There is much debate on whether one should follow the full Torah, the Ten Commandments, or just to love others. Each side puts up verses that supposedly contradicts the other. I say supposedly, because I believe the Bible does not contradict itself nor does it correct itself. One topic that I rarely see discussed is what is sin. Maybe through defining what sin is we can see what we shouldn’t do and therefore see what we should be doing.
The Hebrew word for sin is chet and means to miss the mark. The Greek word for sin is hamartia and also means to miss the mark or to fail in hitting the mark. Whether one looks at either the Tanach or the Gospels/Epistles, sin is missing the target that one is shooting towards. Whether in archery or in life, missing the mark is not good.
The disciple John wrote about sin as well and said “Everyone who sins breaks the Torah; in fact, sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). John understood the mark, the target, was Torah. Some people will state what is sin has changed and it no longer means breaking the Torah, but just the Ten Commandments or some other list of commandments.
Before we continue looking at 1 John 2, let’s dig a little deeper into what is lawlessness from verse 4. The Greek word for lawlessness is anomia and means without law either due to ignorance or violating it. The root of the word anomia is anomos and means destitute of the mosaic law. This is the same word Yeshua (Jesus) used in Luke 13:27 and Matthew 7:23 – “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ “ Those who may call on Yeshua’s name and do things His name, but practice rebellion against the Torah, God does not know you. Is this harsh? We might think so, but they are His words. Nonetheless, sin is destitue of the Torah.
As we continue looking at 1 John 2, I think it will become more apparent what the target is in regards to verse 4.
V5 - You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.
I am pretty confident in saying that just about every believer agrees that Yeshua was sinless. Hopefully, everyone agrees the target for Yeshua was the Torah. The same Torah God gave to Moses and His people at Mt Sinai. Yeshua did not come to take away the Torah, but to take away our sins. From here it is pretty clear the definition of sin is what we looked at previously, transgressing the Torah is sinning.
V6 - Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;
What does practicing righteousness mean? Right after verse 6 John says the one who practices sin is of the devil for the devil has sinned from the beginning. I don’t think practicing righteousness is sinning. Would practicing righteousness be the opposite of sinning….being obedient to the Torah?
Deut 6:25 - It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the Lord our God, just as He commanded us.
Our righteousness comes from the Messiah Yeshua. Having faith in Yeshua, who is a manifestation of God, requires faithfulness. In Hebrew, the word is emunah. This one word contains both faith and faithfulness. Acting out our faith. Our faith is in the one God of Israel. If you have faith that God is God then you act out this faith by being obedient to Him. This obedience shows your love to God. Don’t believe me?
And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it. 2 John 1:6 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. John 14:15 He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” John14:21 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. 1 John 2:3-6 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:2-3
God sees His people following His commandments as love. In Jewish thought giving is love. Hence, Yeshua giving up His life for us. Following the commandments is giving towards God and our neighbors. Following the commandments is not bondage. Sinning is bondage for we have a debt to pay. Yeshua paid our debt for the sin we did, not so we could continue sinning, but so we could live in freedom through the Torah! The Bible tells us certain people were righteous. What did this mean? The righteous are ones right with God. They act on their faith to be obedient to God. Sin is sin, it hasn’t changed. Please ask God to show you the truth. To show you the way. Stop allowing your flesh to take the lead and allow the spirit to cause you to follow God’s commandments (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
I wrote this for my family and friends who do not see the truth, the light. Psalms says the truth is Torah (Psalm 119:142,151,160). Proverbs tells us the light is Torah (Proverbs 6:23). I hope this shined a little light in your path.