Doers Of The Law Will Be Justified

Be sure to check out my new page for Torah Portions…

Does Romans really teach the law has been abolished? The answer is, emphatically no.

The problem that Christians have with Paul in Romans 6 and 7 is that Paul is talking about two laws, the law of God and the law of sin (Romans 7:25). In Romans 8:2, these two laws are referred to as the law of the Spirit and the law of sin and death. Christians can’t see these two laws clearly because they lack a solid foundation of Torah from a Hebraic perspective and because they have accepted incorrect teaching that has been passed down to them for many generations.

Let’s begin this discussion with Romans 2:9:  “There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek.”  Is the opposite of this true?  It should be, but it sure hasn’t been my experience.  The law of YHVH defines what is good, righteous, and holy. It defines evil by telling us what to avoid.  If we don’t embrace the law of YHVH, we can expect tribulation and distress on a regular basis, especially as the end comes upon us. Of course, we can also expect this when we are surrounded by others who commit evil too.  It’s just how life can be.

Paul is really not presenting a new concept.  He’s presenting what Moses said in Deuteronomy 11:26-28. Basically, you will be blessed if you obey the commandments of YHVH your God, or you will be cursed if you disobey the commandments of YHVH your God.

When we think about our lives, we know that we have often given in to the sinful desires of the flesh.  Just as Messiah died and was raised from the dead, we are to put to death the deeds and desires of the flesh and walk in newness of life by the power of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).

We are not to be slaves of sin but slaves of righteousness.  According to John 8:34, “if you commit sin, you are a slave of sin.”  Since we all sin from time to time, I think he is speaking more in terms of habitual sin.  In Romans 6:6, Paul said that our old man was crucified with Messiah so that the body of sin might be done away with; in other words, we should no longer be slaves of sin.  Sin came into the world through Adam; this resulted in death being spread to all men.  In a similar fashion, Messiah reversed that result through one act of righteousness. Previously, Adam’s sin led to the condemnation of many, but Messiah’s righteousness led to justification of many.

So what is justification? Justification is the action of declaring someone righteous in God’s sight.  It is a separate act from what the law does, and it takes place as a result of a few separate things (Romans 3:21-31).

First, there is an act of righteousness that comes through faith.  For Abraham, it was a faith that God would keep His promise that Abraham’s descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the heaven (Genesis 15:4-6).  That one act of belief was considered righteousness for Abraham. It was an act of faith that looked into the future, which he could not see with his own eyes.  For us, our act of faith is believing that God raised Yeshua from the dead (Romans 4:23-25). This is an act of faith that looks into the past, which we cannot see with our own eyes.

Second, there is an act of righteousness that comes by God’s grace as a gift.  This gift or act of righteousness is God’s free to us, but it was a costly gift from the Father.  It was the cost of redemption put forth by God; it was the blood of Yeshua given as a propitiation for our sin.

When we believe that God raised Yeshua from the dead, we are believing/trusting that we have been redeemed from the curse of the law of sin and death with the blood of Yeshua, which was given as a propitiation for our sin. Folks, this is not the end of the story as most Christians believe it to be.

These two acts of righteousness were performed by two different parties to draw us into an ancient covenant with one another.  I’m speaking of the covenant on Mount Sinai where YHVH gave the terms of the covenant to Moses to pass on to the mixed multitude that came out of Egypt.

We can see this displayed in the following chiasm:

Faith of Abraham: that YHVH would keep His promise of many descendants and give him land as an inheritance. Abraham killed and cut the offerings given for the covenant where God, as a smoking oven and burning torch walked between the cut parts (Genesis 15:4-21). 

God sending Moses to lead the people out of slavery and through the waters of the Red Sea to the other side.

A seh (animal from the sheep or the goats) was offered as Passover sacrifice for the Threshold Covenant.

**Covenant on Mount Sinai

Yeshua was offered as the Passover Lamb for the New Threshold Covenant. The terms of this covenant are the same as the original; these terms are to be written on our hearts.

God send Yeshua to lead people out of slavery to sin. They are to receive the baptism of repentance. They are to cross over/be raised from death to life.

Faith of believers: that God raised Yeshua from the dead so they could walk in newness of life. Believers must receive the free gift of God’s grace with which He redeemed us; this gift of grace was God offering His son, Yeshua as a propitiation for our sin by the hands of wicked men. Believers now stand in grace because they have been bought with a price.

In Romans 3:31, Paul himself said that the law is not abolished because of man’s faith in Yeshua. Indeed, Paul upheld the law of YHVH.  Not only that, Paul previously said, “all who have sinned under the law of YHVH will be judged by the law of YHVH (Romans 2:1).”

Now let me present two apparently conflicting statements Paul made:

  • “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified (Romans 2:13).”
  • “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20).”

Which is it? Is Paul trying to confuse us?  Can both verses be correct? Yes, they can!  The problem is that these verses are often quoted out of context.  Paul has made statements with ellipses.  We must use the context of the text to insert words into the ellipses for it to all make sense.

In Romans 2, Paul is comparing and contrasting lawless, wicked people with lawful, righteous people. It’s a basic repeat of the warning Moses gave to the people long ago.  If you obey YHVH’s commands, you will have blessing and life.

We can restate Romans 2:13 by filling in Paul’s ellipses as: “For it is not the hearers of the law of YHVH who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law of YHVH who will be justified.”

In Romans 3, Paul is talking about those who are all under sin. They are disobedient to the law of YHVH. According to Moses, if you disobey YHVH’s laws, you’ll have cursing and death. This is also known as the law of sin, or the law of sin and death (because sin leads to death).

We can restate Romans 3:20 by filling in Paul’s ellipses as: “For by works of the law of sin no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law of YHVH comes knowledge of sin.”

We are not supposed to allow sin, as define by the law of YHVH, to reign in our lives.  We are not under the law of sin, but the law of grace.

Paul reminded his readers, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? (Romans 6:16)”

Based on what Moses told the second generation that came out of Egypt, Romans 6:23 now makes sense when we clarify the word “sin” this way: “For the wages of sin (lawlessness) is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

So what is the purpose of the law of YHVH? There are two purposes.  First, it was a tutor to teach us what is righteous and what is not (Galatians 3:24-25). In other words, it defines righteousness.  It was also to bring us to Messiah so we could be the seed of Abraham, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:25 seems to indicate we are no longer under this tutor.  Is that correct?  I think this verse specifically applies more to Paul’s original readers in Galatia than to us. The reason I say that is because the Jews and many converted Gentiles were raised on the Torah. They knew it well.  For us, the opposite is often true. We either do not know it at all, or we don’t know it as well as we should. We can look at this concept in a reverse-chiastic fashion.

Torah brings people to Messiah.

**People are redeemed by the blood of Messiah and justified by faith in Messiah.

Those justified by faith in Messiah are brought to Torah so they can learn how to live righteously (walk in holiness).

Acts 15:19-21 supports this idea.  Originally, many Gentiles were turning to Messiah that had no knowledge of Torah.  The Jerusalem Council submitted a letter with a judgment to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.  These are the core teachings of Torah found in Leviticus. These things were the major things plaguing the Gentiles.  They could learn the rest of the Torah from what was being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.

Previously, we mentioned two acts of righteousness. The first was believing that God rose Yeshua from the dead. The second was God’s act of redeeming man with the blood of His son. A third act of righteousness would be man’s trusting in the act of God redeeming people from the curse of the law.  Acts of righteousness are not supposed to stop here.  There are many other acts of righteousness we are expected to do.  We can’t know what all of those are unless we study the Torah and begin doing them.

Why should we be concerned with Torah?  Didn’t Yeshua fulfill the law?  Actually, He did NOT fulfill ALL of it yet.  There is much prophecy to be fulfilled when He returns.  Does that shock you?  It shouldn’t.  Everything won’t be fulfilled until heaven and earth pass away.  Those who teach that the law has already been fulfilled or that it is not necessary to do it will be LEAST in the kingdom of God.  See Matthew 5:17-19 if you aren’t sure.

So why should we be concerned with Torah? It’s because the final purpose of the law of YHVH is our holiness.  This is the fruit we are supposed to bear to God.  We are not to bear the fruit of wickedness.

Look at the following verses:

Romans 6:19:  “I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.”

Romans 6:21-23: “What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? [My answer: Wickedness] For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Again, this is nothing new. Moses gave them same choice many years ago.

With this in mind, let’s look at Romans 7:4-6 with his ellipses filled in:  “Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law (of sin and death) through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another — to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law (of sin and death) were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. 6 But now we have been delivered from the law (of sin and death), having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.”

Now, we look at Torah, we can agree with Paul and say, “Therefore the law (of YHVH) is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good (Romans 7:12).”

So, if you thought the written law was abolished, you probably don’t even know what it teaches.  You need to be tutored in the written law of YHVH so you know what righteousness really is.  As you learn it, go and do it.

If you’ve taught others that the law of YHVH was abolished, repent; start teaching otherwise.

Do not allow yourself to set your mind on the flesh; that leads to death.  Set your mind on the Spirit; this leads to life and peace. Remember, a mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot.  Submit to God’s law and live. This is what being led by the Spirit is all about (Romans 8:6-7, 13).


Forgive and Reconcile With Others

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your worship of YHVH seems to be hindered? Have you ever considered the following verses from Matthew 5:23-24 might be the reason for it?

Matthew 5:23-24 says, “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 “leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

We’re not bringing literal offerings to YHVH on an altar today. We are attempting to be living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to YHVH. We are trying to worship the Father in spirit and in truth so the same principle of these verses applies to us today.

We need to be in right relationship with others before we can approach God. Whether or not we sense our worship of YHVH is being hindered or not, sometimes we need to evaluate ourselves. We don’t have to wait until the 10 Days of Awe to do this. We usually know when we have something against another person, and/or whether or not we sense someone else has something against us. If either is in the affirmative, we need to deal with it.

If we have something against another person, we need to remember Matthew 18:15-22. First we must go to him and talk with him privately. Tell him what he did to you. He may not even realize he’s sinned against you; he may have never intended to do so. Face it, sometimes we’re so caught up in ourselves that we don’t always realize how we treat others.

I’ll be the first to admit, I hate confrontation because I don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings and because I don’t know how the other person will respond. Sometimes I do know how the other person will respond and I don’t want to go there. I think everyone relates to this. When you have to do it:

  • Make sure that you clearly explain the problem so the offender knows exactly what he did wrong.
  • Don’t assume he already knows what the problem is or that he is capable of interpreting your pouting, innuendos, or body language.
  • Don’t throw a tantrum and exchange disgust for one another.
  • Ask if you’ve made yourself clear.
  • Agree and confirm how the matter will be resolved.
  • If it was a misunderstanding, make sure the response or explanation he gave you was satisfactory or if you rejected it.
  • If you don’t believe the explanation, see if someone else can confirm it.
  • Discuss how the problem can be fixed and/or avoided in the future.
  • If it involves a problem in which restitution can be made according to the Scriptures, say so.
  • Treat each offense individually.
  • Be patient with one another, especially if you are dealing with a character/personality flaw.

If the person won’t listen to you or make restitution, go and find two or three witnesses. Have a meeting with the offender and the witnesses to resolve the problem. Make it clear to the group what the sin was and include supporting evidence if there is any so you can get justice.

Yes, make sure you are dealing with a real sin or trespass and not just some petty personality conflict, habit, or mannerism you don’t like.

Make sure there is no room for a false interpretation of the matter. If he can’t financially afford restitution in full, devise a workable plan for restitution to take place over time. If the person is not physically able to do as you want, you may just have to understand that, accept it, and move on.

If the person won’t listen to you and your witnesses, take the matter before the assembly. Again, you must be bringing a sin or trespass before the assembly.

If the person won’t listen to the assembly, do not continue your friendship with him; he is no longer worthy of your love and attention. If he experiences this, he may have a change of heart, repent, and make any necessary restitution. If so, reconcile with him. Then again, accept he may never do so.

Don’t do these steps out of order or skip any step in the process.

Verse 21 and 22 say, “Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”  This is why we need to deal with each offense individually.

Some people say that what Yeshua meant here was an infinite number but I think it refers to a complete finite number; however, I don’t keep count of how many times people offend and hurt me. I’m too busy processing my grief and forgiving them. I’ve accepted the fact that people have hurt me in one way or another my whole life and that it will not stop until I die. Let’s face it, people can be very cruel. We have to forgive them or else we can become bitter and ineffective in our lives. The Greek word for forgive is aphiemi; it means to let go, give up a debt, to keep no longer. We can’t let offenses burden us. We need to release them.

There are two goals for us to bear in mind. The first is reconciliation with others and the second is being forgiven by our heavenly Father for our own sins and trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15 tells us, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

We need to have compassion and mercy on each other; we must forgive each other from our hearts and refuse to retain sins. Consider how depressed the offender might feel if he is rejected by the whole assembly if he refuses to cooperate or make things right. If he wises up, repents, and makes restitution, forgive and comfort him so he won’t be overwhelmed with too much sorrow.

Now, what can you do if you are the one who has offended another person? If you know for sure what you’ve done, go make it right. Sometimes, we don’t always know if we’ve offended someone. Instinct tells us that something may be amiss in our relationships. If they don’t come to us, we can go to that person and ask if there is something wrong. If they say no, accept that as the truth unless their behavior continues to say otherwise. Try to get them to open up and say what’s wrong. If a conflict ensues, work through it. If they refuse to reconcile, I say get two or three witnesses and keep trying.

If they open up, you may be served a list of offenses. They could be true. If so, repent and offer restitution. If there are misunderstandings, work through them. Perhaps someone misunderstood or misinterpreted what you said. Maybe they misread your body language. Maybe they are displeased with your behavior that is a result of your cultural background, and now they think poorly of you. Maybe their response is a bunch of lies that you are unable to refute. This could cause you enormous sorrow and deep depression. You still need to try and work out the problem the best you can.

Be aware that on rare occasions you could be the one who has tried repeatedly to meet with someone to work out a problem to no avail. Suddenly, the tables could be turned on you; that person may bring their own witnesses, make false accusations against you, and claim you refuse to resolve the matter so that you can eventually be cut off from them and the assembly. Things like that can and do happen.  Things can always go awry when we least expect it. This could turn out to be your worst nightmare so be proactive to resolve problems before things get really bad.  When something like this happens, we need to have faith that God’s justice will prevail on earth as in heaven.

Reconciliation is not always easy. Someone once reminded me that giving up on the possibility of reconciliation is not an option. Based on what I can tell from the Scriptures, he was right. Despite many failed attempts at reconciliation, you may have to eventually tell the other person who you offended that you will always be ready and waiting to reconcile with him even if he chooses to go his own way at the moment.

Face it. Relationships can be difficult at times. People come from different cultural backgrounds even though they live in the same geographical region of the world. Some things that are acceptable and expected in some cultures are not the same in others. This is true even among people who walk according to Torah.

Whether or not we’ve sinned against someone, other fuel can be added to the fire of anger against us. You see, we each carry our own burdens and we are expected to share the loads of others. Sometimes people get disgusted with our burdens and our struggle to carry those burdens ourselves. These burdens may be the result of our own sins/trespasses or are the effects of the sins/trespasses of other people in our lives. These burdens can eventually be a source of conflict in our relationships with others. The reason why may be obvious, other times, it may elude us. Perhaps there is the idea of our problems being the result of sin that they believe may be in our past or current life. We can’t know for sure. Whatever the case may be, people can easily get offended, especially those in the Torah observant community.

If our brothers and sisters in Messiah may not be as equipped to encourage us as we’d like, we might need to accept that and move on. Meanwhile, make sure that you are not committing trespasses against others. Love and pray for one another. Encourage each other as best you can. Try to be there for each other. Be dependent on God for your self-worth, not on man.

Remember Leviticus 19:18: “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”

Above all, as you relate to other people, remember the weightier matters of Torah are justice, mercy, and faith.  Don’t overlook these as you obey the commands of YHVH.