Sunday, January 16, 2011

18 New Testament Misconceptions No. 7

#7 Died to the Torah

“Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Torah through the body of Mashiyach, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for Elohim, for while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Torah, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Torah, for we died with Mashiyach, and we are no longer captive to its power. Now we can really serve Elohim, not in the old way by obeying the letter of the Torah, but in the new way, by the Spirit” (Romans 7:4-6)

The heart of this passage is the phrase, “For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Torah, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.” Sinful passions have always been aroused by Torah. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Hawwah came to know sin only when YHWH said “thou shalt not eat” and then after they sinned they tried to cover up their nakedness. In addition the “new way, by the Spirit” is really the old way, of Abraham (Romans 4:2-16), but it became new because by Y’shua’s time the “conventional wisdom” of the Pharisees was anything but wise! The consistent point of Rav Shaul, though, is that Torah is the way sin is defined, and yet, just a few lines later he makes it clear that:

“As a result, Torah is Set Apart; and the Commandment is Set Apart, and righteous and good” (Romans 7:12)

Notice that the “old way” was the Pharisees tradition of obeying the “letter of the Torah,” but this is most certainly not an indictment against Torah! Y’shua taught that Torah is good, but we are instructed to look at the intent, heart and Spirit of Torah:

“Woe to you, teachers of the Torah and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the Torah – justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former” (Matthew 23:23)

“Yet a time is coming, and now has come, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. Elohim is Spirit, and His worshippers must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (Yochanan 4:23-24)

Now let us look at the other passage where “died to the Torah” appears:

“For when I tried to keep the Torah, I realized I could never earn Elohim’s approval. So I died to the Torah so that I might live for Elohim. I have been nailed to the stake with Mashiyach” (Galatians 2:19)

Rav Shaul realized that he had fallen into the same trap that he now accuses other religious authorities of being in. He gives more details on the method behind that trap here:

“For you have heard of my former way of life in Judaism… I was advancing in Judaism beyond the Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers” (Galatians 1:13-14)

Notice Rav Shaul does not mention Torah here, but “the traditions of my fathers” (i.e., the fences built by men around the Torah). Here the ritual became so important that it gave birth to regulations that became erroneously identified as sanctification. Instead, the true justification is in the next line:

“But when Elohim, who set me apart from birth and called me to His favor (grace), was pleased to reveal His Son to me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man” (Galatians 1:12-16)

Once again, it is always the faith behind the rituals that really counts.

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