sea, that you should need to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us and proclaim it, that we may obey it?’ 14But the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you may obey it. 15See, I have set before you today life and goodness, as well as death and disaster. 16For I am commanding you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, statutes, and ordinances, so that you may live and increase, and the LORD your God may bless you in the land that you are entering to possess.

[Deuteronomy 30:8-16]

Notice all the ways God describes His Torah.

  • God’s voice
  • God’s commandments
  • God’s statutes
  • God’s laws
  • God’s word
  • God’s life
  • God’s goodness
  • God’s ways
  • God’s ordinances
  • God’s blessing

The Bible speaks of Torah as eternal (Psalm 119:89), as perfect (Psalm 19:7), as light (Proverbs 6:23, Psalm 119:105), as joy (Psalm 19:8), as holy and righteousness (Romans 7:12) — even as the way, the truth, and the life (Psalm 19:19, Proverbs 13:14).

So if we are willing to start with God’s word and His very own definition of Torah, we logically must come to one conclusion alone.

The law of God is good. The law of God is perfect. The law is true. The law is eternal. God does not change nor does His word!

So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

[Apostle Paul — Romans 7:12]

But Hasn’t God’s Law Been Abolished?

The Torah has been there all along, on virtually every page of my Bible from beginning to end, and yet for most of my Christian life I dismissed it — even shunned it — and read right over it because I had been taught by men that the laws and instructions of God did not apply to me anymore.

I had been taught that the law was nailed to the cross, done away with, abolished by Jesus and was no longer of any use or purpose to Christian living. I even was told that the law was bad and to make any attempt to obey God’s law was at best legalism and at worst a false gospel potentially resulting in my eternal damnation.

I had been taught that the law was a burden, and certainly not a blessing. I had come to believe that the law was only for the Jews under the Old Covenant, but now I was set free from the heavy yoke of the law by Christ.

But then again, there were those 10 Commandments? At least some of them still apply right? And the Levitical laws about sexual immorality. Those seemed to still be in play for Christians. And what about Jesus and the Apostles? They clearly lived Torah-observant lives, and aren’t we told to follow their example?

It just seems like either God’s testimony is unclear and confusing and even misleading, or at the least Christians are very confused and don’t understand God’s word.

So my question is … which is it? It cannot be both. If God never changes and His word never changes, then what do we make of this apparent tragic contradiction in Scripture. Either God’s word is wrong, or our understanding of God’s word is wrong, and I think we all know the answer to that.

Either the law is good or it is bad.

Either the law is true or it is false.

Either the law is a blessing or a burden.

Either the law is light or darkness.

Either the law is freedom or bondage.

Either the law is perfect or defective.

Either the law is life or death.

As you can see, we have some serious sorting out to do, and that is precisely what I aim to do in this series. I will address the primary objections and common misunderstandings surrounding this controversial subject, and I hope to help you begin to see and discover the very same treasure that I have found in God’s word.