There is much discussion on the differing interpretations of the concerning the “new Covenant” and “old Covenant”. Does the new abolish the old? Does the new fulfill the old? Who are the participants of each of the covenants, Israel or all nations? The list of questions goes on and the interpretations of each goes on even longer.
I understand our need to rightly interpret such a significant aspect of Scripture, but the underlying reasoning for such searching is devastating. The entire gospel of modern Christianity revolves around the assumption that we are not “required“ to obey the Torah. We are “free”, they say, and we are not obligated to walk a certain way. (Well, there may be a certain way to walk, but it is definitely not righteousness as defined in the Torah.) Over and over again, we get the same question from Christians trying to understand…But, what are we required to do?
That says a lot.
It breaks my heart.
YHWH showed us his heart through the Torah. He explained how to worship, how to love others, how to walk in closeness with him. Our Father instructed his children to keep away from what was detestable and to cling to his ways. He warned us not to pattern our life and our worship after the world. He shows us how to be His people. The Covenants, including the “new Covenant” of Jeremiah 31, are clearly addressed to the people of God, who by faith are named “Israel”. This includes believers of Hebrew decent and those who are joined with her through faith. It is through these ancient words of God that all Israel, God’s faithful from all nations, discover how to love Him and walk with Him.
And Christians ask, Are you sure we have to do that? Didn’t the Messiah get rid of that? I thought we were free now?
“Christians” should not merely seek to find the minimum requirement necessary for salvation in order to claim the promises granted to Israel, without seeking the ways that God has outlined for Israel to live. Our passion and joy in our Messiah should not be to live a “free” life apart from God’s Law. God’s word, His commandments are the definition of righteousness…and God-followers boast of being “free” from God’s righteousness?
Instead we need to desire God and His ways. We must not constantly be looking for the way out, always finding interpretations that support our “freedom” from the Torah. We need to be listening to God’s voice and faithfully walking in the ways of our Father. Out of love for God we should want to obey His voice because we know that what He calls us to do is for our good, our protection, and ultimately His glory. Our heart should be soft and seeking how we should live, walking with God and in opposition to the darkness.
It is not about requirements of God but a desire for God.
But, regardless of how you interpret these covenants, and whether or not you yet agree that we should desire God’s Law….we have to wrestle with the life and words of the Messiah:
If the Messiah lived a sinless and perfectly righteous life, and by definition that means he did not transgress the Law….
If He had refused to abide by any commandment given by God He would have sinned…
If He was our only perfect example of walking out obedience to the Father…
If He specifically taught that until heaven and earth disappear the Law will not be done away with…
If He warned that those who teach others not to follow the Law and the Prophets will be least in the Kingdom…
If the Messiah commanded those that love Him to walk as He walked…
- For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor 5:21
- For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrew 4:15
- Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 1 John 3:4
- Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-19
- And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. 2 John 1:6
- If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15
- Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. John 14:21
- Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. John 14:23-24
- And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:3-6
…why then do we continue to insist that we have “Freedom in Christ” to love God and the Messiah in a way other than that which is instructed in the the commandments? We do have freedom, but it is not the freedom to redefine righteousness or lawlessness. Our “Freedom in Christ” is not the freedom to love God however we deem to be loving.
We are not free from righteousness but free from lawlessness! We are free from the penalty of sin, free from death caused by sin, free from total inability to obey the Law apart from the Spirit writing it on our hearts.
We are slaves to righteousness, slaves of God, slaves of obedience, because we have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching of the Torah.
- What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:15-18
- The phrase “not under law” does not imply that the law no longer defines sin, but that we are not under the penalty of death for breaking the law. Torah has always been the definition of sin. Nowhere does God or the Messiah give an alternate guideline for this. Obviously we are still expected not to sin. What could our standard of righteousness be if not the Torah? The Messiah? He was completely spotless in regards to the Torah. There is no other standard, and we are to be “obedient from the heart to this standard of teaching”.
It is not about requirements of God but a desire for God. Our love for Him should be displayed through our following the example of Messiah, renouncing the way of the world and seeking to walk in obedience to His commandments. Our Messiah himself, lived this law, taught this law, denied the nullification of the law, asked us to keep and walk in this law.
Search the Scriptures for yourself and see if this is true of our Messiah. If it is, why do we not deny ourselves and, out of love and an obedient heart, follow Him?