Draw of the Law

Martin+Luther.+Law+vs+GraceIf you get interested in Israel, what God is doing there today, and have a love for Israel, be careful that you don’t go overboard.  We all have practiced the saying, “If a little is good, a lot must be better.”  I’ve seen this in regard to Israel where people can’t get enough Judaica and even begin to believe there is great virtue, even righteousness in practicing a form of Judaism. They choose what they like, such as, eating a form of kosher food, i.e. not eating pork, observing the Jewish feasts, wearing various types of clothing, observing a variety of Jewish traditions, speaking a little Hebrew, etc.  These are harmless and may have some minor benefits, but they may also be a great snare and trap.  If you think God loves you more because of it; if you think you are superior to others; if to any degree it takes you away from Yeshua; then you have slipped and fallen into a lie, which is, I can do good by keeping rules and observing certain practices.

I want to be clear, there is nothing wrong with having a hearty interest in Israel.  Many people find other cultures interesting.  I have friends who love everything Italian and others who like Mexico.  I have been to Israel and have Israeli friends, and I bought a yamaka and talit when I was there.  I have been to several Saders and I really like Filafal. I almost always say Yeshua, rather than Jesus, because that is His Hebrew name.  I don’t think Jesus is even accurate Greek.  Also, I say Messiah rather than Christ, because to me Messiah has so much more meaning. I’m not dogmatic about this and I’m not seeking to persuade anyone that I  am right. I think it is natural to have some level of interest in Israel.

There are some who are not satisfied with salvation by grace and grace alone.  They want to do something; with good intentions they think God will be pleased if they live as Yeshua did, who was a Jew.  I know this because the book of Galatians was written to some who had fallen into this line of thinking and way of living.  Paul corrects them with strong words. “You foolish Galatians!  Who has bewitched you?  Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.  I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish?  After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?  Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?” (Gal. 3: 1-5).

Here Paul characterizes following the Jewish law as a means of salvation as an activity of the flesh or human effort.  He contrasts that with the Spirit which is received by faith instead of works.  We can fall into this trap by trying to follow the Jewish laws or teaching a Sunday school class or anything we think will score points with God.  These are works of the flesh. The work of the Spirit is obedience to God’s prompting, it is simply believing what God has said, i.e. we are made righteous by the blood sacrifice of Yeshua Messiah, once and for all.

Even among pagans we see this fleshly observance of their own made up religiosity, worshiping the earth, multiple gods, sacrificing and being good to the planet.  Often people set up their own standards of goodness.  President Obama was asked what is sin, he replied, “Being out of alignment with my values.”  I’m not certain what he fully meant, but neither “our values” nor any law will save us.  “For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’  Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because ‘the righteous will live by faith.’  The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, ‘The person who does these things will live by them.’  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.’ ” (Gal. 3: 10-13).

We are to be obedient to the Holy Spirit and we should be followers of Yeshua.  The Bible is the word of God and it is a light to our path; it contains God’s law, but we are not saved by following the law.  Let’s walk in grace and love by the Spirit.  “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Rom. 8: 1-4).

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