Are Christians under the law? Is observing Torah necessary for Salvation?

In Blog, devotional by S. L. Ozbun7 Comments

Are Christians under the law?

Are Christians under the law? Seems like a ridiculous question to be asking, considering it was answered clearly by the Scriptures 2,000 years ago. However, as of late, this appears to be a new area of confusion within the body of Christ. There are many within Christianity, specifically within the Hebrew Roots movement, who are trying to push observing Torah as a requirement for justification. That is, to be made right with God. They claim to have Christ, but also claim one must observe Torah to be saved. “If your saved, you will obey the law of Moses,” they say. Those who make this claim have fallen from grace, and have foolishly placed themselves back under the law. Those are not my words mind you, but the words of the apostle Paul.

“Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” Galatians 3:3

“Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” Galatians 5:4-5

When encountering these people, I’m reminded of Acts chapter 15. Where some men from Judea came to the Church in Antioch claiming one must be circumcised and observe the law of Moses in order to be saved.

“But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.” Acts 15:5

However, Paul and Barnabas had a great disagreement with them and then went to Jerusalem to get a final word on the matter handed down from the apostles and elders. A letter was then sent back to the Church of Antioch with clarification on the matter. The decision handed down is made very clear in the scriptures.

“Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: 

It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. 

When they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.”  Acts 15:24-31

We are all transgressors of the law and deserving of condemnation. Praise God, for His saving grace, we can be saved by belief in Jesus Christ. Not by our own works lest any man should boast. (Eph 2:8-9) We can not add to the finished work of the cross by following the Torah, although there are many who have recently fallen into this trap.

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Galatians 2:16

This is the good news. Jesus Christ came in the flesh, lived a sinless life, died a sinners death, in our place, and God rose Him from the grave three days later. You are made righteous not by your own righteousness, but by His righteousness, by grace and through faith in Him.

“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:27-28

Yes, it can be said, that faith with out works is dead. (James 2:17) However, these works come as a result of a new heart, a circumcised heart. You are now in Christ, you have become a new creation. With that comes a new desire to live for God. To walk in obedience. To love and forgive as Christ has loved and forgiven us.

As for those who might read this, and say to themselves, “I have a license to sin.” Paul addresses this thinking in the book of Romans.

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 
What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 
But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 
Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.  Romans 6:14-18

This is the heart of the believer. To love his neighbor as himself, and love God above all things. Your actions, your good works, are a result of a new heart, a relationship with God, through belief in Jesus Christ. Your actions do not save you, only belief in Christ. Nor can observing the Torah save you. Which you are unable to do, and even now, are already guilty of transgressing. It’s not what you do, but what’s already been done. It’s not by your works, but by the blood of Christ. In Christ alone we have salvation. In Christ alone we are justified and made right before God.

S. L. Ozbun on Twitter
S. L. Ozbun
Shawn L. Ozbun is an independent podcaster, author, and commentator on many biblical topics. Shawn is a student of the scriptures, ancient writings, Dead Sea Scrolls, and biblical Hebrew language. Above all, Shawn is passionate about furthering the Kingdom of God, and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


  1. But 24? earlier the bible refers to the 7 churches?I have a feeling the 24 in the thrown room would be the prophets & the likes of Solomon,Jacob,Joshua,Isacc,Abraham etc.

    1. Author

      Greetings Nathan, it’s very possible you are correct. Hopefully we will know soon!

  2. Your thoughts here go along with mainstream christianity who are in the so called “grace message”. But we were always under God’s grace even in the so called Old Testament. I see the bible as one and there should not be a page inserted to read Old vs. New. Not one jot or tittle will be removed until the end ofthe age. Are we at the end of the age? no. I am not a legalistic christian at all and was thoroughtly emersed in the so called “grace gospel” until mY lORD has shown me the truth. We are not under the Torah (law) for justification. But we live by the torah as commanded.

    1. Author

      First off, let’s take a look at the scripture you just used. It’s Matthew 5:17-18. In it, Jesus says not one jot or title will pass away from the law till it all be fulfilled. However, he also makes the claim that he has come to fulfill it! He is the fulfillment! While we are to walk in obedience to the commands of the Lord, you are not under the law of Moses. Let the scriptures speak for themselves. I posted several in my article above, but here is another one from the book of Romans.

      “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” Romans 10:4

      “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.” Matthew 5:17-18

      God bless you fellow servant of Christ, and thank you for your comment.

    2. Author

      Also, if you have listened to many of my messages, you will know that I am very hard on sin and do not stand for greezy grace. However, I felt the need to address this issue of “the law” which is the reason for this post. God bless.

  3. Hello Shawn,

    First, just want to say how much I appreciate your efforts to bring God’s word and salvation to as many people as you can. I really enjoy each of your weekly podcasts – God’s word is awesome!

    I agree with you 100% that we as believers in Yeshua are not “under” the law, ie. we are not keeping the law for salvation. Salvation comes by grace through faith period. However, once we are saved, how are we to live? Are we not to live by the commandments (ie., instructions) of God? After all, how do we show him that we love Him?

    1 John 5:2-3 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.

    You mention that you are “very hard on sin” and I have certainly heard you speak against sin on many occasions. Well, what is sin?

    1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law.

    Scripture tells us quite plainly what sin is. So, it seems to me that by taking a stand against sin you are upholding the law. Do you disagree?

    Consider what Paul said in Romans:

    Romans 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

    Also, with regards to Matthew 5:17-18, have heaven and earth passed away or has “all” been fulfilled? Yeshua said that until heaven and earth pass and everything has been fulfilled/accomplished, not one jot or tittle would pass from the law. This is clearly not the case as there is much prophecy left to be fulfilled and heaven and earth are still here. We are actually told when the current heaven and earth will pass away in Revelation 21.

    Revelation 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

    There are plenty of other NT scriptures that would also appear to uphold the law. Now, there are also some scriptures that would seem to contradict the importance of the law (mostly written by Paul). So, can scripture contradict itself? I would say no. If there appears to be a contradiction I would contend that the issue is not with God’s word, it is with our understanding. I believe that the writings of Paul can be reconciled with the idea that we, after being saved, are to keep God’s commandments (ie, not sin). In the end, if there is any doubt, I will go back to the words of Yeshua and follow him. He is my savior and the teacher that I must listen to and obey.

    John 14:23-24 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

    Also, I wanted to say that I am open to correction. If I’ve said anything in error please let me know. Now that I’m actually reading and studying God’s word for myself instead of relying solely on a pastor to tell me what the truth is I’m constantly learning and growing in my understanding.

    I hope you will prayerfully consider this. Again, thank you for all you do. I pray that God blesses you in your efforts for His kingdom.

  4. Strange, you teach Torah and don’t understand this basic principle? Of course believers in Yeshua aren’t ‘under the Law.’ We live in accordance to Torah just as our Savior Yeshua did. You’re under the law when living sinfully, against Yah’s ways.

    Matthew 19 is so clear on this, and it’s not in opposition to Shaul’s writings.

    Being born again, leaving Egypt, ‘accepting Yeshua,’ or whatever starting point one has experienced in the Ruach, that begins a beautiful life of following God’s commands, and living in the Spirit. Those are not separate things.

    Why is Revelation 12:17 so hard? And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

    The commands of God give us a beautiful obedient point that’s not about salvation, but continued growth towards his Kingdom.


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