Something I’ve seen a lot in the media and in my email inbox over the last few months and years are petitions by Christians against laws and movies which approve ‘sin’ in the wider society. From gender ideology and ‘gay’ marriage to abortion and euthanasia, there is much stress and angst about stopping ‘immorality’ from proliferating.
But what is sin, and what is righteousness?
And are Christians justified in trying to campaign against unrighteousness at an international level?
An objective standard
After asking some Christian friends to define righteousness, here were some of their answers:
- Righteousness is doing the right thing
- Righteousness is being like God or Jesus
- Righteousness is ‘hitting the mark’
- Righteousness is loving perfectly
Ok – great! There’s a start. The next challenge is to define ‘the right thing’, ‘being like God’, ‘hitting the mark’ and ‘loving perfectly’. Are these measures arbitrary, cultural, or is there an objective standard against which everyone is measured?
In my Bible, there is a clear-as-day definition of sin (and hence unrighteousness) in 1 John chapter 3, verse 4:
‘Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.’
There you go… but which law? The law of your state, your country…?
The CJB employs the Hebrew word for ‘law’, ‘training’, ‘instruction’ used throughout the Old Testament, and which Jesus and his disciples followed as their ‘law’, and that is the Hebrew word ‘Torah’:
‘Everyone who keeps sinning is violating Torah – indeed, sin is violation of Torah.’
(1 John chapter 3, verse 4, CJB)
The Apostle Paul confirms this in his letter to the Romans:
‘Therefore, what are we to say? That the Torah is sinful? Heaven forbid! Rather, the function of the Torah was that without it, I would not have known what sin is […]
So the Torah is holy; that is, the commandment is holy, just and good.’
(Romans chapter 7, verse 7a and verse 12 CJB)
Ok, so sin and righteousness are defined by ‘Torah’. But what is ‘Torah’? This is an easy one: Torah is the first five books of the Bible, including Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. This is the law which YHWH (the God who created heaven and earth) gave through Moses in the First Covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai.
Tragically, over time, the House of Israel (the Northern part) turned to other gods and was unfaithful to YHWH, resulting in a divorce sentence, judgement, exile and separation from His covenant and promises (see the book of Hosea). This was bad news.
(Re-)joining the House of Israel
Here is the good news: in the Second Covenant, the ‘House of Israel’ changed from being a national entity to a spiritual entity made up of individuals (‘lost sheep’) scattered all around the world – including Jews and Gentiles – who would respond to the offer of being ‘grafted (back) in’ (Romans chapter 11, verses 11-31) and have the Torah written on their hearts (Jeremiah chapter 31, verse 33).
These ‘lost sheep of the House of Israel’ (Matthew chapter 10, verse 6; chapter 15, verse 24) are able to be ‘born again’ into New Covenant Israel through repentance of sin (having broken Torah), and through appropriating the death, burial and resurrection of Messiah Jesus (Yeshua or Yahoshua in Hebrew) for the forgiveness of past sins in a baptism of water and the Holy Spirit.
Ok, but once lost sheep are saved by grace, through faith, what are they to do then?
They are to STOP SINNING and LIVE RIGHTEOUSLY!!!
‘For if we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.’
(Hebrews chapter 10, verses 26-27)
Messiah Jesus even warns about people who will prophesy and work many miracles in his name, but will be rejected on the grounds that they did not obey Torah (Matthew chapter 7, verses 21-23).
What I don’t find anywhere in scripture are instructions to make non-sheep obey the righteous laws of YHWH. The Messiah will take care of that when he returns to rule with a rod of iron (Revelation chapters 2, verse 27), at which time Torah will be the law of the entire world (Isaiah chapter 2, verses 2-3 and Micah chapter 4, verses 1-2).
So, if you really want to be ready for Messiah’s return, stop worrying about what everyone else is doing, learn Torah and start obeying it! Your righteous life will shine like a lighthouse and attract those who are being saved. Everyone else will be judged and go to the second death anyway, so they may as well live however they want!
Rosanne Menacho has recently moved to Peru with her husband to spend time living with his family. At the moment, she is trying her hand at writing poetry and Udemy courses online. In her spare time, Rosanne enjoys playing music, dancing, translating and drinking herbal tea. Her heart is to worship and represent the Creator in spirit and in truth, and to see the arrival of the Messianic kingdom on Earth.
Rosanne Menacho’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/rosanne-menacho.html