This week’s Torah Portion is Parashat B’chukotai (In My Statutes) Leviticus 26:3-27:34.
The name of this week’s Torah portion states exactly what HaShem wants from every believer in Messiah Yeshua; that is to walk in His statutes. Often when Christians hear this there is reluctance to this idea because it sounds like legalism or going back under the Law. Nothing could be further from the truth. Legalism is related to a salvation based in obedience. This is not what the Scripture teaches; however salvation ought to lead to obedience! The next question is “Obedience to what?” The answer is the Word of G-d.
Recently I was asked this question and when I answered; “The Word of G-d” the person was relieved and remarked, “Good, I thought you were going to say the commandments.” Is not the commandments part of the Word of G-d? What is this common view that somehow the commandments are no longer appropriate or relevant for believers? The response is frequently that as believers we are no longer under the Law. This phrase, “No longer under the Law” relates to judgment and by no means should it be understood that the Law no longer has relevance for the follower of Yeshua.
The fact of the matter is this, the obligation or requirement to keep the Law is only binding upon one as long as he is alive. Death frees one from the obligation to live according to the Law or suffer punishment. As a follower in Messiah Yeshua, I accept Paul’s declaration that believers died with Messiah. Likewise, as believers, when Yeshua rose from the dead, we rose with Him. Hence, since Messiah’s death is my death, the punishment of being a law breaker, i.e. sinner has already been placed upon me at the Cross of Messiah. Then it is Scripturally correct to say that I am free of the punishment of the Law and no longer obligated to keep the Law / Torah. However, to say that the Law is no longer relevant to the believer is absolutely incorrect.
Recently I was asked if there are any of the commandments of the Torah that the believer is obligated or required to keep. Before I answer this question I must know what is the intent of the words “obligated” or “required”? If the intent is to be accepted into the Kingdom of G-d the answer is, “No not one.” Many believers, when hearing this, turn and walk away relieved and happy. But this is not the proper response. The key aspect of the question is “obligated” or “required”. Believers are not obligated or required to do anything to be saved, it is a gift from G-d, by means of His grace, which is received by faith.
The proper response of a true believer is to want to walk in the righteousness of the Law. This is what Paul states in Romans chapter 8. The only ones who can do so are those who walk in the Spirit. A primary purpose of one receiving the Gospel is that he or she does not want to live in sin. The Torah still defines what sin is. Here is the conclusion of this matter.
Each believer should want to live in obedience to the Word of G-d, all of the Word of G-d. Although Messiah Yeshua’s death frees me absolutely from the Torah (the punishment of the Torah and any obligation to it), it does not render the truth of the Torah null and void. As believers we are called to meditate day and night upon all of Scripture and under the leadership of the Holy Spirit apply all of Scripture to one’s life.
Nearly half of the commandments of the Torah are no longer possible to keep for a variety of reasons, the primary reason is that there is no Temple. The destruction of the Temple is not a random happening, but part of the plan of G-d. Since the Torah should be viewed as one unit, and if there is even one commandment that cannot be kept, then the Torah is not in force, but it still has validity. Again, please notice that I did not say, “The Torah is not relevant.”
The Torah for the believer in this age is not an instrument for judgment, but it contains much wisdom and should be utilized under the illumination of the Holy Spirit for guiding one’s walk with G-d. Remember, salvation has come upon you by faith so you can be free from sin and walk in the newness of life, i.e. the obedience which Messiah Yeshua demonstrated.