By Christine Egbert
The last stanza of Poet Laureate Robert Frost’s famous poem, “The Road Less Traveled” says:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Those of us who’ve returned to the ancient paths spoken of by the Prophet Jeremiah (6:16), to the Hebrew roots of our faith, like America’s most loved Poet Laureate, Robert Frost, we can proclaim what a difference our less-traveled faith-path has made.
On this road-trip along the Romans Road, we will stop only at those verses cited by those who take Paul out of context in order to cast faith as the enemy of obedience, at verses that show that Gentile believers are grafted into Israel’s cultivated Olive Tree, and at verses that extol the greatness of Torah. But before we begin this excursion on the ancient Romans Road, it’s imperative that we define two terms biblically.
The first term is SIN.
1John 3:4 Everyone practicing SIN also practices lawlessness—indeed, SIN IS TORAH-lessness!
The second term is TRUTH.
Psalms 119:142 Your justice is righteousness forever, and Your Torah is truth.
“…who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we received grace and apostleship, for OBEDIENCE of FAITH among all the nations, for His name’s sake.” (WEB)
WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED
Through Yeshua the Messiah we receive grace to become His emissaries. Our mission: bring about OBEDIENCE of FAITH to ALL Nations! Biblical FAITH requires OBEDIENCE! WHY? Because as James wrote, “faith without works is dead!” That’s why the author of the book of Acts declared God gave His Holy Spirit to those who OBEY Him. Acts 5:32 “We are His witnesses of these things; and so also is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (WEB)
“He (God) will pay back each person according to his deeds. To those who by perseverance in doing good are seeking glory, honor, and immortality—eternal life. But to those who are self-seeking and do not OBEY the truth, but obey unrighteousness—wrath and fury.” (TLV)
WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED
How we live matters to God! Believers who know the TRUTH are expected to OBEY the TRUTH! We are to persevere in doing good, in seeking glory, in seeking honor, and in seeking eternal life. Those who do not OBEY TRUTH, but who OBEY unrighteousness will receive wrath.
“For all who have sinned outside of Torah will also perish outside of Torah, and all who have sinned according to Torah will be judged by Torah. For it is not the hearers of Torah who are righteous before God; rather, it is the doers of Torah who will be justified.
WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED
BE DOERS OF THE TORAH! Paul does NOT teach against keeping Torah! He teaches against hypocrisy! Verses 24-29 teaches that, if we violate Torah, then physical circumcision becomes worthless! But to those who keep the Torah it is worthwhile. If Gentiles from the nations keep the righteous decrees of the Torah, they will be counted as physically circumcised, for their heart has been circumcised. A Jew must be circumcised inwardly (first) for circumcision to have an advantage.
“For no human, on the basis of Torah observance, will be set right in His sight—for through the Torah comes awareness of sin. But now God’s righteousness apart from the Torah has been revealed, to which the Torah and the Prophets bear witness—namely, the righteousness of God through putting on Messiah Yeshua, to all who keep on trusting…(25) God set forth Yeshua as an atonement, through faith in His blood, to show His righteousness in passing over sins already committed…(30-31) Since God is One, He will set right the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then nullify the Torah through faithfulness? May it never be! On the contrary, we uphold the Torah!
WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED
The TORAH reveals SIN! Salvation comes through FAITH in Israel’s Messiah! FAITH does NOT NULLIFY the TORAH! FAITH establishes TORAH!
Rom 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin (violation of Torah) so that grace may abound? May it never be! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (9-16) …Messiah, having been raised from the dead, no longer dies…He died to sin once for all, but the life He lives, He lives to God….continually count yourselves both dead to sin (violation of Torah) and alive to God in Messiah Yeshua…do not keep yielding your body parts to sin as tools of wickedness…yield yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, your body parts as tools of righteousness… sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace…Shall we sin (violate Torah) because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!…you are slaves to what you obey—whether to sin resulting in death or to obedience resulting in righteousness!”
WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED
We, believers, are to count ourselves as dead to sin (to violating Torah) and alive to GOD! We are no longer to yield our bodies as tools to unrighteousness, for when we yield to sin, sin becomes our master. We have been freed from bondage to SIN (violating Torah) by God’s GRACE through FAITH in Yeshua’s death and resurrection!
“What shall we say then? Is the Torah sin? May it never be! On the contrary…I would not have known about coveting if the Torah had not said, “You shall not covet.” But SIN…worked in me through the commandment all kinds of coveting. For apart from the Torah, sin is dead…(10) The commandment meant for life was found to cause death. SIN, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So then, the TORAH is HOLY, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Did that which is good become death to me? May it NEVER be! Rather it was SIN working death in me—through THAT WHICH IS GOOD—so that sin might be shown to be sin, and that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful. For we know that the TORAH is SPIRITUAL; but I am of the flesh, sold to sin…(22) For I delight in the TORAH of God with respect to the inner man, but I see a different law in my body parts, battling against the law of my mind and bringing me into bondage under the law of sin which is in my body parts. Miserable man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—it is through Messiah Yeshua our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself serve the Torah of God; but with my flesh, I serve the law of sin.”
WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED
Paul assures us that the Torah is not sin. Without Torah we would not understand what sin is. The Torah is holy, the commandments holy and righteous and good. The Torah is spiritual. Paul struggles against sin (the evil inclination) in his flesh, but he delights in the Torah in his inner man.
To quote Dr. Ron Moseley, from his book “Yeshua, A Guide To The Real Jesus & The Original Church”, page 39, “Since the first century, the Church, for the most part, has misunderstood the Law, which both Jesus and Paul dearly loved, and by which they both lived…when the early Church gradually moved from Jerusalem to the West, many of the Roman converts who became church leaders retained certain of their pagan practices. As a result, these Roman leaders interpreted the Hebrew Scriptures in the light of their Greek background, imposing on the biblical text a non-Hebraic interpretive scheme. This had the effect of foisting incorrect information into the Church’s theology concerning God’s Law, information that was irreconcilable with the Word of God as taught by Jesus and Paul…Paul never attempted to start a new religion that opposed Torah. His arguments that appear to be directed against the Law were actually against misuse of the Law by those who were putting Gentile congregations in bondage, teaching that keeping the Law was required for salvation.” Let’s move on.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Messiah Yeshua. For the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yeshua has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what was impossible for the Torah—since it was weakened on account of the flesh—God has done. Sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as a sin offering, He condemned sin in the flesh—so that the righteous requirement of the Torah might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Ruach. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Ruach set their minds on the things of the Ruach. For the mindset of the flesh is death, but the mindset of the Ruach is life and shalom. For the mindset of the flesh is hostile toward God, for it does not submit itself to the law of God—for it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED
Romans 8:1-8 teaches that FAITH in Yeshua and HIS atoning sacrifice sets us free from bondage to sin (violation of Torah). Before Faith in YESHUA, we were in BONDAGE to sin, which leads to death. Through Faith in God’s SON, we who receive God’s Holy Spirit and walk in His Spirit can fulfill the righteous requirements of God’s Torah (His instructions). Those without God’s Spirit, or who do not submit their will to God’s Spirit, are hostile to the things of God and do not—cannot—submit to God’s Torah.
I tell the truth in Messiah…my sorrow is great…For I would pray that I myself were cursed, banished from Messiah, for the sake of my people—my own flesh and blood, who are Israelites. To them belong the adoption and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Torah and the Temple service and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs—and from them, according to the flesh, the Messiah, who is over all, God, blessed forever. Amen. But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all those who are descended from Israel are Israel, nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s seed; rather, “Your seed shall be called through Isaac.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God; rather, the children of the promise are counted as seed…(13) As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God…? May it never be! (22)…What if God, willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath designed for destruction? And what if He did so to make known the riches of His glory on vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory? Even us He called—not only from the Jewish people, but also from the Gentiles—as He says also in Hosea, “I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’ and her who was not loved, ‘Beloved.’ And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them (House of Israel), ‘You are not My people,’ there they shall be called sons of the living God.” Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “Though the number of B’nei-Israel be as the sand of the sea, only the remnant shall be saved…(30) What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness—that is, a righteousness of faith. But Israel, who pursued a Torah of righteousness, did not reach the Torah. Why? Because they pursued it NOT by faith, but as if it were from works…
WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED
Not all of the physical seed of Israel are the Israel of God. Only Israelites who put their Faith in God’s promises are counted as Abraham’s Seed. And Gentiles, who never pursued righteousness, attained righteousness and salvation through FAITH in Israel’s Messiah. But Israelites, who placed their hope for righteousness through keeping the Torah, apart from faith in Israel’s Messiah, failed to achieve it.
Rom 10:1 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for Israel is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have zeal for God—but not based on knowledge. For being ignorant of God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit themselves to the righteousness of God. For Messiah is the goal of the Torah as a means to righteousness for everyone who keeps trusting.
WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED
Messiah Yeshua is the goal of the TORAH! He is our righteousness, but we must continue to trust Him.
Rom 11:1– I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He knew beforehand …(7) What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained; but the elect obtained it, and the rest were hardened…(11-12) I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their false step salvation has come to the Gentiles, to provoke Israel to jealousy. Now if their transgression leads to riches for the world, and their loss riches for the Gentiles, then how much more their fullness!…(15-24-31) For if their rejection leads to the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the firstfruit is holy, so is the whole batch of dough; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. But if some of the branches were broken off and you—being a wild olive—were grafted in among them and became a partaker of the root of the olive tree with its richness, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, it is not you who support the root but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” True enough. They were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but fear—for if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you. Notice then the kindness and severity of God: severity toward those who fell; but God’s kindness toward you, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off! And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in; for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut out of that which by nature is a wild olive tree, and grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree? For I do not want you, brothers and sisters, to be ignorant of this mystery—lest you be wise in your own eyes—that a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer shall come out of Zion. He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” Concerning the Good News, they are hostile for your sake; but concerning chosenness, they are loved on account of the fathers—for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you once were disobedient to God but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, in like manner these also have now been disobedient with the result that, because of the mercy shown to you, they also may receive mercy.
What Have We Learned?
God never rejected Israel or the Jewish people, who were the only ones who returned after their exile. Paul was a Jew! Gentiles who come to faith in Israel’s Messiah are grafted into Israel’s Olive Tree, among Israel’s natural branches. And one day, when the fullness of the Gentiles is completed, the Deliverer will turn ungodliness from Jacob, for God’s call is without repentance, and when the Jews as a nation accept Yeshua as their Messiah then Yeshua will return, bringing life from the dead, the resurrection!
Romans 13:8-10 Owe no one any matter except to love one another, for he who loves another has filled the Torah. (Lev 19:18 you shall love your neighbour as yourself.) Rom 13:9 For this, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” (Exo 20:13-17, Deu 5:17-21) and if there is any other command, it is summed up in this word, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” (Lev 19:18) Rom 13:10 Love does no evil to a neighbour. Therefore, love is completion of the Torah.
All of God’s TORAH instructions fall into two categories: LOVING GOD and LOVING our fellow man!
Mar 12:28-34 One of the Torah scholars came and heard them debating. Seeing that Yeshua had answered them well, he asked Him, “Which commandment is first of all?” Yeshua answered, “The first is, ‘Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is ONE (Echad, a compound unity). And you shall love Adonai your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There are no other commands greater than these.”
“Well said, Teacher,” the Torah scholar said to Him. “You have spoken the truth, that He is echad, and besides Him there is no other! And ‘to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love the neighbor as oneself,’ is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Yeshua saw that he had answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”