RETURN of THE JUDAIZERS??
-by Andrew Strom.
RETURN of THE JUDAIZERS??
-by Andrew Strom.
I have friends who call Jesus “Yeshua“. I don’t mind it at all. I have
other friends who keep the Saturday Sabbath. It doesn’t bother
me too much, unless there is a kind-of “aggressive attitude” about
it. But in recent years I have witnessed a worrying trend – that in
my opinion is growing worse – and we need to address it.
Today when a Christian tells me that they are “Torah-observant”
then all kinds of alarms go off. It may be that they are just into
‘Hebrew roots‘ – but usually it is a lot more than that. We all know
that in the early church, the biggest problem they had was with
the “Judaizers” who went around trying to convince the Gentile
Christians that they must obey the letter of the Old Testament
Law. This shipwrecked the faith of many. It was the biggest
problem they had. The book of Galatians is all about it – and many
other sections of the New Testament. It was a battle between the
old Law – with its subtle bondages – and the new walk of the Spirit
and of grace.
A few months back, we published the testimony of a Christian
woman who got involved with a Messianic group that slowly under-
mined her faith in Jesus – and basically converted her gradually
into a practicing Jew – even though they all thought of themselves
as “Messianic Christians”! She realized later that in almost every
way she had slowly had her faith in Jesus and the New Testament
replaced with the keeping of the Torah. She had been “Judaized”!
And I fear this is happening to a great many Christians today – in
all kinds of subtle ways.
This is exactly what the Bible warns against – losing the “simplicity”
of the faith. And that is why Paul was so strong against the Juda-
izers. He saw that Christians were being tempted – not to place
their faith in Christ alone – but rather in Christ PLUS the keeping of
the Law. It was no longer a simple trust in JESUS to be their
righteousness. They now started to feel they had to keep the letter
of the Old Law too – in order to be truly “holy”. And so they became
“Judaized”. This is the worst trap possible. And so subtle!
Let us look at a few vital Scriptures. Please open your Bible to
Acts 15:1-29. This whole passage is about a great meeting of the
apostles to decide whether – with the new Gentile Christians – it
was “necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to
keep the law of Moses” (v 5). So what did the apostles conclude
about this? As Peter declared during the debate about it, “Why
do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples
which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” (v 10).
At the end of the great meeting, the apostles put out a letter to
the Gentile Christians that declared: “For it seemed good to the
Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than
these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to
idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual
immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.”
(v. 28-29). And as far as the Old Law went, that was it!
In other words, no “Torah observance”, no Sabbath, no circumcision,
no Old Law apart from these few things. This brief list only. That
was the pronouncement of the apostles. If they wanted to tell the
Gentiles, “You must keep the Jewish Sabbath,” then this was the
place to do it. But it is definitely not included. And neither are a
thousand-and-one other things from the Old Testament.
Of course, this should be no surprise to us. In Colossians 2, Paul
tells us very clearly that Christ has “wiped out the handwriting of
requirements that was against us” by nailing it to the cross (v. 14).
He then goes on to say: “So let no one judge you in food or in
drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which
are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”
So all these Old Testament practices are only a “shadow” of the
New. In fact, as Hebrews makes clear, the entire Old Covenant
was only a ‘type’ or shadow of that which was to come. It was not
the real thing! It does not make us more “holy”! The substance is
found in Christ – and Him alone. The Old Torah “requirements”
were nailed to the cross with Jesus. We don’t need them any more.
If anybody ever tells you that the New Testament is simply a
“continuation” of the Old, run a mile from that person. They simply
do not know what they are talking about. In fact, what they are
spouting is dangerous heresy.
Thus, as Paul tells us in Romans, observing the Sabbath is only
necessary if our conscience is weak in this area – and we feel we
have to:- “One person esteems one day above another; another
esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own
mind. He who observes the day observes it to the Lord; and he
who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it”
So we do not “have” to observe the Sabbath. It does not make us
more ‘holy’ or righteous to do so. It is simply a matter of conscience.
This runs against a lot of the teaching that is doing the rounds
right now. There is a lot of dangerous “Back to the Torah”-type
emphasis that is bringing a lot of harm to a lot of people. Many
of them don’t even realize what is happening to them.
Paul clearly tells us in Galatians that you can lose your salvation
by beginning to rely on the Law in your Christian walk: “You
observe days and months and seasons and years. I am afraid for
you, lest I have labored for you in vain” (Gal 4:10-11). He then
goes on to say, “You have become estranged from Christ, you
who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.”
(Gal 5:4). Alarming statements, are they not?
You see, it is a direct insult to the work of Christ and to God for
us to go back to the “works of the Law” to try and make us more
‘righteous’ in His sight. It is placing our trust in something other
than just Jesus. We are “adding works” for our salvation. And it
will not do.
I believe that just like the Galatians, a lot of people today need to
repent of trying to add the Old Law to their salvation – sometimes
in subtle ways – sometimes major. This is not the kind of thing to
toy around with. It can be utterly deadly. If you are someone who
is adding “Torah observance” to your faith, I urge you to repent.
The testimony of the woman who slowly lost her faith in Jesus
through Messianic Torah-observance can be found at the top of
our website. Here is the link-