Understanding Paul

 

Under the Law?

 

 

I'm living BIG today... I slept in late, really late... I've home brewed some Dunkin' Donuts coffee... I've eaten my four eggs sunny side up and treated myself with a banana smothered with dark chocolate almond spread! I am now ready to plumb the depths with the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans! I'm staying down as long as he does, coming up for air only at the chapter breaks. I studied the first seven chapters a few days ago (huge blessing) and will finish the letter with high expectations! This is going to be an awesome study!

 

Recently I was asked who or what the two husbands of Romans 7:1-4 represent. Having studied marriage and divorce since 1999 I was very familiar with Romans 7:1-4 but now was stunned to realize I didn't have a clue who or what they represented! From that moment on I purposed myself to know.

 

Romans 7:1-4,

 

Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.

 

Have you ever noticed the Apostle Paul rarely comes up for air? One of the first things I noticed when I flipped through the chapters as I turned to Romans for my study was the first words of each new chapter were words like 'Therefore' or something similar which made it clear the chapter breaks are misleading, there is a continuation of an ongoing thought process rather than a change of subject. I realized if I wanted to understand the two husbands of Romans chapter 7 I had to go back to chapter 1 and read forward from there.

 

As I read the early chapters I realized the Apostle Paul announced his theme in Romans 3:27 which reads,

 

"Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith."

 

I immediately made the connection between these two laws the Apostle Paul is talking about here with the metaphorical laws of the two husbands of Romans chapter 7. But what law is the Apostle Paul talking about in the literal sense?

 

I am seeing these two laws as being one and the same, the only difference being how the law being spoken of is executed in the lives of people. Which of course begs the question, "What is the law being spoken of?"

 

I am well aware of the belief which is out there that proclaims the 'law of works' to be the oral law of the Pharisees and Sadducees and there may well be an element of truth to it. However, without the Law of Moses the oral law of the Pharisees and Sadducees has nothing to stand on.

 

With that being said I am convinced the Apostle Paul is speaking of the Law of Moses in general but specifically the Law of Moses contained in 'The Book of the Covenant'. The difference between the 'law of works' and the 'law of faith', both being The Law of Moses, but being executed in two entirely different ways, i.e. the flesh vs. the Spirit!

 

The Apostle Paul's questions in Romans 3:27 are asking you,

 

"Are we 'Justified' by the law of works or by the law of faith?"

 

To simplify the questions even further I could state the questions this way,

 

Are we 'Justified' by our flesh driven works, keeping The Law of Moses because we think we 'have' to earn our way into the Kingdom?

 

Or...

 

Are we 'Justified' by our Spirit driven faith, keeping the Law of Moses because we 'want' to keep it out of our love for Yeshua and our faith in Him as our Messiah?

 

It was interesting to watch the Apostle Paul drive the point home in the chapters that followed. He keeps hammering this theme home all the way through chapter 11 confirming many times that this whole portion is all about Justification via flesh driven works vs. Justification via Spirit driven grace thru faith. I've taken what I've learned and inserted it into the text of Romans 7:1-4 to help the reader understand what the Apostle Paul and I are talking about.

 

Romans 7:1-4 with clarifying (inserts);

 

"Know you not, brethren, for I speak to them that know the law, (hopefully you and I) how that the law (the Law of Moses - The Book of the Covenant) has dominion over a man as long as he lives?

 

For the woman (Abraham's Seed) who has a husband (Works - Moses) is bound by the law (Justification by Works - Mount Sinai old covenant) to her husband (Works - Moses) so long as he lives; but if the husband (Works - Moses) dies, she is loosed from the law of her husband (Justification by Works - Mount Sinai old covenant).

 

So then if, while her husband (Works - Moses) lives, she is married to another man (Grace thru Faith - Yeshua), she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband (Works - Moses) dies, she is free from that law (Justification by Works - Mount Sinai old covenant); so that she is no adulteress, though she is married to another man (Grace thru Faith - Yeshua).

 

Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead (Repentance) to the law (Justification by Works - Mount Sinai old covenant) by the body of Christ; that you should be married to another (Grace thru Faith - Yeshua), even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." (Obedience to all applicable laws contained in 'The Book of the Covenant' which is a natural response produced via our Spirit driven LOVE for Messiah Yeshua.)

 

"Obviously the 1st husband is (Works - Moses) and the law of the 1st husband is (Justification by Works - Mount Sinai old covenant, keeping the Law of Moses because you think you 'have to').

 

The 2nd husband is (Grace thru Faith - Yeshua) and the law of the 2nd husband is (Justification by Spirit driven Faith, keeping the laws of 'The Book of the Covenant' because you 'want to').

 

The 'Justification' of ALL MANKIND, every man, woman and child that has ever drawn or will ever draw breath has been won via the atonement of Yeshua Messiah's death (Romans 5:15-19). However, we must still 'appropriate' that Justification and we do that via YHWH's Spirit driven grace thru faith in Messiah Yeshua which leads us to wanting to keep the valid and applicable laws of Scripture. No combination of 'works of the flesh' plus 'faith' or visa versa will appropriate the Justification that has already been accomplished for us. Justification comes via grace thru faith and faith alone! It is a faith which produces 'Works of the Spirit' which are keeping the commandments in the 'The Book of the Covenant'! HalleluYAH!!!

 

The very fact that there are two husbands involved here should be an obvious indication that there are two totally distinct covenants being represented.  In the Messianic Movement today there are many who believe The New Covenant should be understood as The Re-Newed Covenant, that is obviously a false doctrine.  The New Covenant began with The Master's Table (The Lord's Supper) shared with Yeshua's disciples in the Upper Room, the bread and cup of The Master's Table together make up the entry rite into The New Covenant.

 

It would be very easy to extrapolate the symbolism of the two husbands of Romans 7 even further without doing any violence to the Scriptures whatsoever. Galatians 4 comes to mind with Hagar and Sarah being used allegorically to represent the two Marriage Covenants. Hagar (the Bondwoman), corresponding to the 1st husband of Romans 7, representing the 1st Marriage Covenant of Mt. Sinai, she depends upon Justification by Works (Of the flesh) which has resulted in Bondage. Naturally then Sarah (the Freewoman) corresponds to the 2nd husband of Romans 7, representing the 2nd Marriage Covenant, i.e. The New Covenant, she depends upon Justification by Faith (Of the Spirit) which results in Freedom. The two Marriage Covenants are being executed by the two women in two entirely different ways, i.e. the flesh vs. the Spirit. This same theme can be seen in the parable of the 10 Virgins in Matthew 25.

 

I really like the connection of the two Marriage Covenants represented by Hagar and Sarah in Galatians 4, the 1st Marriage Covenant of Mount Sinai, amended in Deuteronomy but without provision of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit, Deuteronomy 29:4), which led to bondage compared to the 2nd Marriage Covenant, The New Covenant based on the promise of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) which leads to freedom! I should note that there was nothing wrong with the 1st Marriage Covenant of Mt. Sinai other than the way in which the people chose to approach it, not having been provided the Ruach HaKodesh, i.e. via 'works' rather than by 'faith', completely ignoring Exodus 20:6 and Deuteronomy 5:10 which tell of YHWH's kindness directed to those who LOVE Him.  It is interesting to note that in the Exodus 19-24 account the only mention of the word 'love' is in Exodus 20:6 but when the covenant is amended in Deuteronomy the word 'love' is emphasised over and over again!  But the Ruach HaKodesh was never provided them to allow them to keep the commandments as they were intended to be kept, i.e. out of love, not at Mount Sinai when the covenant was given nor at the Plains of Moab when the covenant is amended in Deuteronomy.  I find it even more interesting that The Master's Table (The Lord's Supper), which I believe is the entry rite into The New Coveannt is also called the Agape or Love Feast!  Just as an aside I'll share with you a definition of faith that I learned a few years ago and have modified just a tad.

 

"Faith is a Spirit driven belief in the promises of YAH."

 

If the Father has indwelt an individual with the Ruach HaKodesh then that person will be of the Everlasting Covenant which sees its culmination in The New Covenant regardless of when they lived.  The hard to face truth is there were precious few people who lived prior to Yeshua’s coming 2000 years ago who were indwelt with the Spirit of YHWH.  A few exceptions would be those of the ‘hall of faith’ memorialized in Hebrews 11.

 

I like the simplicity of that definition of faith and I see the consequences of a lack of faith being realized in Israel's refusal to go into the 'Promised' Land. They didn't believe in the promises of YHWH, they weren't empowered by the Ruach HaKodesh, save Moses, Joshua and Caleb. In doing that they violated The 10 Words Covenant and therefore YHWH entered into judgment with Israel (consummation) and the adults over the age of 20 were divorced from the 1st Marriage Covenant (Numbers 14). You can read more about that in the article titled 'The Divorcement of Israel ~ Numbers 14 ~ The Sefer Keritut' which is Part Three of  The Hebrew Love Story series which I've written.

 

Also, if I'm reading Galatians 4 correctly then it is my opinion when the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 4:25,

 

"for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children..."

 

that at the time the Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians the Jews of Jerusalem were still believing they were in a Marriage Covenant with YAH via the Mount Sinai Marriage Covenant and they were still trying to approach that Marriage Covenant via their works which leads to bondage! Some things never change. I would venture to say that the very same thing could be said of Jerusalem today, the hearts of the Jews in large part remain hardened! Reading the Apostle Paul is like picking up a newspaper, the headlines remain the same! One of the most important things the student of Scripture must do as they live their faith in our present exile is to discern what the applicable laws of Scripture are. 'The Hebrew Love Story' series can help you with that.

 

The bottom line here is this... The wrong Marriage Covenant (Mount Sinai, the 1st Covenant) with the wrong motive (keeping The Book of the Covenant by works of the flesh) vs. the right Marriage Covenant (The New Covenant, the 2nd Covenant) with the right motive (keeping The Book of the Covenant by a Spirit driven faith).

 

Put another way... circumcision of the flesh vs. circumcision of the heart.

 

Another way of putting it would be... I 'have' to keep The Book of the Covenant vs. I 'want' to keep The Book of the Covenant. When your 'I have to' becomes your 'I want to' you're well on your way to a saving faith in Messiah Yeshua!

 

Another way of putting it might be... Keeping The Book of the Covenant won't get you into the Kingdom but keeping The Book of the Covenant with the wrong motive will keep you out of the Kingdom!

 

So what is it then to be 'Under the Law'? This phrase or something similar is used many times in the Apostle Paul's writings. In Romans 3:19 we read,

 

"Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God."

 

We also see the same phrase used in 1 Corinthians 9:20,

 

"To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law."

 

In Galatians 4:21 we see the phrase 'under the law' used again,

 

"Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law?"

 

The Apostle Paul uses this phrase 'under the law' many times throughout his writings, the three quotes above are just a sample. To those who have desired to abandon anything perceived as 'Jewish' or to those who simply don't understand the Law of Moses this phrase 'under the law' is seen as an opportunity to either dump the Law of Moses or dump the Apostle Paul! You can just about hear their battle cry, "Let the exploitation begin!" It's interesting to note that Sunday keepers celebrate the Apostle Paul believing Paul is proclaiming the Law of Moses to have been nailed to the cross even though the laws contained in The Book of the Covenant, which Moses wrote, are the very terms of Yeshua's New Covenant! Then there are many Messianics who would love to crucify the Apostle Paul believing him to be the Son of Perdition, the Anti-christ himself, also believing the Apostle preached against the Law of Moses! But did he?

 

My conclusion is that the Apostle Paul did not preach against the Law of Moses. Rather he brought an understanding of what the Law of Moses is capable of being according to how it is observed by different people, at least to those who know the law! To those who keep the Law of Moses via the Spirit provided by the Father do so set free from 'having' to keep the Law. They 'want' to keep the Law out of their 'LOVE' for their Messiah Yeshua, it's a product of their faith! Those who keep the Law of Moses via their flesh out of their sense of 'having' to do so in order to 'WORK' their way into the Kingdom not having been provided the Spirit are those who are 'Under the Law' and it will become a bondage to them, the more work they do the more work they think they have to do. It becomes a vicious circle and therefore bondage with no escape. Unless the Father calls via His provision of the Spirit there can be no salvation!

 

The eternal significance of this is encapsulated for us in a single verse and it may be the most important verse which will be quoted in this article, without apology the Apostle Paul says this;

 

"You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace." (Galatians 5:4 NASB)

 

Just to make certain everyone knows what law is being referred to here let me quote another translation.

 

"You have been destroyed from The Messiah, those of you who are justified by that in The Written Law, and you have fallen from grace." (Galatians 5:4 Aramaic Bible in Plain English)

 

Clearly the consequences of falling 'Under the Law' are huge!

 

There is a pivotal moment in the history of our faith recorded for us in Acts 15 where this one we know as the Apostle Paul, actually Rav Sha'ul, makes a valiant stand against the continued false teaching of justification by works. We should all be thankful for the courage Paul displays as he contends with the Jews who have come to believe in Messiah Yeshua but still want to keep the Law of Moses as a means of salvation. In Acts 15:1 we read,

 

"But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved."

 

Earlier in the article I said,

 

"I am well aware of the belief which is out there that proclaims the 'law of works' to be the oral law of the Pharisees and Sadducees and there may well be an element of truth to it. However, without the Law of Moses the oral law of the Pharisees and Sadducees has nothing to stand on."

 

In all likelihood the oral law is in play here in Acts 15. Nevertheless as I stated above the oral law of the Pharisees and Sadducees has no foundation without the Law of Moses upon which it is built. The oral law is manmade tradition which has it's beginning in the Law of Moses. Therefore, even though the oral law of the Pharisees and Sadducees is in play here ultimately it is still the Law of Moses that is being utilized for Justification. So whether these men who demanded the new converts be circumcised in order to be saved were talking about a specific method of circumcision according to the oral law or simply circumcision according to the Law of Moses it is a moot point. Salvation is not of works, it is according to faith which produces works! So then we can say circumcision of the heart is more important than circumcision of the flesh but if those who are of the circumcision of the heart refuse the circumcision of the flesh (Law of Moses) can they legitimately claim to be of the circumcision of the heart? Selah. Think about it!

 

If the brethren in question are living outside the land in exile then I am perfectly comfortable foregoing circumcision of the flesh but if you are in the land with a functioning Temple and Priesthood you're going to want to be thinking of getting it clipped! The Apostle Paul, Barnabas, Peter and Ya'aqob stood strong on this issue of Justification by Faith against great pressure, we owe them an incredible debt of gratitude!

 

Yeshua said the night He was betrayed in John 14:15,

 

"If you Love me keep My commandments."

 

Have you any idea where He got that from? It is a near quote of Exodus 20:6 and Deuteronomy 5:10b which says,

 

"...but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments."

 

Yeshua was quoting His very own words from The 10 Commandments!

 

So we see 'love' as an integral component of The 10 Words Covenant, can we see it playing a central role elsewhere? As I've said above I can't show you anything in regard to the 1st Marriage Covenant of Mount Sinai other than Exodus 20:6, the people said all the right things as far as agreeing to the terms of the covenant but 'love' is not mentioned anywhere that I can see. But... Just look at this! The amended terms of The Mount Sinai Covenant begin in Deuteronomy 6, so what is one of the first things said? Allow me.... Deuteronomy 6:5;

 

"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."

 

Those are the first words of the amended terms of The Mount Sinai Covenant proposal, The Shema, the watchword of our faith and it's from the Law of Moses and recorded in The Book of the Covenant! Would you like more? How about Joshua 23? Here Joshua reminds the Israelites of all The Almighty has done for them and what their response should be, in verse 11 Joshua says this;

 

"So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the LORD your God."

 

That admonishment by Joshua, spoken to the children of the Israelite nation, comes just before they enter into the amended Mount Sinai Covenant in chapter 24!

 

You see, it's all about 'LOVE', it always has been! It always will be!

 

In Ephesians 2:8-10 the Apostle Paul says,

 

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of YHWH, not of works, lest anyone boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Messiah Yeshua for good works, which YHWH prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

 

Ya'aqob continues this same theme in his letter to all the believers of Messiah Yeshua who were in exile when he says in chapter 2 verse 17,

 

"Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."

 

In both cases the 'works' mentioned are the commandments of The 10 Words Covenant contained in The Book of the Covenant! Faith which does not produce commandment keeping is dead! It doesn't get much plainer than that!

 

If we read the Apostolic Writings in the light of being justified by a faith which produces commandment keeping the words of the Apostles would jump off the pages! It truly is 'The Hebrew Love Story'!

 

It's all rather grade schoolish I know, but the study began because I couldn't answer a person's simple question. In answering that question through this study I've come to appreciate the difference between knowing and understanding, we are justified by faith and keep the commandments out of our Spirit driven LOVE for our Messiah Yeshua in our New Covenant relationship and WE MOST CERTAINLY ARE NOT 'Under the Law'!

 

I hope this article has been edifying to your faith and a pleasure to read. If so, you may also enjoy reading the article titled 'The Law of Liberty'.

 

 

 

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