Who is a Jew?

Yoram Eisenberg

“Who is a Jew?” Because many Jews are searching for their identity, this is a common question in Israel and elsewhere.

While living in Israel as an ordinary Jew, I was reading in the New Testament when I got this tremendous insight—that it is actually not the outward life I live that makes me a Jew, but I am a Jew when the truth is written and the law (Torah) is fulfilled in my heart.

Having acknowledged this truth, I rejoiced and started to live my life according to this insight. At the time those words were written, the apostle Paul (Saul) was a very religious Jew, and in the New Testament he writes in his letter to the Romans: “For he is not a real Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision something external and physical. He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal. His praise is not from men but from God.” Romans 2:28-29.

Serving God from the heart

When you live a nice religious Jewish life, you can become strong in yourself and very self-righteous, and perhaps forget God in all your daily deeds. But with this new insight, you get a new desire to do God’s will with joy, from your heart—not because you feel obligated!

He is a Jew who is one inwardly

I became a Christian (a Jew in my heart) when I got this desire to live for God, to serve Him with joy, and not to live for myself and for my own righteousness. When I started living this life, I found out that my lusts and fleshly desires were in opposition to God’s laws, those that had been written in my heart. By God’s grace I denied myself and stopped living according to these lusts and desires.

In Hebrews 8:10, it is written: “This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts and I will be their God and they shall be my people.”

The same possibilities for Jews and gentiles

Another great revelation for me as a Jew was that in the church (congregation) of the living God, there is no difference between a Jew and a gentile. Since we all have inherited the same selfish nature, we all have the same possibility to receive salvation and become ‘A REAL JEW,’ who is no different from other people. This held great significance for me because I did not want to have a special status as a Jew.

We all have the same possibility to receive salvation

Paul writes about this in Romans 3:9: “What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all, for I have already charged that all men, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin.” Further, in Romans 8:10-18, he writes about the sins that are revealed in all mankind.

To further confirm this, Paul writes in Romans 10:12-13: “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows His riches upon all who call upon Him. For, everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Paul writes in other places about this great revelation as well, and as a Jew, I am tremendously thankful for it.

May God help others in Israel that are tired of their sin, tired of being a slave of their lusts and hypocrisy—to have their eyes opened to this liberating gospel, in the same way that was opened for me.

This post is also available in: Norwegian Bokmål

You might also be interested in our theme page about Overcoming sin.

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