First let’s define what a doctrine is.
- a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a Church, political party, or other group.”
- synonyms: creed · credo · dogma · belief
The main reason that I want to broach this topic is because there are many teachers out there that perpetuate a false teaching or understanding of sin based upon their “doctrines”, “beliefs”, and or “dogmas” that are framed by the religious systems they find themselves encircled in. As with all biblical topics, some (mainly paid preachers and teachers) have a vested interest in maintaining the established line for fear of being removed from their position, and others simply continue to spread established teachings misleading many, being unaware that they themselves have also been misled. Now please don’t take me wrong, I am not saying that all preachers lie knowing the difference and are only acting in self-preservation, but there are many that refuse to examine the scriptures with a different lens and present anything that may go against the established framework set forth by the institution in which they are employed.
I spent nearly 10 years of my adult life deeply engaged in the Baptist church. My wife and I led youth groups, taught the “bus kids”, led adult bible studies, and I often filled the pulpit, and preached in several revivals. I actually spent a good amount of time working as a pastor’s assistant and was earnestly studying for the pastorate and mission field. I have handed out thousands of tracts, knocked hundreds of doors, and preached in the jails weekly. I’m not saying that to bolster myself as I honestly wish I could rewind the clock, but if anything, I want to emphasize that I know the Baptist doctrines inside and out, and I adhered to them with zeal, truly desiring to know Yah’s will for my life.
In all that time, and in all that I was taught, or led to believe, I was never told with a clear definition what sin was. “Sin” was always defined as “anything that we think, say, or do, that doesn’t please God“. It was also referred to as “missing the mark” or “falling short“. That is all well and good, and I can see how they would get that from scripture, as Paul states that “all have sinned, and come short…” Rom 3:23 but they never defined what the thoughts, words, or deeds, that didn’t please God were, nor what the proverbial “mark”, goal, or target was. I have also heard many preachers state that we could never even hit the target if we tried. If that’s the case, it makes sense why they never even try to define or describe it in the first place. If you cannot keep it, why try right? At least that’s the mentality.
The problem is they haven’t just failed to define “the target”, they have often left the people blindfolded, never equipping them to properly navigate the scriptures and to find the definitions of such topics for themselves. Issues such as the definition of what sin is actually a very important topic indeed. Left undefined, or loosely described as “anything that doesn’t please God’ leads one on a path of desperation or lends one to a negative self-assessment which often causes people to leave the faith or to have a negative view of our Heavenly Father, describing Him as a vindictive, angry, judgmental God.
The funny thing is that scripture ALWAYS defines itself. Yah is not the author of confusion, nor would He command His people to do something that He knew they couldn’t do, damning them to judgment without ever giving them the opportunity to even succeed. That wouldn’t be what anyone would consider as just now would it? Now before we get off track, I want to reiterate that I in no way believe that we can achieve salvation apart from our Messiah, nor do I believe that we are or ever will be “sinless”. It’s clear from scripture that we are all born in sin, being descendants of Adam, we are partakers in his disobedience, and subject to the same judgment he will face except we repent. and have faith in Messiah.
“For by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”Rom 5:19
What I do believe, is that we CAN be blameless. We CAN walk in righteousness, and we CAN, not just know what and where the target is, but hit it. Why else would the Father command us to “walk before him and be perfect as He is perfect”
Thou shalt be perfect with YHWH they Elohim. Deut 18:13
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Matt 5:48
Because it is written, be ye holy; for I am holy. 1Pe 1:16 referencing Lev 11:44 & Lev 19:2
The verses above show that we are expected to live up to a standard. As mentioned before, many believe that standard is unattainable; again, why even try? They will say that our Mesiah Yeshua (Jesus) kept it, so they don’t have to. That’s like saying “someone else keeps the speed limit so I don’t have to”. It’s a cop-out and a poor one at that.
Before I go into that any further, (and I will) I want to back up and define what SIN is…
- an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law.
Why cannot the church define sin when even the Webster dictionary gets it right!
Whosoever committeth SIN transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.1 John 3:4
So, we read, sin is transgression or violation of a previously defined divine law. Although it’s a poor application of a truth, that is where the “falling short” doctrine comes from. They intentionally make it appear that you cannot possibly keep it to perpetuate other doctrines of their system that ultimately put the people into bondage. It’s like a short fat man trying to dunk a basketball, just isn’t going to happen.
Okay so what do we need to do you ask. Simply put, it is all in the Torah, the instructions given to us by our Heavenly Father on how to approach Him and love Him, how to love your neighbor, and how to conduct ourselves in this life. That’s it. Some say it’s the 10 commandments, others say it’s infamous 613. Either way it has been defined for us. I refer to them as the guardrails on the highway of life. They are put there for our benefit, not to enslave us as the church often teaches. Doesn’t a loving parent place restrictions on their child for their benefit, or are they needless and only meant to burden the child?
Now ask yourself this, why would God liberate the people of Israel from the bondage of slavery in Egypt, just to place them under bondage to a law they couldn’t keep? It simply doesn’t make sense, does it? The end of the law, that is the purpose of the Law is two-fold. It is to first give us the code of conduct for living in the kingdom (how to love God, and our neighbor). It shows us how to live a life of blessing and abundance and how to be healthy. That is the physical aspect of the law. And in a deeper spiritual sense, by defining sin it shows us our need for a Saviour. When we later encounter our Saviour, what does He do? He points us right back to the law. Every encounter He had with people He told them to “go and sin no more” or to present themselves to the priests as commanded by Moses, every time pointing them right back to the Torah. Also indicating that not sinning was possible.
John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
John 7:16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
So, you can now see that Yeshua didn’t come teaching a new doctrine or to undermine the last 5,000+ years of history, He came to reaffirm the covenant. And YHWH Himself states that He doesn’t change, so where did this notion that He sent His son to undo His law come from? If it’s not from the Father then it’s quite possibly from the Devil.
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.Matt 5:17-18
Looks to me like heaven and earth are still standing firm, so either Yeshua is a liar, or the churches interpretation of the above passage is false, or should we say, “missed the mark”. Now let us develop this a bit further and look at the word “fulfil”
Strong’s Greek Dictionary
4137. πληρόω pleroo (plēróō)
Search for G4137 in KJVSL; in KJV.
πληρόω plēróō, play-ro’-o
from G4134; to make replete, i.e. (literally) to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), or (figuratively) to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify (or coincide with a prediction), etc.:—accomplish, × after, (be) complete, end, expire, fill (up), fulfil, (be, make) full (come), fully preach, perfect, supply.
The word πληρόω is used 90 times in the New Testament, and literally EVERY single time it has to do with making something complete, not bringing to an end as some suppose. So, it’s safe to conclude that Yeshua, from His own mouth stated that He didn’t come to abolish the Law, or bring it to its end, but to make it complete, i.e., “fully preach it”, that is to define it for us and to show us how to walk it out. Had he abolished the very law that defines sin, then there would be no sin, and no need of repentance. As Paul said, “sin is not imputed when there is no law”, Rom 5:13.
Now let’s take the “abolition of the law” doctrine to its logical end. Since there is no longer a law, sin has been nullified right? And if there is no sin, then there is no need of repentance or forgiveness, correct? And taking that one step further, if there is no need of forgiveness then there is ultimately no need for a Saviour. Are you following me? It simply doesn’t flush out. In fact, it upends the very Gospel they claim to preach.
Yeshua Himself says “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15
And we see in 1 John 2:6 “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”
How did He walk? In perfect obedience to the commandments of the Father.
Yeshua said unto him, you shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, you shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.Matthew 22:37-39
Now are those commandments always crystal clear? Not always, but you have to be honestly seeking. To the critic the commandments can often seem archaic, antiquated, and may even appear to not be applicable to our modern lives. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Others will say, “but there are so many, I cannot possibly keep them all”. To counter that argument, please tell me how many hundreds of thousands of laws are on the books that govern our daily lives here in the US? It’s honestly unfathomable. We have local ordinances, state laws, federal laws, environmental laws, traffic laws, tax laws, and even laws that require you to register your dog. They will happily adhere to those laws but will scoff at anything that refers to the Torah stating that its “simply too hard” or “impossible to keep”.
If the laws found in the Torah are too hard to keep, I would really like to hear which ones. Please tell me… By all means, I’ll wait.
Is it really that hard not to kill someone? Is it just too much to ask that to don’t sleep with your neighbor’s wife? Or is the temptation to steal things just too overwhelming for you? And since when is it too hard to treat others with decency and respect? Oh, and don’t get me started on eating bacon. When it is boiled down, that is really all the Torah is instructing us to do. Love God and love your neighbor. It’s quite simple really.
The 613 laws are designed to be a roadmap for us to follow, some instructions only apply to the priests, some only to women, some only to farmers or those in animal husbandry, and some only to those that have servants, or in our application employees. Therefore, you can quickly whittle down those commands to just a handful of basic instructions that don’t bring bondage, but life, liberty, and it more abundantly. That is the whole point of what Messiah was getting at. His yoke isn’t hard, His burden isn’t heavy, quite the contrary. In all my years of walking in faith, I have never been freer than I am today. I finally know where the boundaries are, and I can live with confidence knowing that I am not walking in sin. You see at that time (and today) the religious institutions had placed manifold restrictions on the people building fences around Torah if you will, and they made their traditions of greater importance than the laws of God. Honestly not much has changed, and it’s those restrictions and traditions that Yeshua spoke out against during his ministry, and it’s those “laws” that Paul often refers to in his letters. It’s those restrictions and burdens that were enslaving the people and still do to this day. It’s not and never has been obedience to the Torah of YHWH that is burdensome.
This brings me back to a promise I made earlier about diving into our responsibility to keep the “Law” and folks making the claim that “Jesus did it so I don’t have to”. Let’s read the following shall we.
If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.Deuteronomy 30:10-14
WHOA! Hold up… Did Moses just say that it wasn’t too hard? And did he say that the commands are not hidden, but very near and even in our hearts that we might do them? Yes, yes, he did, and he connects our obedience with the blessings of the Law. and in contrast our disobedience with the curses.
Now let’s look at that again, but from a different perspective.
For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.Romans 10:5-9
So here we have the righteousness of the LAW pitted against the righteousness of FAITH. This is where mainstream Christianity starts foaming at the mouth “see its by faith alone”… etc. Slow down sparky, let’s examine this a bit further before we jump off the rails. So please stay with me, I’m almost done.
Now that we understand what sin is we also need to look at what faith is and what the difference is between faith and faithfulness?
Faith can be simply defined as “… the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.” Heb 11:1
It is a strongly held belief in something outside of ourselves, it is not simply a “conviction”. Faith should motivate us into action even when faced with unsurmountable odds. Remember David? With nothing more than a pocket full of stones and FAITH in the Almighty he ran into adversity, slaying the giant. Without faith, I hardly doubt he would have been any different than those standing by watching.
- complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
- synonyms: confidence, conviction, credence, reliance, dependance, optimism, hopefulness, hope, expectation
We see this theme in the scriptures quite often, most notably is the faith of Abraham. He believed God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness. He held fast to the promise of God even though he never saw the fulfillment of that promise.
Faithfulness on the other hand is faith put to work or into action. To be found faithful one must first have faith and then follow through with that which they are commanded to do even if they don’t understand. Much like Abraham did when he was commanded to offer Issaac. Because he had faith in the Almighty he responded, and we see that the very next morning he set out to perform that which he was commanded being faithful and as a result was accounted as righteous.
- the quality of being faithful
- synonyms: fidelity, loyalty, consistency, devotion, trueness, true-heartedness, dedication, commitment, allegiance, adherence, dependability, reliability, trustworthiness, staunchness, steadfastness,
Furthermore, we see in James 2:26 “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” This doesn’t mean that we rely upon our works for righteousness because the scriptures are clear that by works of the law no man will be justified. But as we walk in obedience to the Word of God, we are putting our faith into action performing the works of faith i.e., obedience to the law, and in doing so are found faithful. Even if we don’t necessarily understand why God has commanded us to do certain things, we still do them having faith.
Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?James 2:22
A person can have both works (keeping the Law or Torah) and faith (hope and belief in Yeshua) but if they are not paired together both are useless. For instance, a person can say they believe in God all day long. But we also see that the devils believe and tremble. So yes, you can in fact profess to have “faith” and still not be found faithful. On the other hand, a person can diligently keep the Torah but not have faith and it will all be for nothing, simply because they did those things apart from faith. See Romans 9:31-32
At the end of the day the two simply cannot be separated if they are to be of any value to the believer. Grace is by faith, that is faith is the catalyst or the vehicle that affords us God’s grace. But we also see that faith without works is dead, and dead faith can be viewed as no faith at all, (after all what good is something that is dead?) So then those that profess to have faith but do not perform the works of faith, are in fact according to scripture unfaithful or faithless, and thus have not realized the “grace” they so desperately cling to. It’s truly a slippery slope!
If we keep on sinning, or teaching others that sin is this analogous thing, and that the Law is an undefinable target that we cannot hit even if we try, we are simply doing the God of all creation lip service by saying we believe in Him while continuing to break His Law and teaching other to do the same. Shouldn’t we rather follow after Him with all our heart, and in faith be obedient to His Word and do those things that He has commanded us to do? Shouldn’t we desire to walk before Him and be perfect just as He is perfect? Shouldn’t we strive to enter in as Paul says so that when the roll is called, and you stand before the throne of God you may hear those fateful words spoken by our Messiah “well done thou good and faithful servant”.
So, for those that think that it is ok to simply ignore the Law that YHWH has put in place for His people to follow and continue to willfully violate that law, and in doing so commit sin. And for those that claim “you cannot keep it, so why try”, or that “Jesus did it so I don’t have to” please consider the following.
Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth (violates the law) hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness (KEEPING THE LAW IN FAITH) is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin (violates the law) is of the devil; for the devil sinneth (violated the law) from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; (does not violate the law) for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness (keeping the law in faith) is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.1 John 3:6-10
So, the Apostle John, our Messiah, and a preponderance of scripture makes it clear that we can in fact not sin or be in obedience to the Torah. It’s a choice plain and simple. Now it’s much harder when those boundaries haven’t been defined for us, but now that you know what sin is, and you also know that’s it’s also not too hard or unattainable. And I hope that I have made it clear that we do in fact have an obligation to follow the Law in faith as best we can, or else we risk not having fellowship with the Father. Seriously, for the love of God, and for your health, please just stop eating bacon, be good to your neighbor, put God first in your life, take a sabbath rest, and just love each other. It’s not that hard. Yes, we will fail, yes, we will fall, we are after all are clothed in sin tainted flesh. But if we are honestly seeking to be obedient, and walking out our faith, that is when the grace spoken of, and the blessings promised in scripture come.
Now, go and sin no more…
Proverbs chapter 4