Frequently Asked Questions
Doesn't your view negate the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of believers?
Many people think that keeping Torah negates the work of the Holy Spirit. In reality, the Holy Spirit's help is necessary to follow Torah, since we are not able to do that in our own strength. This inability to follow Torah is discussed by Paul in Romans 7:7-25. In chapter 8 he explains how "the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so" (8:7). In contrast Paul points out that "the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit" (8:4).
It's interesting how many times the Torah and the Spirit are tied together in scripture. When Jeremiah introduces the promised New Covenant in 31:31-34, he describes the covenant saying, "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts." He doesn't specifically mention the Spirit in this passage, but in a similar passage in Ezekiel the promise is made that "I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." (36:27). These seem to be two ways of saying the same thing.
It is instructive that the most visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit to the disciples was on the Jewish feast of Pentecost, also known as the Feast of Weeks, since it occurred seven weeks (or 50 days - hence Pentecost) after Passover. Pentecost was a harvest festival, but it was also a festival for remembering the giving of the Torah to Moses on Mt. Sinai. The fact that God chose this day devoted to honoring the Torah to manifest his Spirit shows that the two are tied together in God's self-revelation to his people.
Paul also makes that connection when, after listing the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23), he points out that they are consistent with Torah. In fact, when he says (in vs. 16) to "walk by the Spirit", he is making a play on words. The rabbis used the term Halakhah (walk) to denote living according to the Torah, both oral and written. Paul is saying that the believers' Halakhah should be by the Spirit.