Desperate For Grace
An already tattered belief system was now systematically torn apart and lying in shreds at my feet. Coupled with a major move and various life changes, all of it nearly ripped apart the very fabric of my reality. The saddest fact was that there was no way I could get anyone in my Christian world to understand any of it. How could I? Torah keepers were "wrong" my whole life and I never listened to any of them... so what was I doing carrying this hope in my heart that anyone would listen to me?
I'm sure my Christian family thought I was having a nervous breakdown from all of the changes going on in my life, but that just wasn't true. Changes in geography are one thing, losing your "faith"? That’s a completely different ‘other’.
Sure, those life changes were difficult, but they were nothing compared to this. I honestly couldn't believe it (I still can't). And, I was mystified, confused, embarrassed, humiliated. Alone. The grace I needed so desperately turned out to be directly proportionate to the grace I myself had given to others... which was zero.
The Impossibility of the Law
One day many years ago, I was chatting with my dad about keeping the Law (as we often did) while we waited in line at a Burger King drive-thru. And while I stared at the taillights ahead of us as we talked, I was struck by a sudden thought- the impossibility of the Law.
And it gave birth to this question in my mind: if a normal person kept it perfectly their whole life, would they then be granted access to "Heaven"? I knew that it wouldn't because of our spiritual condition in Adam, however after that day, and continuing throughout the years, a deeper understanding of our spiritual condition began to touch me greatly in relation to the Law.
Nevertheless, in that drive-thru a seed was planted... and no matter how delicious my Whopper tasted, it was a seed that wouldn't yield much fruit until many, many years later. But that didn't prevent germination of said seed through various discussions of the topic over a long period of time-- despite the fact that whenever I would bring it up it was quickly fashioned as a straw-man by the recipient and tossed away. It was unfortunate, really, how many times I was told nobody could ever know if it was possible to live in perfect obedience their whole lives, because there was only one Man who did, therefore the argument was completely moot and no more thought should be given to it.
Why though? Was there a fear of what lurked at the end of the conversation?
The Four 'Tenants' of the Law
If we take a careful look at our spiritual condition in relation to the Law by what is taught in churches today, we can recognize four "truths" that are preached ad nauseam-
- Obedience to the Law does not provide salvation; therefore, it is futile (and insulting) to even try.
- Obedience to the Law destroys the work of the Cross (how dare you?).
- Obedience to the Law puts you back under the Old Covenant (who would want to do that?).
- Perfect obedience to the Law is impossible, therefore Messiah was sent to earth to die as a sacrifice on our behalf (?).
Have you ever really sat back and thoughtfully meditated on these four statements? Was "salvation" as we know it today the true purpose of the Law? What did "salvation" mean to Israel in the Old Testament? Was it really impossible to keep it in the first place? What about Romans 7:4, where Paul writes that we're now "released" from the Law?
I can't speak for you, but I have thought, prayed and meditated over these statements throughout this journey a lot. And although I'm far from being an expert (very far), I can only explain what I understand right now as far as my mind allows. I'm still new to much of this, floundering in a sea of new information, looking through a different lens- a lens valiantly trying to avoid mainstream American Christianity that views Torah observance as evil/wrong/impossible.
So, in order to walk alongside me and my point of view, let's look at these four statements as objectively as we can.
1. Is the Law impossible to obey?
Well, in short- no. Yahweh tells His people that His Laws were not too hard to do, nor was any of it "beyond their reach" (Deut. 30:11). Frankly, I have come to blame Evangelicalism for chiseling us into hardened children who believe our Heavenly Father sits behind a thin veil of cruelty and sadism by laying down commands impossible to obey. It's a false belief stream because the purpose of the Law was never salvation. We've simply been indoctrinated to think that way under the righteous guise of "Messiah's salvation purpose" and that makes it nearly impossible to argue against (and insulting to those who try).
2. Does obedience to the Law destroy the work of the Cross?
I’ll respond with a question: have you ever heard of a father who punished his children for obeying him? The truth is, it is impossible for obedience to garner anything temporal or physical, nor is obedience able to "destroy" something. Temporally speaking, it would be like believing perfect obedience to the laws of Michigan for 50 years would automatically institute me as Governor. It's illogical and defies the very nature of it, and yet that's what we're told all our lives. Actually, there is nothing that can destroy the work of the cross and we can know with great assurance that that work is finished, and that work is outside of us-- much to our relief and amazement.
3. Why would anyone want to go back to the Old Covenant?
But is it true that Torah observance puts a person back into the Old Covenant? This was one of my greatest arguments for Torah keepers, but now faced with that question myself... I can only ask, how does one do that, realistically speaking? Can anyone explain to me how a person can "go back" to something they were never a part of in the first place? In our day and time, were we born into or under the Old Covenant? How did we as infants agree to a conditional covenant? Does that make sense? As far as I understand, we were born into a system where the wages of Adam's sin brought death and bound us to that law (Romans 5, 8:2). I suppose if I renounced the Messiah and sought a Jewish conversion at my nearest synagogue and had them reinstitute the sacrificial system, maybe this argument would work. But how unrealistic is that? Why would I do that? Why would I want to do that? The whole idea is nonsensical to me now. And that leads to number 4-
4. The Law is impossible, therefore the Messiah had to come and die.
But did he? As we know from the first argument above, from Yahweh's own mouth, we can safely say the law was/is not impossible to obey. So, why did Messiah come and die? After all, we're told incessantly that it's because of our sin. But was it for our sin, or Adam's sin that condemned humanity? From what I read in Genesis, Adam disobeyed His Creator Father and condemned every human being that would ever come into existence and it had nothing to do with the Covenant given at Sinai. Amazingly, at the time of the fall, our Creator immediately promised a Savior-- a one-sided promise to humanity without condition. How wonderful is that? But unfortunately, in the Evangelical system, Adam's sin is cleverly cloaked underneath "our" sin and the truth laid out in Genesis thickly shrouded as to be almost completely out of sight.
I find it disheartening that our natural inclination to rebel is so easily exploited by that nationalistic religious system. The results? It sours us against Yahweh's Kingdom rule.
Truthfully, right now, I'm very angry at all of this. Angry at myself. Angry at all of the lies that I've believed for so long. Have you ever wondered how certain "pillars of truth" can be constructed and manipulated in a way to where it seems pure insanity to contradict them? Think about the mangled truth of Messiah's purpose, the garbled belief that we're bound to Mosaic law at birth, the false impossibility of it.
Do you know how this is possible to pull off in American Christianity? I believe that it’s no different than the tactics used in an MLM.
Let me explain.
Companies like Amway, Tupperware, Avon, etc. all use recruiting tactics that make it nearly impossible, or even downright crazy to say no to. It's designed that way with great skill- why? Because it works. And how do they do it? By pandering... by appealing to your greatest need. After all, why would you deny your greatest need? Wouldn't that be crazy? Who would say no to an organization that can fulfill your greatest need, and fulfill it easily?
Think of that on a much larger scale... think in terms of one of our greatest needs to worship something as human beings created in the image of God. Think about the great accessibility of churches at every corner, begging to be the answer to your greatest problem. Combine this with a feeling of relief at an open-door system where there aren't any religious "laws'' to obey.
I can’t help but ask, have we been pandered to by a religion that fulfills our deepest need to rebel, our deepest need to worship while at the same time solving our greatest problem (damnation)? Isn't it in our very nature as fallen humans to despise our Creator's authority and yet as image bearers desire worship?
Yes, and here's the evidence:
- Worship on the day He told us to? Nope. We'll worship on a different day and feel just fine.
- Eat the foods He has declared clean? Nope. We'll eat what we want and love it.
- Celebrate His holy feasts? Nope. We have better, more accurate and truer holidays.
- Call Him by the Name He has revealed? Nope. Nobody knows what it was so we're allowed to choose our own.
- Disregard all the laws He gave and worship freely in the name of Christ? Yes, it's great, thank you!
If we're being honest, we all know the feeling in our guts when confronted with even the tiniest speck of conformity to Mosaic Law. We feel sick about it. Why is that? Why are we so afraid? Is it because of the dual truth that we were heavily indoctrinated… on top of the fact that rebellion is knitted into our very DNA?
What is the purpose then?
From what I gather now, obedience to any law given by Yahweh to His people had nothing to do with their spiritual condition (or ours). And we know that it never did.
The covenant at Sinai was quid pro quo- Latin meaning "something for something", a marriage ceremony, really. If you do this, I'll do that. If you want to be My people, here's 613 positives and negatives. Doing these things brings blessings, failing to do them brings curses.
Was it for delivering, or saving people?... or was it a code of conduct for a nation? Was it for a separateness (a holiness), a righteousness? A method for transforming them into a special people, a light to the world, a priesthood for Yahweh?
Yes, all of it. They were to be distinct in all the world and the God they "married" at Sinai gave to them His instructions and directives for how they were to live as His wife in this covenant.
Do you believe that at some point in time the people of Yahweh no longer needed to be a special people to Him? What about after the cross? I think we can know from the Apostle Peter and the writer of Hebrews that the people remain a priesthood even though that priesthood changed from a Levitical one to a Judaic one. Long past the cross, even if the sacrificial system is over, this nation of people still needs to be a special people distinct from all other people of the world and as crazy as this sounds, the cross did not change this.
So, what gives?
Truth is, I’m not renouncing Yahshua, The Son of Yahweh (read Galatians). He is the One who made it possible for me to become one of Yahweh's people without "physically" becoming a Jew (also Galatians). My faith in Him gives me a new birth, a circumcision of the heart, an equal standing in His Father's kingdom where His Laws and commandments are revealed and enforced (the New Covenant in Jeremiah). It's unfortunate, but completely true that the nationalistic religion I was born into, indoctrinated me, molded me and shaped me to believe that I could live a life of lawlessness as long as I did it in the name of "Christ".
You don't have to look too hard to see the many inconsistencies within the Evangelical church when it comes to Torah observance. It's always been a mystery to me how some laws are still in force, but not others. Have you ever wondered why it's “so bad” to keep the Sabbath? Or the disdain that fills your heart at the thought of coming face-to-face with a Sabbath-keeper? Don't you feel it in the pit of your stomach at the thought of being considered Torah observant yourself? I know that I did. From such a young age, it was so artfully pounded into me that it was wrong and that I was trampling God's own Son under foot. An idea so unequivocally unforgivable to do. Is it really any wonder that the scales on my eyes were so heavy and thick?
I know that Yahweh's Laws are not impossible to keep.
Impossible for salvation though? Yes.
Our failure to abide by His Torah from infancy wasn't the reason for Messiah's coming, it was because of Adam's sin. The work of the cross by the Son made it possible for the world to enter into His Father's kingdom and be graciously granted access to Him, a fulfillment of the promise to reconcile man to His Creator. The work of the Cross makes it possible for us to be the Father’s children who love Him and desire to be good, Law-abiding citizens of that kingdom (the New Covenant).
Now, there are those who may or may not agree with that last statement. However, my sadness now swells with the understanding that at the root of denying this is rebellion and it is evidenced by an abhorrence of His laws... the saddest aspect being that we’ve been conditioned by a system that actually encourages lawlessness born out of rebellion itself, no less.
The truth is, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t claim to believe on one hand, we entered into a conditional covenant at birth (that we didn’t agree to), a conditional covenant that condemned us (somehow we broke those laws as infants) and that’s why Messiah needed to come and die… And then you have the other hand (if the first hand isn’t true), that we are born sinless, and somewhere along the line entered into said two-way covenant, broke one or some of those laws and then became condemned.
Because those are just about the only two ways this all shakes out. And it’s nonsense.
But here’s some good news. We were born condemned, born separated because of Adam's great transgression and our nature is one of rebellion, bound to the law of sin and death. And at some point in our lives when we place our faith in the Messiah and His shed blood as the mediator of the New Covenant and receive the Holy Spirit, we are granted access into His Father’s kingdom through a spiritual birth where we are implanted with a desire to obey His laws in a spiritual way with “newness” (Rom. 7 and 2 Cor. 3).
And, how do we know what those laws are? Torah!
With our new hearts, we fall in love with His Kingdom, His system, and His commands. The love song to those things sung about in Psalm 119? They become our love songs. The daily and nightly meditations of His law in Psalm 1? They become our nightly and daily meditations.
How? Because we are grafted into Israel through the Messiah and become a spiritual Israel of God where Jew and Gentile are one new man on equal ground. Our faith in Him establishes our place and listen carefully... our conduct is a by-product of that faith, not the conduit.
Next stop: the Sabbath rest. The Sabbath is another critical juncture in this journey, posted HERE.
-Thank you for reading and may Yahweh bless you abundantly through His one and only Son.