Wasn’t the Law Nailed to the Cross?
And, Isn’t Following the Law, Death?
My motivation was rooted in never wanting to hear Jesus say, ‘Get away from me you worker of iniquity. I never knew you!’ Since iniquity=sin, and we learned from John that sin is lawlessness, that became pretty easily understood. As stated before, I’m not for cheap grace! Jesus did all he could – now what is my response? While taking Theology classes, I had an argument with my professor, a fairly popular, published pastor. He said quite emphatically that to follow the Law was death and since the Commandments and the Law were given to Moses at the same time, neither should be followed. Gasp! I set out to decide for myself according to what is written.
Wasn’t the Law nailed to the cross?
He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross.(Colossians 2:14)
Breaking a blood covenant as in the Abrahamic and Sinai Covenants, is punishable by death for the party who breaks it. The Abrahamic Covenant required only Abraham’s faith. The Sinai Covenant required all who claim Yehovah as our God keep the commands in faith. It is not possible without faith. Yehovah, as righteous judge, is obligated to uphold the certificate of debt (or unpaid Note) due for breaking the Covenant. The judgment which must be handed down for our unpaid Note is eternal death or separation from our Creator. Thankfully, He planned to pay the Note for us. According to what is written, what was nailed to the cross refers back to the certificate of debt (or Note) and its obligation for non-performance. The debt due (death) for breaking the Covenant was nailed to the cross, not the Law itself.
When we accept that gift provided through Jesus, we are relieved of the payment due Yehovah for breaking His Law. This does not mean we are covered for future sins unless we confess to our great high priest. We must still work out our salvation which is what we could not do prior – obedience. So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)
Remember that one cannot justify himself by the Law. One cannot earn righteousness because failing to keep any part of the Law brings a curse (Deuteronomy 28:15-69). For everyone who depends on legalistic** observance of the Torah commands lives under a curse, since it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not keep on doing everything written in the Scroll of the Torah. (Galatians 3:10) For no one will be justified in His sight by the works of the law, because the knowledge of sin comes through the law. (Romans 3:20) (Read also, Galatians 2:16-21)
**Legalistic observance: He answered them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. (Mark 7:6, quoting Isaiah 29:13)
Keeping the Law does nothing for our own righteousness before God. So why keep it?
Because we claim Yehovah as our God and these are His rules that he says are not too difficult for us. This command that I give you today is certainly not too difficult or beyond your reach…. (Deuteronomy 30:11-14) Paul affirmed that we should uphold it. While salvation comes by faith, even faith does not abolish the Law: Do we then cancel the law through faith? Absolutely not! On the contrary, we uphold the law. (Romans 3:31) Here is proof that a Believer should confirm, declare, agree to, support, champion, and defend the Law as an obedient servant, not to earn his own righteousness.
James said, So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But a man may say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God; you do well. The demons also believe and tremble. (James 2:17-19)
What are these ‘works’? Aren’t works bad as Christianity teaches? Don’t they all fall short?
Did you know that helping the poor, widow, and orphan are commanded? These good works and more are part of the Law. The Hebrews have always held in high esteem good works, even inviting the stranger into one’s home. So, building a house for humanity or giving to the food bank aren’t new. These good works cannot save us (Isaiah 64:6) because of our rampant disobedience which is why we need a Redeemer, but what is our response when we accept the free gift? To continue as before?
The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who disobeys the Son will not see that life but remains subject to God’s wrath. (John 3:36). What did Jesus say that we must obey? “If you love Me, you will keep My commands." (John 14:15) I repeat, if Jesus is God in flesh then these must be the same commands God established for His people, according to Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 12:32.
If the Law no longer exists then the new covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34 cannot be fulfilled.
In the Millennial Kingdom, people will still go to Jerusalem to be taught and make sacrifices according to the Law. (I will address this later.) The Law must still exist.
Yehovah said he will not do anything that he hasn’t first proclaimed through the prophets (Amos 3:7). Where did he state he would abolish the Law? The Law being the revealer of sin is necessary for final judgment when the books are opened and the works of those those not in the Book of Life/Book of the Lamb are laid bare. Believers live by faith but faith does not revoke the Law because God never said he was going to revoke it.
What About the New Covenant? Very, Very Important!!!
This requires one to recall the divided kingdom after Solomon. I will simplify this here but the full story is amazing! The northern kingdom is sometimes referred to in Scripture as Ephraim so that is what I will call it. The southern kingdom is called Judah. After centuries of Ephraim’s continued rebellion to the Commands not to follow other gods, Yehovah gave them a certificate of divorce (Isaiah 50:1; Jeremiah 3:8) and allowed Assyria to take them out of the Land, never to return. At least that’s what everyone thought. They’re ‘lost’ in more ways than one, right? Actually, archaeologists have traced their movements and know where they went. They mingled with almost every people group on the planet! Have you seen the commercial to get your DNA checked and a man of obviously Far East origin says he’s part Hebrew?
Theologian, Alfred Edersheim, wrote that since the Northern Kingdom’s ‘divorce decree’ and exile from the Land, the Judeans knew their brothers were among the nations, especially in regions nearby. But, the Law of the divorced wife prevented them from returning to Yehovah. (Deuteronomy 24:1-4) Thus, the Pharisees did not like it when Jesus said, But I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd. (John 10:16) They thought Ephraim could never return despite the prophecies to the contrary.
So, how would God redeem Ephraim and rejoin them to Judah as Ezekiel 37 prophesies; and, write His Law on all their hearts as Jeremiah 31:34 states? Sheer genius!! He would come down in flesh and die on a cross to fulfill the law of the divorced wife! Once the husband dies, the wife is free to remarry. This is the new covenant; since Ephraim broke the first one. In fact, all Israel broke the covenant by worshipping the golden calf. The point here is there was more than one reason for Jesus’ death. Yehovah is a multi-tasker!
I propose that there are only two groups that revere the Holy Bible: Christians and Jews. Might they represent Ephraim and Judah? Time will tell. But, if one takes a closer look at the letters the apostles wrote, there are many references to the lost tribes of Israel, the feasts, and historical information with which only an Israelite would be familiar and care about! References to Abraham, Melchizedek, the desert, etc. Not that everyone else is excluded. A mixed multitude left Egypt but Israelites entered the Land. Anyone who has ever desired to believe in Yehovah has always been welcome in HIS assembly.
Now, read the Parable of the Prodigal Son! Insert Ephraim for the son who left and Judah for the son who stayed. Makes a lot more sense, doesn’t it?
Part TwoDoes the Law of God (Jews incorrectly call the Law of Moses) still apply to the believer? According to the doctrines of Christianity: No. But, what does the Word say?
Warning! This will challenge everything you’ve been taught in church.
As I grappled with John’s urging to walk as Jesus walked, I wanted to know how. I urge you to review Jesus’ actions because He is the prophet Moses said we must hear and obey, and His actions can be summed up:
Paul said we don’t know what sin is without the Law. (Romans 3:20) Paul also makes an interesting point: There is no favoritism with God. All those who sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all those who sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For the hearers of the law are not righteous before God, but the doers of the law will be declared righteous. (Romans 2:11-13; 3:9; 3:23) It seems obvious that the Law is the plumb line for sin but we always fail to do it.
The apostles’ understanding of sin and the Law are perhaps made most plain and direct by John:
The way we can be sure we know him is if we are obeying his commands. If we claim not to have sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, then, since he is trustworthy and just, he will forgive them and purify us from all wrongdoing. If we claim we have not been sinning, we are making him out to be a liar, and his Word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)
The way we can be sure we know him is if we are obeying his commands. Anyone who says, “I know him,” but isn’t obeying his commands is a liar — the truth is not in him. A person who claims to be continuing in union with him ought to conduct his life the way he did. (1 John 2:3-4, 6)
Everyone who commits sin also breaks the law; sin is the breaking of the law. (1 John 3:4)
Note: If any of Jesus’ commands, which Christian doctrine claims are the commands we are now to follow, are not included in the Law, he would not have been the Prophet or Redeemer because of Deuteronomy 12:32.
Of course, there are Jesus’ own words:
“Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches people to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)
You cannot get past Jesus’ own admonition to whomever breaks or teaches others to break any part of the Law. Heaven and earth have not yet passed away and all contained in the prophets is not yet accomplished. Teachers of scripture beware!
Jesus said he came to fulfill the Law. Does that mean he completed it so it no longer applies to those who believe in him? According to Webster, Fulfill means to do what is required. Jesus lived the Commandments and Instructions (Law; Torah) in Spirit (full meaning; not just the letter of the Law) and Truth. Doing so made Jesus sinless since sin is breaking the Law. What Jesus did not do was follow the doctrines and traditions of the Pharisees, the religious teachers, because those takkanot violated or over-ruled God’s Law. He is the prophet of whom Moses spoke: the one we are to listen to and obey. (Deuteronomy 28:16-19). Therefore, the doctrines of church leaders must be scrutinized against Scripture. If Scripture does not confirm the doctrine or tradition, it must be cast out.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commands.” (John 14:15) The Law expounds on the commands in practical applications. It’s actually not translated Law but Instructions but I’m using the familiar word. (See Matthew 5:17-19 above) If Jesus is God in flesh, then God’s commands are his commands. After all, Jesus told Philip, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9)
Most troubling for me when I studied the Revelation, was the realization that at the time of the great Tribulation of mankind, the commands of God not only exist, they are equally required with belief in Jesus for the elect’s removal from the earth before the wrath of God and the Lamb is poured out (Revelation 6:16-17). No one teaches this!
So the dragon was furious with the woman and left to wage war against the rest of her offspring--those who keep God’s commands and have the testimony about Jesus. (Revelation 12:17)
This demands the perseverance of the saints, who keep God’s commands and their faith in Jesus. (Revelation 14:12)
When was the last time you heard that in church?
Important note: I was taught that after the rapture of the church, great numbers of people would become believers. I do not ascribe to this theory because there is absolutely nothing in Scripture to support it. In fact, people will continue to shake their fists at God. Nor is there anything to support a pre-Tribulation rapture. Both are negated by the letters to the churches and the above verses. Paul said that we would not be subject to God’s wrath. (Romans 5:9; Ephesians 5:6; 1 Thess. 1:10, 5:9) But, His wrath is not poured out until Revelation 11:18. What occurs before is man’s doing or Satan’s.
I know the issue is burning in you that ‘following the Law is death’. Hold on. We are getting there!
If the law doesn’t exist for believers, why do we have a great high priest in heaven intervening on our behalf (Book of Hebrews)?
Jesus washed the feet of the disciples telling them that they would serve each other and continue to need cleaning up. Thus, our great high priest in the heavenly holy of holies is to whom we confess our sins (for breaking His commands) in order to remain clean.
To the end of this age, the commands of God stand (and I propose, forever). Then they will be written on our hearts as promised in Jeremiah. 31:31-34. If we are to walk as Jesus walked, that means being obedient – not to earn our own salvation but simply because he paid our debt for us. Jesus stood against the false teaching of his day and they wanted to kill him for it. If he was obedient to the death and we are to pick up our own crosses, shouldn’t we try to keep those commands as he did even if we are hated or killed for doing so?
Christians agree that homosexuality is wrong, but do you know that is part of the Law? Since there is no Temple, we are not in God’s Land, there are sections specific to the priests, men, women, etc., and Jesus is our Passover Lamb, much of the Law cannot be performed, but we can do what is still applicable in obedience because He did. When we do fail, and confess it to Jesus, he is faithful to stand for us in heaven’s most holy place as our Great High Priest.
Next: Wasn’t the Law Nailed to the Cross?
My ‘walk’ has been a whirlwind of learning. Yearning and striving for the truth. Unapologetically endeavoring to understanding Scripture, history, and what I am to do and not do because this great gift has been given to anyone who wishes merely to accept it, and I want to represent my God appropriately! Cheap grace was not for me!
WARNING! This will challenge everything you’ve learned in Sunday school and church.
As I studied, questions arose:
How DO we ‘walk as Jesus walked’?
How did he walk?
What did the apostles teach?
How did they live?
If following the Law is death, why would God give it to man saying it isn’t too difficult?
The Commands and Law were given by God to Moses at the same time. Can we separate them?
If we are grafted into the vine that is called Israel, as Paul states, are we bound to the same covenants?
How can the Law be called Liberty by David and death by Christianity?
What did Paul really say about the Law?
What did Jesus say about the Law?!
What I have discovered will be broken down into sections because there’s too much to read in one sitting.
Sabbath or the Lord’s Day?
We have been taught that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday because that is the day the Lord rose from the grave. But, what does scripture really tell us?
First of all, Scripture never reveals a change during the time of the apostles for the Sabbath to being observed on Sunday or the first day of the week. God said to keep the Sabbath (7th day for the Hebrews is what we know as Saturday) (Exodus 20:8-10). It is an everlasting command with no expiration date for those who are his. The apostles, referred to as Nazarenes in Acts 24:5, still observed the Sabbath as evidenced in Acts 13:14, 42, 44 and 15:21 (as examples).
Jesus went into the synagogues to teach each Sabbath. The apostles did, as well.
It was those within the early Church hierarchy by 106 C.E. who began meeting on the first day of the week or Sunday. Those ‘early church fathers’ of the newly named Catholic (universal) Church, claiming itself to be the ‘true Christianity’, began distancing themselves from the Nazarenes (these must have been the ‘false’ Christians they opposed?). One way to create a divide was to change the day they devoted to worshipping God from the 7th day Sabbath rest God commanded. The ‘eastern congregations’ still followed God’s Feasts and Sabbaths. Eventually, this group disappears from history after the Council of Nicea made specific decisions on doctrines that excluded other Believers.
They made their own doctrines just like the Pharisees! And, their writings revealed they were pleased to put an end to the Nazarenes who dogged them for their unscriptural doctrines. Constantine made the change official for the empire by edict or the first Blue Law: “On the venerable Day of the sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits: because it often happens that another Day is not so suitable for grain sowing or for vine planting: lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.”
The ‘venerable Day of the sun’ or sun-God worship had always been observed in polytheistic Rome and prior polytheistic societies to honor the sun god – called Mithras in Constantine’s reign. Do not be deceived by the claim that Constantine became a Christian when he observed a sign in the sky. That story had several variations documented by Eusebius and contradicting stories of Constantine remaining a Mithras worshipper until his death abound. Constantine is also mistakenly credited with making Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire, but this took place 67 years later in 380 CE under Theodosius. Further, as the Nicene doctrines of this new religion calling itself Catholicism gained power, people were denied the right to observe any other forms of Christianity; and, Jews and Nazarenes were persecuted.
Religious leaders of Christian-Catholicism claimed the authority to make changes to God’s commands just as the religious leaders of Jesus’ day (Pharisees and Sadducees) and today in Judaism (Rabbis) claim authority to amend the Law. This was what Jesus specifically railed against!
Isn’t the Law for Israel?
Evidence from the Bible is clear. The Law existed before the beginning. Since God does not change, His Law is part of His character. (Malachi 3:6) But because I, YHWH, do not change, you sons of Jacob will not be destroyed.
After ‘the Fall’, Adam taught his sons to make offerings to God (Yehovah): (Genesis 4:3-4) In the course of time Cain brought an offering to YHWH from the produce of the soil; and Abel too brought from the firstborn of his sheep, including their fat. As a good friend, Jon, pointed out, no one was eating meat at this time.
Noah made offerings to Yehovah: (Genesis 8:20) Noah built an altar to YHWH. Then he took from every clean animal and every clean bird, and he offered burnt offerings on the altar.
Long before the Law was given to Israel from Mt. Sainai, Abraham kept it!
(Genesis 26:4-5) “I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky, I will give your offspring all these lands, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring, because Abraham listened to My voice and kept My mandate, My commands, My statutes, and My instructions.” (Torah)
Isaac and Jacob made offerings to YHWH, too!
Thus, before the Law was given to Moses for God’s people, it existed and was followed by those called. It is not the Law of the Jews or Israel. It is God’s Law.
Even if you were to hold onto the Law applying to Israel, you have to take into account the ex-Pharisee’s statements in Romans 11:
(Romans 11:16-21, 24, 28-29) Now if the firstfruits offered up are holy, so is the whole batch. And if the root is holy, so are the branches. Now if some of the branches were broken off, and you, though a wild olive branch, were grafted in among them and have come to share in the rich root of the cultivated olive tree, do not brag that you are better than those branches. But if you do brag—you do not sustain the root, but the root sustains you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” True enough; they were broken off by unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either. For if you were cut off from your native wild olive and against nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these—the natural branches—be grafted into their own olive tree? Regarding the gospel, they are enemies for your advantage, but regarding election, they are loved because of the patriarchs, since God’s gracious gifts and calling are irrevocable.
As a believer in Jesus, you are grafted into the cultivated olive tree (Israel) and; therefore, as an adopted child, subject to the rules of the Father of the house.
Are you bristling yet? So did your ancestors.