8 Min Read

Faith vs Law

Published on

March 25, 2024

In my journey with God, a desire I hold dear is the ability to translate abstract, esoteric truths from scriptures into everyday contexts, demonstrating that our faith in Christ is not confined to supernatural or spiritual realms but impacts our material universe. As I reflect on scripture, I find that some early Christians shared this desire, though they approached it incorrectly. Today, we’ll explore these individuals and glean lessons from them.

The people I’m referring to are the Jews addressed in the book of Hebrews.

To provide some background: from Moses to Jesus, about 1,986 years passed. During this period, the Jews became deeply familiar with the Law (Torah) and saw how adhering to it in the form of practicing Judaism improved their lives, both individually and nationally. They also experienced the consequences of straying from its principles, facing defeats that left them at the mercy of their captors. This led them to strongly adhere to Judaic principles and even develop a muscle memory for its practices.

However, when Christ came, He revealed that Judaism had served its purpose and He had come to fulfil it (Matthew 5:17 NLT). Those who accept Christ’s fulfilment by faith no longer need to strive to achieve what has already been accomplished to be considered God’s friends and stand in His presence.

The central message of Christ was that one can become a friend of God by believing rather than through performance-based efforts. This was a stumbling block for devout Jews, accustomed to a performance-based system of Judaism in order to qualify in God’s sight. Judaism emphasised adherence to strict rules, where failure to comply was considered a transgression.

In contrast, Christ introduced a new approach where qualification is based on believing in His finished work, which empowers us to perform. Even when we fall short, Christ has paid the price for our transgressions and offers us forgiveness, strengthening us to do better. Those who follow this new approach are called Christians.

In the book of Hebrews, former Jewish practitioners of Judaism who embraced Christ but were reluctant to abandon Judaic practices tried to blend the two. However, this is incompatible with Christ’s message, as it attempts to take credit for what is freely given. Such a lifestyle does not please God.

You may be wondering what all this has to do with you. Many of us exhibit Judaic tendencies, attributing our victories solely to ourselves and our abilities. This self-centered approach can lead to some perceived successes, thereby reinforcing our belief in our abilities, but it is a deception. I’d like to introduce you to a young man in scriptures who embodies this: the rich young ruler.

Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honour your father and your mother.’ ”And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. — Mark 10: 17–22 (NKJV)

The rich young ruler approached Jesus, asking how he could inherit eternal life. Jesus tested him by asking if he obeyed the Jewish commandments, to which he eagerly replied yes. However, Jesus offered him a superior path based on belief, which the young man rejected. He was accustomed to being in control of his life and wasn’t ready to trust in another.

The lesson here is pretty simple, every-time one tends to be exclusively in-charge of his life, he must ensure that he is also capable of sustaining that life after he transits from this plain. Not only that, he must make sure he has sufficient capital in the world to sustain his life for all of eternity and even at that, there is still no guarantee. Because as long as God exists, He is the only one capable of using “I” (Exodus 3: 14) as His nomenclature/description, for anytime we attempt to use that letter/word to describe ourselves or achievement, we will always fall short.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

In conclusion, to measure up and gain success on earth while securing an inheritance in God’s kingdom, we must depend absolutely on Jesus. Judaism, based on the Law, shows the futility of measuring up to God’s standards through our efforts. Christ offers a way through faith, which begins with believing in His ability in our lives and contexts. Let’s commit to depending on Jesus in every situation and experience the peace and satisfaction that come with absolute reliance on Him.


Nonso Orji

IG/Twitter: nonso_orji

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