How well do you keep the Law? - by Dr. C. Matthew McMahonThe Tract Series
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The Torah explicitly states God’s mind to his chosen people. It explains what is required of His people before Him in life and deed. It explains the manner by which the Hebrews were to approach God. It shows people how to keep the Law. The mark of God’s people is their conformity to His Law as God requires.
We may ask, “What does God require of us in the Torah?” In the Torah, there are hundreds of Laws, or statutes which God has revealed to us so that we may show ourselves to be his people. There are civil laws which help us to deal with society. There are ceremonial laws which help us with the sacrificial system, and atonement of sin, and there are moral laws, the Ten Commandments, which help us to live righteously before God. Yet, with so many laws, the question arises, “How well do you keep the Law?”, and “Is what you keep in the Law enough to merit eternal life before God?” Someone may say, “there is simply too much to keep the whole law perfectly. God just requires us to do our best.”
We ask, “What does God require of us in order to gain eternal life according to His Torah?” Leviticus 19:2 says, “Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” What does this mean? God is perfectly holy. He has no unrighteousness in him. The Hebrew word “unrighteousness” is “ehvel” which means “unrighteousness, violent deeds of injustice, injustice of speech or injustice generally.” It can be actions or speech, or even thoughts. Anything which is unrighteous is not holy. One drop of unrighteousness in something which is holy would forever stain it. For instance, if God were to sin (which He cannot do) He would cease to be holy. Holiness is moral perfection. It is being perfect as God is perfect. It is being completely righteous. If we sin once, then we could never regain the status of being perfect again. Once you drop and shatter a vase on the floor it can never be made perfect again, no matter how much glue you use. So God requires that we be perfectly holy. The word “holy” (qodesh) means “separateness.” We are to be utterly separate from the fallen world, and separated unto God. We are required by God, as stated in His Torah, to be holy as God is holy.
Who could ever claim to be as holy as God? The prophet Isaiah recorded that God is “Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD of Hosts.” (Isaiah 6:3) The repetition in this verse is a literary use of exclamation. When a word or phrase appears in order more than once, there is an attention drawn to it. God is never said to be love, love, love, or mercy, mercy, mercy. He is said to be “holy, holy, holy!” What then does that say to us? If God requires we be so holy, how is this possible? It is only possible through keeping the Law perfectly.
God gave us His Law so that we would exemplify holiness of life. The Torah, in its moral commands guides us down the path of righteousness and holiness. All we have to do is never sin, and keep the Law perfectly at every point without fault and we will merit a true holiness before God. This is a great problem! How can anyone keep the whole law? How can anyone keep the moral law of God—the Ten Commandments—perfectly? If we have coveted our neighbor’s possessions then we have broken the whole Law. If you stumble at one point of the Law, you have transgressed the entire Torah. Remember, God requires us to be perfectly holy as He is. From the time of your birth until the time of your death, God requires you to be morally holy. Without holiness no one will see the Lord.
But you say, “That is impossible. Since the transgression of Adam in the garden, we are all fallen and sinful beings. We are not perfect. That was the reason God gave us the Torah in the first place!” God did give us the Torah as a guide to be more holy since we are fallen people. But God still requires perfect holiness. That is why he also gave the sacrificial system. When we transgress the Law we are to offer a blood sacrifice for our sins. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. The sacrifice was a visual object lesson. God’s wrath was either poured out on us or on the sacrifice. Our sins will never be forgiven unless the shedding of blood takes place. But you may ask, “How can we do this? The temple in Jerusalem is not currently ours. Others have made it into a Muslim temple.” That does not matter. God never tells us in the Hebrew Scriptures that the sacrificial system has ceased. There may be Rabbis today which say different because the temple is owned by others, but God does not say that. Just because Muslims have the temple does not mean that the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) takes on new meaning. Again, without the shedding of the blood of the lamb, and without the transference of the sins of the people to the goat, the sins of the people are not forgiven. What a dilemma is this! People are sinful and cannot keep the law. A single lust in the heart or a single evil thought against our neighbor breaks the whole Law. And there is no temple to sacrifice in! What will a Jew do?
So what can be done? How well do you keep the law? If someone were to ask you if you were perfectly holy as God is holy what would you say? If you were honest, you would say you break the law constantly. Being a child of Adam inherently makes you sinful and causes you to break the Law constantly. You have never kept the Law. To keep the Law is to keep the whole law for all of your life perfectly. If you have not done this then you have never kept the Law. You are not holy. You are certainly not holy as God is holy. You have not had a blood sacrifice to take away your sin. And if God requires us to be perfectly holy to merit eternal life as his chosen people, and we are not perfectly holy, then we cannot enter heaven with God. We will be doomed to hell. The Torah says in Deuteronomy 6:5, “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” We do not do this because we sin. This is the sum or the Law—to love God in this way. If we do not, then God says in Deuteronomy 6:15, “Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of . Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him…For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.” God says that those who are imperfect will be “destroyed.” Are you perfect, or imperfect?
This is a horrible dilemma to be in. We are all unholy as children of Adam. We do not keep the Law as we should. The Torah shows us the mind of God, but we sin nonetheless. We have no blood sacrifice in the temple, and have not had one for hundreds of years, and God has never told us we could cease sacrificing animals for our sins. What do we do?
There was a congregation of Jewish men and women in the city of Galatia about 2000 years ago. They had the same problem we do today—they were not holy, and they were trying to keep the law as best they could to become holy. The problem was they were sinners trying to keep the law to merit eternal life. But being a child of Adam they had already broken it! They received a letter from a man named Paul. He was a disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ who cared for fellow countrymen very much. He showed them how they could be in a right relationship with God through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. He wrote to them, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Christ had died as a sacrifice for His chosen people. His blood sacrifice on the cross as the Lamb has done away with the sin of his people. Through Christ, you can be freed from the of sin. Christ takes away your sin, and gives you His perfect holiness. He lived a perfect life without sin. Then He gave up his life to free His people from the Law. The Law only shows us our sin. It continually stirs up our fleshly lusts all the more. It shows us how to sin by revealing our sin to us. We would not have known what lusting or coveting was if the law did not show us. When it shows us these things it conjures up our wickedness to do them. The Law is a terrible schoolmaster with no mercy. We are not to reside forever under the terrible Schoolmaster.
God makes use of the Law to kill but not to make alive. He makes use of the Law to strike dead all a man’s hopes of happiness by the deeds of it; but it is the Gospel He uses to quicken and comfort us. It is by the Spirit of God applying the work of Christ to our souls that gives us life. The Law never empowered us for service—it just showed us our wickedness. It never gives us the strength to perform what it requires of us because we are fallen and wicked. We cannot merit eternal life by keeping the Law and doing its works. Now, it is only by faith in Jesus Christ which we can gain eternal life.
Galatians 3:13 states, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:” Since we cannot fulfill the law for ourselves because we are wicked, Jesus Christ has done it for us. He is the end of the Law. He can deliver you from your inability to keep the Law. You cannot keep the Law perfectly, but He has. You cannot merit eternal life on your own—Jesus can do it for you. He is the one who is able to do it because he is the incarnate Son of God who came to redeem his people. He is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 who suffers and dies as the only needed blood sacrifice required by God for sin. Isaiah 53:5, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Through His death He saves. And God was so pleased with this that He raised Him from the dead. Psalm 16:10 says, “thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” God would not let His servant suffer corruption so He raised Him up from the dead.
You can be delivered from your sin, and be a child of Jesus Christ. Galatians 3:29 states, “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” The promise of eternal life with God is held before you in the Son of God. He has redemption to give all who call upon Him by faith. Habakkuk 2:4 says, ” but the just shall live by his faith.” Isaiah 65:6 states, ” Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” You must call to him and believe on Christ’s death by faith. You must plead with God to give you repentance unto life, and he will transform you into a new creation in Christ Jesus. You cannot get to heaven by keeping the Law because you are unable to keep it all, 1 John 3:4 says “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” And James 2:10 states, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” If you attempt to keep the Law and fail, if you stumble at one point, you will spend eternity under the wrath of God for being disobedient to His Law. It is only through the redemption of Christ which shall free you from sin, deliver you from the curse of the Law and cause you to be holy before God through His imputed righteousness. Jesus takes your sin upon Himself and crucifies it to the cursed tree. He gives you His righteousness so that you may be perfectly holy in God’s eyes.
With all of this in mind—ask yourself again—How well do I keep the Law?