Free from the Law...

October 3rd, 2010

The other night I heard a typical catch phrase from author Francis Chan that seems prevalent in Christendom: "Free from the Law". Being Torah Observant, of course I don't agree that any believer is "free from the law" in the way that they are intending (or unbelievers, since their conscience bears witness and they become a law unto themselves - see Romans 2:11:16). But later it struck me as to how utterly dangerous such a statement is when it is not qualified with a correct contextual explanation. So if you believe or have ever been taught that you are "free from the law" (whether it's because of something Jesus did, or perhaps you have another reason) and make the assumption that this means Torah is done away with, I want you to pay close attention.

Now, I'm not a fan of theology that comes from statements that never occur in Scripture, so first and foremost, let's get Scriptural here. The phrase "free from the law" only occurs twice from Genesis to Revelation, and both are found in Romans. Let's take a look at the first,

"So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man." (Romans 7:3 NASB)
We all know that if you join yourself to someone other than your spouse, that's adultery, and adultery is forbidden in the Torah. However, we are free from that Torah command if our spouse dies. Despite that though, there is still the standard that Torah sets, meaning that when you do find someone else, you remain faithful to them. Pretty straight forward, so let's move on to the next,
"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." (Romans 8:1-2 NASB)
Pretty straight forward again. In Messiah we are set free from from being condemned to death, which is the punishment for sin. This is the "law of sin and death". It's like law of gravity, which constantly pulls us toward the earth at a speed of 9.1 meters per second. But neither of these things have to do with the righteous instructions that G-d gave Moses on Mount Sinai, so where in world does the idea that the grace of our G-d sets us "free from the law", referring to the Torah (instructions in righteousness) come from? An elementary understanding of the context of Galatians seems to be a real culprit, but I love Galatians because it proclaims that we are to observe the Torah by faith through the Holy Spirit, not according to the burden of heavy Rabbinical tradition which sometimes even negates Torah. But for those not familiar with the context, let me remind you that Paul wrote Galatians. And guess what Paul wrote to the Romans concerning this "free from the law" attitude,
"Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law." (Romans 3:31 NASB)
Are we "free from the law" as Francis Chan points out? May it never be! Faith in no way nullifies the law! Before I get into why this attitude is so dangerous, let's pump out a few more Scriptures just to be sure we're not misinterpreting things,
"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be!" (Romans 6:1-2a NASB)

"What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!" (Romans 6:15 NASB)

"Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness." (1 John 3:4 NASB, emphasis added)
Read these passages a couple times if you need to. If sin is lawlessness (which means to be without Torah...), does the grace of G-d permit us to break the Law/Torah? Paul says it clearly, MAY IT NEVER BE! Let me make this clear: if we are free from the law, what we are saying is that we are free from accountability for our actions. We are essentially free to do whatever we want. So stop tithing (because it IS a Torah command for the administration of the temple and feasts) and start lusting if you think you're free from the law. If that sounds absurd to you, then I'm glad, because it should (and that bears witness that you have the Holy Spirit in you and are indeed saved; don't think I'm telling you that you're not!). But at the same time, know that this is what you're saying if you teach "freedom from the law" without explaining in further detail exactly what you mean. We are free from the Law's ability to condemn us to death because it reveals our sin and the punishment of sin is death. But we are not free from our mandate to live as a holy people and to worship G-d in a holy manner.

Now let's go back to the Scriptures and see just how dangerous this theology can be. Yeshua Himself says it best,
"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. " (Matthew 5:17-19 NASB, emphasis added)

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS. '" (Matthew 7:21-23 NASB, emphasis added)
I want you to really pay attention to these verses. We are told by Yeshua to enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the path that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). Paul then says that we should work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). So this free from the law business which suggests that we're not accountable for our actions needs to be put aside immediately. Why? Well...
"For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES." (Hebrews 10:25-26 NASB, emphasis added)

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. " (2 Corinthians 5:10 NASB)
I say this out of deep concern for those of us who are receiving these twisted theologies that have filtered their way into Christendom from the long history of antisemitic and anti-Torah attitudes in the Gentile Church (and this is nothing new, see Jude 1:4). I'm not pointing fingers at any specific individual, nor am I judging the sincerity of anyone's heart. All I'm saying is that we have inherited some theology that, while based on truthful statements in the Scriptures, are twisted and misleading from past political agendas that we had no control over. Anything that is even remotely misleading can eventually grow into a big issue if it is not dealt with. Therefore, we need to study diligently to determine the right contextual meaning of Scripture, and then simply put our foot down and just obey G-d apart from the confusion of religious baggage. Truly, our Father in Heaven does not change, and neither do His righteous instructions,
"You shall therefore love the L-RD your G-d, and always keep His charge, His statutes, His ordinances, and His commandments." (Deuteronomy 11:1 NASB, emphasis added)

"By this we know that we love the children of G-d, when we love G-d and observe His commandments. For this is the love of G-d, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:2-3 NASB)
From front to back, Scripture says the same thing; love G-d and keep His commandments. In this way His will shall be done (see Matthew 7:21 once again). Torah does not save us, but it has all the tools which G-d has given us to fulfill our mandate as His Holy people, and as it makes sin known and defines righteousness, we are certainly not free from that. On the contrary, Paul says we now become bondservants of righteousness (Romans 6:18). In this, many of you have already been carrying out Torah by walking according to your spiritual man and not your carnal nature. Therefore may He bless you for your faithfulness my friends, and it is my hope that to fulfill His will further we may all come to embrace the fullness of Torah and thus unleash a revival that has not been seen since the days of Messiah Himself. In Yeshua the Mashiyach's everlasting mighty name! Amen.

PS - If you want an example of what early believers thought about the Torah and it's role in the Messianic/Christian assemblies, click the picture above and read the first few paragraphs of this letter.