I have been working with an aspirant Messianic Jew who, because of his background in Judaism, has a huge problem with Christians. Because, he says, he is dedicated 100% to the Torah, he doesn't want to have anything to do with with 'Torahless' or 'lawless' Christians. He is afraid to be 'contaminated' by them and doesn't know what to do.
"Elohim (God) demonstrates His own ahavah (love) toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Messiah died for us" (Rom.5:8, NKJV).
First of all, there is not a single 'lawless' Christian in existence; second, there isn't a single Jew, Messianic or anyone else for that matter who is 100% Torah-obedient. The only person who ever obeyed Torah without sinning was Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) which qualified Him to be our sin-bearer.
Under the Covenant of Moses, people were justified (made right, or declared righteous) by their emunah (faith) in Yahweh-Elohim. This emunah (faith), if it was authentic, led them to obey the mitzvot (commandments) and the sacrificial prescriptions ordained as a temporary solution to the problem of sin until Messiah came, thus making that emunah (faith) complete (see Romans, Galatians, James).
When Messiah came, Yahweh transferred all Kingdom toqef (authority) to His Son and He in turn fulfilled His Father's commandment to be a ransome for man's sin by becoming a substitutory sacrifice on the cross. To be justified with the Father in the B'rit Chadashah (New Covenant) we must now have a complete deliverance from sin because without that it is impossible not to be lawless! Anyone who tries to obey the Torah without being spiritually regenerated (born again) following emunah (faith, trusting) and making teshuvah (repenting) is not right with Yahweh because he is not right with Yah'shua (Jesus) having not received a free pardon from sin. Any Torah-keeping that is attempted without being made right with Yahweh through the Son in this way is not only profitless but impossible.
Many coming from Judaism to Messiah don't 'get' this because they have been so accustomed to trying to obey Torah in their own strength and in emunah (faith) apart from Messiah (not to mention all the other man-made Talmudic rules that put him into bondage) that they bring over this mindset with them to Messianism and simply try to 'add' Yah'shua (Jesus). It doesn't work like that, and it can't work like that.
Messiah is not an 'add-on' to Judaism in any form. In the B'rit Chadashah (New Covenant) He is the beginning and the end, the alef and taw, the alpha and omega (Rev.1:8,11). ALL Torah obedience has to flow out of being in right relationship with Him as a "new creation" (2 Cor.5:17; Gal.6:15) because Torah must be inscribed on the lev (heart) by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) - we do not simply follow the letter of Torah because it must become alive - a living principle reflecting in spontaneous, set-apart (holy) lifestyle. And it can only become alive in Messiah. All other Torah, while having obvious social value, is useless spiritually and does not, in the one who observes it, indicate either that he is in right relationship with Elohim (God) or that he is justified.
This ought to be common sense but there are so many religious spirits (demons) that block people's thinking, creating irrational fears and making them impotent spiritually. And believing in any kind of lies opens doors to the enemy. Let us address some of those lies now.
First, there is not a born-again Christian alive who is totally lawless. Pick out any evangelical, question him, and make a list of all the mitzvot (commandments) he is obeying and (if you are a Messianic), you mght be surprised. To be 100% lawless would mean that you would have to be Satan or a demon. There are hundreds of thousands of Evangelical Christians who obey Torah to varying degrees, even if they do not obey it all. For the most part, they seek to obey the moral and ethical Torah which is the most important part of Torah and which Yah'shua (Jesus) and the apostles stressed. Every authentic Messianic stresses these. Where most Messianics complain against Evangelicals and Christians in general is their refusal, by-and-large, to observe the sabbath, the annual festivals, the dietary laws. And whilst these are not unimportant, their application is primarily outward and temporal - no one will be observing these in the spirit world, will they, because there is no time, no physical body and there are no heavenly bodies with which to reckon them there. The moral and ethical law is the main thing because that is what defines your character in Messiah.
This means that a very large number of Evangelical Christians are Torah-obedient in respect of the most important aspects of the Law, which Yah'shua (Jesus) summarised as loving Elohim (God) and loving your neighbour.
I repeat, I an not saying that we do not have to observe the sabbath, festivals or kosher dietary law! There is no doubt we are commanded to do them and doing so brings huge blessings. But what good would these be, in reality, without the moral and ethical Torah? Israel and Judah were condemned for obeying the outward forms of the Torah whilst hypocritically disobeying the moral and ethical law. They observed sabbath but stole. They observed kashrut but committed adultery. They tithed but committed murder. Scripture in both the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'rit Chadashah Scriptures (New Testament) makes it abundantly clear that moral Torah always takes precendence over the ritual without negating the latter.
There are therefore - in this order of importance - three things that identify a true believer:
As I look at both Evangelicals and Messianics I do not frankly see much to distinguish them except for some outward differences. And neither, do I believe, does Yahweh. It is good and right that we insist that Yahweh commands us to obey sabbath, the seven festivals, and the new moon, but how many Messianics are even doing this correctly? In my experience, very few because most are following Roman time-keeping practices and not the original creation calendar (and thus observing the sabbaths and festivals on the wrong days) in the same way that Christians are observing pagan Roman festivals! Which, then, is the greater sinner? Who is the more lawless? The self-righteous (and therefore morally lawless) Messianic who boasts of his outward law-keeping or the disobedient Christians who seeks to be morally and ethically right with Yahweh but who fails to comply with the outer requirements by worshipping on Sunday and celebrating Christmas?
- 1. Repenting, trusting in Messiah, and being spiritually regenerated (no works involved, just emunah/faith);
- 2. Obeying the moral and ethical Torah; and
- 3. Obeying outward observances that have not (like animal sacrfices) been abolished by Messiah's death and resurrection.
I am not, of course, weighing them on the scales and asking you to pick one or the other as the 'greater sinner' - only Yahweh can do that.
Both Christians and Messianics are lawless in different ways! In other words, both are in need of repentance! So Messianics who accuse Christians of being lawless, and refuse to have anything to do with them, are simply self-righteous prigs who are lawless in their own right who need to repent! And Christians who accuse Messianics of being legalists need to repent of their laxity and refusal to be obedient to all the commandments, for Yahweh will by no means justify those who pick and choose what commandmetns they feel they should obey.
The bottom line of the Besorah (Gospel) is that no man can possibly save himself by what he does or does not do. The whole of the Book of Galatians is a rebuke to those who would try to save themselves - or earn salvation - by trying to 'obey' Torah in their own strength, rather then depending on Elohim (God) through Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus) and His Grace in divine tavnith (pattern), out of which obedience flows.
The way every true believer is identified - the way it can be determined that he has actually met Elohim (God) and received the New Life in Messiah - is by the fact that he is bearing the fruits of repentence. And what are these? They are the recognition that sin is in their lives and that they are earnestly trying to do something about it. For it is only through the ahavah (love) of Elohim (God) and the power of the indwelling Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) that a soul is enabled to turn away from sin - Messianic and Evangelical alike - and to abide even deeper in Yah'shua (Jesus).
The issue is whether we recognise we are sinners are are repenting, or not - not whether we are 'lawless' or Torah-disobedient because we all are! While we were yet sinners and lawless, Elohim (God) loved us and provided grace for us and reached out for us without compromising righteousness.
There are true believers and there are believers who are deceived, not two categories called 'Christians' and 'Messianics'. These labels do not exist in heaven - I use them only as handles because they are a part of our common vocabularly. That is why we call ourselves Messianic Evangelicals - since we're both, and neither.
What both 'Evangelicals' and 'Messianics' both have to realise is that some have never heard the emet (truth) about certain things (like the Divine Names and festivals), and are not deliberately trying to be lawless - they are simply ignorant and decieved. These souls are not 'untouchables', infected with some fatal spiritual bug whom we must denounce and shun - they are learning just like you and me. These people, no matter what labels they use to identify themselves with, no matter what is missing in their walk as talmidim (disciples), are - to the best of their understanding - seeking to honour Yahweh and keep His mitzvot (commandments). Whether 'Christian' or 'Messianic', they are equally saved. They are saved works-in-progress. What worries me are those who lack proper spiritual perspective to see these things, who judge in the arrogance and pride of their levim (hearts), condemning one or the other by putting on airs of superiority. They are not seeing as Messiah sees. They are missing the mark. They are sinning against their brothers and sisters, and against their common Redeemer.
What, in any case, do we have that we did not originally receive from Yahweh? Did we originate any of our righteousness? Do we have anything to really boast of? We need to remember that there were times when we were also deceived and hardened and it was only through the patience and long-suffering of other believers who knew the emet (truth) better than us but who did not condemn us as 'unsaved Romanists worshipping a false Roman Jesus' or 'unsaved Jewish Pharisee legalists', that kept us focussed on the right things. In spite of our blindness to Torah or to grace, Yahweh reached out to us in His ahavah (love) and caused our minds and hearts to grow ever more into the fullness.
Knocking someone who has not seen or received what we have does not make us better or superior. Usually this is the fruit of pride, which Yahweh hates. It is time for antagonistic Christians and Messianics to stop waging civil war in the Body of Messiah and to listen to what Yah'shua (Jesus) is saying. Both have much to learn from each other. Learn how to find the true centre by following the lofty example of Count Zinzendorf and know shalom (peace)!
Comments From Readers
 "Aggression, self-righteousness, hard-heartedness, presumption and offense are other forms of lawlessness. It has been interesting to see that the common personality type of the person who is dissonant and requires others to follow their own particular traditions before they will accept them, usually it's the result of having been raised in overly authoritarian home or religion, to the point of becoming dependent on those rigid structures. That is where the inability to see beyond their own context comes from, and literally requires deliverance or some form of pattern-altering intervention to change it. To all intents and purposes, it's a form of reprobation that is very hard to change unless Yah intervenes" (SP, Ireland, 19 January 2017)