Should we be under the covering of Jewish traditions?
A woman I had met at a multi-church gathering contacted me and was
trying to convince me that the promise came through the Jews and
therefore we should step under the "covering" of the Jewish traditions.
Because of your book I was able to stand firm against the law and
rejoice even more in my own freedom.
Question: When did we come out from under the law? at the cross - so
EVERYONE is out from under it or when we become children of God by the
indwelling Holy Spirit - so only Christians are out from under?
Part of our sinful nature is to pursue our self interest. The emptiness
in our spirit before we receive the Spirit of God through rebirth
expresses itself by our trying to find fulfillment in virtually
anything. Even after rebirth through the restoration of the Spirit of
God within us, our old nature still presents itself as our minds are
continually being renewed in our new life in Christ. God uses this to
draw us to Him in terms of salvation, but there is the constraint that
what He offers is not necessarily what people turn to Him for. I have
found many people who seek what He never came to offer, and reject what
He did come to give. It is not unusual for people to turn to God with
the motivation that they will experience the blessings of God. It is as
if God is the great vending machine in the sky that responds to us when
we have a need. The promises and blessings of God in the scriptures are
also often looked at in a similar manner. When I encounter people such
as you've described, they are generally people who are simply looking for something from God out of their
own self interest, and really have no interest in what they have already
received if they are truly in Christ.
The promise certainly came through the Jews, but that has nothing to do
with our needing to burden our lives with practicing Jewish traditions.
The promise was given to Abraham that the Messiah would be one of his
descendants. This is revealed in the third chapter of Galatians and the
following verses in Genesis: Gen 12:3, Gen 18:18, Gen 22:18. The promise
was made, and fulfilled, as we now have the life of God available to be
restored as a free gift to all who would receive it. This is then our
new life, and we are to walk in the newness of this life. The life we
now live is with a total dependency on our God through the Lord Jesus
and the Holy Spirit indwelling us. Given that she wanted to encourage
you to be under the law and the traditions as if they were law, I don't
see any evidence that she understands the scope of this.
I have found many times over the years that people who make such a
statement as this truly believe that you must effectively become Jewish
if you are to experience anything from God. This is probably because
they don't know God, and therefore have no alternative but to turn
towards something else, anything, even if it is Jewish traditions. I
grew up with Jewish traditions, and continued to practice them for
several years after I came to know Jesus as my Messiah, and in all
honesty, I found no value in them at all. In fact, they were a serious
hindrance with regards to my personal growth as they enforced a focus on
myself, and completely distracted me from the love of God. Messianic
congregations, which she is undoubtedly from, have had a regular
struggle since this new fad began. The
struggle is that the members often convert to Judaism and effectively
reject Jesus as the Messiah. It causes a great deal of confusion in
the leadership, and it is because they really don't practice what they preach. If they did, converting to Judaism is to be expected as a
result. Some who actually have a Jewish lineage (very few in Messianic
congregations really do) will even emigrate to Israel to try and find
fulfillment and the peace of God, and live a very miserable life,
because Jesus isn't there either. He is either in your heart, or not.
The notion of coming under the, "covering" has to do with trying to
obtain blessings from God. The whole idea rejects the reality that if
you are in Christ, you have already received all the blessings you will
ever need. Eph 1:3 In addition, just because the promise came through
the Jews, doesn't mean we need to become Jews. There is something
entirely different called a new creation in Christ. The Gentile needs to
become a new creation just as the Jew needs to become a new creation.
We did effectively come out from under the law when Jesus died. The
reason why I say this is because the demands of the law were fulfilled
through the crucifixion. The law demanded death, and Jesus died on our
behalf. I being a Jew, subjected myself under the law for many years,
and coming out from under it took several years as I needed God to
reveal to me the purpose and foreshadowing of each and every law given
through Moses. But the Gentiles were never under the law. He gave it to
the Israelites because they were His chosen people. They were chosen to
be an example to demonstrate that it cannot be obeyed, regardless of a person's sincerity. It is odd, but what
often takes place that the Gentiles think they are going to do a better
job than the Jews, assuming that Jesus is going to some how give them
supernatural power to live a sinless life. The Gentiles don't even need
the law of Moses, for they have also selected lists of their own laws
according to what particular denomination they are members of. But the
truth remains that the law
does absolutely nothing but stir up more sin, especially the sin of
pride. It doesn't matter what system of law you subject yourself too,
you must still come out from under it.
Your question also asks if there is selectivity with regards to
placement under the law. When we receive the Holy Spirit and are born
again, we certainly experience the benefit of the crucifixion through
the resurrection. But to be honest with you, when we all stand before
God, I don't think He's going to look at the lost as being under the
law, and the saved being under grace. I think He's just going to look at
those who are dead and those who are alive. He gave the law to show us
our depravity, but He never put us under it with the expectation that we
would ever fulfill it. That's also why He was able to give it to the
Israelites without also giving it to the Gentiles, because the law is
not really the issue.
The law still has its value, but I use it to demonstrate to someone
there depravity and need for a savior. So putting a person under it
becomes an act of comparison, not an attempt to create a burden.
Recently I talked to a couple of Mormon missionaries and used the law to
the extent that one of them cursed me. The pressure was just too strong
for him to accept.
The message I continually give is to continually grow in our
understanding of what we have already received. As a person grows in
Christ living in and through them, the subject of the law will simply
pass away. In the mean time, I often try to tolerate a person's desire
to obey a law they can't, with hope that they will begin to receive the
love of God, and experience it as it is subsequently given to others