Moral Behavior is an essential part of the gospel message. We are to repent of evil deeds. We are to believe in Yeshua. He grants us forgiveness of sins but also demands of us obedience. We are to receive the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all righteousness (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 10:30).
All three of these elements – repentance, Yeshua, Holy Spirit – require moral behavior. There is a universal tendency to avoid true repentance. The religious world changes repentance to ritualism. The secular world changes moral absolutes to moral relativism.
Absolute moral standards were defined by the Ten Commandments, particularly the basic prohibitions against idolatry, murder, adultery, stealing and lying. The prophets of ancient Israel called people to repent on the basis of those laws.
Jeremiah 7:9 – Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal…?
Yeshua was asked what is required to receive eternal life. He also turned to the Ten Commandments as the first step.
Matthew 19:17-18 – If you want to enter life, keep the commandments… You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and your mother…
Repentance is a requirement of faith.
John asked the question as to why some people believe and others don’t. His answer was profound: the ability to believe is dependent on good deeds and moral conscience. Without good deeds, one will not come to faith. With good deeds, he will.
John 3:19-21 – Men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. Everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. He who does the truth comes to the light so that his deeds may be clearly seen.
Moral behavior and faith in Yeshua cannot be separated. All of us have sinned. Repenting of sin is the first step of faith. When Christians tell me that they are not required to keep the commandments, I ask, “Which ones were you planning on not keeping? Adultery? Stealing? Lying?”
In Judaism there is a tendency to confuse religious ritual with moral commandments, and to refer to them both as “mitsvot.” Replacing moral commandments with ritual commandments robs the commandments of their moral power. Here are a few scriptures which describe a difference between moral and ritual commandments:
Numbers 15:39-40 – Fringes on garments are not a moral commandment of themselves but a symbolic reminder to obey the moral commandments.
Jeremiah 7:4-5, 22-23 – God did not command ancient Israel concerning sacrifices but to obey His commandments and execute justice.
Romans 2:27; I Corinthians 7:19 – Circumcision is not a moral commandment but a reminder of the covenant which does include moral commandments.
As Messianic Jews in Israel and Christians around the world discovering their Jewish roots alike, we can keep the symbolic and ritual elements of the covenants, but we must be careful not to confuse the symbolic with the moral.
Let us restore the moral power of the gospel message which sets an example of integrity and challenges the world on its ungodly values.
Asher serves as president of Tikkun Global family of ministries and congregations, dedicated to the dual restoration of Israel and the Church. He is founder of the Revive Israel five-fold ministry team, and oversees both Ahavat Yeshua and Tiferet Yeshua congregations in Israel.
He and his wife Betty share a passion for personal prayer and devotion, local evangelism and discipleship in Hebrew, and unity of the Body of believers worldwide.
Asher was raised in a conservative Jewish home and holds degrees from Harvard University, Baltimore Hebrew College and Messiah Biblical Institute. He has authored numerous books, tracts and articles.