13. How Should We Judge Messianics? The same way we are to judge (John 7:24) anyone who claims to be a follower of the Saviour of the World:
You will forgive me for taking liberties with the Word but I do so only to illustrate a point: important though Torah is, it was never designed to be used to hate people or erect walls of partition between believers. Sometimes when I am talking to Messianics (and remember, I am one myself) I often feel the need to quote Yah'shua (Jesus) who said:
"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the Torah. He who does not love the Torah abides in death" (Pseudo-1 John 3:14, NKJV).
I guarantee that there isn't a single Messianic who is keeping the Law (Torah) and yet they are quick to condemn all those who do not, even to consigning them to hell. Such a course, I venture to suggest, is shere spiritual folly.
"Did not Moses give you the law (Torah), yet none of you keeps the law (Torah)? Why do you seek to kill Me?" (John 7:19-20, NKJV).
In the New Covenant we are to be Messiah-centric or Christ-centric, not Torah-centric. Obedience to Torah is supposed to flow out of our love, devotion and committment to Yah'shua (Jesus), not the other way round. Only when we have unreservedly given ourselves to the Messiah (Christ) are we to then start measuring our discipleship by a comparison with Yahweh's Torah (Law). And then we should be very careful how we judge others who are failing to be observant for by the judgment we judge, shall we also be judged (Mt.7:2). As Messianics, our commission is, having led souls to the Messiah (Christ), to teach people what His requirements for holy living are and then leave them to respond or not. We cannot force them.
It is a different matter if a believer voluntarily joins himself to your local congregation and then flouts the rules of that congregation. And whilst Yah'shua (Jesus) taught that every statute of Torah is important, even the very least (Mt.5:19), there is a difference between those statutes whose breaking excludes us from the Kingdom and therefore salvation, and those which simply cause us to occupy a lower place within the Kingdom:
When some Messianics make no distinction between these two different categories of sin, and curse (which is what they are effectively doing) believers out of the Kingdom of God for mispronouncing or spelling Deity (for example), they are guilty of a grave sin themselves.
"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God (Eloah)? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor.6:9-10, NKJV)
"Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt.5:19-20, NKJV).
There is another point I want to make. Teaching Torah is right and proper, but there are always two ways to teach - a right way and a wrong way. If you try to force the Kingdom down someone's throat in an aggressive and unloving manner, it doesn't matter how accurate your theology may be, because you will not possess the Spirit of Messiah (Christ) and the effect of your witness will be (quite naturally) to drive people away. Yah'shua (Jesus) said that the invitation to His Kingdom was by attraction, not compulsion:
The pull is a natural one and does not signify beating with a rod or a whip. And so when Messianics come breathing the fire of damnation on those who say the word "Jesus" and accuse them of being pagan Zeus-worshippers, they demonstrate a spirit that is utterly alien to the New Covenant, and reminds us more of the severity of the Old Covenant than the grace of the New. For in truth these people, whilst they acknowledge Yah'shua (Jesus) as their Messiah with their lips, are far from Him in their hearts (Is.29:13), and that because they were never born again, having never tasted the sweet fruit of redeeming love. And that true Ruach (Spirit) many, many Protestants most certainly have been touched by, which they demonstrate in the way they treat other people.
"And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw (Gk. hélkusoo) all peoples to Myself" (John 12:32-33, NKJV).
I have no time for the arrogant and vicious finger-pointers and accusers, for such is the spirit of haSatan (the Adversary) who is the "accuser of the brethren" (Rev.12:10). We are all in need of correction, some more than others, but there is a right way to administer that correction and a wrong way. The right way is humility and gentleness mingled with firmness. And the wrong way can have the catastrophic effect of driving the saved out of the Kingdom and to eternal destruction. Woe unto any man who is responsible for such!
14. Pride in Words and Deeds?
The Torah is a great and wonderful thing but we are not supposed to wear it as a badge of superiority. It reveals the heart and mind of Yahweh and was given to us for our protection and blessing.
"For all that is in the world -- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life -- is not of the Father but is of the world" (1 John 2:16, NKJV).
Good and lawful things can be, and are, sometimes used in the wrong way. There was a time when the Israelites used the Ark of the Covenant as a talisman in their wars against the Philistines (1 Sam 4ff). They brought it out of the sanctuary and though by bringing it to the front line if would inspire the troops and bring them good luck. It didn't. In fact, the Philistines captured the Ark for seven months and dealt them a severe defeat.
Many Messianics are very proud that they are Torah-observant and make sure that everybody else knows, especially Protestants. It wouldn't be so bad if they were exalting Yahweh, and indeed they may think they are when in fact they are exalting their own wonderfulness instead. In the end it becomes nothing more than egotism, self-exaltation and pride, which is so clearly manifest in their behavioural fruits.
Observing Torah does not make us superior because observing Torah doesn't actually earn us any kind of favour from Yahweh. Torah-observance is an obligation of the saved and not a work of salvation. Talmudic Jews observe Torah but that does not make them right with Yahweh. Far from it.
It is our duty to teach the truth and expose falsehood but to let Yahweh do the work of changing men's and women's hearts. We can do no more than leave it in His hands. Having taught the truth, we are to water it in love, meekness, gentleness, long-suffering, patience and loving-kindness, remembering that we too were likely once ignorant and in need of forebearance. Yahweh knows our hearts anyway and who are we to say whether someone is being excused because of ignorance or not? When we judge the condition of a believer's soul in anything except the most obvious fruits that the apostles detail (things all can see) such as fornication, idolatery, adultery, homosexual acts, sodomy, theft, covetousness, drunkardness, revilry, and extortion (1 Cor.6:9-10) which we know will exclude him from heaven, we may be setting ourselves up as God / G-d / Eloah and should take great care.
"Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins" (Prov.10:12, NKJV).