Doers Of The Law Will Be Justified

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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).


No Private Interpretation?

Have you ever had someone tell you that you should not study the Bible in the privacy of your own home because “Peter said the Scriptures were of no private interpretation”? I have.

In my opinion, people often say things like this because they want to be the authority on Scripture interpretation and/or they don’t want others to interpret Scripture by themselves. I guess they expect us to believe everything someone preaches or teaches without question.

The first problem with this scenario is that this quote is often taken out of context. Here is what the Scriptures say:

Second Peter 1:19-21 says, “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

First, this passage is talking about prophecy of Scripture and not Scripture in general. Second, the word for “interpretation” comes from the Greek word epilusis which can also mean “source” or “origin.” In verse 21, Peter further explains that the source of prophecy is not the will of man but the Ruach HaKodesh. To translate epiluseos as “interpretation” does not make sense when combined with verse 21; translating it as “source” or “origin” does.

Don’t forget, Peter had been with Yeshua, the Messiah; he saw many of the Messianic prophecies fulfilled before his very eyes. These prophecies accurately prophesied Yeshua’s first coming; their fulfillments are found in the gospels. They were accurately fulfilled because the source of the prophecies was the Ruach HaKodesh. The remaining Messianic prophecies will be fulfilled in the future just as accurately because their origin is the Ruach HaKodesh too.

Second Peter 2 continues this discussion by mentioning false prophets and teachers who do not rely on the Ruach HaKodesh; they speak from their own wills. Peter warns us that false prophets and teachers existed in the past and others like them will exist in the future. Peter said they would bring in destructive heresies; these are beliefs or opinions that don’t agree with the official beliefs or teachings of God. This is different from the official beliefs of “the church.”

I think many of us have come to realize that heresies did in deed arise over the centuries, and we find ourselves trying to get back to orthodoxy (true belief/faith). This is the main reason for the Hebraic Roots movement. Unfortunately, in an effort to learn the truth, even more strange beliefs have cropped up among those in Hebraic Roots circles. This is dangerous and can be destructive. We must be aggressively on the lookout for false teachers by examining their fruit. False teachers often have Jezebel spirits that are arrogant, prideful, manipulative, controlling, and verbally abusive; they often demand you believe what they teach without question while appearing to be righteous and holy. They confront and attempt to crush those who question or oppose their teachings.

How do we deal with the possibility of false teaching? Certainly, we have to be very careful as we learn the culture of Biblical times and use that as a backdrop to interpret Scripture. More importantly, we need to follow the example of the Bereans.

Acts 17:10-13 says, “Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.”

Like the Bereans, we need to study the Scriptures in the original languages as much as we can to see if a teaching is consistent with the majority of Scripture. This is necessary because Bible translators sometimes incorrectly translated the Scriptures into our heart language because they:

  • Were biased by false doctrines that have been held for centuries;
  • Lacked a complete knowledge of Torah or Hebraic cultural background.

If this is not bad enough, they have also kept phrases or portions of the text that were added by other translators to the Greek text centuries ago (i.e. 1 John 5:7). We must ask the Ruach HaKodesh to reveal these additions to us, and to help us verify that they truly are additions. Once we know certain phrases are complete additions to the Greek text, we can’t allow their presence to influence our beliefs.

As you behave like a Berean, you will occasionally discover translation errors or places where translation could be improved so things are consistent with Torah and Hebraic culture. Besides 2 Timothy 1:20, another example of this would be Matthew 28:1 where the word “Sabbath” should have been translated in the plural as it is in the Greek. That would allow people to realize more easily that 3 full days and nights had passed since the death and burial of Yeshua. He most likely died on a Wednesday [on Preparation Day] and was buried just before the beginning of the first High Sabbath of Unleavened Bread. He rose from the dead long before sunrise on Sunday [on the Day of Firstfruits], which began just after the close of the weekly Sabbath. With all the Bible translations available, you’d think one would have the courage to translate the word Sabbath in the plural as it is written in the Greek.

As we study the Scriptures, we need to ask the Ruach HaKodesh to reveal possible translation errors and bias to us. Remember John 16:13: “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” The Ruach will be guiding us according to the Father’s authority which should always match Torah.

We need to make sure we are properly interpreting Torah by checking the Hebrew and/or Greek when we see something elsewhere in Scripture that appears to contradict Torah or when we feel the Spirit is trying to get us to see something. This will require at least a minimum of Hebrew and Greek knowledge and tools to get the job accomplished.

Get together with others who are studying the same Scriptures you are and compare notes and thoughts. If you can share your thoughts and ideas without arguing, you can sharpen one another and it can be very satisfying. Allow the Ruach to guide you all together into truth as you bounce possibilities off each other.

Consider inductive language learning; this is easier to grasp than how you’d learn in a traditional seminary class. I suggest Learn Biblical Hebrew AND Learn Biblical Greek by John Dobson; his books have a CD that goes with them. I have not used Zola’s Introduction to Hebrew by John Parsons, but it has been used by a couple of people I know; this book is recommended by This web site is also a good starting place to learn plenty of Hebrew but its grammar section has not yet been completed for several years. I also recommend Animated Hebrew which has lectures based on Allen Ross’s book, Biblical Hebrew. Charles Grebe does a great job teaching Hebrew on this site. See as well as the home page for other resources. In addition, consider Biblical Hebrew: A Compact Guide to Hebrew (by Van Pelt) and the similar book for Greek (by Mounce). These have considerably condensed the grammar of what you’d get in a seminary course.

In my opinion, Biblical languages can be elephants to digest, but don’t be afraid of them. If you have to, learn in layers; digest what you can and get an overall picture of the languages first. In other words, get functional. Keep going back to build vocabulary, add more grammar, and learn verb paradigms. Over time, your knowledge will grow and things will become clearer.

You might want to get one or more Bible Software programs and learn how to use them. If that’s not in your budget, at least have an inter-linear Bible in a font size you can read, a concordance, regular Greek and Hebrew lexicons, and Greek and Hebrew analytical lexicons (to determine parts of speech and verb constructions).  Download various free pdf versions if you need to.  Just learn how to use them and keep them nearby as handy references.

Finally, don’t let anyone tell you not to study the Scriptures! Meditate on them day and night!