Sunday, June 12, 2016

Rom. 6:16-17: Paul, teaching righteousness, teaching Torah

Romans 6:16-18 16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

Here we see, the apostle Paul, a Pharisee (Acts 23:6), teaching about the new life, and believers living lives of obedience to righteousness.  We see that in v. 16 he teaches us that you are a slave of what or whom you obey, giving us two options: 1) either of sin, resulting in death, which Paul had taught earlier in his letter to the Romans (Rom. 6:23), or 2) of obedience, resulting in righteousness. 

But now we have a dilemma.  The modern "Church," teaches that Yeshua (Jesus) fulfilled the Law so that we don't have to keep it.  In fact, I have had pastors tell me that trying to keep the Law is bondage, and will send you to hell (speaking of me, personally)!  So is the apostle Paul telling believers that Yeshua died to set them free from something that they are now obligated to live by, or that they are free from?

He is instructing believers that they are to live for righteousness, to live in obedience to it.  But living in obedience implies something, a standard, a rule or Law that must be obeyed!  If we are to live in obedience, the Law then is not dead.  It remains true and in effect today just as it was two thousand years ago.  The apostle is instructing believers under the New Covenant through Yeshua's death and resurrection (on Passover and the feast of First Fruits), to live in obedience to the Instruction (Torah) Yhwh commanded his people keep forever (1 Chr. 16:15; Ps. 105:8).

This teaching found in the depths of the New Covenant itself, in a book championed by the Reformers for teaching the doctrine of salvation by grace, actually hearkens back to the teachings in the Torah.  In Deutoronomy 28, the Yhwh speaks through Moses, his servant, and he speaks of the blessing that will be received for living lives in obedience to the Instruction of Yhwh (Deut. 28:1f)  It also speaks of the curses, sickness and destruction to follow after those who live lives of disobedience to the word of Yhwh (Deut. 28:15f).

In the New Testament (B'rit Chadasha) the apostle tells us that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).So we see that the New Covenant is not in juxtaposition to the Old Testament, in fact, Paul is confirming the Biblical teaching of the Torah, for the New Covenant believers to follow and live their lives after.

17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

When the apostle Paul teaches that believers have become obedient from the heart, he is repeating the teaching of the prophet Jeremiah who first defined what the New Covenant (B'rit Chadashah) would be.
Jeremiah 31:33 33 "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My torah within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

In one of the first teachings/promises for a new Covenant, Jeremiah is prophesying that the Yah's Torah would be written on the hearts of His people.  This is one reason why in the churches today, there are so many "cultural Christians," people who claim the name of Messiah, and defile Elohim's name among the nations, because with the teaching that "we are free from the Torah," they live lives of lawlessness, looking no different from the rest of the world, while receiving the comfort and assurance of Yhwh's blessing on their lives. 

The Hebrew Apostles knew the Tanakh, and they knew the Psalms.  They understood the teaching that Torah IS righteousness, it is Truth (Ps. 145:142)!  The apostle John tells us that everyone who lives in (active, continual) sin, lives in lawlessness (1 Jn. 3:4)!  And so Paul, writing in chapter three of his great systematic exposition on salvation by grace, tells us in verse thirty-three, "What then, shall we nullify the Law (Torah) through grace?  May it never be!  Rather, we establish the Torah!"

In our churches in America, the West, for so long, it has been taught that the Law and Grace are opposed to each other, and has given support to doctrines (ie, teachings of men) such as "dispensations."  But it seems the apostle is not teaching that the Torah and grace are in opposition, but rather, that the Torah, and grace, go hand and hand! 

Psalm 119:32 32 I shall run the way of Your commandments, For You will enlarge my heart.

Psalm 119:96-104 96 I have seen a limit to all perfection; Your commandment is exceedingly broad. Mem. 97 O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, For they are ever mine. 99 I have more insight than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the aged, Because I have observed Your precepts. 101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way, That I may keep Your word. 102 I have not turned aside from Your ordinances, For You Yourself have taught me. 103 How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 From Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.

Understanding more about the Hebrew mindset of the authors of the Bible, we can see that the theology of the Bible is seamless.  There are no two separate parts.  Scripture is one united, complete whole!  It's theme from beginning to end is the restoration of Eden, and Yhwh fulfilling His promises to Avraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their descendants.

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