Friday, July 14, 2006

Is Original Sin Jewish?

The New Testament teaches that all men have been born fallen, tainted with sin, and that we all have a nature that is sinful, hostile to God.

Is this a new and novel teaching?

I was reading through the Torah today, when I ran upon the commandment to wear tzitzit.
Numbers 15:37-41

Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the LORD and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD your God.”

As this translation reads, "the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined."

We are all inclined to evil. Each and every one of us. Both Jew and Gentile.

The world is full of testimony to this. The Torah, the Prophets, the Writings, and the New Testament testify to this. Original sin, properly understood, is a completely Jewish teaching.

This creates a dilemma. How can a good God simply forgive people who do evil? As Paul says:
For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in [Messiah] Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation (note: 'propitiation' means something that turns aside wrath and judgement) by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.


Blogger Moshe bon Avraham said...

Original Sin is not a Jewish concept. People are equally capable of doing bad and good. We are not destined to cause evil. People always have the potential to be good, not stand aside and accept this idea of mans nature to sin. In fact the whole idea is laughable.

7/18/2006 05:58:00 PM  
Blogger geoffrobinson said...

The idea is laughable?

Why are there locks on car doors? How did the Nazis get into power? Why are people who strive to create utopias (like the communists) end up bringing in oppression?

Why is it so hard for me to stay on a diet instead of eating what's good for me?

As Jeremiah wrote (Jeremiah 17:9)-
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

If God kept a record of sins, who could stand? Psalm 130:3

And I haven't even gotten into the mumuring in the dessert, the record of the book of Judges, the golden calf, and the small remnant left among Ba'al worshipers in Elijah's day.

Indeed I was born with iniquity, with sin my mother conceived me. (Pslam 51)

Are we still made in the image of God? Yes. But we are commanded to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind and our neighbor as ourselves. All.

The Torah says that cursed is the man who doesn't do everything written in it (Dt. 27:26).

Fortunately, the Torah also says that cursed is the man who is hung on a tree. (Dt. 21:33) That's why Y'shua, Jesus, hung on that tree. So he could take my curse onto himself.

7/18/2006 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger geoffrobinson said...

As Rich kindly pointed out, spelling is definitely not my strong point.

murmuring in the desert

7/18/2006 11:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Moshe ben Avraham said...

Why is it in Canada and Europe people leave their doors unlocked if not for trust in man's nature not to sin. How is it that we have envirenmental groups form who strive to protect the envirenment? How is that we have several different religious groups who strive for the betterment of society? Do you not see? Your argument just proves my point. Man is equally capable of doing bad and good. As for pulling the old Nazi argument...any one see what the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians? Ironic that Jews during the Nazi era did many good deeds to save other Jews from such a fate and yet they set up concentrations camps in Palestine. See...the potential for good and evil.

7/19/2006 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger geoffrobinson said...

The doctrine of original sin doesn't mean that we can't do anything outwardly good. That doesn't mean that we can be as bad as we can possibly mean.

It means that we are inclined towards sin. That it is easier to sin. And remember God's standard is to love Him with ALL your heart, ALL your mind, and ALL your strength. We may do good things, but are we doing it with ALL our heart towards faith in God.

God has given us a conscience, so we do things required of the Torah even if we haven't studied Torah. (see Romans 1-2) That doesn't mitigate our guilt but increases it, since we have knowledge of a standard and fall short of it.

The standard we fall short of is very, very high. As Isaiah wrote "all our righteousness is like filthy rags." Isaiah, who wasn't that bad of a guy by human standards, saw himself next to God and Isaiah was undone. That's why if we saw the face of God (His full glory) in our sinful state we would die.

And, I would argue based on the Biblical data, that the reason we don't sin more is because God's Spirit restrains our evil. If God were to remove His restraining influence, we would fall very hard, very fast.

7/19/2006 05:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Moshe ben Avraham said...

The Jewish perspective on inability to fulfill the miztvahs all the way is not what you claim it is. Jews always see the positive. We look at not what we have failed to do, but what we have done and all the benefits that result from it. As Midrash teaches us one should refrain as much as possible from using negative words. It is considered a good deed to say I came close to accomplishing my goal then to say I failed. I can see the big difference in tone of words between Messianic and all other branches of Judaism. You sound Christian and as far as I am concerned that exposes your oragnization for what it really is. A Christian outreach program. I do enjoy these discussions and when I have children I will know how to raise them to avoid your brain washing. The best way to fight Finally the orthodox and other branches are figuring it out.

7/20/2006 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger geoffrobinson said...


Your own words speak against you.

The Midrash says to avoid negative words. And then you accuse me of brain washing. Do you know what brain washing is? Are you equating all debate with brain washing.

On the subject of original sin, it doesn't matter how positive you are. God says in the Torah: "all". All your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. Anything less than that is falling short of God's standard.

And that is why God presented a means of atonement in the Messiah which was foreshaddowed in sacrificial system described in the Torah.

All those millions of animal sacrifices was not God saying "short of 'all' is OK". That is God taking sin very, very seriously and providing that testimony to his people.

Two last things: I am not a part of Jews for Jesus, but I am a friend of the ministry. Just for the record.

Finally, search the Torah. Teach your kids about the Torah, the Writings and the Prophets. The more they read those things the more information about Jesus they will have.

7/20/2006 08:49:00 PM  
Blogger Rich said...

Gottenyu! It's hard to have a real conversation when someone starts in with calling you "brainwashed." But for others who might be reading this...

My idea of good/evil, sin/goodness, is this: Sin is like a spiritual cancer. When God forbid you have cancer or some other disease, you don't sit around saying, "Yes, but this other part is healthy and I will look at the positive." Maybe some people say that, but most people go to the doctor to get treated. It doesn't matter how healthy the rest of you is, when there is a disease you have to deal with it.

Sin is like that. Yes, there are good things we can do, but sin eats at us like a cancer and we need to see the "doctor." Maybe it's no coincidence, Jesus is called the Great Physician.

7/20/2006 10:11:00 PM  
Blogger Sultan Knish said...

avoiding negative words hardly applies to evildoers, does it?

7/21/2006 03:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Moshe ben Avraham said...

When I aid your brainwahsing I meant Messianic Jews not our conversations. You figured out early on such attempts will not work with me so you argue with proofs and logic and not sentiments. No anything less then with all your heart and soul is not sin. How many times did the Jews sin? Many many times. Yet no matter how much they sinned or acted regondulously HaShem forgave them. HaShem looked not at what they did wrong, but at the the universal agreement these Jews committed to at Mount Sinai. Yes they errored many times then and later, but look at the great potential for good deeds these Jews can commit and did commit. That is why HaShem has prevented the Jews from being extermintaed because of what my ancestors agreed to 3500 years ago.

7/21/2006 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger geoffrobinson said...

Moshe, thanks for commenting.

I didn't figure out early on. Are you trying to condemn me with faint praise?

How does your statement square with the Babylonian captivity or the following section from Psalm 95?:

Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. For forty years I loathed that generation and said, "They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways." Therefore I swore in my wrath, "They shall not enter my rest."

I would argue that he has preserved the Jewish people for his namesake and the unconditional promises he made to Abraham. The Mosaic covenant promises great curses for those who don't follow it. (The end of Deuteronomy is pretty scary!)

Deut. 27:26 says "Cursed is he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them."

The Torah also says that everyone who is hung on a tree is cursed. (Deut. 21:23) That is why Y'shua hung on a tree. To take the curse for his people.

The Torah also speaks of a righteousness that is by faith alone: Abram believed God and it was accredited him as righteousness (Gen. 15:6).

That's why the prophet Jeremiah calls the Messiah: HaShem Tzidkenu, the LORD our righteousness.

7/22/2006 12:31:00 AM  

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