|...raised into Newness of Life|
by haRold Smith
a citizen of the Commonwealth
"Already you are clean because of the Word that I have spoken to you …the Word that you hear is not mine, but the Father's Who sent me." John 15:3 and 14:24
"Since therefore the Messiah suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God." 1Peter 4:1-2
"He shall make atonement, for the holy place, because of the impurities of the sons of Israel and because of their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and thus he shall do for the tent of meeting which abides with them in the midst of their impurities." Leviticus 16:16
I am not a sinner. When people hear this declaration, they often become bemused - as if waiting for the punch line of a joke. When they realize I am serious, they then assume I am arrogant, deceived, or just plain ignorant (none of which is true) because they have been taught that nobody is without sin except God. What is not comprehended in this exchange is the fact of what the word "sinner" means. Words mean things and in the context of scripture to be a "sinner" means to be engaged in a continuing activity of sin. So, what then, is sin? Sin is any behavior (click on highlighted words to view content)) that separates me from the Present Presence. YHVH gave us Ten Words to insure that, if we keep them, we do not sin and will remain in His Presence. If I am keeping His Words today, then today - I am not a sinner. It is that simple. Have I sinned in the past? Absolutely. But, if I have received forgiveness for those sins they no longer affect my relationship with Him - unless I willingly re-engage in them again. I may continue to suffer the consequences of my past actions, but they do not affect my standing in His Presence today. Will I sin in the future? I don't know, tomorrow has not arrived yet. But, Yeshua assures me by His Words above that if I keep the Words of His Father today, then I am made clean by those words - today. This is why He also said to "take no thought for tomorrow…for sufficient to the day is the evil thereof". What evil is He referring to? The evil I am given a choice to participate in, or not - today. To eat of the flesh of Yeshua is to participate in the denial of evil by keeping the words of the Father. This is what it means to "suffer in the flesh".
"But, I was born a sinner and condemned from birth so I cannot possibly keep the words of someone who is so much holier than I am" is the mantra all of Christendom teaches. However - surprise! - that theology is not found in scripture. So, where did it come from? That thought does not appear anywhere in history until it was formulated in the religious writings of Augustine of the fourth century after the Resurrection. Subsequently, his theology was adopted and promoted by Luther and Calvin. Very simply put, Augustine and Luther taught that all men sinned in the sin of Adam. They taught that Adam represented every one of the human race and that when he fell because of pride, he took the whole of the human race with him - distancing them from the Genesis account that Adam was the first of the Hebrews, not mankind, and was separated because of his disobedience to the Word of YHVH. They claim this disruption of the natural order of creation stripped Adam of his ability to both know and do good. They believed that since this fall, every human being has been born with this stain of sin (called "sinful nature") and as a result, every human being is guilty from the moment of conception - not simply for that person's individual sins after birth but for the sin of Adam transmuted into the very nature of being human. They also concluded that as a result of this stain, everyone inevitably follows with personal sinful deeds. That is a very simplistic rendition of that theology and it gets more complicated from there.
But - hear me now - none of those men wrote the scriptures and they were all vigorously anti-Semitic. What they wrote contained an agenda to separate from anything Hebraic in order to promote a universal god of a new religion called Christianity some 300+ years after the resurrection of the Hebrew Messiah. There were no "Christians" around when Yeshua was raised from the dead. Therefore, attempting to view Hebrew scripture through a filter that denies the underlying Hebrew perspective of the words requires a RE-definition of the words in order for those words to fit into preconceived theology. In the end, Augustine's view of sin and justification is based on Greek Platonic concepts incorporated into ROMAN LAW, not from biblical ideas (see My Big Fat Greek Mindset, part one and part two for more). The Hebraic perspective contained in scripture is that man is created innocent and that through his choices he causes his character to go in one direction or another. A quick review of Romans 5:12 (correctly translated from the Greek, not the Latin) will show that death passes to all men because all men sin - not because they were born into sin. None of the words of scripture proclaim that YHVH created men to be evil. What an anathema to His Nature! Men make choices to either adhere to His Words of Life - or not. Why would the Person you believe to be the Son point to those Words if they were not Truth? What love is it to believe that the Father or Yeshua are going to frustrate us with words we are unable to keep? (John 7:16, John 8:28, John 14:23-24, John 12:49-50, John 14:10)
|"The God of our Fathers raised up Yeshua …to enable Israel to do repentance and have her sins forgiven." Acts 5:30-31|
|the Beauty of Glory|
When asked by others, "how are you?" I will often quip, "perfect". As with the comment about not being a sinner, the reaction from those hearing my comment often raises eyebrows - how can he possibly be perfect? This is a bit of word-play on my part because the verse Yeshua quotes in Matthew 5:48 actually comes from Leviticus 19:2 which says, "You shall become holy, as I, YHVH, your Elohim am holy". The word "perfect" was artificially inserted into the Matthew text to conform to Hellenistic standards - that's Greek, not Hebrew. "Holy" is the Hebrew word kodesh and means to be "set apart" to Him and His Purposes - to be "complete". The way that is accomplished is to keep His Words in the manner He shows through the Life exampled by His Son. The Hebrew ruach hakodesh means "the spirit of holiness" (there is no capitalization in Hebrew, thus, there is no personification - no third person "Holy Spirit"). Kadosh, translated "saints", is a variation of kodesh describing those who comprise the family of YHVH. The definition of a "saint" is also someone who is "set apart" - one who becomes holy by keeping the Words of YHVH. YHVH is not some unreachable, untouchable, unresponsive idol. His Words are not given to frustrate us, but are instructions to show us how to be holy - set apart to Him. The Words of YHVH tell us how to come into His Presence without being consumed.
Yeshua did not come to set us free to do whatever we want, but to free us from the oppression life presents us with - that we might serve Him with our whole being. That is what Yeshua meant when He quoted Exodus 33:14, "…to take His Yoke upon you and He will give you rest to your soul." The Hebrew word, nephesh has been translated into the English "soul" because of the influence of the Greek word psyche in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Tanakh (OT) known as the LXX) - but there is no Hebrew thought in the Original Writings of a man's soul being separated from the rest of what it means to be human. The division of man into "body-mind-soul" is a thoroughly Greek invention elaborated on by the Greek philosopher, Plato, in his book "the Republic" which Christianity subsequently co-opted into its theology. In the Hebraic perspective, human beings are one homogenized entity - the person, the nephesh. There are no three parts and there is no Immortal Soul spoken of in the Original Writings. When the Hebrew Yeshua's words of Matthew 22:37 were altered to fit the translators preconceived theology, it was in disregard to the actual verse He was quoting from Deuteronomy 6:5 which reads, "You shall love YHVH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."
"For the law of the Spirit of Life in Yeshua the Messiah has set you free from|
the law of sin and of death ." Romans 8:2
The Greek word nomos (translated "law") is used in a variety of ways in the Messianic Writings. Sometimes it is used for an expected social practice of an identifiable community (like we use the words "social more"). Sometimes it is used like we use the word "principle." Sometimes it means the identity marker of being ethnically Hebrew. Sometimes it means Torah. And sometimes nomos is used like the idea of a "universal law of science." Knowing the difference in each instance this Greek word is used makes all the difference in how to interpret the writings the way the authors intended. If we read this verse as though nomos is used for Torah, then we will think that the words are saying Torah is sin and death. But this simply cannot be true since Paul says in the same letter that Torah is good and holy. So, nomos in this verse must be applied in some other way. In particular, nomos is used here in the sense of "universal rule," that is, something that applies to everyone just like the "law" of gravity. Now let's read this verse again. "For the universal rule of the Spirit of life in Yeshua the Messiah has set you free from the universal rule of sin and of death." Now the verse is saying that, as a result of the Resurrection, the general rule-application of the Elohim (Hebrew, God) of Life, exemplified and executed in the Life of Yeshua the Messiah, has overthrown the general rule-application of sin and death. Where once sin always resulted in death (a general rule), now Yeshua's act has overthrown that rule. Sin can lead to repentance and repentance leads to Life. Sin no longer has a final grip on you because you have been given the power to be delivered.
The first of a series of articles entitled "the Temple" spoke of how the physical Temple of scripture has been translated to within or among those who comprise the Body of Yeshua. The last article of that series, the Elevation, spoke of some of the challenges that lay before us. To be able to walk in Truth is to see how the words of the Torah have not been abolished but have been actively elevated into Spirit to still be valid today. Yeshua shows us how the Father's Words are to be elevated in Spirit - to lust is to have already committed adultery, to hate a brother is to have already murdered because we open the door to allow darkness into our being. Did you murder someone today by hating them? Did you commit adultery today by lusting after another? If you did not, then, today, you are keeping those commandments. There are only eight others to approach with the same resolution given to these two. It's not complicated and they are not hard to do (1John 5:3 - quoting Deuteronomy 30:11). It is only in the absence of being faithful to His Words that keeps anyone from His Power - not your power, but His. John 1:12 tells us it is in receiving YHVH by trusting His Words that He grants us power - that is what it means to have faith. To have actionable faith is to BE faithful to His Words - and to be baptized in His Spirit as they were in Acts 2 and 10. Yeshua pointed to that event in Acts 1:8, "… and you shall receive power when ruach hakodesh (Hebrew for the spirit of holiness) has come upon you" because He "…will bring to your remembrance all the Words I have spoken to you" (John 14:26).
Although atonement is the critical point of the Christian faith, if you ask most Christians what "atonement' means, they are hard-pressed to provide a clear answer - often suggesting something about forgiving sins or about the mercy seat or about covering our guilt with the blood of the Lamb. Enormous difficulties arise when it comes to a verse like the one in Leviticus at the start of this article because, here, atonement is not about forgiveness - it is about cleaning up the Tabernacle to be able to abide in the Present Presence without being consumed by His Light - so brilliant, so pure that it becomes a "consuming fire" Hebrews 12:29, quoting Deuteronomy 4:24). The Hebrew verb translated "atonement" in the Levitical verse is kaphur. The same verb is found in Ezekiel 43:20 and in eight other verses where it is translated "purge or cleansed". When you cleanse something, you wipe it away - you don't cover it up. In other words, while Christianity presents atonement as though God is wiping the blood of the Lamb over their sins so that He no longer sees them (i.e., the blood of "Jesus" covers transgressions), the actual usage of this verb in the context of sacrifice never means "covering over" - it means "cleaning away." A variation of kaphur is kippur, which also means "atonement". Atonement was necessitated by the disobedience of the first Hebrew son, Adam, and that darkness was subsequently passed onto his descendants. Light cannot abide in the same space at the same time as darkness because Light consumes darkness. The Levitical sacrifices were intended to mitigate this defilement so the people of His Family, Israel, could be in the company of His Presence without being consumed until the Atonement of the second son, Yeshua, could be made; thereby restoring the Spirit of echad (Hebrew for "one") to His Family of Israel. According to the Levitical sacrifices, blood is the cleaning solvent - cleaning the house so that YHVH might abide there.
So, in what sense did Yeshua haMashiach (the Messiah) die for us? In Christian terms, the innocent Lamb is slain as a substitutionary sacrifice - as atonement for the sins of the sinner in place of the sinner himself being sacrificed. It is assumed that the universal "Christ" is based on the sacrificial system of the Torah who became the Lamb for mankind, once for all, covering their sin with His Blood and providing forgiveness for those sins because of the cross - regardless of their behavior. But, there is no foundation for this premise anywhere in scripture - it is only found in religious theology. Interestingly, this is simply a twist on the same premise the Pharisees and Sadducees used in their day to excuse their behavior because they felt their connected lineage to Abraham absolved them of all sin. Christianity has embraced the same religious spirit, only with a different mask. In fact, Torah provides many ways to forgive sin apart from the shedding of blood because forgiveness is part of the Nature of YHVH. So, does the sacrifice of the "Christ" rise to this occasion of scriptural sacrifice? Not really. As it was with our study of the Beatitudes, here is where an understanding of why these sacrifices were instituted becomes critical in our comprehension of the Hebraic meaning of the words in the Messianic Writings. First, as the verse from Acts 5:30-31 above suggests, Yeshua was raised up in order that the family of YHVH, Israel, might come to repentance and be forgiven - not the world. Secondly, the Pesach (Passover) Lamb of the Torah was not a sin sacrifice nor does it meet any of the Levitical requirements of a sacrifice - it was not slain in the Temple on an altar attended to by Priests, but was slain in individual homes that the specter of death of the firstborn would pass over those abiding inside.
Part One, What Is Sin?
Part Two, The Sin of the World
Part Three, Who Is The Son?
Part Four, I Am Not A Sinner
|"Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil…" Isaiah 1:16|
Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. While not claiming to have all the answers, it would be an honor to partake with you of what the Spirit is uncovering.