"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Monday, April 4, 2011

What is Sinless?

This is post number twelve in the series: Why I Am Not A Christian.  This series is posted so that you can start at the beginning and go from post to post in order.  If you are new here, this will make much more sense if you start at the beginning.

Let’s pretend for a moment that the churches in the modern world, and especially the United States, have not been so thoroughly infected with post-modern, relativistic thought; that there are actually people who believe that there is such a thing as objective truth.  I know that this is hard to swallow, considering the research that’s been done by Barna and his firm, but for the purposes of this study, let’s probe the idea that there are people who wish to claim allegiance to the Messiah of the Bible on the basis of the One who created everything and not the opinions of created beings.

Before anyone can undertake to be a disciple of the God of the Bible, one must decide who is the judge and who sets the standard.  If you have decided that you are going to pick and choose which things in Scripture apply to you, you might as well go off and start your own religion and be honest about what you call it.  “St. McGillicuddy’s Church of My Opinion,” for example.  If you are going to spend most or all of your time and energy focusing on one or two doctrines and only looking for those select texts that support your argument, then you’ve descended into making yourself the judge of Scripture.  It can be done very subtly, but done nonetheless.

In this installment, I decided to use sin as the example.  In many of the older denominations, sin is hardly, if at all, talked about.  But then people rarely talk about things that have no importance in their lives, whether positive or negative. And while sin may get preached about from the pulpits of the hyper-excitement charismatic denominations, it is practically undefined.  I’ve heard it said that it is not doing what you know you should do and doing what you know you should.  Alternately I could simply say, let your conscience be your guide.

Is that right?  Is that the Biblical standard?  I don’t think so.  Scripture tells me that “the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth;” (Gen. 8:21).  “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)  In order to be clear, I must stop here and define what the Scripture is talking about when it says “heart.”  It means your mind.  Not a blood pump.  Not your emotions; although your emotions are inextricably linked to it.  Not your cogitating intellect.  It is talking about your non-physical being.  The part of you that needs the rational intellect to control it.  The corresponding feature in animals would be instinct.  It’s the part of you that has desires and needs.

When men simply decide that their own conscience is the standard, they can rationalize all kinds of things.  Do you think that Hitler thought of himself as evil?  Of course not.  He believed he was doing everything he did for the good of the people of Germany.  Geoffrey Dahmer admitted in an interview with a reporter that the reason he could justify killing and eating his victims was because if we are all evolved from the primordial slime, why should we not do whatever we want?  In a very sick way, Hitler made more moral sense than Dahmer, because at least Hitler was trying to do something he felt was good for his country, while Dahmer did what he did simply because it didn’t matter.  Or someone could argue that Hitler was more evil than Dahmer, because what’s the big deal of killing and eating a few people compared to murdering about eight million people?

Each person walking the planet can have their own, individual set of standards that they can call their conscience. In reality, that means that there is no standard at all.  This is why God gave us the Torah; His “Teaching.”  And because the vast majority of churches have abandoned the standard of Torah for what does and does not constitute sin, there is confusion and chaos.  You can go to one church and be made to feel guilty for wearing make-up or pants if you’re a woman.  You can go to another church and be a practicing homosexual and be made to feel that you are just fine the way you are and what you are doing is your own business.  There are people who quit going to church because they didn’t want to be convicted of sin, while there are other people who quit going to church because they are tired of there being no real standard and the hypocrisy drives them nuts.

Which reminds me that I need to do a comprehensive post on what is and is not hypocrisy.  That is another word that has been abused into near meaninglessness.

So, when the Bible speaks of Yeshua (Jesus) of being without sin, what does it mean?  If your concept of what constitutes sin is based on nothing more than your own personal conscience, then you can define Yeshua’s sinlessness as whatever you want to.  Have you ever thought about that?

If you choose not to study the same Scriptures that Yeshua studied which defines the standard of righteousness, and you instead have some undefined idea of what sinlessness is, then you create an image for yourself and apply that image to God.  This is backwards.  This is wrong.  This is idolatry.

What if you had been there when He made a whip of cords and drove the money-changers out of the Temple courts?  Not only was he angry, but he was downright violent.  Why was that not sinful?  When He was twelve and remained at the Temple asking questions and caused his parents to be worried, why wasn’t that sinful?  Then there was sassing His momma by asking her why she didn’t know that He had to be about His Daddy’s business.

If you have never studied Torah in depth and then only read the Gospels through the eyes of a modern Gentile, you are not going to understand what the writers of the Gospels meant when they said that Yeshua was without sin.  To the “Christianized” mind, a sinless Jesus is indefinable.  Seriously.  Take a moment and ponder this.  Can you, if you claim to be a Christian, clearly define to another person, what exactly made Jesus a sinless man?  Could any two people agree on that definition?

Would you say that Jesus was the embodiment of love?  Really?  Then why did he make so many people angry?  Do the words of Yeshua in Matthew 23 sound like someone full of love for everyone?  I remember being at a dinner with distant relatives and being chastised for believing in a standard of holiness. Someone said, “Jesus’ whole reason for coming to earth was to bring us peace and love.”

Really?  Matthew 10:34-39 quotes The Master as saying:

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.  He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it.”

Can you see why it is dangerous to make broad statements when you don’t really know what you are talking about?  Don’t misunderstand my point and think that I am advocating for dominion theology or some form of militant Christianity.  In order to understand that quote above, you must take into account all of the teachings of Yeshua, and that includes what Torah says as well.  Could you consider the statement above to be hyperbole?  Yes and no.  As an aside I have to point out that it is ironic that “liberals” like to accuse us “Bible Thumpers” of only seeing things in black and white, and no shades of grey, when just the opposite is true.

Do I believe that some families will be torn apart over following Yeshua?  Absolutely.  Imagine you are an orthodox Jew who converts to Christianity.  Your family will consider you dead, mourn your loss, and may even have a formal “memorial” service for you.  If you are a muslim who converts, they may actually try to kill you.  So there is no hyperbole in such a case.

But you may simply have a stressful time dealing with family relationships once you become a devout believer in the God of the Bible.  The point is that discipleship can cost you a lot, but the ultimate reward is worth whatever sacrifice you may have to make.   Back to the question of what constitutes sin.

Another reason we need the Torah and the rest of Scripture to be the standard for what is and is not sin, is because there are a lot of people who like to run around saying that God told them something.  Even when I was still only a young Christian of about five years experience, and didn’t know near as much as I do now (which will never be enough), I used to get in some heated arguments with folks when I questioned the crap that was being taught by the likes of Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland and a lot of the bilge that comes from the Trinity Broadcasting Network.

I’ve heard people like Fred Price and Jesse Duplantis say some stupid and downright heretical things which should have gotten them banned from speaking in most churches, but instead they get applauded for it.  The particulars are not what’s important for the purposes of this essay, the point is that there has to be an immovable standard that settles any arguments.  That standard has to be Scripture.

By surrendering to the knowledge that Torah is eternal; that Yeshua is Torah and Torah is Yeshua; that the Holy Spirit would never, ever, contradict Scripture, and therefore, would never tell a believer something contradicted by Scripture; I can be assured that if I do my best to follow Torah, I need not be ashamed.  When I do fall short and violate Torah, I have the ultimate High Priest and advocate in Yeshua.

Yeshua has told us plainly and clearly that Torah is eternal and is still in effect.  He came to help us understand it better, and the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) is here to give us the power to carry it out daily if we are willing to listen and submit our will to His.

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