Is the Torah “the law of sin and death”? NO!

Romans 8:2, The law of sin and death. In Romans 7:23, Paul talks about “another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” This other law is what the Jewish sages refer to as the evil inclination or ha-yetzer rah with which every human is born. This is because due to the fall of man each person is born spiritually cut off from Elohim and is thus subject to the powerful influences of the world, flesh and the devil. 

Yielding to our innate yetzer rah or carnal, rebellious, sinful nature brings a person under the death penalty that automatically comes on each human for violating Elohim’s Torah. It’s a simple matter of the “law” of cause and effect: one reaps what one sows or for every action there is a reaction. To wit, Paul states that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). Ezekiel states that the soul that sins will die (Ezek 18:4). John goes on to say that “sin is the violation of Torah-law” (1 John 3:4). Therefore, the law of sin and death is yielding to our carnal nature that is prone to sin the results of which brings the consequences of sinful actions as prescribed by the Torah the end result of which is death or extinguishment of life and eternal separation from Elohim. 

Just because the Torah prescribes the death penalty for sin doesn’t make the Torah evil any more than violating the law of gravity by jumping off a cliff makes that law evil, or violating a speeding law makes that law evil. Righteous laws exist for our good—to protect us from harm, and are thus not evil. Both the Torah-law, the law of gravity and other laws (e.g. traffic laws) are for our protection. But if we violate them, we not only jeopardize our well-being and safety, but there may be a penalty to pay for breaking them as well.

In Genesis 2:17 Elohim laid down a law: do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He pronounced upon man the curse of death if he violated this law. Man broke the law and ate from the forbidden tree. To go against the law of Elohim is sin (1 John 3:4). As previously noted, the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23), and the soul that sins shall die (Ezek 18:4). This is the law of sin and death that Paul talks about in Romans 8:2. When man obeys the Torah-laws Elohim, he will neither be sinning nor will he bring upon himself the wages of that sin which is death.

Romans 8:7, The carnal mind. (See notes at Luke 2:24.) Notice that it is the carnal mind that is not subject to the law of Elohim. Therefore, any theology or philosophy of man that in any way nullifies, does away with, abrogates, invalidates the laws of Elohim by saying such things as “it was done away with,” “it was fulfilled by Jesus so that we don’t have to do it,” “it was nailed to the cross,” or “it was for the Jews, but not for the Gentiles” is a function to the carnal mind of man, and is not of the Spirit or mind of Elohim.

Subject to. This is the Greek word hupotasso meaning “to subordinate, to obey, to be under obedience, put under, subdue unto, (be, make) subject (to, unto), be (put) in subjection (to, under), submit self unto.” Therefore, anyone who says that they are no longer “under the law” and takes it to mean that they no longer have to obey it is confessing that they’re under the influence of their carnal mind and not the Spirit of Elohim as the first part of this verse states.

 

Anti-Torah Law = Pro Carnal Mind

Romans 8:7, The carnal mind. Notice that it is the carnal mind that is not subject to the law of Elohim. Therefore, any theology or philosophy of man that in any way nullifies, does away with, abrogates, invalidates the laws of Elohim by saying such things as “it was done away with,” “it was fulfilled by Jesus so that we don’t have to do it,” “it was nailed to the cross,” or “it was for the Jews, but not for the Gentiles” is a function to the carnal mind of man, and is not of the Spirit or mind of Elohim.

Subject to. This is the Greek word hupotasso meaning “to subordinate, to obey, to be under obedience, put under, subdue unto, (be, make) subject (to, unto), be (put) in subjection (to, under), submit self unto.” Therefore, anyone who says that they are no longer “under the law” and takes it to mean that they no longer have to obey it is confessing that they’re under the influence of their carnal mind and not the Spirit of Elohim as the first part of this verse states.

 

What is the advantage of being Jewish?

Romans 3:1, What advantage then has the  Jew? There were several advantages to being a religious Jew in the first century.

  • A Jew had a head start on the non-Jews in that they knew (and hopefully were living) Torah. The same might be said of some religious Jews today. Most of the modern non-Jews who are currently returning to a more Hebraic orientation to their faith have to start at the ground level learning about Torah. They have to learn the most elementary basics about Sabbath, the biblical dietary laws, the biblical feasts and what it means to live a Torah lifestyle and to understand the Bible through a Hebraic contextual lens. This point is illustrated by the fact that pastors of most Messianic or Hebrew Roots congregations spend hours teaching their congregations these things every Sabbath, and may even have to spend hours on the phone during the week answering many basic questions about Torah theology and lifestyle. The Torah-observant Jews of Paul’s day did not need to be coached in the basics of the Torah-law of Elohim, for they already had a YHVH-consciousness and a fear of YHVH that most paganized non-Jews would not have had. 
  • Furthermore, most Jews would not have to unlearn a myriad pagan practices that Gentiles of that day, and Christians of this day have to unlearn in order to become Torah compliant.
  • Additionally, Jews of that day did not have to learn how to think Hebraically or how to understand biblical Hebrew terminologies. Gentiles did. 

The main problem that the Jews of Paul’s day had to deal with was racial pride and prejudice against non-Jews, and self -righteousness because they viewed themselves as the elect or chosen people of YHVH and the possessors of Torah. This same problem ethnic arrogance exists among many Jews to this day who operate in both rabbinic and Christians circles. This is why Paul had to deal with endemic Jewish racial, cultural and spiritual pride in the previous chapter.

 

Overview of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans

The Gospel, the Torah, & the Israelite Nation Reunited

The following overview of Romans is a radical departure from what the mainstream church teaches. Read it and see if what follows doesn’t unite the truth of the Bible from beginning to end, instead of pitting one section of the Bible against the other, which is  approach the church typically takes when presenting the teachings of Paul.

The Main Themes of Romans

This is perhaps the only book in the Bible that is organized systematically like a theological textbook from beginning to end with each point leading to the next. This is not how biblical books are typically arranged.

In this epistle, there are several main themes.

Pre-eminently, Elohim is the Just Judge of the universe to whom all are accountable (both Jews and Gentiles). This concept alone is huge, since most humans don’t want to believe they’re accountable to anyone except their own egos.

The Torah is Elohim’s standard of righteousness by which he will judge the deeds of all men (both Jews and Gentiles) fairly. If people can accept the fact that there is a supreme Being to whom they’re accountable for their actions, then it’s a short next logical step to accept that such a Being (Elohim) has laws that man must follow if he’s not to run afoul of that Being.

Next, Paul counters a religious system that purported to explain who that Being was and what he required of sinful man. This was Judaism. The problem is that Judaism had perverted the truth of Elohim into a racially exclusive, legalistic, works-based salvational system. Paul attempts to correct this error, and restore this religion to its original truth.

Paul then presents the gospel message of salvation by grace through faith in Yeshua the Messiah is at the center of YHVH’s process to redeem sinful man.

Before Elohim, the Creator of the universe, there is no racial inequality between Jews and Gentiles. Elohim isn’t a racist. All are equal before him. All are sinners, and all need Yeshua. 

Paul’s Epistle to the Romans keeps Yeshua and the gospel message front and center, Continue reading


 

Patiently Enduring the Storms of Adversity

Stormy sky over flooded lighthouse

Romans 15:4, Patience and comfort of the Scriptures. Just before this passage, Paul enjoins the spiritually strong to follow the example of Yeshua to support those who are spiritually weak (Rom 15:1–3). This can be especially trying when they are of one’s own physical or spiritual household — they are always present and there is no escape from them. Patience or perseverance in such cases is required and is a spiritual test that those who are strong must pass. It may take years or decades to pass this test if one has, for example, a spiritually weak marriage partner or other family member with which one has constant interaction.

In this verse, Paul offers advice on how to cope with this situation.

First, those who would seek the higher ground of spiritual maturity must learn patience, which can become a great jewel in one’s spiritual crown. Patience or longsuffering is perhaps the chief attribute of love (1 Cor 13:4), which is a fruit of the Spirit—doesn’t come easily, but only through the fiery refinement process of hardships brought on by people constantly rubbing us the wrong way. In this passage (Rom 13:4), Paul appeals to the example of Yeshua who endured much and mastered patience as he was reproached for sinners’ (that’s you and me) sake. If we want to strive for the high mark of being like him, we should endeavor to follow his example.

Second, in dealing with weak people, Paul encourages us to find comfort in the Scriptures (Rom 15:4). By immersing ourselves in the Word of Elohim and letting it renew and transform our thinking through the work of the Set-Apart Spirit in our hearts, we can endure the reproaches of weak and difficult people. The Scriptures are a world of their own—a refuge and island of peace in the midst of the roiling seas of adversity, and a firm rock to stand on in the billowing waves of life’s troubles.

May the hope of becoming more like Yeshua and conforming ourselves to the wise instructions of the Scriptures and examples of righteous people found therein give us hope to persevere through our difficulties and come out the other side more conformed to the image of Yeshua who is the epitome of loving patience toward us.


 

What is evil? The Torah or man’s sin nature?

Romans 7:4, You have been made dead with regard to the Torah. Are you free to break the law if you’re now dead to it? David Stern in his Jewish New Testament Commentary (p. 375) explains that it is not the Torah that has been made dead (or abrogated), nor is a believer made dead in the sense of no longer responding to its truth. Rather, he has been made dead not to all of the Torah, but to three aspects of it: (1) its capacity to stir sin in him (vv. 5–14), (2) its capacity to produce irremediable guilt feelings (vv. 15–24), and (3) its penalties, punishment and curses (8:1–4).

To fully understand Paul’s writings, one must have a complete understanding of the Torah and all of its aspects. Most individuals coming from the Christian theological perspective have a very limited and narrow understanding of the Torah (or as they term it, “the law”). For example, they fail to understand that how we react to the Torah—obedience versus disobedience—will determine how Torah “reacts” to us. For example, YHVH has embedded into the Torah a cause-and-effect spiritual mechanism: obey and be blessed, disobey and suffer the consequences, i.e., the curses of the Torah. Other laws in the universe with which we are familiar have the same cause-effect rewards-punishment systems built into them. How about the law of gravity? Try jumping off a tall building, for example. Paul in verse 13 asks whether we Continue reading


 

Are You a Slave to Sin or Righteousness (i.e. Torah)?

Romans 6:14–15 says,

For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace.…What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? Elohim forbid!

What is Paul saying here? Paul is saying that sin (i.e., Torahlessness, 1 John 3:4) shall not have dominion over those who have faith in Yeshua and who have died to their old sinful nature as pictured by the baptism ritual (Rom 6:1–10). The Bible is clear: the wages or sting of sin is death (Rom 6:23; 1 Cor 15:56), for sin is the violation of the Torah (1 John 3:4), and those who are spiritually alive to Elohim through Yeshua (Rom 6:11) not only have had their sins forgiven, but they’re not continuing in habitual sin (1 John 3:4–9). They are walking under YHVH’s merciful grace, so that if they sin (i.e., violate the Torah), they can repent and receive his grace (1 John 1:9) instead of death. This is why Paul can say that the redeemed believer is no longer under the (penalty of) the Torah, but is under grace (Rom 6:14).

Because we are under grace and we have been spared by Elohim’s mercy from the penalty for sinning (i.e., violating the Torah), which is death, does this mean that we can continue in sin (i.e., continue violating the Torah, Rom 6:15)? Certainly not! Paul strongly affirms this in verse fifteen. Elohim’s grace doesn’t give us a license to sin (i.e., to violate the Torah, 1 John 3:4). If a saint sins, he must repent of his sin and not continue in his sin (1 John 1:9), so that the mercy and grace of Elohim will cover his transgression.

Paul then goes to say (Rom 6:16–23) that since we are no longer slaves to sin because of our relationship with Elohim through Yeshua, we now have become slaves to righteousness (i.e., Torah obedience, see Ps 119:172 where righteousness is defined as Torah-obedience). The Torah not only defines what sin is, but also shows us how not to sin. It is the grace of Elohim that not only gives us grace or unmerited pardon for violating the Torah (i.e., sin), but the same grace divinely enables us to live in obedience to the Torah, so that we will not come under the (penalty of) the Torah through sinfulness. This is why Paul can go on to declare that the Torah is holy, and the commandment holy, just and good (Rom 7:12). It reveals to us the path of righteousness and how not to sin by showing us how to love Elohim and our neighbor.