The Third Temple  The Center for
Messianic Learning 

Unapologetically Pro-Torah
Unashamedly Pro-Israel
Irrevocably Zionist
“… out of Tziyon will go forth Torah, the word of ADONAI from Yerushalayim.”
(Isaiah 2:3)
Jew and Gentile (Synagogue and Church), one in Messiah. (Ephesians 2:14)
“For He is our peace, Who made both one, and broke down the middle wall of partition, …”

If your life is not in jeopardy for what you believe, you’re probably on the wrong side!
If you don’t believe Genesis 1-11, how can you possibly believe John 3:16?
“Indeed, all who want to live a godly life united with the Messiah Yeshua will be persecuted.” (2Tim 3:12)
It is what you actually believe that determines how you walk out your faith, “but avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, quarrels and fights about the Torah; because they are worthless and futile.” (Titus 3:9)

Please Note: Absolutely nothing on this website should be taken as anti-Church or anti-Rabbinic. I am not anti-anything or anti-anyone. I am only pro-Torah and pro-Truth (see “Philosophy”), but sometimes the Truth upsets our long-held beliefs. I know it certainly upset mine! For example, see “Why Isn’t My Theology Consistent Throughout the Website?”

Developing a
Systematic Messianic Theology

“The purpose of careful theological formulations is not to put barriers in the way of people who are seeking salvation, but to define clearly the truths upon which genuine [Biblical] faith rests, so that people will not be misled by false doctrines.” [Bowman]

“It must be clearly and unequivocally stated that theology cannot save you. Only faith in Messiah Yeshua can save you. Theology can only give you sound doctrine.” [RLS]

Unless otherwise specified, throughout the Theology section of my website I use the term “Torah” in the wider sense of including the entire body of inspired Scripture: both the Tanakh and the Apostolic Writings. I personally do not consder any other so-called “sacred writings” either inspired by God or authoritative for the Believer’s walk of faith. Thus, I do not consider the Mishnah (the “Oral Torah”) as part of Torah. You should make up your own mind.

[Explanations of rabbinic citations are HERE]

What Torah Says About

“What is sin?
It is the glory of God not honored.
The holiness of God not reverenced.
The greatness of God not admired.
The power of God not praised.
The truth of God not sought.
The wisdom of God not esteemed.
The beauty of God not treasured.
The goodness of God not savored.
The faithfulness of God not trusted.
The commandments of God not obeyed.
The justice of God not respected.
The wrath of God not feared.
The grace of God not cherished.
The presence of God not prized.
The person of God not loved.
That is sin.” ― John Piper

Sin, as defined by Yochanan

In the Greek version of the Apostolic Writing the word used for “sin” is ἁμαρτία (hamartia), an archery term that means missing the mark. A closer investigation reveals that this is derived from two words: a meaning “no” or “not” (or “without”), and μέρος (meros) meaning a part, share, portion. Extrapolating from these two words we arrive at the concept of being without a part, share, place, or even reward. So by missing the mark, we also miss out on our part, portion, or reward for proper action.

The Hebrew noun for “sin” is חַטָּאָה (khatta'ah), derived from the verb חָטָא (khata), to miss (a mark, goal, or way), to go wrong, or to sin. So in both Greek and Hebrew to sin is to miss the mark.

Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. (1John 3:4, NIV)

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. (1John 3:4, NAS)

Everyone who keeps sinning is violating Torah - indeed, sin is violation of Torah. (1 John 3:4, CJB)

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness [ignoring God’s law by action or neglect or by tolerating wrongdoing — being unrestrained by His commands and His will]. (1John 3:4, AMP)

Everyone who commits sin breaks God’s law, for that is what sin is, by definition — a breaking of God’s law. (1John 3:4, Phillips)

Remembering that John was a Jewish rabbi and not a Christian pastor, we understand that in his mind the Greek word for “law,” νόμος (nomos), was practically synonymous with the Hebrew word תּוֹרָה (Torah), which also means “law” in that the Torah contains laws and regulations. But a more accurate understanding of the use of the word Torah in the Tanakh (the Hebrew Scriptures) is “divine loving instruction.”

Thus the word “lawlessness” or “Torah-less-ness” literally means “without Torah.” So we can see that basic definition of sin, according to the Scriptures, is the violation of Torah, as translated in the Complete Jewish Bible and expanded upon by the Amplified and J.B. Phillips translations. However, notice that Johanan here is not too concerned with accidental — or even occasional — sin; everyone sins, either accidentally or intentionally, virtually every day. He is more concerned about the one who practices or keeps on sinning.

But how then does the Church teach that Torah has been done away with? If the Torah is of no effect, then it cannot be violated; if Torah cannot be violated (because it has been done away with) there can be no sin. It there can be no sin, Yeshua and His Emissaries (Apostles) wasted a lot of time talking about it — and the sacrifice of Yeshua as payment for sin was totally unnecesary!

For until the Law [Torah], sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. (Rom 5:13, NAS)

Sin was indeed present in the world before Torah was given, but sin is not counted as such when there is no Torah. (Rom 5:13, CJB)

In order for sin to be in the world, the Torah must still be in effect to define what sin is!

If the word “sin” means “to miss the mark,” what is the mark that the sinner misses? Since the “target” is the perfect example of obedience to Torah that was set by Yeshua — that is, the very nature of God — then it stands to reason that anything that falls short of that goal (the perfect obedience demonstrated by Yeshua) misses the mark and is, by the broadest sense of its definition, “sin.” Those who have entered into a “saving” relationship with Yeshua are empowered by Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) to walk in perfection (completeness, spiritual maturity) and integrity as Yeshua walked.

When Avram was 99 years old Yehovah appeared to Avram and said to him, “I am El Shaddai [God Almighty]. Walk in my presence and be pure-hearted. [תָּמִים (tamim) Lit. complete, perfect; or having integrity]. (Gen 17:1)

Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted [תָּמִים (tamim) Lit. complete, whole, entire, sound; what is complete or entirely in accord with truth and fact] to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as at this day.” (1Kings 8:61, NASB95)

So be wholehearted with Yehovah  our God, living by his laws [statutes, ordinances, limits, something prescribed] and observing his mitzvot [commandments], as you are doing today. (1Kings 8:61, CJB)

Therefore, be perfect [τέλειος, (teleios), perfect, complete in all its parts, full grown], just as your Father in heaven is perfect [teleios]. (Matt 5:48, CJB)

A talmid [μαθητὴς (mathētēs), student, disciple] is not above his rabbi; but each one, when he is fully trained [κατηρτισμένος (katērtismenos), to complete, prepare; From kata and a derivative of artios; to complete thoroughly, i.e. Repair or adjust], will be like his rabbi. (Luke 6:40, CJB)

All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent [ἄρτιος (artios), perfect, complete, fitted, ready], [fully] equipped [ἐξηρτισμένος (exērtismenos), from ek and a derivative of artios; to complete, to equip fully, fit up, completely furnish, supply] for every good work. (2Tim 3:16-17, NAS)  

Christian theology describes two classifications of sin:

(1) original (imputed) sin, that sin nature (yetzer hara) which every human inherits from his/her father Adam, and

(2) personal sin, the individual choices each person makes to either willfully or ignorantly disobey HaShem and His Torah.

The Yetzer Hara and Yetzer Hatov in the Talmud

Traditional Jewish theology rejects the Christian concept of “original sin” as being a “genetic” inheritance from Adam, and holds that man is created perfect, but with two inclinations, or “angels”[1] — the Yetzer Hara (or Jetzer Hara, evil inclination) and the Yetzer Hatov (or Jetzer Hatov, good inclination).

‘The wicked angel Samael, the chief of all the Satans [i.e., Adversaries]’ (Deut. R. XI. 10) — in this way is the army of the evil angels and their captain designated. ‘Satan’ is the personification of wickedness. A significant remark is: ‘Satan, the Jetzer Hara[2] [evil inclination] and the Angel of Death are one’ (B.B. 16a). It indicates that the prompting of evil is rather a force within the individual than an influence from without. … the Jetzer Hara is an essential constituent in human nature, without which the race would soon become extinct. [Cohen, Abraham. Everyman’s Talmud, p. 54-55]

However, rabbinic sources also describe the yetzer hara (when properly channeled) as necessary for the continuation of society, as sexual lust motivates the formation of families, and greed motivates work: Rabbi Nahman bar Samuel bar Nachman said in the name of Rabbi Samuel bar Nachman: ... "And behold it was very good" (Gen 1:31) - this refers to the yetzer hara. But is the yetzer hara indeed very good?! - Were it not for the yetzer hara, a man would not build a home, or marry a woman, or have children, or engage in business. …

The underlying principle in Jewish thought states that each person —  Jew and gentile alike —  is born with both a good and an evil inclination. Possessing an evil inclination is considered neither bad nor abnormal. The problem, however, arises when one makes a willful choice to “cross over the line,” and seeks to gratify his evil inclination, based on the prototypical models of right and wrong in the Hebrew Bible. This notion is succinctly worded in the Babylonian Talmud: “Everything is determined by heaven, except one’s fear of heaven,” meaning, everything in a person’s life is predetermined by God — except that person’s choice to be either righteous or wicked, which is left to their free will. [, “Yetzer hara” accessed 29 November 2021]

In the typical Rabbinic doctrine, with far-reaching consequences in Jewish religious thought, every human being has two inclinations or instincts, one pulling upwards, the other downwards. These are the ‘good inclination’ — yetzer ha-tov — and the ‘evil inclination’ — yetzer ha-ra. The ‘evil inclination’ is frequently identified in the Rabbinic literature and elsewhere with the sex instinct but the term also denotes physical appetites in general, aggressive emotions, and unbridled ambition. Although it is called the ‘evil inclination’, because it can easily lead to wrongdoing, it really denotes more the propensity towards evil rather than something evil in itself. Indeed, in the Rabbinic scheme, the ‘evil inclination’ provides human life with its driving power and as such is essential to human life. As a well-known Midrash (Gen Rabbah 9: 7) puts it, were it not for the ‘evil inclination’ no one would build a house or have children or engage in commerce. This is why, according to the Midrash, Scripture says: ‘And God saw everything that he had made and behold, it was very good’ (Gen. 1:31). ‘Good’ refers to the ‘good inclination’, ‘very good’ to the ‘evil inclination’. It is not too far-fetched to read into this homily the idea that life without the driving force of the ‘evil inclination’ would no doubt still be good but it would be a colourless, uncreative, pallid kind of good. That which makes life ‘very good’ is the human capacity to struggle against the environment and this is impossible without egotistic as well as altruistic, aggressive as well as peaceful, instincts.

The Rabbinic view is, then, realistic. Human beings are engaged in a constant struggle against their propensity for evil but if they so desire they can keep it under control. The means of control are provided by the Torah and the precepts. One of the most remarkable Rabbinic passages in this connection states that the Torah is the antidote to the poison of the ‘evil inclination’ (Kiddushin 30b). The meaning appears to be that when the Torah is studied and when there is submission to its discipline, morbid guilt-feelings are banished and life is no longer clouded by the fear that the ‘evil inclination’ will bring about one's ruination. The parable told in this passage is of a king who struck his son, later urging the son to keep a plaster on the wound. While the plaster remains on the wound the prince may eat and drink whatever he desires without coming to harm. Only if the plaster is removed will the wound fester when the prince indulges his appetites. God has ‘wounded’ man by creating him with the ‘evil inclination’. But the Torah is the plaster on the wound, which prevents it from festering and enables him to embrace life without fear.

It follows that for the Rabbis the struggle against the ‘evil inclination’ is never-ending in this life. Nowhere in the Rabbinic literature is there the faintest suggestion that it is possible for humans permanently to destroy the ‘evil inclination’ in this life. (Eschatological references to the total destruction of the ‘evil inclination’, and its transformation into a ‘good angel’, are irrelevant. The World to Come is not the world in which humans struggle in the here and now.) For the Rabbis, the true hero is, as stated in Ethics of the Fathers (4:1), one who ‘subdues’ his ‘evil inclination’, one who exercises severe self-control, refusing to yield to temptation. It is not given to anyone actually to slay the ‘evil inclination’. Nor are there references in the Rabbinic literature to the idea, prevalent in the Jewish mystical and moralistic literatures, of ‘breaking the evil inclination’. [emphasis added]

From: “Yetzer Ha-Tov and Yetzer Ha-Ra” in A Concise Companion to the Jewish Religion (“Yetzer Ha-Tov and Yetzer Ha-Ra.” Oxford Reference. ; Accessed 29 Nov. 2021.)

In Jewish thought, then, if your behavior is in general compliance with Rabbinic Tradition, what you believe is pretty much between you and HaShem.[GN] Though referred to as “evil,” the Yetzer Hara actually denotes physical appetites in general, aggressive emotions, and ambition. Although it can easily lead to wrongdoing, it really denotes more the propensity towards evil rather than something evil in itself.

Rabbi Yochanan warns us: “Do not love the world or the things of the world. If someone loves the world, then love for the Father is not in him; because all the things of the world — the desires of the old nature, [the Yetzer Hara] the desires of the eyes, and the pretensions of life —  are not from the Father but from the world. And the world is passing away, along with its desires. But whoever does God’s will remains forever. (1John 2:15-17, CJB)

The answer, according to the Rabbis, is the Torah. If one uses the mitzvot (instructions, commandments) of Torah to regulate one’s conduct, the Yetzer Hara will be kept in check. The Church teaches that all men and women are totally depraved, without personal merit, and completely unable to save themselves. The Messianic Believer understands that when one is living in a relationship with Yeshua, the indwelling Ruach HaKodeshHoly Spirit gives one the power to withstand the Yetzer Hara.

The “Wages” of Sin

16The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for on the day that you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Gen 2:16-17, NASB)

Yehovah, God, gave the person this order: “You may freely eat from every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You are not to eat from it, because on the day that you eat from it, it will become certain that you will die.” (Gen 2:16-17, CJB)

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may freely (unconditionally) eat [the fruit] from every tree of the garden; but [only] from the tree of the knowledge (recognition) of good and evil you shall not eat, otherwise on the day that you eat from it, you shall most certainly die [because of your disobedience].” Footnote on v. 17: Both spiritually and physically, physical death in the sense of becoming mortal; they were created immortal. (Gen 2:16-17, AMP)

And Jehovah God layeth a charge on the man, saying, `Of every tree of the garden eating thou dost eat; and of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou dost not eat of it, for in the day of thine eating of it  —  dying thou dost die.' (Gen 2:16-17, YLT)

The Hebrew phrase about death is מ֥וֹת (mō·wṯ) תָּמֽוּת (tā·mūṯ), accurately rendered by Young as “dying thou dost die,” or in more modern English “dying you shall die.” The repetition of the root word מוּת (muth) emphasizes its certainty.

The person who sins is the one that will die —  a son is not to bear his father’s guilt with him, nor is the father to bear his son’s guilt with him; but the righteousness of the righteous will be his own, and the wickedness of the wicked will be his own. “However, if the wicked person repents of all the sins he committed, keeps my laws and does what is lawful and right; then he will certainly live, he will not die. None of the transgressions he has committed will be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done, he will live. Do I take any pleasure at all in having the wicked person die?” asks Adonai Elohim. “Wouldn’t I prefer that he turn from his ways and live? (Ezek. 18:20-23, CJB)

The person who sins will die. A son will not suffer the punishment for the father’s guilt, nor will a father suffer the punishment for the son’s guilt; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself. “But if the wicked person turns from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall certainly live; he shall not die. All his offenses which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of his righteousness which he has practiced, he will live. Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord God, “rather than that he would turn from his ways and live? (Ezek. 18:20-23, NASB)

Here Ezekiel patiently explains that it is the person who sins that will die, not his father nor his son, but the sinner himself. But if the sinner turns away from his sinful ways and turns back to God and His Torah he will live, because the Holy One, blessed be He, would far prefer that “he would turn from his ways and live.”

For the wages of sin is death, but the gracious gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 6:23, NASB)

For what one earns from sin is death; but eternal life is what one receives as a free gift from God, in union with the Messiah Yeshua, our Lord. (Rom 6:23, NASB)

In Rav Sha'ul’s letter to the Messianic Community in Rome, he is connrasting between the lifestyle of one living as a slave to sin against the lifestyle of one who is walking “in union with the Messiah,” living as Messiah lived.

The “for” refers to the last statement. The verse may be paraphrased, “For whereas the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is, as we have now said, eternal life.”
   [wages] The Gr. [ὀψώνια, opsōnia] is same word as Luke 3:14; 1 Corinthians 9:7; 2 Corinthians 11:8. It strictly denotes pay for military service; and the metaphor here therefore points not to slavery so much as to the warfare of Romans 6:13 (where see note on weapons). The word is full of pregnant truth. Death, in its most awful sense, is no more than the reward and result of sin; and sin is nothing less than a conflict against God.
   [gift] The Gr. [χάρισμα, charisma] is same word as free gift, ch. Romans 5:15. — This word here is, so to speak, a paradox. We should have expected one which would have represented life eternal as the issue of holiness, to balance the truth that death is the issue of sin. And in respect of holiness being the necessary preliminary to the future bliss, this would have been entirely true. But St Paul here all the more forcibly presses the thought that salvation is a gift wholly apart from human merit. The eternal Design, the meritorious Sacrifice, the life-giving and love-imparting Spirit, all alike are a Gift absolutely free. The works of sin are the procuring cause of Death; the course of sanctification is not the procuring cause of Life Eternal, but only the training for the enjoyment of what is essentially a Divine gift “in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

The Scriptures teach that the penalty for sin is “death,” which may be understood as a “separation,” which takes one or more of three forms:

(1) separation from God (spiritual death), both temporal and permanent;

(2) separation from the visible Body of Mashiach through discipline and “excommunication” (which is to be practiced by the Elders [or Beit Din] of the local congregation solely for the sake of maintaining the purity of the Body of Mashiach and for producing the repentance and eventual restoration of the sinning brother or sister), and

(3) separation from this earth and from the physical body through physical death. The Bible teaches that the physical illness and death of all earthly creatures is the direct result of Adam’s sin, and that some physical illness and death is the result of personal sin.

  1. Here we can see the source of the cartoon depiction of someone facing a difficult decision shown with a little angel on one shoulder and a little demon on the other shoulder. Remember that many of the earliest cartoonists were Jewish. [BACK]

  2. Yetzer hara. In Judaism, yetzer hara (or jetzer hara) is the congenital inclination to do evil, by violating the will of God. The term is drawn from the phrase "the imagination of the heart of man evil", which occurs twice at the beginning of the Torah. Gen 6:5 and 8:21. The Hebrew word "yetzer" having appeared twice in Gen occurs again at the end of the Torah: "I knew their devisings that they do". Thus from beginning to end the heart's "yetzer" is continually bent on evil, a profoundly pessimistic view of the human being. However, the Torah which began with blessing anticipates future blessing which will come as a result of God circumcising the heart in the latter days. (, “Yetzer hara” accessed 11/29/21) [BACK]

Originally posted on Sunday, 30 July 2023

Page last updated on Tuesday, 26 September 2023 01:32 PM
(Updates are generally minor formatting or editorial changes.
Major content changes are identified as "Revisions”)

Anxiously awaiting Mashiach’s return

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