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The Hebrew Roots Movement, the Law, and Philippians 3

The Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM) literally idol worships the Law as they place it above Christ, reducing Him to nothing more than a Torah Observer, such as themselves, who in some Calvinistic fashion gave His life to pay the debt for their sins. They can’t see that the Law was only to hold the Israelites until Christ (Galatians 3:23–25). It was only temporary and really had no other purpose but to serve as a restraint and foreshadow the Messiah. And that is exactly what we learn from Paul in his Epistle to the Philippians.

1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not troublesome, but for you it is safe. 2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the [false] circumcision! 3 For we are the [true] circumcision, worshipping by the Spirit of God, rejoicing in Christ Jesus, and having no confidence in the flesh.

Paul warns the Philippians to beware of several things, but I want to focus on the last one: “beware of the false circumcision.” Paul is pointing out those who are trying to convert them to the old Law, those who want to circumcise. He continues by saying that they (the Church–the body of Christ) are the true circumcision and that they worship by the Spirit of God, not through the flesh. It is important to understand that the Law of Moses was fleshly and carnal. It was a ton of outward rituals the Israelites took as literal, that couldn’t help them in any way. It couldn’t save them from their sins. It didn’t bring them any closer to God. It only made them worse.

Paul teaches us in Galatians that the flesh and the Spirit are in opposition with one another (Galatians 5:17). Therefore, we can’t live by both the flesh and the Spirit. If we trust in Christ as the Messiah and believe in the Holy Spirit, then we can’t turn back to the Law because the two are in opposition with one another.

Paul then continues by explaining that if anyone does think that they can boast in the flesh, there is no way that they could boast any more than he could:

4 although I also [am] having confidence in the flesh. If any other [person] thinks to have confidence in the flesh, I even more: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; with respect to the law, a Pharisee; 6 with respect to zeal, persecuting the church; with respect to righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

Paul was the ultimate example of a Hebrew. He was a “Hebrew of Hebrews.” Those in the HRM today claim that one must have a “Hebrew Mindset,” so we could ultimately say Paul is/was the perfect example of that. He goes through all the different things that made him that perfect Hebrew, ending his list by saying, “with respect to righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” Blameless! He followed the law perfectly. And he wasn’t a modern-day Torah Observer who only follows a few laws here and there, but he followed the whole Law. But as we continue, we quickly learn what all that meant to Paul.

7 But such things as were gain to me, these I have considered loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that I also consider all things to be loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have sustained the loss of all things, and I consider them to be rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through [the] faith of Christ, the righteousness [which is] from God by faith;

Paul considered everything that made him a perfect Hebrew a loss for the sake of Christ. And not just the things that made him that perfect Hebrew, but all things. Paul says that he has “sustained the loss of all things, and [he] considers them to be rubbish, in order that [he] may gain Christ.” That includes the Law as he continues by saying “not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through [the] faith of Christ, the righteousness [which is] from God by faith.” Paul knew that the law was only a placeholder, a schoolmaster, a pedagogue, whatever term your Bible uses, and the only thing that mattered to him was faith in Christ which was the only way he could obtain righteousness. You see, with Paul it wasn’t Christ and the Law, but Christ or the law. It is like Paul says in Galatians 2:21: “for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.” If you continue in observance of the Law thinking that it is needed for salvation, then you are saying that Christ died for nothing!

The sad thing is the HRM is much like the Pharisees of Paul’s time. They constantly persecute the Church of Christ. I know because I have been there, and I have done that. I have thought what they think. I have lived like they live. But God has opened my eyes to see the truth. To see what Christ did for us. He was the fulfillment of the Law. He didn’t teach us how to follow it, but He was everything that it pointed to. He is the way to righteousness. He is the way to salvation. The only way. The Law will never get us there, because if it could, there would have been no need for Christ.

Conclusion

To those of you in the HRM, I pray that God will guide you and that you can see the truth that has been given us through Christ and the Bible. Paul continues by saying, “10 [so as] to know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if in some way I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Do you truly know Christ for what He is and has done? If you’re seeking righteousness through the Law, then you have everything backwards. The Law was only a shadow of the things to come (Hebrews 10:1). It only pointed to Christ. Once Christ came, the Law ended. It had been fulfilled. There was no longer a need for it. Carnal institutions have been succeeded by Spiritual ones, and if you claim that Christ is the Son of God, then you should be worshiping in the Spirit, not the flesh.

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