Christians following Jewish Traditions

I have a dear friend, whom I respect greatly, who is headed down the path towards “Judaizing” Christanity. He reads the Torah, celebrates Sabbath on Saturday, celebrates the Sabbaths as presented in the Torah, and keeps at least some of the dietary laws (I do not know if he keeps a kosher kitchen, but I know he does not eat shrimp or pork – unless to not eat it would cause a brother to stumble). He and I have had many discussions concerning the Torah, the Law, and what should be applicable to a Christian. He can not understand why someone would hold to some of the teachings of the law and not all of them that can be followed. He holds that the scripture where Jesus said He did not come to abolish but fulfill the Law (Matthew 5:17-20 ) means that the Law is still in effect even though what had been written about Christ had been fulfilled.

He does not understand that by fulfilling the Law, the requirements of it were abolished (Galatians 3:25; Ephesians 2:14-16; Acts 15:20). He thinks the things mentioned in council in Acts 15 were a starting point for new believers, not the final statement in what to avoid. Christians and the Law is something of which I have written much more in depth before.

I really have no difficulty with the study of the Jewish religion, nor even following some of the teachings and the holidays. My concern is whether it is appropriate for a Christian to appropriate such things for himself, and if so, why and to what degree. I have pondered Galatians 4 and 5, as well as Colossians 2, concerning this. Although I recognize I may be wrong, I believe that Peter may have been speaking to the moral code when he said Moses was taught in the synagogue every sabbath (Acts 15:21), and so Gentile believers in Jesus Christ are supposed to follow the moral teachings of the Old Testament – but I think it more likely that James was saying, “Because Moses is taught in synagogues every sabbath, the Jews will think the Gentiles must follow the Law so let’s give them a letter saying the Holy Spirit has said otherwise”. I also believe that if you read the entire chapter 15 of the book of Acts, you will see that Peter was clear that following the Law was something not even the Jews had been able to successfully do and that we are saved by faith, so the Law should not be put around the necks of the Gentiles. If Gentile believers were intended to keep all the Law, then I think we would have been told so in the letter sent by the council (Acts 15:29). We are justified by faith in Christ, not by following the Law (Galatians 2:16). Our righteousness comes from faith in Christ – indeed, he is the end of the law for those who believe (Romans 10:4). Indeed, the purpose of the Law was to lead us to Christ (Galatians 2:19). We are no longer under the supervision of the Law (Galatians 3:25).  Christ abolished in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations (Ephesians 2:14-16). We have been set free from the law because of Christ (Romans 8:2-3). Christ became our high priest of a new priesthood, and with that came a new law (Hebrews 7:12-28). In doing so, He made to old covenant obsolete (Hebrews 8:13).  What God gave His chosen people were shadows of what is to come (Colossians 2:16-17), which includes the Law (Hebrews 10:1). The passover lamb was replaced when Christ became our passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7), and we are to celebrate passover with a remembrance of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:23-25).

Even so, perhaps it is not bad to incorporate the things of the Law into one’s life, IF one can be certain that one does not replace the grace of God with the Law (Romans 6:15), nor faith in Christ with obedience. And don’t misunderstand me, I believe we must have obedience to God if we truly have faith (Acts 26:20; 1 John 5:3). But it is so easy to delight in false humility and become puffed up (Colossians 2:18-19). While I believe it may be possible for some to embrace the holidays and eating habits mentioned in the Torah and not embrace the Law, I think many will find it difficult. We are saved through faith in Christ (John 3:16), which should entail us turning from sin towards God through faith in Christ and have outward expressions demonstrating such repentance (Acts 26:20). But I am afraid that many who attempt to embrace the old ways and somehow stay grounded in faith and grace will fail.

But even so, we are to avoid foolish arguments about the law (Titus 3:9). We each must be convinced in our own minds of what is appropriate worship (Romans 14:5).


10 Responses

  1. Great post, WB,

    You should do a ‘shameless plug’

  2. Thanks Polycarp. I’m sure I will at some point of other. :)

  3. Polycarp,

    This turned out to be the start of a series of posts concerning the Mosaic Law.

  4. So, I see. I think it is going good. On Monday, I will post your series as a follow-up. I think it is important to raise awareness so that something like this does not creep in.

  5. OK, I created a page for the series, and added other posts that apply.

  6. […] Christians following Jewish Traditions […]

  7. I ask this question, which I believe pertains to Christianity, whom do you follow Yeshua, or Paul, which I believe is a very important question.

    • Paul was called to be a messenger for Jesus. Indeed, Paul’s teaching was in harmony with what Jesus taught.

      1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.

      We are to imitate those who brought us the word of God.
      Hebrews 13:7
      Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.

      Paul taught we are to grow up in all things in Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-16)
      We are to imitate Christ (John 13:15; 1 Peter 2:21).

      Since Paul was sent by Jesus as an apostle, Paul was imitating Jesus and we should imitate both.

  8. What is the difference in your opinion between trying to “earn” salvation and accepting the free gift of salvation and then working OUT your salvation?

    • Motivation. Are you doing things to be saved, or are you doing things because you are saved and love God and want to please your heavenly father?

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