Q: As a christian, am I obligated to live in Judaism or in the teachings of New Testament?
A: The answer largely depends on three additional questions:
1. When you say obligated, for what purpose do you mean?
2. What is the definition of Judaism in your question?
3. Is it your understanding that the there is a difference between what the New Testament teaches and what the rest of the Bible teaches?
Let me answer those questions based on my understanding of the Scripture.
Christian or not, in terms of humanity’s relationship to God, we are under the new covenant, which is described in Jeremiah 31:33-34. Any other covenant, including the Mosaic covenant, cannot in any way, shape or form reconcile us to God, gain us eternal life, or anything. Therefore, if anyone believes that anyone is obligated to do anything in order to receive the blessing of salvation, the Bible teaches against it. All we are required to do is place our trust and faith in the Lord, Yeshua.
The Biblical contention is that as a result of our faith, we will be obedient. To what will we be obedient is the real question that needs to be asked. Those are the things that God models for us in the Old Testament. Which brings me to the second question.
Many people see the Old Testament as being a Jewish thing. If that were there case, then the New Testament is ALSO a Jewish thing. However, rather than seeing either the Old or the New Testament as being a Jewish thing, or a Gentile thing, we should see the entire Bible as a God thing. Jews have a role in the God story, as do Gentiles. So any obedience to anything in the Old Testament should not be viewed as living in Judaism, but rather as living in obedience to God.
And we have to remember that we are still living in the days of the new covenant, so even in our observance of the commandments from the Old Testament, we have to understand those laws and commands the way that Yeshua interpreted them, and not necessarily the way that the Pharisees understood them in those days. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be obedient, only that we should be obedient in the correct way, from the heart, and not hypocritically. Which brings me to the third question.
The teachings of the New Testament do not stand in contrast to the teaching of the Old Testament. Rather, they stand as the correct interpretation of the Old Testament. And there are plenty of things in the Old Testament that weren’t discussed in the New. Many people take this to mean that since it wasn’t mentioned in the New Testament, it is no longer applicable. Quite the opposite. If it wasn’t mentioned in the New Testament and reinterpreted by Yeshua, it is because they were getting it right in His day, and it didn’t need any clarification or re-interpretation.
Further, terms that were used, and ideas that were presented, would have been understood in a Jewish, or Hebraic, way. Concepts such as the kingdom, mentioned in Matthew 6, weren’t explained in full because the people to whom He was speaking already knew about the kingdom of God. How did they know about the kingdom of God? And what did they know about the kingdom of God? They knew from the prophets. That was how they understood all of the kingdom passages. And Yeshua never challenged it. So there was a way of thinking that was 100% Jewish that is part of the New Testament. So to say Judaism OR the teachings of the New Testament is really not an accurate comparison.
MODERN Judaism does stand in contrast to the New Testament for sure, in that it doesn’t accept Yeshua as the Messiah, and the Son of God. However, many of the Pharisees in His day didn’t either, and Jesus still said, “Do as they say.”
So it is my understanding, based on the Scripture, that both Jew and Gentile are obligated to a saving faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and HIs Son, Yeshua, Jesus. As a result of that faith, there are works that are supposed to be evident in our lives, but these are works FROM life, and not works FOR life. In other words, what we do will have no effect on our relationship with God from God’s perspective. It can only change the way WE think and feel. And that makes it a matter of worship. When we worship with our obedience to the Bible, the entire Bible, the way that Yeshua taught, we are not living a Jewish life, we are living a Godly one.