There have been questions kicking around in my head for several months and I’ve finally decided to blog some of these thoughts. This is still something I’m chewing on so feel free to share scripture and we can banter together if you like 🙂
Allen started this whole line of questioning when he brought 1 John 3:4 to me:
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (KJV)
Sin is transgression of the law. This of course begs the question – which law? But the answer is obvious because it’s John speaking – so clearly he’s referring to the law of God: the Torah. Let me show you this verse in the Amplified version too:
Everyone who commits (practices) sin is guilty of lawlessness; for [that is what] sin is, lawlessness (the breaking, violating of God’s law by transgression or neglect–being unrestrained and unregulated by His commands and His will).
[By the way, you may notice I use a variety of translations, it’s because in my studies I’ve discovered that translators have often taken liberties in their interpretation of scripture, often including their own doctrinal beliefs rather than simply translating the Greek or Hebrew. As a result, when I’m studying I will visit the same scripture in multiple translations as well as go an look up the original Greek/Hebrew words and their meanings, and in that way get a better – and truer – sense of what the word is saying.]
Sin is lawlessness – as in not living under the law (i.e. Torah), the breaking of God’s law by transgression (which Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged definition – the infringement or violation of a law, command, or duty) or neglect (which AMP defines as being unrestrained and unregulated by His commands and His will). So basically sin is either the intentional or unintentional violation of the law of God, which makes sense since in Leviticus 4, 5 and beginning of 6 it describes offerings for both unintentional and intentional sin offerings.
Under the Law
But I thought we “are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14)? True! We aren’t “under the law” in the sense that we are no longer under the penalty of it – else by the unlawful sexual relation laws in Leviticus 18 I should have been stoned! The law (Torah) reminds me WHY I needed a Savior and why I am forever grateful for His giving Himself as an offering to pay for my sin.
Yet in Romans 6:15 it goes on to say “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!” So the question then becomes what is sin. And yet, we’ve already covered that – sin is transgression of the Law, the Torah.
When I hit this conclusion, I paused to consider the implications of this… I consider adultery a sin, why? It’s in Torah. I consider marrying your sibling a sin, why? It’s in Torah. I consider lying a sin, why? It’s in Torah. I consider killing a sin, why? It’s in Torah. So is it possible that I have already been using Torah to determine what is sin and what isn’t? Yes, in most cases. So then I consider when are the exceptions… when I don’t agree or understand the “law”.
Picking and Choosing which Laws to Follow
In the past I’ve tossed out laws (and let me digress for a moment to say “law” is a bad translation for the word “Torah”, it’s more like “instructions”) about eating (e.g. pork) or keeping the Sabbath and the Feasts, and why? Because I LIKED bacon and couldn’t understand why God would want to deprive me of it and why it would be a big deal to Him, and what’s the big deal if I don’t rest – and is it supposed to be on Saturday or Sunday – and does it even matter! And does it matter which holidays (i.e. holy days) I celebrate as long as I honor the Lord…? But these question gave me pause for thought, if I am offending God and/or hurting Him by disobeying something He deems is important would I want to know? YES! Suddenly numerous scriptures come to mind:
- Proverbs 7:2 – Keep my commandments and live, and keep my law and teaching as the apple (the pupil) of your eye.
- John 14:15 – If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
- John 14:23 – Jesus answered, If a person [really] loves Me, he will keep My word [obey My teaching]
- John 15:10 – If you keep My commandments [if you continue to obey My instructions], you will abide in My love and live on in it, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commandments and live on in His love.
- and many more…
David was a “man after God’s own heart” and in Psalm 119 it is clear at least one reason why – ALL of the 176 verses make reference to the Lord’s laws, statutes, commandments, precepts, word… otherwise known as Torah and the Prophets, or His Name. Here’s a sampling:
- 10 – With my whole heart have I sought You, inquiring for and of You and yearning for You; Oh, let me not wander or step aside [either in ignorance or willfully] from Your commandments.
- 33 – Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I will keep it to the end [steadfastly].
- 97 – Oh, how love I Your law! It is my meditation all the day.
- 145 – I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O Lord; I will keep Your statutes [I will hear, receive, love, and obey them].
- 172 – My tongue shall sing [praise for the fulfillment] of Your word, for all Your commandments are righteous.
If I consider these scriptures and weigh them against my own “I don’t understand” or “I don’t like” stance on certain laws, my feelings tend to seem like poor opposition. So I have to then draw a parallel for myself:
If a child wants to have a cookie before dinner and their parent says no, the child may not like or understand the “law” but does that invalidate the “law” simply because the child sees no harm in it…? OF COURSE NOT!
If I am God’s child (which I am) then shouldn’t I consider ALL His laws regardless of whether I fully understand or not? Isn’t it possible that Yahweh – the creator of heaven and earth, the Alpha and Omega, the Great I AM – might know something I don’t? [gulp] Wow, to put it in that light makes me seem pretty arrogant for questioning His instructions.
Two Great Commandments
But I have to pause for a moment and consider if Torah is for today or if the commandments I need to be concerned with are the two great commandments – since these are often the ones quoted when people are defending not following Torah. Here’s Matthew 22:36-40 AMP
Teacher, which kind of commandment is great and important (the principal kind) in the Law? [Some commandments are light–which are heavy?]
And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect). This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself.
These two commandments sum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets.
Verse 40 really clarifies this – the two great commandments aren’t meant to supersede or nullify the Torah, but rather they’re a cliff notes summary version! They “sum up” the Torah and all Torah and the Prophets “depend” on them. So again, I find myself finding all signs pointing to Torah being for today.
Even if we simply consider how Jesus (Yeshua) lived, he LIVED the Torah and as He says in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” So, He did NOT come to abolish them (though He did frequently fly in the face of the oral law, which were the traditions of men – but this is a topic for a future blog) – and yet often we view them as though He did. He came to fulfill them – but the thing is He hasn’t completely fulfilled them yet and we are still very much supposed to be adhering to them as we see in verses 18-19:
For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
This verse also clarifies a point I made earlier, we don’t follow the Torah to be saved, because salvation comes through Yeshua (Jesus) alone (John 14:6), that’s why in Matthew 5:19 you may notice that those who relax the law are still IN heaven, they’re just the LEAST in heaven. But frankly, I personally would prefer not to be least in heaven (though I’d be thrilled to be there!), so I think this is a topic I will continue to pursue because I want to know what the Lord wants from me – not because I’m afraid He’ll zap me if I don’t do it, but because I LOVE Him and therefore I WANT to do what is pleasing to Him! So if Torah is for today, which it certainly appears it may be, then I want to know so I may follow what is pleasing to the Lord!
I realize this is only the beginning of this topic, but the thoughts have been bouncing around in there for a while so I figured I better jump in and start somewhere. I’m interested to see where He leads and pray this journey is a blessing to you too 🙂