|Listen to the Bible|
Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:Romans 14 is one of the most misunderstood Chapters of the Bible. It is used as a justification to disregard the Sabbath - so long as a person keeps another day as he is convinced in his own mind. Additionally, Romans 14 is used to justify eating anything - even foods which other Scriptures list as "unclean". In short, Romans 14 seems to nullify the principles clearly stated in the Torah and throughout Scripture. In fact, the writings of Paul (including Romans 14) are used to justifying nailing the whole Law of God to the Cross.
So, what is up with Romans 14? This is a passage which needs to be set in its proper, Scriptural setting, rather than leaving it outside this context, as if it were the guidelines for starting a whole new religion.
So, this morning, I'd like to take a closer look at the teachings of Paul - and Romans 14. We need a Scriptural perspective on the writings of Paul, as they are being unwittingly used to start a whole new religion, disregarding the old.
Most Christians today have been taught that the Law of Yahweh was a burden, the “handwriting of the Ordinances” which was “against us.” The teachings of the apostle Paul are viewed as birthing New Testament Christianity, which is contrasted starkly against the Old Testament writings.
On the one hand, David wrote of the Law of Yahweh with high praise. He identified it as a vital catalyst in the conversion process (Psalm 19:7). He also proclaimed that the Torah (the original Hebrew word, from which the English word “Law” is translated) brought wisdom and spiritual enlightenment. Understanding and obeying it was a source of great spiritual riches and joy!
So great was the Psalmist’s delight in the Torah that he meditated upon it day and night and attributed all true success to this practice!
Psalm 1:1-3 “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the Law of Yahweh; and in His Law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”Contrastingly, Paul seems to hold a completely opposite view of the Law. Christians today cite his writings as proclaiming the Law to be “against us” (Colossians 2:14). Obedience to it is viewed as returning to the “beggarly elements” to which we were enslaved before our Salvation (Galatians 4:9). The only personal value the Law has now is that it serves as our “schoolmaster”, which “brings us unto Christ” (Galatians 3:24). But once we have come to Messiah and our sins are covered in His Blood, we are freed from the burdens of the Law.
Romans 8:1-2 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Yahshua, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Yahshua hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”So if the issue of the Law of Yahweh could be put up for debate, Bible writers like Moses and David would apparently spearhead the pro-Law team, who support the Law and proclaim it a blessing. But Paul would apparently head the opposing team, who consider it a burden and nail it to the Cross! So divergent are these perspectives and so serious is the doctrinal fracture they create, that the biblical foundation beneath a Christian’s feet may crumble away, if one is not careful to account for it correctly!
To some, this may seem an extreme statement. Maybe the Law doesn’t seem so pivotal an issue, at first. They may ask, “Don’t Christians only need to concern themselves with ‘salvational’ subjects and Spiritual Warfare?” What may surprise many is that actually the Law is a vital part of BOTH!
What does the Law have to do with Salvation? The Law defines sin. Sin, by its very definition, is “transgression of the Law” (1 John 3:4). It is because of sin that we need a Saviour. It is only by comparing our own lives with the perfect beauty of the Law that we are convicted of sin and brought to full repentance, bringing true conversion. This is why David rightly credited the Law as “converting the soul.”
Paul agrees with David on this, plainly stating:
Romans 7:12-13 (NOGV) “So the Laws in Moses’ Teachings are holy, and the Commandment is holy, right, and good. Now, did something good cause my death? That’s unthinkable! Rather, my death was caused by sin so that sin would be recognized for what it is. Through a Commandment, sin became (could be seen to be) more sinful than ever.”Notably then, if the Law is merely “done away with” at the Cross, Christians will not concern themselves with learning its principles. Then, in the dimness of our resulting spiritual ignorance, sin prospers, repentance is incomplete, and the process of full conversion is left unfinished. Yet that is just one devastating fruit to come from nailing the Law to the Cross, effectively removing it from value among contemporary Christians. Another devastating result of relegating the Law to the archaic past has been increasing spiritual impotency.
Christians are largely aware that Spiritual Warfare is vitally important to finding and keeping true freedom in Christ. The devil is like a “roaring lion”, especially working to “devour” Christians, who are most threatening to him and his kingdom (1 Peter 5:8-9). Thus, choosing to walk with God automatically means that we must resist the devil (in Yahweh’s Power, of course). As it says in James 4:7:
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”The process of daily submitting to God and resisting the devil is called Spiritual Warfare. Yet while most Christians understand the importance of effective Spiritual Warfare as a necessity to genuine Christian living, most do not realize that, without Torah, effective Spiritual Warfare is impossible!
Countless Christians unwittingly place themselves in spiritual harm’s way by acting in ignorance to the principles of the Torah. The Law of Yahweh is intended to protect us from the onslaught of the enemy. But when we are spiritually ignorant, the Bible warns us that the devil gets the advantage over us (2 Corinthians 2:11)!
Throughout our years in ministry, we have interceded for Christians who have unknowingly stepped outside of the protective guidelines of Torah, only to reap the fruits of hell as a result.
One man was unable to find peace in his home. Instead of a sanctuary, a little taste of Heaven on earth, his home had become a place of demonic torment and spiritual oppression. He explained to us that he felt better when he left his house. He asked us to come and do a prayer and anointing over his home. He hoped that Yahweh would then cleanse his home, removing this demonic darkness and spiritual pestilence.
When we arrived at his home and began the requested prayer and anointing, we saw that he had a large Buddha sitting on a stand in his house. We inquired about it, realizing that the devil could have gained the right to infect his home just from the presence of this idol alone! It turned out that the man, although a Christian, had simply picked up the Buddha as a souvenir during his travels. It meant nothing to him, other than as a memento of the trip. But, had he been aware of the Torah safeguards, which forbid all idolatry in the lives and homes of God’s people, he would have been spared a great deal of pain and suffering! Demons don’t get the right to infect a Christian’s home without a cause!
Proverbs 26:2 “As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.”On another occasion, we were asked to drive to a couple’s home, located several hours from us. The wife tearfully explained that they were afraid to live in their own home. Lights and water faucets would supernaturally turn on and off. Menacing presences would threaten the household. The couple couldn’t even sleep through the night without some form of hair-raising manifestation.
“Why is Satan doing this to us? We’re CHRISTIANS!” the woman cried.
Gently, we shared with the exhausted couple that there was likely a cursed object in their home, giving the demons the right to possess the house. We knew this because of a warning given in the Torah:
Deuteronomy 7:26 “Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing.”Because the Law (the Torah includes the first five books of the Bible: Genesis—Deuteronomy) is viewed as “done away with”, Christians no longer study it or concern themselves with its principles. As a result, this poor couple had no idea that cursed items could bring such terror to their home!
As it turned out, there was one cursed item in the couple’s home. It was a gorgeous tapestry, hanging on the living room wall. The artist had been a mystical, New Age, “white witch”. When the wall-hanging was removed and burned, the home prayed over and anointed, the spiritual manifestations stopped and the demonic shadow was fully lifted. We were all thankful to God for this powerful deliverance, but we were also saddened to realize that the precious couple could have been spared the whole ordeal had they only known and kept the principles of the Torah!
But of all the unnecessary sorrows brought on unsuspecting Christians by nailing the Law to the Cross, perhaps the most devastating blow to effective Spiritual Warfare is the devil’s resulting “revolving door policy”. This “revolving door” to the human soul is a spiritual condition in which demons are kicked out of the soul, through Warfare Prayer, only to return, for reasons soon to be explained. As will be shown, it is only when we remain within the protection of the Torah principles that we can find lasting freedom in Christ.
When we disobey the Law of Yahweh, we have committed sin (1 John 3:4). And it is through sin that the devil gets the rights to afflict and enslave us in the first place! All demonic bondage, even full demonic possession, began with sin—either sins which we have committed personally, or it is bondage brought on us by the sins of our ancestors (Exodus 20:5). The connection between disobeying the principles of the Law (which is sin) and demonic bondage is plainly stated in Proverbs. To be “holden” with the “cords” of our own “sins” literally means to be unable to get free from the devil’s bondage.
Proverbs 5:22 “His own iniquities (sins—Law breaking) shall take (ensnare, imprison) the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.”When we come to Christ, repent of our past sins and are delivered from demonic bondage, we become God’s loving children and are made FREE (John 8:36) in the Name and Blood of the Lamb (1 John 1:9). But we are not now free to keep sinning—or keep disobeying the principles of Torah. We are made free to demonstrate our love for God, by obedience to His Instructions (by His Grace).
1 John 5:2-4 “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His Commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His Commandments: and His Commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”After we have been cleansed in Christ, if we return to our old sinful habits and Lawlessness, we also return to the former demonic bondage and spiritual enslavement. Demons that were kicked out of the person’s soul, during their deliverance in finding Salvation, now return and re-infest the soul temple (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). Only this time, the demonic oppression or possession will be even greater than it was before!
Scripture teaches that when a demon is cast out, he will come back to check out the “house” (person) in whom he used to dwell. If he finds that he can get back into that soul-temple again, he will not come alone. Each demon, upon re-entry, brings SEVEN devils - more wicked than himself - into the soul of the formerly cleansed person! Thus, the Bible teaches that the person is now worse off than he was before he became “saved”; all because the Christian was ignorant of how vitally important the Torah is in both the Salvation-process and in keeping the freedom.
2 Peter 2:20-22(ESV) “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our [Master] and Savior [Yahshua] Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the Way of Righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy Commandment delivered to them.”The Proverbs 26:11 warning has happened to them:
‘The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire’.”
Luke 11:24-26 “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”Sadly, we have observed Spiritual Warfare ministries, unaware of this principle, casting demons out of people, in the Name and Blood of Yahshua (or Jesus). They truly believe they are being used of God to help and bless. But deliverance without Torah instruction is not a blessing! It is a curse! For the devil gets a hellish revolving door policy. The demons cast out, gain the legal right to re-enter the soul temple of the cleansed person, when the principles of Torah are broken.
Think of it! How many demonically oppressed or possessed people can afford to come for help, only to end up seven times worse? This is why the Psalmist exclaimed:
Psalm 119:92 “Unless Thy Law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction.”So, if its dangerous - even deadly - to believe the Law of God was nailed to the Cross, what did Paul mean? Certainly Paul wasn’t teaching us to do away with the Law, if that teaching was going to give hell the power to destroy God’s people! The problem isn’t with Paul’s teachings - the problem is with our understanding of what Paul taught.
Peter himself said that Paul was a very difficult man to understand. Even in the time of the Early Christian Church, many were already misinterpreting Paul’s writings - which Peter warned would bring destruction.
2 Peter 3:15-16 (NCV)“...Our dear brother Paul told you the same thing when he wrote to you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes about this in all his letters. Some things in Paul’s letters are hard to understand, and people who are ignorant and weak in faith explain these things falsely... but they are destroying themselves by doing this.”Of all the Bible writers, Paul is the most difficult to interpret and the most commonly misunderstood. This statement is not just my opinion. It is a fact, having been expressed by the Apostle Peter and preserved within the pages of Scripture itself. (See 2 Peter 3:15-16, above.)
Twisting the meaning of Paul’s words was a common problem in the Early Christian Church. And it has not lessened in our time. In fact, the way Christians commonly misinterpret Paul’s New Testament writings is the single biggest cause for doctrinal deception today! Here are some examples:
We are Twisting the Teachings of Paul When we Make Them Mean Something Different than the Rest of the Bible. Consider the following confusing issues:
On the Subject of the Sabbath:
People believe that Paul taught it doesn’t matter which day you “esteem” as holy—keep any day you choose as your Sabbath - They cite Romans 14:5 to support this.
But we are jumping to conclusions if we interpret Romans 14:5 in this way. Paul never says that we should "unesteem" (make common) a day which God has esteemed (made holy). What he does say is that man may also esteem a day, as needed.
In other words, there are times when my personal circumstances warrant having a day or two of fasting and special prayer. By planning to fast and pray for a day or two, I am choosing to esteem these days. They don't have to be Sabbaths, for me to pray and fast effectively at these times.
According to the rest of Scripture, Yahweh wants His people to remember and keep holy the Days He sanctified. Man may “esteem” days, such as setting aside a special day for fasting over a needed issue - but man may not unesteem a day which Yahweh has made holy. (Exodus 20:8-11, Levitcus 26, Ezekiel 20:12-24, Hebrews 4:8-11, and many more...) Paul never says to unesteem God’s esteemed holy Days.
Romans 14:5 "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind."
So, if esteeming a day is setting the day apart for special worship, fasting or special prayer (or all of the above) in what context might someone "esteem every day alike"?
One example of esteeming "every day", which is to set apart oneself for holy use day-after-day, is the Nazarite Vow. A Nazarite Vow was not required. This is a good example of how a person would only voluntarily esteem a day - being fully persuaded in his own mind, as Paul says in Romans 14:5. During the time of his voluntary vow, a Nazarite would not engage in common practices (like going to work, etc). This time was specially set apart for closeness with God and for focusing on the Kingdom! One could not eat or drink anything from the grape (because grapes are a symbol of celebration - and the Nazarite Vow is taken in solemnity). Also, a Nazarite could not come near a dead body. So, during this special time, if a member of the family died, the person who had taken the Nazarite Vow could not attend the funeral, and still maintain the Vow.
But for those who took the Nazarite Vow, their prayers were exceedingly effective. Their closeness with God during this time was not only a blessing to them, personally, the whole region was blessed by their fasting and prayers.
A person in a Nazarite Vow is very dear and beautiful to God. For He sees the heart that loves and seeks Him so deeply as to willingly set aside this special time. Lamentations 4:7 describes how true believers under a Nazarite Vow appear in the Eyes of God:
Lamentations 4:7 "Her Nazarites were purer than snow (made holy and spiritually clean), they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body (handsome and beautiful) than rubies (the most precious of all gems. Carat for carat, a ruby is of greater value than even a diamond), their polishing was of sapphire."Yes, the greatest way that person could esteem a day was to voluntarily enter a Nazarite Vow with God. It was a Vow which lasted for whatever length of time the person chose, in most cases. Although Samson was actually in a Nazarite Vow for his entire lifetime.
Returning to Romans 14, we find that the context of Romans 14 refers to eating or not eating... This is a chapter about fasting and esteeming a day for special fasting and prayer. Some fast by abstaining from food. Some fast by eating pulse because they are weaker (and can’t fully abstain).
Some people almost feel holier than others because they can fast without food at all - only water for many days at a time. But in Romans 14, we find the message that God doesn't look at us this way. For those who are physically weaker, and cannot fully fast for many days (such as a person with diabetes, etc), God accepts what you can do. Fasting empowers prayer. And whatever level of fasting you are able to do will be equally accepted by God and will equally empower your prayer. This is the meaning of Romans 14:3:
Romans 14:3 "Let not him that eateth despise (judge as less holy) him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him."
On the Subject of the Law:
It is believed that Paul taught that the Law of God was a burden that was “against us” - standing in the way of our Salvation. The Messiah took the Law out of the way, by nailing it to His Cross - Colossians 2:14-16.
But again we're jumping to conclusions. Paul does not say that the Law was nailed. He says the Handwriting of Ordinances which was against us was nailed. This is the written record of our Law-breaking (sins).
Yahweh’s Law is a blessing (Deuteronomy 30:16-20, Psalm 19:7, Jeremiah 31:33, 1 John 5:2-4, Revelation 22:14...) It was not the Law, but our sins - the record of our Law breaking which was nailed to the Cross, as is clear in the NLT and CEV Bible translations (for example):
Colossians 2:14-16 NLT “He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.”So serious is the difference between how Christians interpret Paul’s writings and the message of the rest of the Bible, that it appears Paul’s words are being used against the rest of the Scriptures! It seems, as has already been mentioned, that Paul and Moses head two opposing teams in “The Great Spiritual Debate” on doctrinal Truth.
But what is perhaps the most sobering and scary part of it all, is that Paul’s perceived teachings are used as the ultimate doctrinal “trump card”, overpowering every other Scriptural writer or Message—including Christ Himself!
As an example, consider the topic of the Law. Most Christians believe that Paul taught the Law was done away with at the Cross. But, Yahshua clearly stated He had not come to remove any part of the Law. In fact, He went on to state that nothing in the Torah - not even the tiniest punctuation or accent marks it contained - would be done away with until Heaven and Earth passed away.
Matthew 5:17-18 “Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till Heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled.”Was Paul actually in conflict with Christ? No! Had Paul been in conflict with Christ, he could not have been one of His apostles! The apparent conflict in Paul’s writings versus Yahshua’s has been brought about by misinterpreting Paul’s messages. Just as Peter warned that many were doing, even in his day, Christians wrongly interpret Paul’s meaning, producing these two perspectives that are entirely opposite.
Yet, alarmingly, the twisted understanding Christians get from misinterpreting Paul seemingly holds more weight than even Yahshua’s words! Misunderstood or not, if Paul can effectively “trump” Christ, we can no longer call ourselves Christians (followers of Christ), but “Paulians” (followers of Paul).
And so, with no disrespect to the Apostle Paul, who truly did not teach heresy but promoted the Truth; it is necessary to expose how Christianity has actually morphed into a twisted “Paulianity”. But if we put our “Torah-glasses” on, viewing Paul’s writings and teachings from the standpoint that the Law of God is the basis from which he taught, we will find enlightenment rather than delusion.
Isaiah 8:20 "To the Law and to the Testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them.”In Romans 14, Paul (or anywhere else) wasn’t throwing away the Torah principles on Sabbath-keeping. Rather he was pointing out that man could “esteem” a day for fasting and prayer, as needed. But whatever days a man might esteem were in addition to the days that Yahweh had already esteemed (set apart as holy) - not in place of them! The doctrinal twist comes when we use this chapter to validate “unesteeming” a Holy Day which Yahweh Himself already esteemed.
Rather than daring to set aside Yahweh’s holy Days (which would have made Paul an apostate not an Apostle), Paul taught both Jews and Gentiles to keep them and kept them, faithfully. See Acts 13 & 17.
Acts 18:4 “And he (Paul) reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and Greeks.”Paul’s own testimony about his teachings and conduct is that he had never done or taught anything against either the Torah (wrongly translated as the “Law of the Jews”) or against the laws of the land (Roman law).
Acts 25:7-8 “And when he came, the Jews who came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and made many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove. While he answered for himself, Neither against the Law of the Jews, nor against the Temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.”The word “offended” in the above passage is translated from the Greek word hamartano, which means to “sin against” or “trespass”. Paul could only say that he had not trespassed against the Torah if he was a Sabbath-keeper! In fact, he not only kept the Sabbath, but also the Feast days (Acts 18:21; 20:16). And he even left plain instructions for Yahweh’s people to keep them:
1 Corinthians 5:8 “Therefore let us keep the Feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the Unleavened Bread of sincerity and truth.”
Breaking the Sabbath commandment carried a penalty of death (Exodus 31:15) and Paul said that if he had committed anything worthy of death he would accept such judgment (Acts 25:11). Festus said concerning Paul, “I found that he had committed nothing deserving of death.” (Acts 25:25). Thus, the Scriptural record shows Paul to be a Torah and Sabbath-keeper.
Paul wasn’t making up new doctrines, nailing the Law which David and Moses - and Yahshua Himself - upheld. Just as Peter warned, Paul’s teachings have been twisted into strong delusions. But far from teaching that the Law is no longer valid, Paul taught that breaking God’s Law would result in eternal damnation (Galatians 5:19-21).
Ephesians 5:5-8 “...No whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the Kingdom... of God. Let no man deceive you... walk as children of Light.”To rightly understand Paul’s writings, we must interpret them through the “lens” of the Law. Paul was not starting a whole new religion, doing away with the principles given already in the Scripture. Had he done so, he would have been an apostate - not an apostle! Paul was in full agreement with all that Yahweh had already given. His writings always align with the God-given principles of the Torah, when correctly interpreted through letting Scripture interpret Scripture.