Law (Torah) and the Believer

Published September 10th, 2014 by Dirk Waren

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“Law is Made Not for the Righteous”

Many believers may find this surprising, but the Old Testament law – the Torah – was not made for the righteous. Note what the Bible says in this regard:

We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. (9) We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers of mothers, for murderers, (10) for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers – and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine (11) that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God,

1 Timothy 1:8-11

This passage starts off by declaring that the law is good, but only if it is used properly. This means that the law is intrinsically “holy, righteous and good,” as Paul pointed out in Romans 7:12, but it is only good for people if it is used properly. In other words, in and of itself the law is good, but it is only good for people when it is used appropriately. The remaining verses reveal what this means: For one thing, the Old Testament law is not made for the righteous, meaning believers who are made righteous in Christ through spiritual rebirth:

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus never sinned, but he became sin for us on the cross so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ‘Become’ in the Greek is a form of ginomai (JIN oh may), which means “to come into being, to be born.” Whether you know it or not, when you turned to the LORD in repentance and faith you were spiritually reborn and, consequently, your spirit was born the righteousness of God. This explains why we are instructed to put off the flesh and put on the new man – meaning live out of our reborn spirit – because it was “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). Let’s look at this incredible passage:

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Ephesians 4:22-24

When we put off the flesh, change our thinking, and learn to live out of our new righteous and holy nature with the help of the Holy Spirit we’ll be spirit-controlled rather than flesh-ruled. We’ll naturally bear forth fruit of the spirit rather than works of the flesh. This is the key to living according to the Old Testament moral law, not putting the Law in front of us and trying to force our flesh to comply, which is being “under the law.” Notice that God’s Word explicitly says believers are not under the law:

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Galatians 5:18

For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

Romans 6:14

we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

Romans 7:6

Putting yourself under the Law to attain righteousness does not work; in fact, it will actually increase the sin problem, even if it increases a sin other than the one you’re trying not to commit, like arrogance, hatred and abuse. Why do you think Paul said, “The law was added so that the trespass might increase” (Romans 5:20)? He said it because this is the reason the Law was given to humanity – to increase the sin problem and drive us to the Savior in whom we can have spiritual regeneration. Once we’re reborn in this way all we have to do is learn to put off the flesh daily (or, as Jesus put it, “deny yourself”) and live out of our spirits empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit. This is the answer to the sin problem, not putting a list of hundreds of laws in front of us and trying to force our carnal nature to conform while being spiritually dead to God. Again, this doesn’t work and never will because the flesh is the sinful nature. It’s utterly futile to try to make it produce righteousness! The entire Old Testament is testimony to this.

Secondly, the passage goes on to stress that the moral Law was made “for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious” (verse 9). Paul then provides a list of various sinful lifestyles, like fornicators, sodomites and liars. God’s moral Law was “made for” such people in that it reveals to them that they’re in sin, which can lead them to the Savior, the gospel, spiritual regeneration and the attainment of righteousness in Christ. At which point they won’t need the Law anymore; they’ll just need to learn how to put off the “old man” and put on the “new man” because – when they do this – they’ll walk in “true righteousness and holiness.” Obviously if someone’s walking in “true righteousness” they have no need for the Law (Torah). This, by the way, explains a mysterious statement Paul made after listing the fruits of the spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

When believers learn how to live out of their new nature as led of the Holy Spirit they’ll be spirit-controlled rather than flesh-ruled and naturally produce the fruit of the spirit, which are the fruits of God’s very nature! Such people need no external law to produce these godly attitudes and behaviors! This is why the Bible says that the law is not for the righteous, but the unrighteous. The righteous have no need of the Law. Why? Because they’re already producing the fruits of righteousness through living out of their spirit by the Holy Spirit. They’re spirit-controlled, not flesh-ruled. It’s the unrighteous who need the law. This would include believers who may stumble into sin. Say if believers are living in adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lying or strife. We can show them through God’s moral Law that they are in sin and need to repent. This is using the Law lawfully or properly. Once they humbly repent God forgives them and they are cleansed from “all unrighteousness.” At which point they’ll no longer need the Law because they’re righteous, as this passage clearly shows:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:8-9

As long as believers “keep in repentance” in this manner, as John the Baptist put it (Luke 3:8), they walk in the grace of God’s forgiveness and are righteous in Christ because God purifies them “from all unrighteousness” when they humbly confess. If the LORD cleanses repentant believers of all unrighteousness, what’s that make them? Completely righteous. As such, they have no need of the Law because the Law was made for the unrighteous, not the righteous.

Reflect on these things.

Why Do Legalists Prefer the Law?

Legalists by definition prefer to focus on the Old Testament Law and religious laws in general at the expense of living by the spirit. That’s why they’re called legal-ists. As shown in the New Testament, the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law were staunch legalists. This spiritual disease has been a huge problem throughout Church history and up to today. This was the problem Paul was having with the Galatian assemblies circa 50 AD, a mere two decades after Christ’s death and resurrection. Jewish legalists infiltrated these Gentile fellowships and put them into bondage to various Mosaic laws and other religious laws, like circumcision, strict Sabbath observation, special fasts initiated by the Jews during the Babylonian captivity, the seven Jewish feasts and the seven seven-year periods that culminated with the fiftieth year, the year of Jubilee (Galatians 4:10).

This understandably upset Paul, a former Pharisee, especially since he founded all or most of the churches to which he was writing. Notice what he asks the Galatian believers in exasperation:

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. (2) I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by what you heard? (3) Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

Galatians 3:1-3

This perplexed and grieved Paul so he felt it necessary to explain to the Galatians the actual purpose of the law, concluding with this thought:

So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

Galatians 3:24-25

Since believers are justified in God’s sight by faith we are no longer under the supervision of the Law. ‘Supervision’ is translated as “schoolmaster” in the King James Version. The original Greek word refers to a household servant or slave whose job was to tutor and overseer male children until they came of age whereupon the sons took on the responsibilities and freedoms of adulthood. Are you getting this? Believers are no longer under the supervision of the Mosaic Law; since we are spiritually regenerated and have the Holy Spirit we are liberated to function in the responsibilities and freedoms of spiritual adulthood, keeping in mind that the Bible shows three stages of Christian growth — “children,” “young men” or young women and “fathers” & mothers (see the teaching Spiritual Development — The Four Stages for details).

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If this is so, why on earth would believers go back to a system of do’s and don’ts, like the Galatians did? Why would spiritually regenerated believers submit themselves to a former slave — the supervision of the Law — and have “him” oversee them? It’s both foolish and absurd, not to mention a denial of the believer’s rights as sons and daughters of the Most High!

So why do some do it? Why revert to a system of rules and regulations that can only give the outward appearance of godliness and not the real deal? One obvious reason is laziness. In some perverted sense it’s easier to submit to a system of laws than to think for oneself. You’ll see this mentality in Christians who wholly submit their lives to authoritarian churches that tell them precisely what to do and believe. As such, they don’t have to think for themselves; they just follow the authoritarians and their commands or rules.

Other reasons are insecurity and fear. Some believers are so insecure that they need someone to tell them what to do and believe. They’re simply not secure in who they are in Christ and, consequently, they’re weak. They’re afraid of the responsibilities and freedoms that come with spiritual adulthood and therefore never really grow up. It’s akin to the security of working for a company all your life rather than deal with the uncertainties of striking out on your own. Although the latter would provide a sense of adventure, freedom and change, the former provides much security and comfort. Why risk the unknown? For these same reason millions of believers languish in dead fellowships.

Preferring the security of being an employee rather than being your own master is perfectly okay for the labor market, if that’s what a person prefers for whatever reason, but it’s unhealthy in the realm of the spirit. There are plenty of legalists, libertines and authoritarians out there who are more than willing to take advantage of believers who refuse to take the reins of spiritual growth and maturity.

Since legalists refuse to foster an actual relationship with the LORD they have no choice but to divert to rules and regulations. This isn’t to say they won’t go through the motions of having a relationship, but this is chiefly for appearances sake. In some cases they may actually pray in their private time, but it’s very rehearsed, one-sided and lifeless, like talking to a wall. They likely do this to convince themselves that they actually have a relationship with God. If your prayer time is dry, one-dimensional and boring, take note. Legalism is creeping in.

Lastly, in addition to lacking an actual relationship with the Lord, legalistic leaders prefer religious rules so they can dominate others and foster a dependent following of sheeple. Such dependency naturally feeds the leader’s egos.

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Legalists Focus on Rules above Relationship, Including Extra-Biblical Rules

The gospel is referred to as the “message of reconciliation” in Scripture (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). Why? Because it is through the good news of the gospel that people are reconciled with their Creator. ‘Reconciliation’ means “to turn from enmity to friendship” and this is the core of the Christian message: We can have an actual relationship with God through spiritual regeneration via the imperishable seed of the enduring Word of God, Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:23 & 1 John 3:9). I should add that ‘seed’ in the Greek is “sperm” (in the latter verse) – we’ve been born-again of the imperishable sperm of Christ, the Living Word of God.

Since legalism is the definition of hypocrisy – putting on an act – legalists can’t stress relationship; consequently, they divert to religious rules, whether the Mosaic Law or rules they make up. Why do they dream up new rules or laws? Because they’re obsessed with them, that’s legal-ism.

Notice what Jesus said about the legalists of the first century:

“ ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. (7) They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ (8) You have let go of the command of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”

(13) “Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down.”

Mark 7:6-8 & 13

What we see here is a tendency of legalists to dream up rules that go beyond Scripture. The Bible is full of moral commands, which can be condensed into the two greatest commands, loving God and loving people as yourself (Matthew 22:34-40). These two commands are referred to as one command by the apostle John (1 John 3:21-23). This one command is the “law of Christ,” which is the law of love or “royal law” — the only law by which New Covenant believers are to live (you can read more about it here). But this isn’t good enough for legalists; they have to add more rules. Paul commented on this fleshly practice when he wrote to the Colossians:

Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: (21) “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? (22) These are destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. (23) Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Colossians 2:20-23

Notice Paul is denouncing human commands and teachings, not the New Covenant law of love, the law of Christ. Such rules only have an appearance of wisdom and have no real power to restrain carnality (verse 23). Only spiritual rebirth, putting off the old self and putting on the new self, provides the power to walk in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24) .

Also observe in verse 21 how Paul literally mocks the goofy rules that legalists dream up: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” He’s making fun of their stupid rules! Notice that one of the rules he mocks is “Do not taste!”

Legalists do the same thing today as they did in the 1st century. Here are ten modern examples:

  • “Don’t drink caffeinated beverages”
  • “Don’t drink alcoholic beverages”
  • “Don’t eat pork or meat?”
  • “King James only!”
  • “You’re only welcome at our church services if adorned in dress clothes” otherwise known as “Suit and tie only!”
  • “You can celebrate this and that holiday but not this or that holiday”
  • “You must not view an R-rated movie” 
  • “You can’t play competitive games, like football, including board games, like chess”
  • “Marital couples can only have sex in the missionary position; all other sexual expressions are forbidden”
  • “You must witness door-to-door or you’re not a true believer”

Eye-rolling rules like these bring to mind Jesus’ potent observation about legalists: “They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men” (Mark 7:7). If you’d like to read my commentaries on each of these ten extrabiblical rules go to this article and scroll down to the section titled Legalists Focus on Rules above Relationship.

What about Old Testament Laws Like Sabbath-Keeping, the Jewish Feasts and Dietary Laws?

The New Testament believer is free of the ceremonial and dietary laws of the Old Covenant and are only obligated to fulfill the moral law, which they do by walking in the spirit — i.e. “participating in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4) — and not by putting themselves under the law, as detailed above. That believers are required to fulfill the moral law but not the ceremonial & dietary laws can be observed by the fact that Old Testament moral laws are cited in the New Testament (e.g. Luke 4:8 & Acts 23:5), but never the ceremonial or dietary laws, including Sabbath-keeping. As a matter of fact, notice what the Word of God blatantly says on the matter:

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

Colossians 2:13-17

Christ came to fulfill the righteous requirements of the Law on our behalf (Matthew 5:17) and, in fact, he is the “culmination of the law” — the “end of the law” – “so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4). As detailed above, “everyone who believes” attains righteousness through spiritual rebirth (2 Corinthians 5:21) and learning to live out of his or her spirit with the help of the Holy Spirit. The reason this works is because the believer’s born-again spirit is the “new self,” which is “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). As such, learning to put off the flesh — the sin nature — and put on the new self — our godly nature — is the key to fulfilling the moral Law. Those who are led of the Spirit in this manner “are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18).

I know I’m repeating myself a little here, but this material is mandatory for believers to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). Master this material and you will walk free of the flesh and legal-ism; you’ll soar in the spirit!

Notice again what God’s Word says:

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

Colossians 2:16-17

The passage is addressing the dietary and ceremonial laws of the Old Testament: “what you eat or drink” refers to dietary laws and the others refer to ceremonial laws. We are not to allow legalists to judge us negatively by these things.  In fact, all of them — dietary laws, the Jewish festivals, the New Moon celebration and the Sabbath day — are a mere shadow of what was to come, meaning Jesus Christ, the Anointed One. “The reality is found in Christ” and if you’re a believer YOU are “in Christ.” Are you following? Everything in the Law and Prophets from Genesis to Malachi were types and shadows of the true reality, which is Christ and the spiritual rebirth that comes through his seed (sperm) and the power of the Holy Spirit. More than 600 laws were given to the Hebrews in the Old Testament and Jesus fulfilled every one of them; he completed or stopped every one of them, including the Sabbath.

All Foods are Declared Clean in the New Testament

It always surprises me — even shocks me — when I come across believers who staunchly advocate that Christians should obey the Old Testament dietary laws. Why? Because it’s so absolutely clear in the Bible that believers are liberated from these laws in the New Testament era, the age of grace. Let’s start with what Jesus himself clearly taught on the issue:

“Are you so dull? Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)”

Mark 7:18-19

As you can see, no food that enters a person from the outside can defile them! (Please notice that Jesus was talking about legitimate food here). The passage goes on to matter-of-factly state that “Jesus declared all foods clean.” If language means anything we have to conclude that Jesus, in fact, declared all foods clean.

Is this backed-up by the rest of the New Testament? Absolutely. Let’s start with Peter’s vision of a sheet of unclean animals let down from heaven and a voice saying, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

Acts 10:14-16 & 11:8-10

As you can see, this passage appears twice in the New Testament verbatim and corresponds to what Jesus said above. Why does it appear twice verbatim? Because the LORD is trying to get something across to us and wants to make sure that we get it.

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Now legalists will argue that the purpose of the vision had nothing to do with food and everything to do with God granting salvation to those considered unclean by Jews, the Gentiles, as shown in Acts 11:18. Actually, the vision applies to food literally and to the Gentiles figuratively. Why else would the Lord give Peter a vision of unclean animals and proceed to declare them clean three times and then have the account repeated verbatim twice in the book of Acts? If the Lord was only talking about Gentiles being declared clean in Christ then why use the vision of unclean animals at all? Why not just have a sheet of Gentile people appear to Peter to which the Lords says, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean”? Obviously because the vision applies to both, especially when you consider what Jesus already said about all foods being declared clean (Mark 7:19) and what Paul’s epistles consistently teach about the believer’s dietary intake.

Let’s look at those particular passages:

I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.

Romans 14:14-15

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Romans 14:17

Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.

Romans 14:20

But food does not bring us near to God;we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

1 Corinthians 8:8

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink

Colossians 2:16

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

1 Timothy 4:1-5

These passages couldn’t be anymore clear that all foods are declared clean in the New Testament period and that the kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking because, as Paul says, “food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.” In other words, whether a believer chooses to have shrimp for supper or some bacon for breakfast doesn’t mean anything in the kingdom of God, as long as we’re not gluttons — that is, make an idol of food — and we do all things in moderation (1 Corinthians 6:12 & 10:23).

Notice how the last passage shows that false teachers will rise up and follow deceiving spirits and one of their false doctrines will be instructing people to “abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving for those who believe… For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” If words mean anything at all we have no recourse but to conclude that all foods are declared clean for the believer! Be on your guard against groups who insist on obedience to Old Testament dietary laws and abstaining from certain foods. You can be sure that such people are following deceiving spirits who want to get believers back under the Law where there’s no life. “For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). The false teachers of the Hebrew Roots movement, Seventh Day Adventists and followers of Herbert W. Armstrong are prime modern examples. Leave them, they are blind guides. These are the very instructions of Christ (Matthew 15:14).

Understanding the Sabbath

 There are some misconceptions about the Sabbath, so let’s read God’s specific instructions to the Israelites on this issue:

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

Exodus 20:8-11

The root word for Sabbath is shabath (shaw-BATH), which means to “cease” or “desist from labor.” The Sabbath was a day of rest from one’s labor, that’s it. Although it’s presumed that a person celebrating the Sabbath will naturally worship the LORD there’s nothing in this particular passage that says people have to meet on that day to worship together, although Leviticus 23:3 throws in this additional element where “sacred assembly” refers to the community being summoned together for common worship and celebration. Yet meeting with other people and worshipping together is not the essence of the command, but rather resting from one’s labors, which presupposes celebration and communion with the LORD. When you have a break or vacation from your job, what do you automatically do? Celebrate in one way or another, right? It’s the same principle.

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The LORD commanded the Israelites to observe the Sabbath for the generations to come as a sign of the long-lasting covenant between God and them (Exodus 31:16-17). It was meant to be a blessing to the Israelites — a day to rest and refresh with the Fountain of Life (Psalm 36:9) — but by the time of Christ sourpuss legalists had largely turned it into a burden. These religionists got so technical about defining what “work” was and wasn’t that they came up with myriad rules, like the “Sabbath Day’s journey,” which was less than half-a-mile, the distance Israelites were allowed to travel on the Sabbath without violating it (Acts 1:12).

The Pharisees are the quintessential example of legalism in the Bible and they objected to Jesus’ mere intention of healing a man’s deformed hand on the Sabbath, as shown here:

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

Mark 3:1-6

The Pharisees were so ridiculously detailed and rigid with their rules concerning  “working” on the Sabbath that they objected to Jesus doing any type of healing “work” on that day. Christ was so disgusted by their stubbornness that he shot them all a glance of anger, as shown in verse 5. This was righteous anger, of course, but anger nevertheless. He then proceeded to heal the man despite their legalistic objections. This was a wordless reprimand to the legalists and they were so offended that they decided to murder him!

Can you imagine people being so blinded by legalistic zeal that they object to an incredible healing? Make no mistake, this is what the poison of legalism does when people are seriously infected. Those who are not contaminated, by contrast, are ever ready to praise God when people are miraculously healed and set free. Take, for instance, the occasion when blind Bartimaeus received his sight through faith and he immediately glorified God. The passage goes on to say, “And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God” (Luke 18:43 NKJV). This is how normal people react to incredible healings and life-changing miracles. Not so with legalists. They’re so corrupted by rule-ism they can’t see the forest for the trees!

On another occasion Jesus and his disciples were walking through the fields on the Sabbath and picked some heads of grain to quell their hunger. Since it was the Sabbath the Pharisees argued that the disciples were guilty of working because they plucked the grain and rubbed it in their hands before eating. To their legalistic way of thinking this was equal to reaping and threshing. God’s law did forbid working on the Sabbath but it was intended to be a blessing, not a burden. The Sabbath was supposed to be a welcomed rest and celebration of God after a 6-day work week, not a joyless ritual observing man-made technicalities. Jesus’ simple-yet-brilliant response says it all:

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

Mark 2:27

NOTE: You can compare the three accounts of this occasion as shown in Matthew 12:1-8, Mark 2:23-28 and Luke 6:1-5.

God’s Commands are NOT Burdensome

God is always interested in blessing people by setting them free while religionists are intent on burdening others and putting them into spiritual bondage. Notice what Jesus said of the Teachers of the Law and the Pharisees: “They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them” (Matthew 23:4). By contrast, the Bible says:

This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

1 John 5:3-4

All of God’s moral laws in the Old Testament can be condensed into two basic commands with three applications: Love God and love people as you love yourself. That’s it. And these commands are not burdensome because believers are born of God and have the spiritual nature to fulfill them with joy. The only believers who can’t do this are those who fail to put off the flesh and are therefore flesh-ruled. As such, the “law of sin and death” is at work in their lives and this is no fun because sin’s reward is death. But those who walk in the Spirit are spirit-controlled and therefore the “law of the Spirit of life” is in motion, which is a higher law than the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

Did you ever marvel at how huge aircrafts are able to defy the law of gravity and soar above the landscape? How do they do this? It’s simple: They activate a higher law, the law of lift and propulsion, which neutralizes the law of gravity. As long as the higher law is in motion the lower law is rendered powerless. Just as the physical law of lift and propulsion enables people to conquer gravity and fly, so the law of the Spirit of life deactivates the law of sin and death when it is in motion. This is “walking in the spirit” or “participating in the divine nature.” Such a law is not burdensome, but man-made religion is. See the video How to Walk FREE of the Flesh for details.

Observe what Jesus said about God’s commands not being burdensome in the kingdom of God:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Yes, there is a yoke and burden to serving the Lord, but unlike the yoke of the flesh or the burden of religion Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden is light. How so? Because that’s the nature of the law of love, and love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:8-10).

The Sabbath and the Believer’s Freedom

Getting back to the issue of the Sabbath, someone might argue, “If loving God is to obey God’s commands according to 1 John 5:3, then we should love God by obeying his Sabbath command.” The Ten Commandments were just ten of over 600 Old Testament laws and a lot of important moral commands are missing from these ten commandments, like do not fornicate, do not commit homosexuality, do not attempt to contact the dead, do not be a drunkard, do not engage in witchcraft, and so on. God’s instruction to rest on the seventh day wasn’t a moral command, but rather a ceremonial one, and — again — believer’s are not required to follow the ceremonial & dietary laws of the Old Testament. Let’s revisit a statement Paul made:

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

Colossians 2:16-17 

The Sabbath was a shadow of what was to come — Jesus Christ! The dietary laws, feast days and holy days that God commanded in the Old Testament – including the Sabbath — pictured the person and work of the coming Messiah. Jesus carried out all these types through his ministry. Thus the need to observe them has ceased.

For the believer there is freedom on the issue, notice:

One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord.

Romans 14:5-6

Paul goes on to say: “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister” (Romans 14:13) and earlier he said, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall” (Romans 14:4). As you can see, believers have freedom on the issue, but some are more conscious of their freedom than others and, as such, we need to be sensitive and respectful so as not to harm our brother and sister in the Lord.

In the early days of the Church believers were predominantly Jewish. Antioch was nearly 500 miles north of Jerusalem (in what is now Turkey) and was the location of the first non-Jewish church, which included some Hebrew believers; there were more Gentile fellowships in Syria and Cilicia. The Jerusalem church faced a dilemma, what aspects of the Mosaic Law would the Jewish believers impose on the Gentile believers? Notice what they decided:

“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.”

Acts 15:19-20 

Notice that there was no instruction for the Gentiles to keep the Sabbath or follow the Jewish festivals or celebrate the New Moon, nor to follow the Old Testament dietary laws. These Messianic Jewish leaders decided it wasn’t right to impose Old Testament ceremonial & dietary laws on Gentile believers. It should be emphasized that this four-item list had nothing to do with God’s grace of salvation, which the council had already settled came through faith alone (Acts 15:6-11). However, the list had everything to do with how the Gentile believers could live and worship with Jewish believers who were particularly offended by these four types of behaviors and, as such, were intended to maintain peace and unity in the Gentile churches. Because the Greek and Roman world was filled with pagan religions the council’s instructions were focused on helping the Gentile believers to break from their pagan past and ease the consciences of sensitive Hebrew believers in their midst. Hence, the instructions were about the Gentiles cutting themselves off from anything related to pagan worship. They were therefore encouraged not to eat food sacrificed to idols or to participate in pagan festivals, which were marked by all-around sensual revelry, including sexual immorality. Antioch was located in a pagan nation where sexual immorality was rampant.

Several years after this occasion Paul declared eating meat sacrificed to idols acceptable for believers with strong consciences — i.e. mature believers — but he stressed that such believers should remain sensitive to their brothers and sisters with weak consciences who felt eating such meat was intrinsically wrong (1 Corinthians 8). This instruction revealed both the believer’s freedom and responsibility. Believers have the liberty to eat such meat but they were also responsible to make sure that the practice of their freedom didn’t harm someone with a weak conscience. This is true today with many issues, like drinking alcohol (which is different than being a drunkard) or watching movies. Paul stressed, “Be careful… that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Corinthians 8:9).

The point is that the Jerusalem council did not require Gentile churches to keep the Sabbath.

So when did early Christians meet and worship together? Read what the Bible says:

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. 

Acts 2:46-47  

They met together every day at the temple courts and in their homes. If there was a day that Christians met regularly it was the first day of the week, which is our Sunday and called “the Lord’s day” by early believers (Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2 & Revelation 1:10). This was in honor of Christ’s resurrection on Sunday and should not be viewed as a “Christian Sabbath” but simply as a day to especially worship Jesus Christ. Notice what the Bible instructs about New Testament believers meeting together:

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25

Notice that nothing is said about meeting and worshipping on a certain day. Why? Because it’s not important. What was important was that they met together. True worship is a lifestyle and a heart attitude; Jesus said we must worship “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). As such, we should practice the presence of Christ 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Not only is there no correct day to worship the Lord, we should worship every day!

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Again, Sabbath means “rest” or to “cease from labor.” In the New Testament age of grace we are to cease from working for righteousness. Jesus said that we are to come to him because he is our rest, our Sabbath (Matthew 11:28-30). Through Christ we are born righteous in our spirits and, as such, we are already righteous and in-right-standing with God. Of course genuine faith produces works (James 2:14-16), but these works are a result of being righteous and not an attempt to become righteous. Are you following?

The Church is to Rest in Christ’s Already Accomplished Work of Salvation

Why did New Testament believers — the church, the “called-out ones” — gather on the first day of the week as shown in Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2? Because the body of Christ is a new creation, and it’s very existence was birthed via resting in Christ’s already accomplished work of salvation:

for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.

Hebrews 4:10

New Covenant believers cease performing our own works and the works of the Law, including the ten commandments. Instead of working toward victory we work from Christ’s already accomplished victory. Let’s revisit a key passage with the addition of the preceding two verses:

14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

16Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

Colossians 2:14-17

“A shadow” means a foreshadow, testifying to the reality to come (Hebrews 10:1). The real thing, however, is not the shadow. Notice what verse 18 goes on to say:

Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind.

Colossians 2:18

Those who walk in the shadow of things to come rather than the reality of Christ have an “unspiritual mind,” which means fleshly. This includes strict Sabbath-keepers. They’re still trying to serve God from the perspective of the flesh no matter what staunch religious airs they put on.

The Physical Principle of the Sabbath

Although the Sabbath was a shadow that was fulfilled in Christ, the purely physical principle of the Sabbath — a day to cease from labor — remains true and applicable, but the believer has the freedom to pick that day or time slot. What  I mean is that God set the example of working six days and resting one full day — completely taking a break from work, both mentally and naturally. This principle is necessary and healthy and is a wise principle by which to live. For example, I’m one of those people Paul spoke of who “considers every day alike” (Romans 14:5) and am not moved by national or religious holidays, which doesn’t mean I won’t celebrate them to some degree. But, whether I do or not, I’m free because believers in Christ are FREE (Galatians 5:1). It’s the believer’s choice, as led of the Holy Spirit. In regards to the Sabbath — a day to cease from physical and mental toil — I celebrate Sabbaths as the need arises, as led of the Holy Spirit. For instance, just the other day I had finished a string of days of voluminous ministry work and I suddenly realized I was tired and needed a break. So I took a day off where I rested and didn’t think of ministry work — or any other type of work — at all. Once refreshed, I was inspired and psyched to finish the current project and tackle the next.

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Are there examples of this in the New Testament? Yes. When Jesus sent out the twelve disciples to minister from village to village in Israel they drove out demons, cured diseases, preached the truths of God’s kingdom and healed the sick. When they returned and gave a good report of their activities they all “withdrew by themselves” to the town of Bethsaida (Luke 9:10). Why is this significant? Because Jesus recognized the need for ministers to retreat for rest and refreshing after significant ministry endeavors, which naturally protects ministers from burnout.

This, of course applies to any type of work and not just ministry. It’s the principle of the Sabbath — to rest from one’s work and refresh. And this doesn’t have to be a full day either; you can (and should) have mini-Sabbaths every day. As Solomon said, there’s “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Even work can become an idol — and unhealthy — if it’s done without moderation.

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Additional Proof Believers are Not Under the Law

Notice this powerful statement made by Paul:

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.

Galatians 5:1

The “yoke of slavery” Paul was referring to is the yoke of religious law — both the Torah and various laws that were added. In this particular case, a group of legalistic teachers called the Judaizers infiltrated the Gentile churches of Galatia and taught that the requirements of Jewish religion were necessary for salvation and spirituality, which included physical circumcision, traditional fasts and observing various holy-days. Circumcision was an issue as confirmed by Galatians 2:3 and 5:2-3, while the others Paul cited when he said:

 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!

Galatians 4:10

“Days” refers to strict Sabbath-keeping, “months” to the fast initiated by the Jews during their Babylonian captivity, “seasons” to the seven Jewish feasts – Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonements, and Tabernacles – and “years” to the seven 7-year periods that culminated in the fiftieth year, the year of Jubilee. The Judaizers argued that observing these were necessary for salvation and spirituality, which Paul blatantly called a “different gospel,” a perversion of the true gospel (Galatians 1:6).

The true gospel is that salvation comes simply by God’s graciousness through faith, “not by works so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:9). True faith will produce good works (James 2:14-24) because “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10). This occurs naturally as the believer learns to put off the old self — the flesh — and put on the new self — the spirit (Ephesians 4:22-24). This is why it’s so important for believers to know who they are in Christ. Those who aren’t bearing fruit and doing good works aren’t necessarily counterfeits. More likely they have an identity problem – they simply don’t know who they are (if you’re having this problem check out this video How God Sees YOU). Counterfeits can be identified by a consistent unrepentant spirit; in other words, they stubbornly continue to walk in the flesh with no care of repentance, even after being exposed to these powerful life-changing truths (Matthew 7:15-23).

Paul knew how to recognize legalists because he used to be one. Notice how he refers to legalists in this passage:

Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh.

Philippians 3:2-3 (NRSV)

Paul was warning the Philippian believers of legalists who taught that non-Jews had to be physically circumcised in order to be truly saved; they were obsessed with it. Notice that Paul doesn’t mince words here. He blatantly calls these legalists “dogs” and “evil workers”!

Calling someone a “dog” was even more offensive in biblical times than it is today. The term referred to people of low moral character. For instance, “dogs” is a used in the Bible in reference to homosexual prostitutes (Deuteronomy 23:18), wicked betrayers (Psalm 59:5-6), corrupt leaders (Isaiah 56:10), heathen people (Matthew 15:26-27) and staunch legalists in this particular passage. And how would you like to be called an “evil worker”? That’s pretty harsh, don’t you agree? This is recorded in God’s Word to show that legalism is utter wickedness in the LORD’s eyes. It cannot be tolerated; it must be confronted, exposed and rebuked; and genuine believers should be warned for their protection.

Getting back to the Judaizers who were trying to corrupt the churches in Galatia with a “different gospel,” a gospel mixed with Jewish law, Paul called the Galatian believers “bewitched” for tolerating the Judaizers and allowing them to corrupt their churches (Galatians 3:1). The name ‘Judaizers,’ by the way, comes from Galatians 2:14 where Paul publicly corrected Peter for forcing Gentile believers “to follow Jewish customs.” The phrase “to follow Jewish customs” is one word in the Koine Greek ioudaizó (ee-oo-dah-ID-zoh), which means “to Judaize,” that is, “to live like a Jew.” So a ‘Judaizer’ is someone who tries to get people to live like a Jew under the Law, like the false teachers of the modern Hebrew Roots movement.

Notice what Paul blatantly says about these legalists, the Judaizers:

If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

Galatians 1:9

Paul adamantly says that anyone who preached this different gospel should  “be eternally condemned!” You know what this means in plain English? “Let him go to hell!” Yes, as unbelievable as it may seem, Paul, the greatest figure of Christianity after Jesus Christ, emphatically declared that those who unrepentantly preached a different gospel — a “gospel” that soiled the body of Christ with legalism — should go to hell!

Needless to say, legalism is a grievous sin in God’s eyes and cannot be tolerated, whether in myself, yourself or others. It must be recognized, corrected and purged ASAP.

This “different gospel” (Galatians 1:6) included the practice of circumcision, the cutting off of the male foreskin, which was commanded in the Torah:

On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised.

Leviticus 12:3

Physical circumcision is unnecessary in the New Covenant because believers are circumcised inwardly through spiritual regeneration (Romans 2:29 & Titus 3:5). Notice what Paul told the Galatian believers about circumcision:

Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Galatians 5:1-6

Paul blatantly warns the Galatians that, if they allowed themselves to be circumcised, Christ will be of no use to them at all! He equates any attempt to be justified by the law — including the practice of circumcision — to being “alienated from Christ” and “fallen away from grace.” Lastly, he points out in verse 6 that whether someone’s physically circumcised or not holds no value for those “in Christ Jesus,” New Covenant meaning believers. Numerous other New Testament passages teach against the practice of circumcision, including Acts 15, 1 Corinthians 7:17-20, Galatians 2:1-3, Galatians 6:11-16, Colossians 2:8-12 and Philippians 3:1-3.

This is a crushing blow to the arguments of legalists who try to add one element or another of the Torah (and other Jewish religious laws) to faith in Christ. How so? Because circumcision was clearly part of the Torah — Old Testament Law — and the New Testament plainly says that it is not applicable to New Testament believers, just like Sabbath-keeping, observing the feast days and dietary laws. I stress again: these things were but a shadow of what was to come, the reality is found in Christ (Colossians 2:16 & Hebrews 10:1).

Legalists Want to Put You into Bondage

The Judaizers who infiltrated the Galatian churches were legalists and legalists are characterized by a spirit of bondage that makes them obsessed with the yoke of religious law. A “yoke” is a device for joining together a pair of draft animals so they can be worked as a team, typically oxen. The beasts are shackled together for the purpose of work. That’s what the yoke of religious law does to people; it shackles them together to perform religious works. It’s religious bondage, which is the antithesis of the spirit of freedom and, as such, saps joy.

You won’t see a lot of joy in those entrenched in religious bondage. The Judaizers were such people and they started to sap the Galatians’ joy, which is why Paul asked them, “What happened to all your joy?” (Galatians 4:15).

Those who have a spirit of bondage can’t set others free because they themselves don’t have freedom. People can only give what they’ve got. Those who have a spirit of bondage can only give bondage. In fact, it’s their primary objective — to make people slaves to religious rules. It’s their goal. Here’s an example:

…some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment,

Galatians 2:4-5

Paul is talking about his second trip to Jerusalem here where he shared his calling with the leaders of the Jerusalem church. His calling was to minister to the Gentiles. That’s when some dyed-in-the-wool legalists infiltrated Paul’s group to spy on them. We know they were hardcore legalists because Paul plainly calls them “false brothers.” In other words, these weren’t genuine believers who were stumbling into a system of rules and regulations, like the Galatians, but rather full-tilt legalists similar to the Pharisees with whom Jesus dealt. They weren’t spiritual brothers at all. And notice what their goal was: to make those who were walking in the freedom of Christ slaves. Make no mistake, legalists hate freedom; it goes against everything they are. Legalists are people in bondage to rules, which is why it’s called legal-ism, meaning law-ism or rule-ism.

Paul stresses in verse 5 that he and his team didn’t give in to the legalists for a moment. You can’t parley with people infected by this spiritual disease. If you give them an inch they’ll take the proverbial mile. Resist their legalism, pray for them, correct them through the Scriptures, and leave them when you must, as Jesus taught in Matthew 15:14, but never give in to them, not a single inch. The only exception would be if you’re going into their territory to try to minister life to them. Paul expressed it this way: “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

Remember these words and memorize them; write them on the tablet of your heart:

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 [to the Mosaic Law].

Galatians 5:1

Addressing Various Objections

So the New Testament is utterly clear that believers in Christ are not under the moral Law, but rather they fulfill it by the spirit; and also that the ceremonial and dietary laws have ceased for believers because they were merely shadows that pointed to the reality, Jesus Christ, and New Covenant believers are “in Christ.” Despite the clarity and magnitude of the scriptural evidence on this issue, legalists who want believers under one element of the Law or another try to come up with loopholes to convince themselves and others. Let’s consider these objections (in red)…

Jesus said that neither the smallest letter nor the least stroke of the pen would disappear from the Law until heaven & earth passed away and, since they haven’t passed away yet, the Law hasn’t either.

This sounds like a legitimate argument until you closely read the passage and realize that it omits something crucial Christ said. Let’s read the text:

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”

Matthew 5:17-18

People who make the above argument usually leave out the last part. Christ plainly states that he didn’t come to abolish the Mosaic Law in verse 17, but to fulfill it. This was the Messiah’s purpose—to fulfill the Law. He goes on to say that neither jot nor tittle would “disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”

So Jesus was not saying that the Law wouldn’t pass away, but rather that 1. He planned on fulfilling the Law & the Prophets, jots and tittles and all (which is what “the smallest letter” and “the least stroke of a pen” refer to) and 2. the Law would become obsolete once he fulfilled it.

This crucial “until” is also noted in this passage:

Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed [Christ] to whom the promise referred had come.

Galatians 3:19a

The Law was added until Christ came and fulfilled it. In other words, the Law had an expiration date.

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:3-4 (ESV)

When Jesus said that he had come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets in Matthew 5:17-18, he had already fulfilled some notable aspects, like the virgin birth (Matthew 1:22-23) and being called out of Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15), as well as the reason why he was called a Nazarene (Matthew 2:23). Torah-worshippers might argue that, while Jesus was well on his way to fulfilling the Law and the Prophets, he hadn’t yet fulfilled all things. So when did Christ technically fulfill all the Law and the Prophets? Here’s when:

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:28-30

Peter tells us that Paul’s teachings were misunderstood.

Yes, Peter pointed out that some things Paul taught were hard to understand and some people misinterpreted them. But does this mean we can’t take Paul’s words to mean what they obviously say?

Let’s look at what Peter actually said:

His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

2 Peter 3:16

All Peter says is that some of the Scriptures that the Holy Spirit moved Paul to write are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort like they do other Scriptures. So it’s not just the Scriptures written through Paul that are misinterpreted by ignorant, unstable people.

Moreover, Peter doesn’t specify which Scriptures are hard to understand and nowhere does the context suggest that Peter was referring to Paul’s teachings about believers not being under the Law or that the ceremonial & dietary laws have ceased.

Furthermore, Peter himself testified that the Lord told him in a vision “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean,” referring literally to unclean animals and figuratively to Gentile people (Acts 11:4-10). So by suggesting that ignorant people misinterpreted some portions of Scripture, Peter obviously wasn’t saying that he disagreed with Paul’s plain teachings on all foods being declared clean for believers.

As far as Paul is concerned, he was a former Pharisee who followed the Torah to a ‘T’ and is second only to Jesus Christ as far as New Testament personages go. With this in mind, I think it’s notable to point out that the LORD used Paul to write more of the New Testament than any other person, about one-third (not including Hebrews, which many believe he wrote); and half of the book of Acts is devoted to his missionary exploits.

With this in mind, what did this former Pharisee who (formerly) followed the Mosaic Law to a ‘T’ plainly teach about believers and what they could and couldn’t eat & drink? Let’s read:

I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.

Romans 14:14-15

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Romans 14:17

Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.

Romans 14:20

But food does not bring us near to God;we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

1 Corinthians 8:8

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink

Colossians 2:16

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

1 Timothy 4:1-5

Are these passages hard to understand or are they plain-as-day? Paul says, “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Timothy 4:4). Is there anything hard to understand about this statement? Everything Paul says in these passages corresponds to what Jesus taught on the topic:

“Are you so dull? Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

Mark 7:18-19

First Timothy 4:3 plainly says that false teachers will rise up during the Church Age and teach things taught by deceiving spirits, including ordering believers “to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe.” Have you run into some believers or a sect that do this? They’re following deceiving spirits; get away from them! See Christ’s instructions in Matthew 15:14 for support. Of course, if you correct them with the New Covenant facts and they repent, there’s no need to separate from them

One last thing about 2 Peter 3:16, Peter says that “ignorant and unstable people distort” Paul’s Scriptures “as they do the other Scriptures.” I’d like to humbly point out that I don’t qualify for this description as I’m hardly ignorant of the Scriptures since my ministry — Fountain of Life — focuses on teaching from God’s Word in a sound and balanced manner with no concern to sectarian bias. We follow Paul’s Spirit-led instruction to the churches: “Do not go beyond what is written” (1 Corinthians 4:6). As far as instability goes, I’ve been in the Lord since I was 20 years-old — 1984 — and I’ve never backslid in the conventional sense (i.e. I never went back into the world and acted like God didn’t exist, etc.). I’m not saying that I know it all or that I’m not open to correction, because both are untrue; I’m just pointing out that I don’t fit Peter’s criteria of ignorant, unstable people whom “distort” the Scriptures.

Matthew’s version of Mark 7:19 explains that Jesus was talking about eating with unwashed hands.

Let’s read the full passage in question from Mark:

Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”

17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

Mark 7:14-23

What Jesus is saying is so clear that I hardly need to comment: In verses 18-19 he says that nothing that enters a person’s body from the outside — i.e. food — can defile them because it doesn’t go into the heart (which is the core of the mind) but rather into the stomach and then out of the body. Mark adds a parenthetical statement explaining that, by saying this, “Jesus declared all foods clean.”  This is a simple-to-understanding explanation of what Jesus was saying. There’s no vagueness whatsoever. In the remaining verses Jesus goes on to say that evil originates from within and this is what defiles a person, not food.

Now let’s look at Matthew’s account of the same event or a similar event:

Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”

13He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”

16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

Matthew 15:12-20

As you can see, Matthew’s account omits Mark’s Spirit-led parenthetical explanation – “In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean” – and it doesn’t expound upon it either. As for Jesus’ statement in verse 20, “These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them”, this has nothing to do with whether or not Jesus declared all foods clean, but rather addresses the Pharisees original question from verse 2: “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

Enough said.

How were all foods declared clean when the book of Revelation refers to certain birds as unclean at the end of the Tribulation.

Let’s read the passage in question:

After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. With a mighty voice he shouted:

“ ‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’     She has become a dwelling for demons and a haunt for every impure spirit,     a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird.”

Revelation 18:1-2

Since “every unclean and detestable bird” is used in direct connection with demons and impure spirits it’s likely a figurative reference to these. Another example of this can be seen in the Scriptures when Jesus said, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19); Jesus obviously wasn’t referring to literal snakes and scorpions but to the devil and demonic spirits.

But’s let’s say Revelation 18:2 is referring to literal unclean birds. These birds are unclean according to Old Testament dietary laws, so what? The text doesn’t say anything whatsoever about whether or not believers are obligated to obey such dietary laws.  To properly understand that topic we must go to the passages that directly address that topic, like the many we’ve already examined. This is in line with the hermeneutical rule that Scripture interprets Scripture where the more direct and detailed passages naturally trump the indirect and ambiguous ones. Since Revelation 18:1-2 says nothing about whether or not believers have the freedom to eat foods considered unclean for the Israelites in the Old Testament we simply go to the passages that directly and clearly address that issue.

Furthermore, remember Peter’s crystal clear vision of a sheet of unclean animals let down from heaven where the Lord says, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

Acts 10:14-16 & 11:8-10

Not only did the Lord say this to Peter three times in this vision, the incident is shared verbatim twice in Acts 10 and 11. Do you think the Lord’s trying to get something through to us?

Frankly, citing Revelation 18:2 to support believer’s submitting to kosher laws smacks of legalistic desperation since it’s not even directly addressing the topic.

Why would believers have freedom in Christ now where they can choose what to eat and what days are more holy then others and then have that taken away in the coming eternal age?

This presupposes that there will be unclean animals during the eternal age and that we will kill them for food. Neither is true. Revelation 21:4 says, “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

In Mark 7 Jesus did not teach that every animal is now clean and good for eating by actually doing so. If he did, the Pharisees and Israelites would have had a solid reason for doubting that He was the Messiah.

Let’s read that particular passage again:

Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” 17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.”(In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) 20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

Mark 7:14-23

As noted earlier, the statement at the end of verse 19 — “In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean” — is a parenthetical statement. It reveals the obvious implications of what Jesus said and points to the freedom from the dietary laws for the new covenant believer. In his actual life, however, Jesus fulfilled the law, including the dietary laws, which is precisely what he said he came to do (Matthew 5:17). As such, the legalists like the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law couldn’t nail him for being disobedient to any part of the Law, whether moral, dietary, ceremonial or civil. In the New Covenant, all foods are declared clean and this is exactly what the passage says. If the plain sense makes sense — and is in harmony with the rest of the New Testament — don’t look for any other sense lest you end up with nonsense.

Sin means “lawlessness” so ministers who preach grace rather than Law (Torah) are supporting sin’

This is probably the most oft-repeated point of those who advocate for believers being under the Law. This argument is so weak and obviously mistaken it’s amusing. Here’s why:

As covered above, the New Covenant advocates fulfilling the moral Law by walking in the spirit. Those who walk in the spirit produce the fruit of the spirit, which are the fruits of God’s very character (Galatians 5:22-23). While believers are not under the Law, they fulfill the moral Law by the spirit (Romans 8:4). As such, they’re not “lawless” and therefore not guilty of sin. If Christians miss it—and we all inevitably do—we’re obligated to ’fess up and God faithfully forgives, cleansing us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8-9). If we’re cleansed from all unrighteousness that of course makes us righteous in God’s standing, not “lawless.”

As for the ceremonial and dietary Laws, they were foreshadows pointing to the Messiah (Colossians 2:16-17 & Hebrews 10:1). And, ever since Christ manifested and fulfilled the Law, they’re irrelevant to the New Covenant believer in the Church Age. Christians worship the Reality—Christ—not the shadows which merely point to the Reality. While Torah-worshippers chase shadows believers walk with The Reality that the shadows point to, the Mighty Christ, who is “The Truth” (John 14:6).

David repeatedly advocated living according to God’s Law (Torah)

This argument is based on the fact that David is honored in Scripture as “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14 & Acts 13:22) and, since he endorsed living according to the law (torah) with all one’s heart, New Testament believers should as well. A few examples include Psalm 119:1, 119:34 and 19:7-11.

For one thing, who said New Covenant believers don’t live according to God’s Law? The difference in our superior covenant, as noted in the previous section, is that Christians fulfill God’s moral Law simply by walking according to their new righteous nature with the help of the Holy Spirit, our Helper (Ephesians 4:22-24, Romans 8:4 & Galatians 5:22-23). As for the dietary and ritualistic laws, again, they were shadows pointing to the Reality, Christ, and are therefore irrelevant in the Church Age (Colossians 2:16-17 & Hebrews 10:1).

Secondly, torah means more than just “Law” in the rigid sense of the Mosaic Law. Torah simply means “teaching” or “instruction” in the sense of pointing or indicating the way. Here’s an example:

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction

    and do not forsake your mother’s teaching (torah).

Proverbs 1:8

This is an example of Hebraic parallelism where the second part of a verse restates the first part in different words. So “teaching” (torah) and “instruction” are synonymous terms here referring to a parent’s wise counsel or tutoring.

Furthermore, notice how torah is used in this passage:

I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions (torah).”

Genesis 26:4-5

Abraham was our father of faith (Genesis 15:6 & Romans 4:3). He obeyed God’s instructions—his torah—over 400 years before the Mosaic Law was given to Israel.

Torah can also refer to 1. a specific or prophetic word from the LORD (Isaiah 1:10) or 2. God’s revealed word in general, which means all of the God-breathed Scriptures; that is, the Bible in general (2 Timothy 3:16). For instance, in Proverbs 29:18 torah is used in parallel terminology with “revelation” from God. Since New Testament believers are clearly not under the Old Covenant Law, but rather fulfill the moral Law by walking in the spirit, “law” (torah) to believers refers to God’s word—revelation—that is applicable to us in our new (superior) covenant.

Thirdly, by “law” David was technically speaking of the revealed word of God at that time, which would’ve been the first five books of the Bible and other scrolls, like Job, Proverbs and the Psalms that predated David. Also, the context of David’s words was his covenant with God, which was the inferior Old Covenant. Christians in the New Testament era, by contrast, are neither limited by David’s inferior covenant nor the narrow amount of Scriptures of which he had access. We have a superior covenant (Hebrews 8:6) and the whole of the biblical canon—Genesis to Revelation—Praise God!

To support this, read those passages cited above where David advocated living according to the law (torah) and the rest of those particular psalms—Psalm 119 and Psalm 19—and you’ll observe that David used several synonyms for “law” (torah), such as God’s “word,” “commands,” “precepts,” “ordinances,” “decrees,” “statutes” and “promises.” In other words, David was referring to God’s Word in general and, once again, to New Testament Christian this refers to the whole of Scripture, as well as any genuine word given by the Holy Spirit. So when David says “Great peace have they who love your law and nothing can make them stumble” (Psalm 119:165) this would mean the God-breathed Scriptures in general to Christians in the context of their superior covenant with God, and not David’s inferior one.

Further support can be observed in James’ description of God’s revealed and comprehensive Word as “the perfect law that gives freedom” (James 1:25 & 2:12). We know James wasn’t referring solely to the Mosaic Law because “the letter kills.” While the Mosaic Law is an important part of God’s Word in that it defines sin and leads people to the Savior, apart from the rest of God’s Word the Old Covenant is a “ministry of death” and a “ministry that condemns” (2 Corinthians 3:6-9). The whole of God’s revealed Word, by contrast, gives life and sets people free, which is why James called it “the perfect law that gives freedom.”

God was angered at Israel’s disregard for the Law so his solution was to send his Son to get rid of the same law? (obviously said with sarcasm)

‘Sin’ means to “miss the mark” in the sense of diverting from universal moral law (1 John 3:4). The Creator always disapproves of sin in any era in any society. It’s not something unique to his dealings with Israel during the Old Testament. For instance, the very reason the land of Canaan was available for the Israelites to possess was because of God’s judgment on the heathen nations thereof for their gross immorality (Leviticus 18:24-28). Six hundred years earlier the LORD told Abraham that his descendants would possess the land of the Amorites, who dwelt in central Canaan. This possession of the land couldn’t take place until then because “the sin of the Amorites had not yet reached its full measure,” meaning their degree of immorality would reach the point of deserving God’s judgment thus banishing them from the land (Genesis 15:16).

What was God’s purpose for giving the Law to Israel in the first place? To help humanity realize that we couldn’t fulfill God’s Law in the flesh so that we would see our hopelessly sinful condition, which would drive us to the Savior. As it is written: “The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase” (Romans 5:20). So, while the LORD is always angered by immorality, God knew all along that Israel wouldn’t be able to keep the Law. What Israel and humanity needed was a new nature, which is what Jesus Christ provides in the new, superior covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-33).

Speaking of this passage, here’s another argument…

Jeremiah 31:31-33 shows that the New Covenant is made with Israel not some foreign entity called “The Church”

Let’s read the passage:

31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,

    “when I will make a new covenant

with the people of Israel

    and with the people of Judah.

32 It will not be like the covenant

   I made with their ancestors

when I took them by the hand

   to lead them out of Egypt,

because they broke my covenant,

    though I was a husband to them,”

declares the Lord.

33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel

    after that time,” declares the Lord.

I will put my law in their minds

   and write it on their hearts.

I will be their God,

    and they will be my people.

Jeremiah 31:31-33

This passage is indeed referring to the New Covenant. The New Testament even quotes it in the book of Hebrews (8:8-12) and part of it twice (10:16-17). In Hebrews 8 it was quoted right after stressing that the New Covenant is superior to the old one (Hebrews 8:6). Notice what is concluded after quoting it:

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

Hebrews 8:13

As far as the claim that the New Covenant is only for Israel, anyone who argues this is blatantly violating two hermeneutical rules: “Context is king” and “Scripture interprets Scripture.”

Regarding the context, Jeremiah was prophesying to the Hebrew people and so used concepts relative to his audience. The LORD had given the Law to Israel, which defined sin, but they had no way to cure their sinful condition (Jeremiah 17:9).

Concerning Scripture interpreting Scripture, yes, the New Covenant started with Christ’s disciples and spread throughout Jerusalem and Israel, but Peter’s vision of a sheet of unclean animals let down from heaven with a voice saying, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat” (Acts 10-11) verified to the Jewish believers that the New Covenant was for the whole world, to which they concluded: “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18). Thus Paul said by the Holy Spirit: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

Furthermore, Gentiles who turn to the LORD through the gospel receive an inward circumcision via spiritual regeneration (Titus 3:5) and thus become Jews in an inward sense (Romans 2:29). So it’s not technically erroneous for Jeremiah to say the new covenant is “with the people of Israel” (Jeremiah 31:31) because Gentile believers are spiritual Jews. Meanwhile, unrepentant Jews, like the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law at the time of Christ, are “sons of hell” despite their Hebraic lineage, meaning they’re children of damnation (Matthew 23:15).

As for the “Church,” the Greek word for ‘church’ is ekklésia (ek-klay-SEE-ah), which means “the called out ones.” Those spiritually reborn through Christ—whether Jew or Gentile—are “called… out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).

The book of Isaiah mentions the New Moon celebration and Sabbath being observed during the eternal age of the new heavens and new earth, why would the New Moon holiday and the Sabbath be abolished just to be put back in force again later?

Let’s look at the passage in question:

“As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the Lord, “so will your name and descendants endure. 23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the Lord.

Isaiah 66:22-23

We have to understand ages or dispensations, which usually correspond with the covenants God has or doesn’t have with humanity. Our current age is the age of grace, the age of the New Testament or Church Age. This passage from Isaiah concerns the eternal age of the new heavens and new earth, detailed here in Revelation:

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

Revelation 21:1-2

This is the eternal age that Peter instructed us to look forward to (2 Peter 3:13); it’s when the heavenly city, the new Jerusalem, will come down out of heaven from God to rest on the new earth where “God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them” (verse 3). Notice how this is contrasted to the former ages saying, “for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (verse 1). This includes the current New Testament age, which corresponds to “Earth 3” in this illustration:

In the eternal age of the new heavens and new earth, God’s government will reign in the universe and we’ll be his citizens/children/servants and, like with any government (like America’s Independence Day), there will be holidays – special days to celebrate or commemorate this or that – including the “New moon” and “Sabbath.” Again, this is applicable to the eternal age to come and has nothing to do with our current age of grace. Remember what the WORD OF GOD says about this current age:

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

Colossians 2:16-17

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Galatians 5:18

 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

Romans 7:6

By calling this covenantnew,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

Hebrews 8:1

Needless to say, taking a passage from Isaiah 66 which applies to the eternal age-to-come and applying it to a wholly different earth-reality and dispensation is an example of unsound hermeneutics. The New Testament encourages those who teach God’s Word to “rightly divide” or “correctly handle” the Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15). This of course involves applying the common sense rules of interpretation, like Context is king and Scripture interprets Scripture. When these rules are violated it always results in error.

Furthermore, the argument implies that the New Moon celebration and the Sabbath day Law were always in vogue, which simply isn’t the case. We see zero evidence of these holidays until Moses gave the Israelites the Law and established the Israelite Covenant. Before that, Adam, Eve, Cain, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph & his brothers didn’t practice these holidays, which means they weren’t in function during Earth 2 and the first part of Earth 3.

As for Earth 1, which involved the work of creation and the time of Adam & Eve until their fall, it is said that God rested on the seventh day after creating the earth, universe and all physical beings, but—other than this—we have no evidence that the Sabbath was practiced during Earth 1. Why? Because Adam & Eve were in a perpetual state of paradisal Sabbath (rest) with the LORD. They didn’t have to practice the Sabbath because Earth 1 was the Sabbath—resting in blissful communion with the LORD—that is, once God’s work of creation had ceased. (For details on this see chapter 9 of my book THE LAW and the Believer).

Lastly, the eternal age of the new heavens and new earth will be a wholly different reality than what we understand today. For instance, there will be no more death or pain and the redeemed will have glorified, imperishable bodies (Revelation 21:4 & 1 Corinthians 15:42-44). Wouldn’t it be silly to argue that we should act now according to the way it will be in eternity? For instance, since we won’t be able to die in the new heavens and new earth, should we jump off a mountain cliff? Or, since we’ll be able to walk through walls like Jesus did after he received his glorified body (Luke 24:31,36-37), should we try to walk through solid objects.

The nature of reality will be completely different in eternity so it’s asinine to argue that we should do now what will be done then.

The Old Testament says that the Sabbath is a “lasting covenant” and is a sign between God and the Israelites “forever.”

This argument is based on what is said in Exodus 31:16-17. The Hebrew word for “forever” in this passage is olam (oh-LAWM), which means “long duration” or “lasting,” but not necessarily never-ending in the absolute sense. So in the context of Exodus 31:16-17 (remember: “Context is king”) it means lasting as long as the Israelite’s covenant was in operation, which turned out to be about 1500 years, which is when Christ came.

In support of this conclusion, olam is also used in reference to circumcision, (Genesis 17:10-14), but we saw earlier that physical circumcision is not relevant to the New Covenant; it was only relevant to the Abrahamic Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant.

Olam is also used in reference to animal sacrifices (Leviticus 7:36-38) and yet the need to sacrifice animals ceased with the spilling of Christ’s blood (Hebrews 9:23-10:14).

Similarly, the Levitical priesthood was said to be a “lasting” (olam) ordinance in Exodus 29:7-9, but the New Testament clearly shows that it ended with the Mighty Christ, a priest in the order of Melchizedek, not Aaron (Hebrews 7:11-12).

I could go on and on here, but I think you can see that the Hebrew word olam used in reference to Sabbath-observance meant “lasting” only as long as the Abrahamic & Mosaic covenants were in operation.

As for the phrase in Exodus 31:16: “The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting (olam) covenant,” this simply means that Sabbath-observance was to be practiced for the many generations to come as long as their olam covenant was in effect. Of course their long-lasting covenant is no longer in effect ever since Christ came.


That’s enough objections for this article, which is overlong as it is. Several additional questions/arguments are answered in my book THE LAW and the Believer, which will be available to purchase for a low-price in December, well before Christmas (2018).

Conclusion

Believers in Christ are not under the Old Testament Law, rather we fulfill the moral law by living out of our new nature, which was “created to by like God in true righteousness and holiness” with the help of the Holy Spirit. Doing this complies with the law of Christ, which is the law of love; fulfilling this single law automatically fulfills all the moral Law. This is the only law we’re under in the New Covenant. The Sabbath day law, the Jewish holidays and dietary laws have ceased because they were mere shadows pointing to the reality, which is Jesus Christ. And we are in Christ.

Amen.


SFTF Rel vs Chris 2

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Further Reading:

Hebrew Roots Movement


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