The response to the series 'How Jewish Should a Christian Be', has been very good, but I feel the need to take 1 extra week to go into detail on Jesus' statement in Matthew 5:17-18, this time from a different perspective:
"Do not think that I've come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Truly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass, not one jot or tittle will pass away from the law, until all is fulfilled." (jot and tittle being the smallest unit of Hebrew grammar)
For many Messianic Christians this verse is both the foundation and the justification for practicing parts of the Old Testament law, for they read it this way in their mind:
"I have not come to abolish the law, therefore it continues to be binding." They understand the fulfillment as being ongoing and not complete until Jesus returns, because Hebrews 10:16 says this:
"This is the covenant I will make with them after those days, says the Lord; I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them."
They are both correct, and incorrect. We're more in agreement than not, though confusion reigns in the hearts of many on this matter. Most of us are in complete agreement with Hebrews 10:16, for we recognize God's laws are written in our hearts as well. We therefore agree with Paul's statement of Romans 13: 8-10 that to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself fulfills the Mosaic Law.
Some disregard Paul's teachings of Romans and Galatians, thinking that because God's Law is written in our hearts these Laws are best fulfilled by external obedience to the Mosaic Law, or parts of it, to this day.
They may do things to be more Jewish-like; Like refer to Jesus as Yahweh, or call the Bible the Torah, or base their focus on Old Testament scripture. Many start attending Saturday Messianic meetings replete with a processional walking in the scrolls of the Torah, prayers in Hebrew, and such - thinking God is more pleased with them than He is with their charismatic or non-charistmaic friends. Not all are like that of course, many just want to know the Jewish roots of the faith with good and pure hearts - so allow me in this brief space to make some generalities.
What they do, they do unto the Lord, and He accepts them so I do too. But my purpose is to teach the ways of the Father in balance, so let us examine this issue.
To believe they are to live by the external Mosaic Law means they are in a dilemma. James, the Lord's brother and leader in Acts 15 who determined God was not making the Gentiles obey the Law of Moses so neither would these future authors of the New Testament, said in James 2:10: "Whoever keeps the Law, and is guilty in one point, is guilty of the whole law."
That makes those who believe that Jesus' fulfillment of the Law means the external Law is an ongoing binding force today, hypocrites, for they must either obey all 613 Laws of Moses, or pick and choose just how much under the Law they will live - breaking the very thing they think they are obeying. That is being hypocritical.
An example would be the Mosaic Law saying their clothes cannot be of mixed fibers, meaning no cotton/polyester mix is allowed. No wool blends. To break that is the same as murder, for under the law, sin is sin no matter how it is committed. To be guilty of one is to be guilty of all, as James said.
You can't have it both ways
Jesus either came to fulfill all three parts of the Mosaic Law: The Sacrifical, Moral, and Sanitary/dietary Laws, or none at all. If the cross was the final sacrifice, then that sacrifice covered it all - otherwise Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was incomplete.
Let us reconcile how the Law can be in our hearts, yet we don't have to obey the Laws of Moses
If Jesus fulfilled the Law, then why are God's laws written in our hearts?
In His statement, Jesus sets the word 'abolish' against the word 'fulfill'. Abolish means to violently destroy. He was saying He was not there to violently destroy the Law, but to fulfill that Law. Grammatically speaking, the way He structured the statement, means He was not there to prevent the fulfillment of the law, He came to enact the fulfillment of the law - His life's purpose was to fulfill the law.
He told the frightened disciples on resurrection day that He fulfilled it, in Luke 24:44: "This is what I told you while I was still with you; Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms."
Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophecies about Messiah - found in the prophets and Psalms.
He fulfilled the purpose of the Law - which according to Galatians 3:24-25 was to bring us to Christ.
He fulfilled the Law's demand for the perfect sinless obedient life - James 2:10 - if you break 1, you break them all.
The tipping point
Jesus said in Luke 16:16: "The Law and the Prophets were until John (the Baptist)." They were UNTIL John, for John preached repentance and prepared the hearts of the people for Jesus' fulfillment of the Law and Prophets.
In Him; He in us, we in Him - answers the question how the Mosaic Law is still in force today
Jesus fulfilled the Law, then died, taking that fulfillment with Him to the grave. Then He was resurrected which according to Hebrews 9:16-26, means He became the Executor of His own Estate. Having fulfilled the Last Will and Testament of the Old, He is now the Executor of the New Testament. He possesses the Old and overrides it with the New.
In this way, in this sense, Jesus' fulfillment of the Law of Moses is an ongoing fulfillment because He is alive. He is now immune to the curse of the Law - and anyone in Him is immune to the curse of the Law as well. In Him we are shielded. "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us..." Galatians 3:13
Having God's Law written in our hearts means Christ is in us, the Executor of His own Estate - and He from the inside out directs us to live within His personal ongoing fulfillment of the Law. We have Christ in us to convict us when we lust after someone or some thing. We have Christ in us to convict us when we lie, when we steal, when we dishonor God, and so on.
Because Jesus fulfilled the Law, and He is in us, His fulfillment is ongoing in our lives, moving us ever closer to maturity in Him. That is how Paul could say to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself, fulfills the Law - because Christ in you is doing that and directing you in that.
It means we MUST walk with Him in life so that He may direct us. It means reliance on external rules and regulations take us away from the intimacy of walking daily and moment to moment with Christ. He fulfilled the requirements of the Law, and then moved His fulfilled Life inside of us so that we walk in that same fulfillment - Love God #1, and your neighbor as yourself, and you fulfill the Law.
I hope this makes sense...I trust the Father to give the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, that the eyes of our understanding may be enlightened. Blessings, new subject next week, really!
www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org