Torah and Faith

One of the key issues in today’s Messianic movement is the place that the Torah, or the Law of Moses, has in the life of the believer and the congregation. There are Jewish and Gentile believers in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus’ Hebrew name) who are unsure, or maybe even confused as to their relationship to the Torah.

Some teach that believers in Messiah Yeshua, especially Jewish believers, are still under the Law’s authority for their fellowship, honor, and obedience. Others believe that Torah is totally irrelevant to the spiritual life, and unworthy of serious study and application. What is the truth, and how should we therefore live?

Saved by Faith

In Romans 3, Paul first demonstrates that a person is saved through God’s salvation by faith in Messiah Yeshua, and not by any works of the Law: “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:28). Then Paul seems to reinstate the relationship between faith and Torah in Romans 3:31 “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.”

Amazingly, Paul writes that rather than the Law being null and void (or nullified) through our faith, it is actually established by our faith in Messiah! In light of other Scriptures this raises two immediate questions:

In what way does our faith establish the Law (Torah)?

Doesn’t Paul also teach that certain aspects of the Torah are nullified by New Covenant faith?

How does our faith establish the Torah?

In 2 Timothy 3:1617 Paul wrote under the inspiration of Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) that all Scripture—at the time, meaning the Old Covenant, since the New Covenant was not yet fully written—is God inspired and profitable for our adequacy as sons and servants of God. Mature faith understands that the Torah…

Reveals the holiness and righteousness of God (Lev. 19:21 Peter 1:15).

Reveals the fallen nature of man (Deut. 28:1151 Tim. 1:10).

Recognizes that the Law reveals as praiseworthy those who lived by faith in God, not by their own righteousness (Gen. 15:6Heb. 11).

Discerns that the Law witnesses to and leads one to Messiah (Gen. 49:10Jer. 31:31Gal. 4:19-25).

The Law is still and will always be profitable. God forbid that anyone should reject any inspired text, especially that which our faith establishes!

How exactly does our Faith establish the Law?

The holy Law of our loving Father reveals sin as our “falling short” of God’s standard, condemning us as sinners. By receiving Messiah’s forgiveness and atonement we therefore acknowledge the righteousness of the Law and its judgement of us.

If a condemned criminal accepts a pardon, he is admitting to the guilt of his crimes that put him under condemnation. But if he refuses to admit his guilt, he would therefore not be able to accept the free gift of the pardon. By our faith in Yeshua (accepting God’s pardon) we have thereby acknowledged our guilt and our need to escape condemnation (Dan. 12:2Matt. 25:26). Our faith therefore establishes the Law.

Guilty or Not Guilty?

Orthodox (traditional) Jews have a reputation for Law keeping and Torah oriented worship.  In actuality they are observing traditions of men (Matt. 15:1-13). They believe that the keeping of the traditions is pleasing to God. In the Babylonian Talmud it says, “Whoever is careful with Sabbath observance will be forgiven all his sins, even idolatry.” (Shabbath 118B). “Whoever studies Torah Law every day is guaranteed to go to heaven.” – Tanna DeBei Eliyahu. These same sincere people do not view themselves as condemned and hopeless sinners by the Torah.

Therefore, not seeing their need for Messiah Yeshua as their Savior, they reject His salvation. In so doing, despite their apparent devotion to the Torah, rather than establish the Torah, their unbelief denies the very purpose of the Law they are reputed to observe. Please pray for my people who are supposedly following the Law, but who in fact contradict it by not believing in Messiah Yeshua, God’s only way of salvation.

Are Certain Aspects of the Torah now nullified?

In Romans 3:31 the word that Paul uses for “make void” or “nullify” is katargeo in the original Greek language. The basic sense of this word is “to cause to be idle” or “useless.”

The term always denotes a superior power coming in to replace the power previously in effect such as, for instance, when light nullifies darkness.

In Romans 7:2,6 Paul uses katargeo to describe the marriage relationship which is ended through death of a spouse: “For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband” (Romans 7:2). Here katargeo is translated released. Paul is showing here that we were married to the Law, and therefore under its jurisdiction and authority (Romans 7:1). Thus, we are “released” from the Law’s authority and under the new jurisdiction and authority of our new Husband, Messiah!

“But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter” (Romans 7:6). The Law no longer has jurisdiction over our lives. We have liberty through our trust in and submission to Messiah.

This portion teaches us that faith does not nullify the Law, but that the Law’s authority over the New Covenant believer has been nullified. We therefore can develop our first principle from this truth for those of mature faith:

Mature faith is not under the Law but enjoys the liberty we have in Messiah Yeshua.

Remember, this does not mean that we are lawless, but that we are under the authority of the Messianic ‘Torah’ of our new ‘Husband’, Messiah Yeshua! (Matt. 11:28291 Cor. 9:20,21). Tune in next month for the continuation of “Torah & Faith in Messiah.” Until then, Shalom!

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4 Comments

  • Kay September 5, 2022 11:34 am

    This subject is so confusing to me. On one hand I believe that the works that are part of the old law are void under Messiah I find it hard to swallow that God put forth laws and then sent his son to say naaaa you don’t have to follow what my father said anymore. I’m not saying that is what you said exactly but I believe God is the same today as he was yesterday and if that is so keeping Torah commandments did not go away for us but that when Jesus came it just added to it. With this line of thinking in the article it would mean that keeping Kosher is just not necessary. Just like the Christians believe as they sit down and eat their Easter ham. I may have totally misunderstood your article but I think God put the old testament laws in place for everyone because they are to help save and preserve us. Not save our souls but to save us from destruction. I think when we pick and choose what to believe we are getting into dangerous territory. Maybe this is what you were saying here and I misunderstood. In any case I find this a very confusing subject as I’m sure many do. Once I started following Messianic traditions and beliefs I came to the realization that Judaism is at the core of our faith and Torah laws were put in place before Christ came. Before Christ came there was no way to be saved so the laws are what saved you. But so you see I’m in a circular line of thinking here because I find it hard to believe that putting up a mezuzah for instance while it won’t save you is all of a sudden not a mitzfa because Christ came. Ha! I’m too confused.

    • WMM Staff September 7, 2022 10:30 am

      Kay, thanks for your questions. What to “do” with Torah is confusing to many. Near the end of your comment, you state, “Before Christ came there was no way to be saved so the laws are what saved you.” The Law was given to people who had been slaves for 400 years. It showed them how to operate as free people. Even more than that, it pointed out that they (and we) have a holy God and that we are sinful and unable to approach Him on our own. From the time of the Fall in the Garden, we have been looking for the Redeemer, the Son–the Messiah. Salvation has always been through the Messiah. (In the Old Testament, they looked forward to the promise by faith. In the New Testament time and forward, we “know His name” and still trust in Him by faith.) Abraham, who lived before the Law, was seen as righteous because of his faith in God. (Genesis 5:16, Romans 4:1-22.) Space prohits a full explanation here, but Sam Nadler’s book, MESSIANIC WISDOM, has a chapter on “Torah and the Messianic Believer.” It would be helpful for you to read it. (This happens to be Word of Messiah’s “book of the month” and is on sale. Here is the link to that book. https://wordofmessiah.org/?s=messianic+wisdom&post_type=product). May the Lord bring clarity to your heart and mind on this matter. You can use the contact form to ask us for further help if you desire.

    • Diane September 12, 2022 2:24 am

      The Law is not nullified by Yeshua. He lived the Torah and the Law. He was the living Torah here on earth. His life teaches that Love is the answer through Him, and that if we love Him then we Love the Father and the Law through the Blood of Yeshua Messiah is written in our hearts by God so the Law is in us through our faith in Yeshua Messiah as the only Son of God who raised Him from the dead for the forgiveness of our sins. If we confess our sins by mouth before God and believe that He is. Faith is a gift from Adonai our God, as well as Grace and these gifts we don’t deserve. However, accepting God’s pardon Yeshua we are saved from the wrath and judgment of God.

      • WMM Staff September 13, 2022 11:31 am

        True. Yeshua the Messiah did not nullify the Law. He fulfilled it. Romans 15:8 says, “Messiah has become a servant to the circumcision [Israel] on behalf of the truth of God to CONFIRM the promises given to the fathers.” The Torah, and specifically the Torah of Moses, pointed the people of God to the promised provision of God. For a deeper dive into this topic, Sam’s book MESSIANIC FOUNDATIONS is undergirded with Scripture in context. I highly encourage you to read it! (Here is a link to our bookstore: https://wordofmessiah.org/?s=messianic+foundations&post_type=product).

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