We live in an increasingly secular culture. This should challenge...
What rules should we now live by?
The Torah of Moses declares that, but now I say this. What we have is the Jesus Torah, which is the original one processed according to that prophecy in Jeremiah 31:33:
“I will put My Torah (Teaching) in their inward parts and write it in their hearts … “
What Jesus is saying is that, from now on, we need to look not just on our external actions – the focus of the Torah of Moses – but the motivations of our heart. Adultery is birthed in the heart, not the actual deed. Fighting evil with evil may have been the modus operandi for the black and white world of Moses, but now that the Holy Spirit lives within us we must always act as a witness to the love that we have for others and set a good example.
So we need to process Torah through the Jesus filter, to be consistent with the work of sanctification – becoming more and more like Jesus – that the Holy Spirit is doing in us.
“The one who says he remains in Him is obligated to walk the same walk just as that One walked.” (1 John 2:6 One New Man Bible)
Jesus made many references to the Torah, as Biblical instructions that were still valid in his day:
“Therefore everything that you would want that people would do to you, in this way you must also do to them: for this is the Torah and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 ONMB)
“And He said to them, “These are the messages I told you while I was still with you, that it is necessary for everything to be fulfilled that has been written about Me in the Torah of Moses and in the Prophets and the Psalms.” (Luke 24:44 ONMB)
But he also made many hints that he came to teach people to live with Torah in their hearts. You will get the gist of this from the following passages:
“Or have you not read in the Torah that on the Sabbaths the priests in the Temple desecrate the Sabbath and are innocent? And I say to you that One greater than the Temple is here. And if you had understood what is written, ‘I desire loving kindness and not sacrifice,’ you would not condemn the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:5-8 ONMB)
God instituted the Sabbath, you will remember, so He has every right to do what He wishes on the day. The point being made here is that love and service is more in keeping with the Torah in our heart than the rigidity shown by those who were criticising Jesus.
“But when the Pharisees heard that He silenced the Sadducees they gathered together against Him, and one of them, a teacher of Torah, testing Him asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Torah. And He said to him, “‘You will love the Lord your God with your whole heart and with your whole being and with your whole mind: this is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like it, ‘You will love your neighbour as yourself.’ The whole Torah and the Prophets are hanging on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:34-40 ONMB)
And this encapsulates it all, the fact that all 613 instructions of the Torah of Moses can be summarised just by two of them, with the simple command to love God and your fellow man. That’s both the heart of the Torah and the Torah in our heart.
“Woe to you, hypocrite scribes and Pharisees, because you tithe the mint and the dill and the cumin but you have cancelled the more important things of the Torah, justice and mercy and faith: but it was necessary to do these things but not to cancel those things. Blind guides, those who strain the gnat, but swallow the camel.” (Matthew 23:23-24 ONMB)
The scribes and Pharisees just didn’t get it, because they were still locked into the paradigm of seeing Torah as just about externalities, rather than inner motivations and, in particular, the important things, justice, mercy and faith.
“Because we all took grace upon grace from His fullness: for the Torah was given through Moses, the grace and the truth came through Y’shua Messiah.” (John 1:16-17 ONMB)
Here we are shown the difference between the Torah of Moses and the Jesus Torah, the Torah in our heart, the added grace that the Messiah brought to the mix.
So we have sufficient evidence for the esteem that Jesus had for the Torah and how his own teachings brought out the true heart behind God’s instructions for His people.
What are the rules we follow, then? What is the Torah of Jesus, the treasures that lie within? We could list them out by simply trawling through the Gospels, but to help you, there are around 160 instructions relevant to 21st Century Gentile Christians.
Loving God is preeminent. And so it is in our condensed Torah. Of the 160 instructions, about a third are concerned with loving, respecting and following God and the rest deal with our conduct with our fellow man. To find out more details on this, read God’s Tapestry.
These instructions from Holy Scripture ought to form the bedrock for the way of life of Christians living today. The principle is the heart and spirit behind these instructions/laws. God really wants us to live the best we can and especially so in a society that has basically torn up the rulebook in matters of ethics, morality and righteousness. It really would help if we can align ourselves with at least some guidelines, derived from the Word of God.
In terms of Livin’ the Life we should primarily focus on the three principles from earlier chapters; honour God, reflect Jesus, engage with the Holy Spirit but to also reference the laws that Jesus affirms in the Gospels, or the principles they represent, in dealing with whatever situation life throws at you. It’s not about blindly ‘following the law’ or ‘basking in grace’ but rather living a life in the light of both, law and grace working together.
This is an extract from the book, Livin’ the Life, available for £10 at https://www.sppublishing.com/livin-the-life-151-p.asp