1 John 3:4, as I have noted many times in the past, provides for us the primary biblical definition of sin, especially under the banner of the new covenant. Most English translations of the text render John’s statement something like this: Whoever commits sin transgresses the law, for sin is the transgression of the law or Whoever commits sin practices lawlessness, sin is lawlessness. But I prefer what the Messianic translation called the Complete Jewish Bible says: “Everyone who keeps sinning is violating Torah — indeed, sin is violation of Torah.”
Because most Christians have been wrongly taught to view Torah as “the Mosaic Law” or the “Laws of Moses”—terms that are grossly in error as it was Yahweh, not Moses, who gave Torah to the world—the words law and/or lawlessness as used in most translations of 1 John 3:4, and many other places in Scripture, can be easily misunderstood.
Having properly defined the word “sin” as violation of Torah, I decided to do a little experiment. As it is perfectly within the realm of acceptability to replace a word in a sentence with its proper definition, for the sake of clarity, I have selected passages from throughout the Gospels and Apostolic Writings, what many refer to as the “New Testament” (another misleading term from Christianity, as The Bible is to be rendered as one complete Book, the whole Word of God) and replaced the word “sin”, or some form thereof (such as “sinner”), with our biblical definition of sin. I believe that this simple study will help Believers to better understand why it is important to apply Torah to new covenant belief and practice as well as to see the errors of modern Christian interpretation of The Bible and the new covenant.
If you are not familiar with the term Torah or are not totally sure what it means (most Christians actually are not informed in this, so don’t feel bad if that’s you), allow me to give you the basics. Torah refers most specifically to the 613 commandments listed throughout the five books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). Some today argue that the entire Bible can be considered “Torah” in that the term simply means instructions (in a biblical application, referring to God’s instructions to His people). Others argue that Torah can refer to the totality of all of God’s revelation to humanity (even meaning that if you believe God speaks something to your spirit, that too is Torah). Regardless, even these broader applications MUST be built on the initial Torah found in the books of Moses, the 613 mitzvot. If you want to learn more, I would recommend reading my lengthier articles: Torah: The Foundation Of All Truth, Living By Torah: Why It Matters, and Is Torah Bondage?.
Scriptures cited are taken from the Tree Of Life Version of The Bible. The rendering of the definition “violation of Torah” or some other form thereof, in place of the word “sin” or some other form thereof, is rendered in bold text to signify that it is added in place of the word “sin”.
Matthew 1:21 – She will give birth to a son; and you shall call His name Yeshua, for He will save His people from their violation of Torah.
Matthew 3:2 – “Turn away from your violation of Torah, for the kingdom of heaven is near!”
Matthew 4:17 – From then on, Yeshua began to proclaim, “Turn away from your violation of Torah, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Matthew 9:2-5 – Just then, some people brought to Him a paralyzed man lying on a cot. And seeing their faith, Yeshua said to the paralyzed man, “Take courage, son! Your violation of Torah is forgiven.” Then some of the Torah scholars said among themselves, “This fellow blasphemes!” And knowing their thoughts, Yeshua said, “Why are you entertaining evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your violation of Torah is forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?”
Matthew 11:20 – Then Yeshua began to denounce the towns where most of His miracles had happened, because they did not turn from their violation of Torah.
Matthew 12:31 – For this reason I say to you, every violation of Torah and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Ruach will not be forgiven.
Mark 1:15 – “Now is the fullness of time,” He said, “and the kingdom of God is near! Turn away from your violation of Torah, and believe in the Good News!”
Luke 1:77 – …to give knowledge of salvation to His people through removal of their violation of Torah.
John 1:29 – The next day, John sees Yeshua coming to him and says, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the violation of Torah of the world!
John 5:14 – Afterwards, Yeshua finds him in the Temple. He said to him, “Look, you’ve been healed! Stop violating Torah, so nothing worse happens to you.”
John 8:11b – “Then neither do I condemn you,” Yeshua said. “Go, and violate Torah no more.”
John 8:24 -Therefore I told you that you will die in your violation of Torah. If you don’t believe that I am, you will die in your violation of Torah.
John 8:34 – Yeshua answered them, “Amen, amen I tell you, everyone who violates Torah is a slave to the violation of Torah.
John 15:22 – If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin. But now they have no excuse for their violation of Torah.
Acts 2:38 – Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be immersed in the name of Messiah Yeshua for the removal of your violation of Torah, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach ha-Kodesh.
Acts 3:19-20 – Repent, therefore, and return—so your violation of Torah might be blotted out, so times of relief might come from the presence of Adonai and He might send Yeshua, the Messiah appointed for you.
Acts 13:38 – Therefore, let it be known to you, brothers, that through this One is proclaimed to you the removal of Torah violations, including all those from which you could not be set right by the Torah of Moses.
The Apostolic Teachings
Romans 3:20-25 – For no human, on the basis of Torah observance, will be set right in His sight—for through the Torah comes awareness of Torah violation. But now God’s righteousness apart from the Torah has been revealed, to which the Torah and the Prophets bear witness—namely, the righteousness of God through putting trust in Messiah Yeshua, to all who keep on trusting. For there is no distinction, for all have violated Torah and fall short of the glory of God. They are set right as a gift of His grace, through the redemption that is in Messiah Yeshua. God set forth Yeshua as an atonement, through faith in His blood, to show His righteousness in passing over violations of Torah already committed.
Romans 4:7 – Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven and whose violation of Torah is covered.
Romans 5:12-13 – So then, just as violation of Torah came into the world through one man and death through violation of Torah, in the same way death spread to all men because all have violated Torah. For up until the Torah, violation of Torah was in the world; but violation of Torah does not count as violation of Torah when there is no law.
Romans 5:20-21 – Now the Torah came in so that transgression might increase. But where violation of Torah increased, grace overflowed even more—so that just as violation of Torah reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness, to eternal life through Messiah Yeshua our Lord.
Romans 6:1-2 – What shall we say then? Are we to continue in violation of Torah so that grace may abound? May it never be! How can we who died to violation of Torah still live in it?
Romans 6:7 – For he who has died is set free from violation of Torah.
Romans 6:11-12 – So also continually count yourselves both dead to violation of Torah and alive to God in Messiah Yeshua. Therefore do not let violation of Torah rule in your mortal body so that you obey its desires.
Romans 6:14-15 – For violation of Torah shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we violate Torah because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!
Romans 6:17-20 – But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of Torah violation, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching under which you were placed; and after you were set free from Torah violation, you became enslaved to righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you yielded your body parts as slaves to uncleanness and lawlessness, leading to more lawlessness, so now yield your body parts as slaves to righteousness, resulting in holiness. For when you were slaves of Torah violation, you were free with regard to righteousness.
Romans 7:7 – What shall we say then? Is the Torah violation of Torah? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have known violation of Torah except through the Torah. For I would not have known about coveting if the Torah had not said, “You shall not covet.
Romans 8:2 – For the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yeshua has set you free from the law of Torah violation and death.
Romans 11:27 – And this is My covenant with them, when I take away their Torah violations.
Romans 14:23b – And whatever is not of faith is violation of Torah.
1 Corinthians 15:17, 34 – And if Messiah has not been raised, your faith is futile—you are still in your violation of Torah. Come to your senses as you ought, and stop violating Torah! For some have no knowledge of God—I say this to your shame.
Ephesians 4:26-27 – “Be angry, yet do not violate Torah.” Do not let the sun go down on your anger, nor give the devil a foothold.
1 Timothy 5:20, 24 – Correct those who continue violating Torah in the presence of everyone, so that the rest also may fear. The Torah violations of some people are obvious, going before them into judgment; but for others, their violations of Torah follow.
Titus 3:10-11 – Dismiss a quarrelsome person after a first and second warning, knowing that such a person is twisted and is violating Torah—he is self-condemned.
Hebrews 10:26-27 – For if we keep on violating Torah willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for Torah violation, but only a terrifying expectation of judgment and a fury of fire about to devour the enemies of God.
Hebrews 11:25 – Instead he chose to suffer mistreatment along with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the passing pleasures of Torah violation.
James 1:15 -Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to violation of Torah; and when violation of Torah is full grown, it brings forth death.
James 2:9 – But if you show favoritism, you are committing violation of Torah and are convicted by the Torah as transgressors.
James 4:17 – Therefore whoever knows the right thing to do and does not do it—for him it is violation of Torah.
1 John 2:1 – My children, I am writing these things to you so that you will not violate Torah. But if anyone does violate Torah [unintentionally], we have an Intercessor with the Father—the righteous Messiah Yeshua.
1 John 3:6 – No one who abides in Him keeps on violating Torah; no one who violates Torah has seen Him or known Him.
1 John 3:8-9 – The one who practices violation of Torah is of the devil, for the devil has been violating Torah from the beginning. Ben-Elohim [the Son of God] appeared for this purpose—to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God practices violation of Torah, because God’s seed remains in him. He cannot violate Torah, because he is born of God.
Let me take just a moment and consider that first statement from 1 John 3:8 a little deeper. Let’s apply some individual commandments found in Torah to this phrase “The one who practices sin is of the devil…”
The one who murders is of the devil…
The one who lies or bears false witness is of the devil…
The one who commits adultery is of the devil…
The one who practices homosexuality is of the devil…
The one who worships idols or false gods is of the devil…
So far, I’m sure the majority of Christians would agree with this line of thinking. But what if we now applies some other aspects of Torah to the passage? Allow me to present a few more things that many reading this might not be so comfortable with. In this list I will include the references to where you can find these things in Torah for your own further study.
The one who does not keep the biblical Sabbath (the seventh day of the week, sunset Friday night to sunset Saturday night on a modern calendar) is of the devil… (Exodus 20:8-11)
As you can see, I hope, by using this biblical definition of sin offered by John in place of the word “sin” it really brings a deeper understanding to these new covenant statements. Look, for example, at how it effects so many statements in Paul’s letter to the Romans. In Romans 3:20-25 we are forced to see that obedience to Torah is the result of truly being saved but not the means by which one earns salvation. This, of course, is validated by the hard-hitting words of 1 John 3:8-9, the last passage on the above list.
Let me also say this about 1 John 3:8-9: I understand that some of the points I made with that passage are, for many, a hard pill to swallow. I know plenty of people, including very educated Bible scholars who serve as theology professors, that would wholly agree with the first list of “individual Torah transgressions” and then argue until they are blue in the face against some of those in the second list—especially when you get into things like eating pork, wearing wool and linen together, or getting tattoos. This is nothing more than the bias of religion. These people truly believe that some aspects of Torah are either less important or not applicable today. But none of these things are impossible to follow. No restaurant or grocery store offers only unclean meats, and if one did there are thirty others within ten minutes of it that don’t. Few clothes are made out of wool or linen, and even when you find wool or linen garments they are labeled so you can easily avoid wearing the “forbidden mixture”. And you really have to go out of your way and pay your hard-earned money to get a tattoo. Why do any of these things or violate anything else in Torah if doing so means there is even a fraction of a chance that you are not saved (Matthew 1:21) and that you are of the devil (1 John 3:8)?
Then in Romans 6:17-20 violation of Torah is listed as being in direct opposition to freedom. It says that the one who lives in violation of Torah is a slave to sin, while the person who obeys Torah is a slave to righteousness. Verse 20 tells us that when we are slaves to sin (violation of Torah) we are free in regard to righteousness—in other words, we are not a slave to righteousness when we are a slave to breaking God’s Torah.
The very first passage we looked at, Matthew 1:21, tells us that Yeshua came to save His people from their sin (violation of Torah). The last passage tells us that whoever sins (violates Torah) is of the devil. I think it’s about time we quit playing games with the Word of God and got serious and simply obey The Book. The Bible is right and true, and anyone who provides some argument against obeying any part of it, especially something commanded in Torah, is wrong. It’s just that simple.
We also see that the call to repentance, as I have pointed out in the past, is the call to stop violating Torah. Repentance is, of course, the heartbeat of the Gospel message. The whole of the work of the cross is to give fallen humanity a pathway back to Torah. I know there are people that try to claim the Torah was nailed to the cross, but that makes absolutely no sense when you understand that, according to the first century Apostolic teachings, sin is the breaking of Torah and righteousness through Messiah is, therefore, the keeping of Torah.
This idea of the Torah being nailed to the cross comes from a clear misunderstanding of Colossians 2:14, which says, “He wiped out the handwritten record of debts with the decrees against us, which was hostile to us. He took it away by nailing it to the cross.” To clarify this we need only turn to Matthew 6 and look at a line from The Lord’s Prayer. Matthew 6:12 (TLV) says, “And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.” If you look at the Greek language here, the word “debts” is the Greek opheiléma and it means: debt, offense, sin. Some translations of Matthew 6:12 actually use the word “sin” and a few use phrases like “the wrong things we have done”. In like manner, the word “debtors” can also refer to “those who sin against us. Shall we apply our 1 John 3:4 definition of sin to these passages? I believe I will!
Matthew 6:12 – And forgive us our violation of Torah as we also have forgiven those who violated Torah against us.
Colossians 2:14 – He wiped out the handwritten record of Torah violations with the decrees against us, which was hostile to us. He took it away by nailing it to the cross.
To take it further, the Contemporary English Version renders Colossians 2:14 to say: “God wiped out the charges that were against us for disobeying the Law of Moses. He took them away and nailed them to the cross” (emphasis added). While “Law of Moses” is a poor rendering of what should be “Torah”, the point is that this translation validates that it is sin, the violation of Torah, which is nailed to the cross, not the Torah itself.
No matter how you come at it, once you understand that sin is plainly defined as the violation of Torah it opens up the totality of Scripture in a whole new light. Lawless theologies that teach against obeying Scripture, even if only certain parts or certain commandments, becomes the great deception and heresy that will and is sending millions of people to hell—people who genuinely believe that they genuinely believe in God and really think that they have truly accepted Yeshua as their Messiah and honestly feel that they have been filled with the Holy Spirit. He’s the HOLY Spirit, if you have the real thing you will do what is holy, which is obeying Torah.
Don’t play games with God. So many people want to “simplify” Christianity. The easiest thing you can do is to just obey The Bible at face value. The easiest approach to Scripture is to simply do what it says, don’t eat unclean things like pork and shellfish, don’t get tattoos, don’t engage with secular-pagan holidays that the world celebrates, keep The Sabbath, keep Yahweh’s Feasts, lover your neighbor, have no other gods before Yahweh, and so on. Avoid foolish debates about Torah (2 Timothy 2:23, Titus 3:9) by just obeying it. After all, if you really believe that God gave the Torah then there is nothing to debate. He said it. That settles it.
Sin is the violation of Torah. It’s just that simple. Sin entered the world because God gave an instruction to a man and that man chose to violate Torah. After all, the word Torah simply means “God’s instructions”. I think it’s about time Christians renounced the lies of religion and started to approach The Bible with common sense, good logic, and, if you just are not sure, err on the side of caution. After all, it seems pretty apparent that nobody will “go to hell” for obeying The Bible. I’d rather obey The Bible and be wrong, meaning it was not necessary, than not obey The Bible and be wrong, meaning the potential is there to hear those dreadful words: Depart from Me, I never knew you, worker of LAWLESSNESS . Lawlessness, of course, does not mean “one who obeyed The Law”. So, what will YOU do?
~Blessings and Shalom~
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