How do you follow Yeshua (Jesus)? He lived his life without sin, keeping the commandments of his Father perfectly. He said the greatest commandments came right out of the Torah – to love God and to love your fellow man (Mark 12). He told those he healed to do what the Torah said (Luke 17) and told one who asked how to obtain eternal life to keep the commandments (Matthew 19).
It’s pretty clear that Yeshua expects his followers to obey what God said. That might seem beyond your ability, but the truth is if you have been seeking to do what is right, you are probably obeying most of these commandments anyway.
So, what are we talking about? When God said “Be holy, as I am holy,” what did he mean?
First, Love God and Love Your Neighbor
Yeshua said these were the greatest commandments, and all of the others rest on these two.
And He said to him, ” ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
That comes straight out of the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18). So if you are going to determine to live a holy life pleasing to God, start here.
Keep the Commandments
Think there are a lot of them? It has been said that there are nearly three times as many commandments in the New Testament as there are in the Old Testament. I’ve never counted, so I don’t know. God gave ten specific commands at Mount Sinai. Those are also the commands that Yeshua repeated to the young man in Matthew 19, along with the biggie we mentioned first.
And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Then he said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not commit murder; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
(Matthew 19:16-19 NASB)
So, learn the Ten Commandments and live by them. A lot of the rest will come naturally when you start doing these.
1. I am the LORD your God – nothing is more important to you than Me.
2. Do not let anything become an idol to you.
3. Do not bring shame to My name.
4. Rest on the Sabbath day, the seventh day of the week.
5. Honor your father and mother.
6. Do not commit murder.
7. Do not be unfaithful in your marriage.
8. Do not take what does not belong to you.
9. Do not be deceptive.
10. Do not be consumed with desire for something that isn’t yours.
Watch your Diet
This might be the one you need to change. God is pretty specific about the things we eat. It is one of the few commands that has no consequences in the Torah for violating it. This is something we do simply because we love God (the greatest commandment) and not because we might be punished for transgressing it.
Now, in some cases there may be health benefits for avoiding certain things that God doesn’t consider food – particularly pork and those bottom-feeders from the ocean. But being healthy should not be your prime motivation. And some of the things we don’t eat might not actually be unhealthy. It doesn’t matter. We do this just because God said to do it.
You can use “Kosher” certification from the Rabbis as a starting point, but truthfully they put unnecessary restrictions on some things God doesn’t forbid, and they let slide some things where God says “no.” So, your best bet is to read in the Bible exactly what God said to eat and not to eat, and do your best to abide by that. Oh, and no matter what some people may tell you, there is nothing in the New Testament that changes any of this.
The descriptions on what God considers clean (food) and not clean (not food) can be found in Leviticus chapter 11 and Deuteronomy chapter 14.
Avoid Pagan Practices
I’ve saved one of the hardest to get moving on for last. There are so many things that have invaded our lives – and our worship – that stem from pagan practices that we often just don’t realize it. It is especially hard at church, where our friends who don’t know, don’t care, or are unwittingly deceived wonder why we don’t participate.
And I’m not going to enumerate for you what all of those things are. As you seek to worship God the way He says he wants to be worshipped, the Holy Spirit will start to make you uncomfortable with the things that don’t fit. As those are brought you your attention, search them out. Don’t condemn those who don’t know/don’t care/are deceived. Work out your salvation (Philippians 2:12). The more you focus on doing what is right, the less you will be drawn by what isn’t.
If you’ve come this far, you probably know a few of the things I’m talking about. Bunnies and eggs and the like don’t belong in the worship of our risen Savior. I’ve actually turned around and left a church sanctuary that had decorated evergreen trees in December. You learn, and you grow, and you don’t destroy someone else in the process (remember commandment #6, “do not commit murder,” and the application Yeshua made to those words in his sermon on the mount).
You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes. You are to perform My judgments and keep My statutes, to live in accord with them; I am the LORD your God.
Moreover, you shall not follow the customs of the nation which I will drive out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I have abhorred them.
Thus says the LORD, Do not learn the way of the nations.
Stay in the Word
If you want to know how to live a holy life before God, the best way to find out what is required is to read His instructions. It has been a traditional practice among the Jewish people to read through the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, the Books of Moses, every year. In fact, they all start at the same time and read the same portion of Scripture each week.
Many Messianic followers of Yeshua do the same thing. You will probably be able to find weekly teachings online from congregations who are following this schedule (but always BE CAREFUL who you chose to listen to!). A listing of the weekly Torah portion, along with corresponding portions from the rest of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Psalms is posted at MessianicTorahPortion.com.
Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.
Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You…
Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.