Does Grace Trump Law? Rabbi Michael Weiner
Today, Rabbi Michael’s post comes from Jerusalem and was written during a trip to Israel a few months ago. He said at the time, “I wrote it and rewrote it several times in my dreams last night. I’m written on this verse before, but today I’m feeling something new.”
Romans 8:3-4 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 requirement of the Torah might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Ruach.
I want to view these verses, written by Paul to the Romans, in the light of The Reformation of Martin Luther. Luther was born into a world that needed reform. The only church available (in Europe) at that time was The Holy Roman Catholic Church.
Rabbi Trail: I’m not against the Catholic Church (as some Messianics are) but am writing this to acknowledge the historical mistakes that were made. Seems that every move of God gets “off track” from time to time and is in need of correction. The point I’m about to make is that even Luther’s correction needs correction. End RT.
There were serious errors in Catholic doctrine back then. One of them was the belief that indulgences (amounts of money paid to the church) were enough to bring about forgiveness of sin, so that repetition of that same sin the following week would result in additional forgiveness. This was so bad, even known and active prostitutes were accepted and forgiven week after week because they paid their indulgences.
Luther brought in the doctrine of personal holiness. This was both good and necessary. Luther rightly quoted Paul … Hebrews 12:1b-2a … let us also get rid of every weight and entangling sin. Let us run with endurance the race set before us, focusing on Yeshua, the initiator and perfecter of faith. For Luther, this focus on Yeshua meant not focusing on the Law. The Latin term is Sola Fide (justification by faith alone).
While we are not justified by works (Law), we must consider the preponderance of Scripture that states the Law (aka God’s righteous principles) is good. 1 Timothy 1:8 But we know that the Torah is good if one uses it legitimately. It’s not the Law that is changed, but our approach to it. Our striving is ended, for we walk (“walk” is euphemistic for obeying God’s commandments) by faith. And then there are always these words from Yeshua … John 14:15 If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
With Luther, the pendulum swung from no standard to hyper-grace. But God’s righteous standard is a call to obedience. Jacob 2:17 So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead by itself. To walk with God is to walk by faith while obeying His commandments.
There was much good that came out of Luther’s reformation. However; in some ways it went too far and in other ways not far enough. That might be something write about on next time.