Deuteronomy 30 makes it very clear that God gave Israel a choice - to obey and be blessed or to disobey and be cursed. Deuteronomy 32 is the song of Moses, a song meant to be remembered by Israel till the day it finds itself crushed. The bible speaks of a total divorce by God from Israel and yet it also speaks of a restoration and reunification of the northern and southern tribes. Many disagreements on how to interpret this come from your eschatology. When this restoration happens/happened really changes your perspective on things in this area.
I don't want to get into that. Rather I want to understand where Paul stood on the law.
Acts 22 presents an interesting insight. Paul was asked by the leaders of the Jerusalem church to go to the temple and participate in a Nazerite vow with some fellow Jewish believers to show the Jews that He obeyed the Torah.
Though he did his best the Jews tried to kill him anyway and this led to the Roman's taking him eventually to Rome.
It is never quite clear there whether or not Paul supported Torah observance or not. It would seem that Paul did whatever helped to save others:
1 Corinthians 9:21-2220 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
It is interesting that this whole narrative in Acts tells me several things:
1) God seemed more interested in getting Paul to Rome than he was in resolving the law/grace issue Paul found himself in the middle of.
2) Despite Paul's total innocence, the Jews still wanted to kill him. A clue as to why appears in Felix's court when Paul tries to explain why he converted to "The Way". The Jews go nuts once he mentions Gentiles.
So we see Jewish believers being so caught up in Parasitical "traditions of men" that to be anywhere with a Gentile would insight them to violence - but nowhere in Torah is such a gross separation demanded - it is the contamination of Israel by foreign gods that is God's main concern - not a desire for complete separation between the believer and the pagan.
At the same time we see a Christian church following Catholic derived pagan festivals and foods that, once you know the history, are about as disgusting to a Torah keeper as the minimal 4 laws given by the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15.
We have a deep division that has kept both houses apart for 20 centuries.
In a very good debate between Steve Gregg and Doug Hamp (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWnoPVV9PH0) Steve brings up an interesting concept - a division of the law between ceremonial and moral. He defines the line between these very clearly: the moral law is all of Torah that reflects the character of God - such as honesty, faithfulness, truthfulness, just, kind etc. These parts of the law no believer of any persuasion has any cause to not obey at all times and these are really listed by Paul as fruits of the Spirit. Christ puts these as the "weightier" parts of the law. Paul's writings always talk about these laws and never support the rest of Torah specifically. The 4 laws from the Jerusalem Council to the Gentiles list only the most offensive breaches of the ceremonial cleanliness laws that grossly offended the Jews of their time and although there is mention of believers attending synagogue, there is no specific statement to say that Gentile believers would ever come to obey Torah like the Jews did.
I myself came up with another dividing line that may help to clarify where we should stand on the law vs grace issue.
Obeying the Torah law can be interpreted in 3 ways:
1) Obeying any of the ceremonial laws implies adding to the blood of Christ and therefore it is always wrong to obey because it re-enslaves us to the law and denies the grace of Christ.
2) Disobeying any of the ceremonial laws implies not honoring the perfect and unchanging law of God and thus should always be obeyed where possible but is not required for salvation.
3) Depending on who you are with and what culture you are in, the ceremonial law is optional and obeying it is dictated by the moral law to love your neighbor and not cause them to stumble. Higher law trumps lower laws.
I really think Paul was following the 3rd view and I would say it is a balanced one. This makes me an irritant to both my Sabbath keeping friends and my non-Sabbath friends. Not wanting to be two-faced I have to admit to each side my opposition to their unbalanced view and thus I look pretty wishy-washy - or luke warm.
It still is not clear to me if Paul actually obeyed Torah ceremonial law once he was converted or not. He certainly did not want to dishonor the Torah when he was with the Jews but when he preached to pagans, he seemed to not be too concerned about technical ceremonial obedience. Was he not concerned because the Gentiles weren't ready for it? Or was he not concerned because it simply is no longer needed - the shadows have passed and the blood of Christ cleanses us from ALL sin.
In either case, it seems bad to me for Christians to condemn those who do try to obey Torah ceremonial laws so long as they are not saying it is needed to be saved and so long as they aren't condemning fellow believers that don't follow it quite as good as they do.
I see us at a critical time when God may very well be preparing to merge the Gentile Christians with the Jewish believers at Jerusalem. To prepare for this the Christians must begin to honor the Torah and the Jews must confess Jesus as Messiah. We must stop causing the other to stumble with our myopic and selfish outlook on things. I suspect God's house is a lot bigger than we thought, even though we all must pass through a very narrow gate. Let Chirst be the judge of those that are saved and let us obey Torah by loving our fellow believers as Christ loved us - bearing one another's burdens as He bore ours.
It is not that which goes into a man that defiles him, but it is what he says and does that he will be judged for.