Scales Fell From His Eyes

Author - First Name: 
John B.
Author - Last Name: 
Cobb, Jr.

Acts 9:1-19

The idea that scales sometimes fall from our eyes has taken hold in Christendom. It describes figuratively an experience that many have had.

In this whole passage there is a double change. On the road to Damascus, in the figurative sense, we might well say Paul had his most important experience of scales falling from his eyes. Until then he had not been able to see, or perhaps had not allowed himself to see, who Jesus was. Accordingly, he was angry about the great claims being made for him, and he resolved to destroy this sect of Jesus' followers. On the road to Damascus, the scales fell from his eyes, and he saw that Jesus was what his followers declared him to be. That led to a drastic reversal of his life orientation. Understanding the meaning of what he had seen took him several days, during which he fasted. During that entire time he was physically blind. There would probably be no Christian church today apart from the conclusions to which Paul came during those days.

The second change, the one in which the image of scales falling from eyes is actually used in our scriptural text, was minor in comparison, but nevertheless important. Physical blindness is not comparable to spiritual blindness in its destructive effects. It does not lead to persecuting those with whom you disagree. Nevertheless, if Paul had remained physically blind, his missionary work would have been greatly restricted. Whether a sustainable movement of Jesus' followers among the Gentiles, the movement of which we are a part, would ever have occurred without his recovery of physical sight, we can only guess. In any case, we can rejoice that the physical scales as well as the spiritual ones fell from his eyes.

I hope that you have had more than one experience of the scales falling from your eyes. This has happened to me repeatedly, and for each experience I am deeply grateful..

I went to the Divinity School of the University of Chicago after I got out of the Army soon after World War II ended. We were all aware at that time of the horrors the Nazis had inflicted on European Jews. We were sometimes critical of German Christians for not having resisted this evil system more strongly.

Yet in my courses in New Testament and in church history, I do not recall having extended discussions of Christian anti-Judaism. I was vaguely aware that their had been pogroms and persecutions by Christians. But I made no connection, so far as I can recall, between Christian teaching and the treatment of Jews by Christians.and, later, by Nazis and other European racists. I was hardly aware of the extensive anti-Semitism that pervaded American society and resulted in preventing Jews from escaping extermination at the hands of the Nazis.

Only a decade later did the scales fall from my eyes. I discovered that the pious ideas on which I had been nurtured had a shadow side that led to anti-Judaism. Somehow it had never occurred to me that my understanding of Jesus and salvation implied that the Jews were the enemies of truth and salvation. Since I had never been exposed to explicit Christian anti-Judaism, I had difficulty believing how widespread it had been. Nevertheless, rather rapidly the scales did fall from eyes. I saw that Christian teaching contributed massively to the Shoa or Holocaust. I saw that some of that inflammatory teaching was still continuing, that my own theological formulations were not free of this danger.

I grew up on the mission field in Japan. I was somewhat aware as a child that Japanese women were subservient to Japanese men. But I was quite oblivious to the fact that American women, too, were limited by their culture and even by church teaching, in what they could do. The single women missionaries I knew were strong and independent people who ran major institutions with great self-confidence. Missionary wives, like my mother, often held leadership roles alongside their husbands. Many of the Japanese Christian women I knew were also remarkably strong people. In school my general experience was that the girls outdid the boys academically.

In the early days of the feminist movement I began to hear women speak of how restricted they had been and how they were discouraged from excelling. They complained that in mixed groups their voices were ignored. Their opinions were simply not taken as seriously as those of men. Frankly, at first, I was incredulous. But fairly soon the scales fell from my eyes. The patriarchal character of our culture, our history, and our church life became apparent to me. Since the facts were all around me, and had been there all the time, I marveled that I had not noticed them -- that I had filtered them out.

A third of my experiences of having the scales for from my eyes was in the area of ecology. I grew up, like most people, with some emotional attachment to nature. I felt kinship to animals and hated to think of their suffering. Nevertheless, I was educated into supposing that all of this was basically sentimental. What truly mattered were human beings and their relations with one another. The really important issues are to be found in history, not in nature.

The power of this anthropocentrism was particularly manifest in my early theological work. I subscribed to a philosophy that emphasized the continuity and interconnection between human beings and other creatures. Yet I took my topics from the standard theological discussion of the day, heavily influenced by existentialism. This led to an exclusive focus on human beings and history. I wrote a book called "A Christian Natural Theology." But in the book I dealt thematically only with human beings and God. In 1965, when I published that book, it did not occur to me that that was odd.

A few years later, the scales fell from my eyes. I was awakened to the seriousness of the ecological crisis. I read the famous essay of Lynn White, Jr., on "The Historical Roots of the Ecological Crisis". In that essay he showed how Christian teaching in the Western church had distracted attention from the natural world, treating it only as a means to human ends, and object of human exploitation. This freed the West to advance in science and technology and to develop the means of rapidly destroying the natural systems on which we all depend. I saw how the liberal Protestant tradition in which I had been educated intensified the alienation from nature and thus delayed recognition of the crisis and still inhibited the needed responses. I saw how my own work had fully acquiesced in this alienation.

This instance of the scales falling from my eyes had a greater effect on my own work than had the other two. This was partly because the philosophy I had been using had great potential for guiding a healthy response to the crisis. Whereas in the other two cases, I saw that others were in better position than I to lead, in this case I could use it more inclusively than I had before to contribute to that response.

Paul's experience on the way to Damascus was both similar and different from the personal experiences I have listed, experiences typical of my generation. It was similar in the sense that he discovered, abruptly, how wrong he had been about the way things were. That happened to me in each of the three instances I cited.

It was different, however, in the sense of being a more total reversal. I had not been intentionally devoting myself to anti-Jewish, patriarchal, or anti-environmental activities or teaching. My experience was of realizing that something I had simply ignored was of great importance. Paul, on the other hand, had devoted great energy to destroying that to which he now knew he must give his life. It was different also in terms of its implications for change. My experiences led me to feel some responsibility for taking up in my teaching topics I had previously ignored. Paul's experience made it immediately clear that he was to join the new movement and preach Jesus Christ and him crucified.

For some people in my generation, the new awareness brought about by the scales falling from their eyes did lead to truly drastic changes. I knew one Christian theologian who rejected Christianity as inherently anti-Jewish and has stood outside the church ever since. But for most Christians, the new awareness of the crimes of Christians against Jews and of the responsibility of standard Christian teaching for poisoning this relationship leads only to modifications of practice and teaching. We try to make clear that Jesus and Paul were Jews, and that to be Christians at all is to be followers of Jewish teachers. We try to formulate the salvation we find in Christ in such a way that it does not deny that God's covenant with the Jews still stands. We try to criticize the endemic legalism of Christians without implying that the deep commitment of the Jews to the Torah leads to inferior results in Jewish life. We try to avoid using the word "pharisaic" in a pejorative way. And we try to relate to our Jewish neighbors in ways that assure them of our respect and our appreciative interest in their religious lives and communities. We deeply hope that these new patterns of teaching and relationship will deflect any tendency for Christian faith to give rise again to anti-Judaism.

More common has been the radical response of women who realized that their whole conditioning in a patriarchal culture had blocked their true personal development and devoted great energy to liberating themselves and their sisters. This became for some of them as total a commitment at Paul's devotion to bringing the gospel to the Gentiles. Feminism has functioned not only as a modification of Christianity but also as a new religious movement disconnected from our patriarchal traditions. But for most of us, the awareness of the pervasive presence and prevalence of patriarchal habits and teachings has led to efforts to change our own habits and the teachings that have been transmitted to us. In personal relationships within and without the church, we try to attain full equality between men and women. We try to restructure the church so as to give leadership roles to women at all levels. We try not to use the masculine pronoun when we are including women, or use it exclusively when we speak of God. We seek the feminine metaphors in the Bible and tradition and try to balance the masculine ones with these. More significantly, we seek in women's insights new ways of relating to one other and to think about God, other human beings and nature.

Awareness of the ecological crisis and its causes has similar results. For a few, the effect of scales falling from their eyes has led to total devotion to the preservation of the natural world. Much youthful idealism has been channeled into impressive efforts to save endangered species, stop destructive "development", and fight pollution. But for most of us here, too, this awareness has led to efforts to reform and modify our inherited traditions. We try personally to live in ways that are less destructive of the earth. We recognize that human population needs to be limited, especially in countries where per capita consumption is high. We seek governmental policies and actions that raise consciousness and protect the environment. In the church we lift up the obvious concern of biblical writers for the natural world and emphasize the God created it and saw that it was good in its own right, independent of its usefulness to human beings. We try to introduce more attention to the natural world into our liturgies. We try to make our church buildings and our practices within the church as sustainable as possible.

These three examples, and we can all think of others, deeply affected by attitude toward my own Christian faith. I had grown up identifying being Christian with being good. If I discovered that something I had thought was Christian was not good, then I assumed it was not really Christian. Now I discovered that through most of Christian history, normative Christian teaching had contributed to the suffering of Jews and women and encouraged exploitation of the Earth. I could add that Christian teaching about sexuality as basically evil led to a great deal of repression on the part of those who strove hardest to be faithful. The effect of Christian teaching on homosexuals was, and still is, far more brutal. I could not but wonder whether Christianity had overall done as much harm as good. In that case, was it good to be a Christian? Should I, perhaps, join the growing community of post-Christians, who may acknowledge the positive contributions Christianity has made, but who see no reason to continue with a tradition that has so many flaws?

Perhaps I could say here that again the scales fell from my eyes. I realized how much I, and many others, I think, want to find some group or movement that is largely pure so that we can identify with that. But there are no movements or groups that are not profoundly flawed. We live in a profoundly flawed world and are surrounded by profoundly flawed individuals. We are ourselves examples of those profoundly flawed individuals, and we corrupt even the purest initiatives. In fact we cannot really find in them even an initial purity.

Is the only reasonable response cynicism? If our religious traditions are all deeply flawed, should we not abandon the quest for the good? Does it not make more sense to look out for our personal interests with little regard to what this does to others? Many, indeed, have chosen this route. The quest for wealth and personal health and enjoyment has come to characterize our national character and that of much of the rest of the world as well.

But that is not a gain. Indeed, it threatens the human future and even the life of the planet. The deeper thinking to which my recognition of collective Christian guilt has led has actually heightened my sense of our collective need of the gospel both within the church and without.

We cannot find a historic community free of guilt for past crimes, nor a new community free from present corruption. The question is not so much the past or present virtue of a community. It is more how it responds when the scales fall from its collective eyes and it sees how wrong it has been. Does it cling to its destructive ways? Does it pretend to itself that it has no responsibility for these sins? Do its members simply abandon it, so that they do not have to bear responsibility for what it has done? I would find it hard indeed to identify with a community that responded in any of these ways.

But I found that my community, the old-line Protestant one, followed a different course. It repented. Yes, we have committed terrible crimes against Jews, against women, against others, and against ourselves. But as we become aware of these crimes, we acknowledge them and seek to follow the difficult road of change. We try to change our teaching and our practice so that we will no longer contribute to anti-Judaism, to patriarchal domination of women, or to continued neglect of the needs of the Earth. Our change is flawed. Not all of our members join in repentance. We have a long way to go, and we will never get to the end. Also, we will keep discovering additional crimes of which we need to repent. We hope we will have the strength to respond. We know that repentant movement does not have the popular appeal of one that presents itself as pure. But we will not abandon this fundamental character for that reason. To do so would be to betray our Lord.

We know that collectively we are clearer about what we now reject than about how to reconstitute ourselves in a better way. For example, we reject anti-Jewish Christology, but what do we put in its place? That is not yet nearly as clear. We suffer from lack of such clarity, and we sin by our unwillingness to wrestle seriously together with our theological poverty. We are, indeed, continuing to sin, but the continuing repentance signals that the one whom we try to follow is not identified with the anti-Judaism or the patriarchalism or the anthropocentrism or the failure to think well of which we have been, and continue to be, guilty. On the contrary, it is by him and his teaching that we judge that we have sinned.

Our repentance indicates that we are more committed to following him than to the particular beliefs and practices that earlier generations developed in their effort to follow. In that lies hope. We do not need to abandon our faith. However distorted its expressions have been and still are, we can engage together in healing and upbuilding activity. We do not have to become cynical. We can believe that Jesus Christ remains the hope of the world. We can experience the scales falling from our eyes not only as repeated recognitions of our collective and individual sin, but also as discerning more clearly who Christ is and what it means to follow him. 

Jesus called on all his hearers for metanoia. That means a profound change of mind. We have translated that as repentance. We who repent in response to the scales falling from eyes are true followers of Jesus.

Comments

Paul, pt2

Shaul of Tarsus, also known as Paul, claimed that Yahowsha/jesus appeared to him personally and appointed him as His special envoy to the nations, or gentiles. Paul told his story to Luke, who took him at his word and wrote down Paul's story. There is no proof whatsoever that what Paul told Luke is the truth. And I find it highly unlikely that Yahowsha would have disrespected those who walked with Him every day of His earthly ministry by choosing a complete stranger — a murderer and rabbinical fanatic, no less — to take His message to those outside the family of Yahuwdah. Since the 2nd General Letter of Kepha (Peter) is generally considered to be a forgery, I/we can discount its reference to Paul as a "beloved brother". Paul was a demon-possessed liar who opposed Yahowah's Towrah and who sought to turn people away from it with his new religion of "salvation by grace through faith". Salvation is indeed by unmerited favor, Yahowah's unmerited favor, but it doesn't come through faith, friend. You know Paul's life was a living hell. His father sent him away when he was a young boy. So he desperately tried to prove his worth by being a good student, but something went desperately wrong. Rather than become a ranking Pharisee and serve in the Sanhedrin, Paul was sent back home to sew tents. Can you imagine how demeaning this must have been for someone desperate to prove his value? For a boy who craved attention, who yearned to be respected, he was doing women's work. Having never enjoyed a mother's love, Paul turned on women. He grew to hate them. And in a culture where homosexuality was considered an abomination, he at the very least struggled with his sexual orientation, expressing his love for only one person—a man named Timothy. Those that witnessed his dark side, his penchant for tearing others down and abusing them, Rabbis chose Paul to harass those who recognized that Yahowsha was the Messiyah/The implement of Yah. And even in this barbaric job, Paul would brag that he excelled. Imagine a soul dark enough to boast about such a thing. And so it was in this darkness, in the midst of being subhuman, that the man who had been rejected by his father, who had been rejected by the Pharisees, and who was good at being bad, was offered the one thing he craved: respect. The Adversary who wanted to be worshiped as if he was God had found his kindred spirit. And together they would reshape the world. I suspect that Paul, like Constantine and Muhammad knew that something was amiss during his conversion experience. While all three embellished their account of it over time, only they know if they were actually fooled by Satan pretending to be God or not. But such delusions were fleeting. All too soon they were committed. Up to their throats in their own self-serving charade, they couldn't turn back and admit the truth—their egos wouldn't allow it. And that is why Satan picked them in the first place. He knew that their need to be respected and to compensate for their broken childhoods drove a lust for attention and respect which he could manipulate. Long before Paul wrote Galatians he knew the truth. His ploy, the conception of two covenants, was way too clever, way too diabolical, way too false, for him not to have laughed at his victims for believing his story. But there was no turning back. He, like Muhammad, was demon possessed, and thus was no longer in control. He had been betrayed by the Great Betrayer, the lord of egos, the prince of lies. The first step toward the dark side had set things in motion which could not be undone. We know that Satan promised Muhammad, a dumb brute of a man, sex, power, money, and immortality, and he delivered on all four accounts, not that it did Muhammad any good. He was never satisfied. And we know that Satan promised General Constantine victory in a battle that would transform his life from becoming a slave as the loser, to becoming Emperor as the winner. And what I suspect Satan promised Sha'uwl—a pompous elitist—was to be his messiah—to be the single most influential and respected man who ever lived. Surprisingly, this title doesn't go to Abraham, Moses, David, or even Yahowsha, because as a result of Paul's letters, too few people consider what they had to say. But Paul founded a religion—the largest and most influential in human history. He has been immortalized. Christians cite his words far more often than YHWH's and Yahowsha's/Yahushua's combined. He has become "Saint Paul"—the most famous Apostle. And as a result of what he has done, the man who was rejected by his father, mother, religious teachers, Yahowsha's Disciples, and God, took his revenge and damned more souls than anyone in human history. Billions have been poisoned by his words. He was the wolf in sheep's clothing; the one in the best position to mutilate Yah's Word and devour Yahowshua's sacrifice. He was a trusted insider. And in the battle between knowing YHWH and believing Paul, Satan achieved his greatest victory, and Christianity as we know it is the result and Satan deceived the whole earth.

concerning your comment

Thank you for sharing your strong response to this sermon. In the future, please limit your responses to no more than 250 words or I will have to delete them. Thank you.

Paul

I can't give you just any verse against Paul b/c there are so many, but once I began to recognize what Yahowsha/Yahushua/Jesus was talking about, "you will not view Him again, until His return. So don't look towards the temple or desert." I now see Paul as the scoundrel he was. Yes, much of what he says is most likely credible, or let's just say, "somewhat truthful." But this is how Satan does his best work by mixing the credible with lies and soon you start believing the lies also. I know you can see how Judaism views Christians and Islam wrong and they the inheritors of YHWHs Kingdom, and likewise with most Christians viewing Islam and Judaism as having it wrong, and Islam is just too asinine and has zero credibility in my opinion. So let's start our viewpoint under what I see as Yahs viewpoint. All religions are condemned. Doesn't that make sense, bc He never made one Himself. It's how come He came and asked Abram to remove himself from Urr. The center of political and religious teachings during his time, and I believe the same thing He ask of use too, but Ha Satan has deceived the entire world, but a few, so where would you flee even if you could. Likewise He almost orders, Mosheh/Moses to remove His people from the, then political and religious center of the world all the while destroying every god of that time. So no excuses, and yet they still backslided. And the last time, being disgusted with us, and says this from the very beginning of scripture, He walked the walk, showing us how we keep His Commandments by obeying them. And what happens, but the religious and political systems of His time drive Him onto a stake. So let's see if you think Paul was being honest? Here are some instances where I think that Paul of Tarsus seems to be in conflict with Yahushua 1. Please take 10 minutes and look at these citations with an open mind and decide for yourself if they are in conflict. whenever a english translation of the Bible uses the word "law" or "laws", the original text usually says Torah. I know you agree with me on this. (Please feel look it up in your interlinear edition or a Bible dictionary!) So, the reverse also applies, when you encounter the word "lawlessness" or even "wickedness", the original text usually says 'without Torah'. The Law (the Torah) is abolished Paul Of Tarsus Says: Romans 6:14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. Yahowsha (Jesus) Says: Luke 16:17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter in the Torah to become void. Paul says that we are not under the law, Yahowsha says that it would be easier for the entire universe to be destroyed than for even one letter of His Torah to become void. The Law (the Torah) is abolished Paul Of Tarsus Says: Romans 7:4 So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. Yahowsha Says: Matthew 19:17 "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Yahushua replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments." Paul says that we must die to the Torah, Yahowsha says that if we want to enter life we must obey Torah. Both statements cannot be true. The Law (the Torah) is abolished Paul Of Tarsus Says: Ephesians 2:14-15a For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. Yahowsha Says: Matthew 5:17-18 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished." Paul says that Yahowsha abolished the Torah, Yahowsha says exactly the opposite. Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians in the 50's. Jesus says that the entire universe must be destroyed before the smallest mark on the page of the Torah would disappear. Unless heaven and earth disappeared sometime between the 30's and the 50's, nothing written in The Law is to be disregarded. The Law (the Torah) is a curse Paul Of Tarsus Says: Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." Yahowsha Says: Matthew 19:17 "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Yahowsha replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments." In Psalms 19:7, David says "The Torah of YHWH is perfect, restoring the inner person. The instruction of YHWH is sure, making wise the thoughtless." In Galatians, Paul says the Law (the Torah) is a curse. Yahushua says only God (YHWH, Yahuwah) is good and if you want to enter into life, obey the Torah. If it is the way to enter into eternal life, then is cannot be a curse. See Galatians chapter 3 and Romans chapter 3 for Paul's full on assault upon the Torah. No one is justified by keeping the Law (Torah) Paul Of Tarsus Says: Galatians 2:16 know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Yahowsha. So we, too, have put our faith in Yahowsha that we may be justified by faith in Yahowsha and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified Yahowsha Says: Matthew 16:27 "For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done." Paul says don't even try to follow God's "prescriptions for living", the Law, the Torah. Yahowsha says that you will be rewarded according to what you actually do, the deeds you carry out. He was all about Torah3, the deeds He is referring to are those spelled out in Torah. These deeds are what His Father (our Father, too) asked us to do in His Scriptures. Followers of the Messiah don't have to observe Torah (keep the Law) Paul Of Tarsus Says: Colossians 2:16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. Yahowsha Says: John 14:15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command." Observing the holy-days set forth in the Torah, keeping the Sabbath and following the dietary guidelines are what Yahowsha says you will do, if we love Him. Paul says don't bother with that stuff and don't even listen to someone who would point out that you ought to obey these commands. Whom are we to call "Father"? Paul Of Tarsus Says: I Corinthians 4:15-16 Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Yahowsha, you do not have many fathers, for in Yahowsha I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. Yahowsha Says: Matthew 23:9 "And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven." Paul says 'I am your father'. Yahowsha says don't call anyone on earth 'father'. It seems that the Roman Catholic Church prefers that you call their priests, bishops, cardinals and Pope "Father", in agreement with Paul's instruction to imitate him and in direct conflict with what the Messiah said to do. The Sabbath/Shabat is just like any other day Paul Of Tarsus Says: Romans 14:5 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. Yahowsha Says: Yahowsha/YaHoWaH Saves, "observed the Sabbath" at least 1,039 times. (considered an adult at age 13, executed at age 33 = 20 years. 20 years x 52 weeks = 1040 Sabbaths, minus the one Sabbath/Shabat that He spent in the tomb) Paul says you can just decide for yourself if you want to 'remember the Sabbath and keep it holy'. WWYD? He kept the Sabbath! Had Yahowsha missed even one Sabbath observance, He would have immediately been disqualified as Messiah because He would have violated the fourth commandment. Yahowsha preached a message of peace Paul Of Tarsus Says: Ephesians 2:17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. Yahowsha Says: Matthew 10:34-37 "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn " 'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law-- a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.' "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; Yahowsha is not preaching a message of war by any means, but His message cannot be summarized by saying that he 'preached peace'! After the resurrection, Yahowsha never said anything about the Torah being nullified or done away with. Not one word. This is consistent with His life and teaching prior to His execution when He was always saying to keep Torah. In fact, on the road to Emmaus, He had to 'walk them (the two disciples) through' the scriptures from the beginning to show that He was the prophesied Messiyah. This showed them that 'He' was 'Him' and that the events of that weekend were necessary and prophesied. As soon as the disciples 'got it', the recognized Yahowsha, and then He disappeared. He did not say, "Yup, the Torah, Prophets and Psalms are all about Me, and, oh, now I suppose you can just disregard that stuff." After Shabuwah/Pentecost and the Ascension, the disciples kept to the principle of Torah observance. They never, ever said "you don't have to follow the Torah", because the Messiyah never said that. The dietary rules in the Torah do not have to be observed Paul Of Tarsus Says: Romans 14:14 As one who is in the Yahowsha, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. Timothy, an early follwer of Pauls I Timothy 4:1-5 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. The Disciples Say: Acts 15:28-29 It seemed good to theQodesh/"Set-Apart" Spirit/errant Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell. Revelation 2:14 "Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality." (This is actually God talking in John's revelation. Note that the wording regarding food and immorality is almost exactly the same) Paul says that you can eat any food that you want too, even if it was a sacrifice to a pagan idol, as long as you are thankful for it. Paul repeats this in 1 Corinthians 8:4-13 James, the leader of the early church and the Council of Jerusalem (oh, and he was Yahowsha's brother, too) says that we are NOT to eat food that was sacrificed to idols. This letter is thought to have been written before Paul's letters to the Romans or Timothy. John's revelation was written long after Paul was gone and says that YHWH/God said not to eat food that was sacrificed to pagan idols. The Pauline license to eat food that was sacrificed to idols is bookended, before and after, by the disciples' instruction against that very act. God's Law (the Torah) makes you sin Paul Of Tarsus Says: Romans 7:7-11 7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, "Do not covet." But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.(footnote(1):start counting Pauls pronouns.) James, Yahowsha's Brother, Says: James 1:13-14 When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Paul's logic is a little hard to follow here but it is clear that he equates the commandments with death. Sin seizes the opportunity made by the Law and tempts him, producing every kind of covetous desire? James, on the other hand, says that God does not tempt anyone. By implication, His "instructions for living", the Torah cannot be the source of temptation. Paul is way out of line when he is blaming God's law for temptation. The Law (the Torah) is death Paul Of Tarsus Says: II Corinthians 3:7 Now if that which worked death, by means of a written text engraved on stone tablets, came with glory - such glory that the people of Isra'el could not stand to look at Moshe's face because of its brightness, even though that brightness was already fading away YHWH Says: Deuteronomy 4:40 Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land YHWH your God gives you for all time. Deuteronomy 6:24-25 YHWH commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Eloyhim our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. And if we are careful to obey all this law before YHWH our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness." Not satisfied with just contradicting the disciples and the Messiyah, here Paul is now contradicting Yah's own instructions given to Moses on Mount Sinai. "Prosper"-ing, being "kept alive" and obtaining "righteousness" cannot come from "that which worked death". When the Law was in force, faith had not yet come Paul Of Tarsus Says: Galations 3:23 Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. Paul Of Tarsus Says: Romans 4:3 What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Romans 4:22 This is why "it was credited to him as righteousness." Here, Paul of Tarsus contradicts Paul of Tarsus! Which way is it, Mr. Oftarsus? Did or did not Abraham have faith in YHWH? If faith had not yet been revealed, how could Abraham's belief in YHWH be credited to him as righteousness? What do you have to do to be saved? Paul Of Tarsus Says: Romans 10:8-9 But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved Yahowsha Says: Luke 10:25-28 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" "You have answered correctly," Yahowsha replied. "Do this and you will live." Paul indicates that all you have to do is say the magic words and 'believe in your heart' to be saved. When Yahowsha/Jesus is asked the same question, He refers the questioner to the Torah. Rather than recite the entire Torah, the man pronounces a summary of the Law. Yahowsha says that this summation of the Torah is correct. This is a summary of the Torah, not the entire thing! We know from the text that both parties in the conversation knew the Torah because one was 'an expert in the law', the other was the law made flesh. Yahowsha then says "Do this and you will live." He does NOT say 'just say that you have faith in me' and 'believe it in your heart'. He is saying that you need to observe the Torah. Let me ask you this: How many times did you find your self saying "What Paul really means is..."? Or are you finding yourself on the side of Pauline Christianity rather than following the teachings and example of the Messiyah? You must choose whom you are going to follow, because Yahowsha and Paul are often saying very different things. Paul's way is much easier to follow and live with. Yahowsha's way, on the other hand, requires that you actually do something. And again, if Paul says X and, Yahowsha/ Yahushua, or even the pagan name that tells us nothing of the Creators mission for His set apart, says Y, I am going with Yahushua.