What is the believer's guide for daily life, is it "Law" / "Torah" or walking in the Spirit?
It is not uncommon to run into disagreement as to the purpose of the Law or Torah in the believers life. It is a serious matter to be in the right position on such an important matter, as many epistle portions point out. Two verses (in their context) are helpful to guide us, and they are Galatians 3:3, and Romans 7:4.
First, when dealing with someone pushing for believers in Messiah, to be under Torah for daily life, let us look at Galatians 3 as proof the believer is not under that Law:
Let us first look at GALATIANS
Galatians 3:10-14 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.” Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
In some measure or manner, the judaizing element will seek to state that the key to all this is the word "justification." In other words, they argue that a person is not justified by Lawkeeping (which we agree with), but that once saved/justified, a person needs the Torah to guide their daily walk. With this we vehemently disagree. The argument they posit is that Galatians is about justification, not post-justification (sanctification) walk, therefore the statements in Galatians and elsewhere that seem negative about the Law, only refer to "justification" contexts. Thus we must emphasize that the true issue is "sanctification." The key to answering this suggestion is the following text:
Galatians 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? (aorist tense - having begun: present tense - being made perfect)
Two things of importance are said here:
HAVING BEGUN -what is that?
NOW BEING MADE PERFECT -what is that?
This is the crux of the question. "Having Begun" refers to the entrance of a person into a life and walk of faith. This is justification. Having Begun -Justification. The Galatians are commended for how they started out, justification by Faith, not Law.
"Now being made perfect" refer to the walk of an already justified person. This is sanctification.
Therefore the argument of the judaizers that Galatians is all about justification and that therefore the believer is under the Law principle for their walk, this argument fails. Galatians is about the danger of people seeking justification before God by Law and also believers seeking to place themselves under the Law Principle for sanctification. They started well but are seeking the wrong way of "being made perfect."
Thus the root error of this judaizing element, with regard to Galatians- is exposed by Galatians 3:3. A believer is not being made perfect by Torah, he didn't start out under Torah, nor is the work completed under Torah. The Torah is holy and good, it is just not the principle by which a believer walks. The Flesh is the problem. A warning could also be given from Romans 10:2-4 where pertinent warning is given:
For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
Now let us look at ROMANS
When dealing with a Judaizing teacher or adherent, the above argument can be explained further from another text of scripture, namely Romans 7.
Romans 7:4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we should bear fruit to God.
This passage is a citadel for this discussion. The background is marriage. Paul is masterfully using the example of marriage to compare it to law-keeping. Here's how the argument goes:
Marriage by God was designed to be permanent, between a man and woman
Marriage was only broken and ended when a death took place (the permanence of marriage is being taught here by the way)
Once a death takes place, the living person is free to remarry
To return to the prior spouse would be a kind of polygamy or adultery
The argument to put forth, is that when a person enters into God's salvation, and is now justified by faith, that person has died. A death has taken place. Because a death has taken place, the person is no longer united to the prior "spouse." Death ends marriage. In this context, the prior spouse is the Law or Torah. It is not that the Law is evil or bad, in fact it is good and holy. But because a death has taken place, the believer is now united to Christ and is NOT to seek to return to the prior spouse. Death has taken place, the prior "marriage" is ended so to speak, in this marvelous metaphor.
Further, and this is astounding!...is the fact that only by being united to Christ in this new marriage metaphor, can a believer bring forth fruit unto God. Why is this so? Cannot a person under Torah serve God and "do good?" This is the crux of the matter. Here's what we must learn:
A person under the Law principle is being required to provide righteousness in the flesh. In his flesh, that good and holy Torah demands from him what is flesh cannot achieve. The problem is not with the Law, but with the flesh. This is the sphere in which the Law works.. the flesh, and it condemns man. To put a believer under this principle is to put him in a place of failure, where his flesh cannot produce what the Law demands. This is to seek to "establish our own righteousness."
Wonderfully - union Christ - is the sphere in which a believer can produce fruit for God.
This is a simple text, but the Judaizing element has come up with an interesting way to wiggle out of the obvious context. They will state in some manner, that the "law" in view here is something else. They may state their are several "laws" in view in Romans 7:1-12, or even that the law here is the Pharisees' wrong version (or perversion) of the Law. This fails with one simple verse, provided by God in the very context as a safeguard against this type of contextual juggling they are doing. It is this verse:
Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet."
Notice the point here. In the context of Romans 7, the use of the word "Law" is defined...the verse used is one of the TEN COMMANDMENTS. Thou shalt not covet. Thus the attempt by Judiaizers to say that Romans 7:1-12 has a varied laws in view at different junctures, that it is the pharisees' corruption of "law" or what have you - this method of interpretation is blatantly incorrect. The Law that Paul is referring to, encompasses those good and holy 10 Commandments. Thus the law that the believer has died to...is Torah. Yes, that good and holy Torah. It demanded righteousness from man, and man could not accomplish it in the flesh.
Thus in summary. In looking at Romans 7:4, believers in Messiah have died. No doubt the passage has in view Israelite believers in Messiah, since Gentiles really never were under the Law. But the overall principle applies to Gentile believers too. Since a death has taken place, any relation to the law principle has ended. Believers in Jesus as Messiah are no longer under Torah, but are now united to Christ, the new "spouse" so to speak. And in this new relationship, not being under the Law Principle, but walking by the Spirit, believers now have the ability to bear fruit for God.
In conclusion, we emphasize that the Law is holy and good. We do not call it evil or bad. Its ministry though, is in the sphere of requiring righteousness FROM MAN. In this it condemns man and is a ministry of condemnation. Holy and Good Law? Yes. But working with man in the flesh, whether in justification or sanctification, it has nothing good to work with and succeed. Man in the flesh is a bad lump of clay. A different principle is needed. Romans goes on to tell of that "walking in the Spirit" principle, if we keep reading Romans 8 & beyond.
Should the reader of this article be caught up in Judaizing circles, we would heartily recommend this to their consideration, It is SO important to be right in this area because notice Galatians 2:4 speaks of the TEACHERS of Judaizing doctrine as "false brethren." That makes this very serious indeed.
Dear reader, walk in the LIBERTY you have in Christ if you have entered into eternal life with Him by justification by Faith alone in Christ alone. It is not a kind of liberty to sin and be antinomian/lawless, but it is a liberty to walk in the Spirit and walk with God. Here's a little ditty in conclusion that wonderfully tells the story:
DO THIS! and live, the Law commands.
But gives me neither feet nor hands.
BETTER NEWS! the gospel brings
It bids me fly!! - and gives me wings!