Let’s play a game.
You’ve probably played this one before. It’s called word association. I’ll give you a series of words. After each word, you respond with a word of your own, the first word that comes to mind.
Fun, right? Well… that depends.
If you’re like most western Christians, you probably responded with some pretty negative stuff like ouch, rules, judgment, obsolete, or legalism. When I talk about obedience to God’s commandments, most people want to tell me about Jesus and how he fulfilled the Law so that we don’t have to.
“Don’t you know that we’re not under the Law anymore?”
I’ll set aside the mountains of bad exegesis and indoctrination behind that reaction to just say, I get it. I understand where you’re coming from. Before you go any further, let me tell you what I really believe.
I know this won’t be the last time–I’m sure I’ll write more articles with this same basic theme–but I’d like to get this down as succinctly and vividly as possible.
I don’t believe that anyone can earn their eternal salvation.
I don’t believe that keeping God’s Law (aka Torah) can make anyone righteous enough to pass muster at the final judgment.
There is one–and only one–Way of Salvation, and his name is Yeshua. You might know him as Jesus. If you truly believe in him (trust him to keep his word and to be faithful to deliver you in the end), you will be saved.
But I still believe in keeping the Law.
(Did I just heard somebody choke.)
“If we’re still supposed to keep God’s Law, why do we need Jesus?”
Good question! I’m glad you asked.
Let me draw you an illustration.
The Bible defines sin as breaking God’s Law, and we all sin. Except for Yeshua, there are no exceptions. Every single man and woman who ever lived has sinned, including you and me.
Imagine that God is up in the sky and we’re down here on earth. Our sin breaks our wings and puts a giant impenetrable barrier between us and God. He is up there, we’re down here without hope, and there is no way we will ever be able to get back to him. God is perfect and we’re not. Even in death, released from all fleshly ties, our spirits will only sink even further beneath the weight of our sins.
It doesn’t matter if we keep the Sabbath, observe Passover every single year, offer sacrifices, honor our marriages with lifelong fidelity, pay every tithe, and on and on and on. It doesn’t matter how perfectly we live, no amount of obedience will ever let us climb high enough to remove the stain and weight of our failure.
Satan, that serpent from the Garden, will still be there at the end to accuse us before God’s throne, and there will be no question of our guilt because God knows everything we have ever done. We can hide our sins from ourselves, our children, and even our mothers, but we can’t hide them from God.
In fact, he knew all along what we would do; he knew we would fall for Satan’s tricks and lock ourselves out of God’s presence. Fortunately, because he is just and merciful, he also set in motion a redemption plan so that we wouldn’t be completely without hope. From the very first sin in the Garden, God promised that a Redeemer would come to crush the head of that serpent and to set us free again.
God sent Yeshua, the only perfect man, to suffer and die for sins he didn’t commit. His blood washes away the stain of sin from our spirits and bridges the barrier that we erected, allowing us to be reunited with the Father.
Keeping the Sabbath, loving our neighbors–even our enemies–caring for widows, praying, fasting, and worshiping… all of these things are good and wonderful, but they can’t repair the damage we’ve already done.
Baruch HaShem! Bless the name of God! Honor and love the King by keeping his commandments. Just understand that the only way to heal the rift between you and God is by throwing yourself on the mercy of Messiah Yeshua and pledging all your allegiance to him.