In Part #1, we met Jim and Ted, two made-up characters in a battle over whether a tattoo is a sin or not.
The word tattoo can be substituted for many topics: food, alcohol, and sex to name a few. We can find verses to support us and ones that convict us. But how do we know what sin is? Luckily the Bible defines it for us. “Everyone who sins breaks the law (Torah); in fact, sin is lawlessness.” 1 John 3:4. Even the Apostle Paul after informing us that it is through faith and grace that we are saved, says this, “Do we then make the law of none effect through faith? God forbid: nay, we establish the law.” Romans 3:31.
It’s broken down and made even more plain in 1 John 5:17, “All unrighteousness is sin.” But what is unrighteousness? According to the Bible, it’s Torahlessness or a society of law breakers. But isn’t His Torah old and outdated? Aren’t there some issues that we need to ponder like stoning our children to death? Yes, of course, but even that verse is taken out of context. Let’s look closely at that.
“If a man has a stubborn, rebellious son who will not obey what his father or mother says, and even after they discipline him he still refuses to pay attention to them; then his father and mother are to take hold of him and bring him out to the leaders of his town, at the gate of that place, and say to the leaders of his town, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he doesn’t pay attention to us, lives wildly, gets drunk.’ Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death; in this way you will put an end to such wickedness among you, and all Isra’el will hear about it and be afraid.” Deuteronomy 21:20-22. CJB.
First of all, this is no child but a man or at least Bar Mitzvah age. He is one who is a drunkard and rebellious. This means he would have to be stealing the booze from his parents and gorging on the food to the point the family was in need. And second, this matter had to be brought before the courts and be judged. His behavior would have to be witnessed by two or three witnesses. Also, there is no case in Jewish history or the Talmud of one child being stoned to death. Wish I could say that concerning Islam. I am sure that drunkenness in our society seems tame and not a reason for stoning someone, but the text reveals more going on here. Also, this son who was more than likely grown could have left and gone to a city that was not governed by the Torah. He could have gone and lived with a people like the people Lot lived with and no stoning would have happened. He could have left his tribe. So back to 2016 and our own laws of the land. What about the people mentioned in Matthew seven?
“Many shall say to Me in that day, ‘Master, Master, have we not prophesied in Your Name, and cast out demons in Your Name, and done many mighty works in Your Name?’ “And then I shall declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from Me, you who work lawlessness.” 7:22-23.
So how can we be certain our tattoo, glass of wine, sexual desire, or such as the verse from the Torah that commanded not to get a tattoo is a sin or not a sin? The verses above and below the scripture on tattoos warn not to drink blood or use divination, so it seems this is dealing with the pagan rituals of that time period. But I want to get back to one of my main points. What is a sin? How do we determine it?
While thinking about all the verses in the Bible on alcohol and how many warn against it, I am also reminded of how many encouraged it, even a commandment to give it to people who were sorrowful and in poverty. “Give strong drink to him who is perishing, And wine to him whose life is bitter. Let him drink and forget his poverty And remember his trouble no more.” Proverbs 31: 6-7. They called Jesus/ Yeshua a winebibber and he even turns water into wine, but many will say this is talking about the Holy Spirit and that wine back then was only 2% alcohol, but if that were the case would we see Paul telling Timothy to have some for his stomach that made him sick and the next verse shows it was just as potent.
“Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it goes down smoothly;
At the last it bites like a serpent And stings like a viper.” Proverbs 23:31-32.
So again, with the same analogy used in the tattoo portion, how do we know what is a sin and what isn’t? The Southern Baptist will tell you not to drink and so will the Nazarenes, but what about a Christian born and raised in Italy? What if an Italian believer who is used to having a glass of wine with dinner and often lunch as well, runs into a strict non –drinker at the Frito-Lay plant and they each bring their verses to the table to prove why they are not sinning or why the other is?
So as I was pondering how we judge people and worry about what they are doing wrong more often than what we are doing wrong, I stumbled upon this article by Marjorie O’Rourke Boyle called Broken Hearts: the Violation of Biblical Law.
Journal of the American Academy of Religion
Vol. 73, No. 3 (Sep., 2005), pp. 731-757
“Broken hearts are a compelling case of the general misinterpretation of the most important anthropological concept in the Hebrew Scriptures, the heart. Scholarship anachronistically assumes that biblical brokenhearted conforms to the dictionary definition of grief. Based on the history of medicine, this research proposes that biblical broken hearts are neither physiological nor psychological but lawless. Broken hearts are embodied in the Hebrew Scriptures as crippled legs that have walked deviant paths, stumbled, and fallen against the law. The deliberate omission of brokenhearted from the New Testament is explained by medical knowledge. The traditional but erroneous insertion of brokenhearted in gospel manuscripts and editions is then reported. The mistranslation “contrite” is exposed as gravely consequential in the Reformation theological controversy about grace and will. The source for the definition of brokenhearted as grieved in English philology is identified as secular, not biblical, literature.”
When we are truly lawless we break Yahweh’s heart. . . We limp around with our hip out of socket. “How broken I have been over their whoring hearts that left me, and over their eyes that went whoring after their idols!” Ezekiel 6:9 CJB. But what if we do it without knowing? Or worse, what if we have been told things that aren’t the truth. What can we do? We can start by not condemning our friend at the factory. We need not point out what we believe to be sin in their lives unless they ask for our opinion or we are in a position of teaching in an assembly. We also must realize that all different denominations have different doctrines because they all don’t go by one set of rules. If they all went by Torah then we would still have problems. Unless you understand what it is saying with clear instructions, you can end up believing it’s wrong to wear earrings, although all the women did, including the great Patriarchs spouses. Yeshua-Jesus had to remind the spiritual leaders of his day that they made the law of no effect and he was very angry that they did. Let’s look at that.
The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?”
And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.
BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’
“Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” Mark 7:5-8 NASB. They added to the law and made it weak and of no effect and also added bondage like washing one’s hands 7 times and reciting 7 blessings over the washing. People began to hate the law (Torah) for the same reason we do. Mark seven has a confrontation between a Pharisee and Yeshua-Jesus and they ask him, “Why doesn’t your disciples eat with clean washed hands after the “tradition” of the elders?” Oh, the Holy Traditions! (Sarcasm) Traditions that say things like, “you can’t use a plant God created for health purposes. You can’t wear pants if you are a woman or make-up because Jezebel wore make-up. If you get a tattoo you can’t be buried in a Jewish cemetery (What would Holocaust victims say about that?). Each tradition is driven by more fear from the pulpits until guilt and condemnation creeps in and you are trying to earn salvation by a list of dreaded task. It’s Egypt.
I am leaving you with this verse from James. “Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?” James 4:11-12 NASB.
What are your thoughts on the matter?
Photo by Rob Gilkey