Holiness: A Gift of God’s Grace ~ Part 4

“I am Adonai, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. Therefore you are to be holy, because I am holy.” ~ Leviticus 11:45

“Following the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in your entire way of life; since the Tanakh says, ‘You are to be holy because I am holy.’” ~ 1 Kefa 1:15-16

In this post, we will continue to explore this dichotomy between the Torah and God’s Grace as we pursue Holiness.

As we saw in my last post, Romans 7:6 gets right to the heart of what it means to live by God’s Grace.  For serving in the new way of the Ruach is the same as living by grace instead of by works.  Although it is clearly God’s design that we serve in the new way of the Ruach, far too many Believers still serve in the old way of the Torah.

Consider the following contrasts between the old way of the Torah and the new way of the Rauch: [1]

Old Way of Torah New Way of Rauch
External Code Internal Desire
1.  The moral precepts of God are only an external code of conduct.  The Torah commands obedience but provides no inclination or desire to obey. 1.  The moral precepts of God are written on our hearts as well as being an external code.  The Ruach inclines our hearts and gives us a desire to obey.
Commanding Enabling
2.  The Torah commands but gives no enabling power for obedience. 2.  The Ruach enables us to obey the Torah’s commands.
Hostility Delight
3.  Because of our hostility to God’s Torah before our conversion, the commands of the Torah actually provoked and incited us to sin. 3.  The Ruach, by removing our hostility and writing the Torah on our hearts, actually causes us to delight in God’s Torah.
Fear Gratitude
4.  The Torah produces a legalistic response to God.  We try to obey because of a fear of punishment for disobedience or in order to win favor with God. 4.  The Ruach, by showing us God’s Grace, produces a response of love and gratitude.  We obey, not out of fear or to earn favor, but out of gratitude for favor already given.
Working Relying
5.  Under the Torah, we perform in order to be accepted by God.  Since our performance is always imperfect, we never feel completely accepted by Him.  Thus, in our Messianic life, we always work from a position of weakness.  We work to be accepted, but feel we never quite make it. 5.  The Ruach bears witness with our spirit that we are accepted by God through the merit of Yeshua.  By relying solely on His perfect righteousness, we feel accepted by Him.  Thus, in our Messianic life, we work from a position of strength, because we have been accepted through Yeshua, and through Him, we have “made it.”

Ask yourself, “Am I serving under the old way of a written code, or under the new way of the Ruach?”  Are you seeking to build and maintain your relationship with Him on the basis of “keeping the Torah” that is, on the basis of your personal performance, or on the basis of the merit of Yeshua?  Do you view God’s moral precepts as a source of bondage and condemnation for failure to obey them, or do you sense the Ruach producing within you an inclination and desire to obey out of gratitude and love?  Do you try to obey by your own sheer will and determination, or do you rely on the Ruach daily for His power to enable you to obey?

All Believers have died to the Torah, whether we recognize it or not.  But the sad fact is, many Believers do not recognize it or are unwilling to accept it because, to them, it seems too good to be true.  All too often we who are Believers living in the realm of God’s Grace, live out our daily lives as if we were still living under the bondage of the Torah.  And to the extent we live that way, we are still serving in the old way of the written code and not in the new way of the Ruach.

I am convinced that the sinful nature still present within every Believer tends toward a legalistic Ruach as much as it tends toward sin.  The sinful nature despises the righteousness that comes by faith in Yeshua as much as it despises the ethical righteousness that comes from obeying God’s Torah.  If we are going to serve in the newness of the Ruach, we must resist the legalistic spirit of trying to “live by the Torah” as vigorously and persistently as we do temptations to sin.

Growing in the Likeness of Yeshua

In the last two posts, we have been focusing on the initial act of sanctification: the radical change God brings about in the heart of a person who trusts Yeshua as Savior.  It is the passing from spiritual death to spiritual life.  It is the beginning of a new creation in Yeshua and the writing of God’s Torah in our hearts.  It means a new relationship to the Torah of God and a new attitude toward it.  And all this is from God.  It is a gift of His grace just as surely as is the gift of justification.

God does not bring us into His Kingdom then leave us on our own to grow.  He continues to work in our lives to conform us more and more to the likeness of His Son.  As Sha’ul said, “the One who began a good work among you will keep it growing until it is completed on the Day of the Messiah Yeshua.” (Philippians 1:6).  This continuing work of God is called “progressive sanctification.”  It differs from initial sanctification in two respects which we will look at in my next post.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] I am indebted to Jerry Bridges as he presents this comparison in his book, “Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in

God’s Unfailing Love.”

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