Fellowship at Cross Creek
The Story of Sin…
By Joseph M. Cross
Part III: Oversin: The Jewish Concept of Sin Takes an Odd, but Predictable Turn…
11) After Israel (or Judah’s) Babylonian exile (seventy years) for having miserably failed in her attempts to deal with her own sin, a Jewish remnant returns to a discarded, abandoned homeland in hopes of rebuilding their nation. And while Judah will begin to rebuild her temple and, a century later, her broken-down city walls, her struggle with sin, aided by rabbis, teachers or legal experts, takes on an interesting, and yet predictable twist. In order to keep Judah from becoming unfaithful to the Law again, and thereby, once again suffering the devastating consequences that she had already suffered at the hands of invading superpowers, the Law and compliance with the Law goes into a kind of super-legalistic hyper-drive. In addition, since no one but the religious lawyers or legal experts can keep up with all the laws, and the laws around the laws, religious hypocrisy also explodes. It’s not what’s real that counts, but only what appear to be real. Finally, Spirituality or religious purity is determined not by one’s righteous, moral actions or convictions, but by whom one associates with. Thus hanging with an unclean Gentile or a non-pious Jew, who hangs around with unclean Gentiles, makes one morally “unclean” and thus, a “sinner.”
12) Added to the ritualistic sacrifices in dealing with sin are now good works and suffering, including martyrdom.
13) In addition, the rabbis taught that the Messiah (the Anointed One), or King David’s promised and belated heir, would come and eradicate all sin.
Part IV: Yah-Saves Becomes a Friend to “Sinners.”
14) It is into this pseudo-religiosity and hypocrisy that Jesus (Yah Saves) comes onto the scene and disrupts the party by openly sitting down to eat and drink with tax collectors and “sinners,” thus being called the friend of “sinners” (Mark 2; Luke 15, 19; Matt. 11). Jesus will defend his actions by stating that it is not “the well” or the alleged righteous who need a doctor or savior, but “the sick” sinners. Jesus goes on to say that he has come to seek out and save the Spiritually lost (Luke 15).
In summary, my curiosity with Sin’s story…our story… began with a traditional Christmas verse, a child’s special name and his purpose…name the child “Jesus” because will save the people from their sins (Mat. 1:21). Since I needed to know what Jesus was saving people from, I was led to bone up on the biblical concept of sin, so I began by reading and summarizing other’s research on the meaning of “sin”.
And what did I learn:
The Greeks (Pre-NT)…
1) The Greeks, for the most part saw Sin as an injustice against society’s norm.
2) The Greeks sought to overcome their struggle with infatuation and fate via religious rites, knowledge and good works.
The Hebrews (Greek OT)…
3-4) The Hebrews expand the concept of Sin, adding both a Spiritual-legal dimension.
5-6) According to the OT, Sin is a deadly virus, seems to be universal, highly contagious and ultimately leads to death, even if delayed.
7) Dealing with Sin is not just punitive measure, but salvific for the entire community.
8) The Hebrew Law employed both punishment and sacrifice to combat Sin.
9) Despite the Law and God’s intervening grace and patience, the history of God’s people is one of an ever-growing attraction to Sin and Spiritual Apostasy (unfaithfulness to God), which via their national defeat and exile, leads to a momentary banishment from their promised Land.
10) Israel’s only hope will be Isaiah’s sinless Suffering Servant who will become Sin to atone for the sins of many (Is. 53).
The Jews (in Jesus’ Day)…
11) After their Exile and under the leadership of the Rabbis or teachers of the Law, Sin’s evil is disguised as a pseudo-righteous legalism, hypocrisy, outward appearances and whom one does or don’t associate with…the pseudo-righteous versus the sinners.
12) Good works, suffering and martyrdom are added to the Law’s punishments and sacrifices for Sin.
13) The Rabbis teach that when the Messiah comes, he will eradicate Sin.
14) Jesus (Yah-Saves) in seeking to save sinners, instead befriends them, which means for the Rabbis, Jesus CANNOT be their Messiah.
Upcoming….There are least 5 More Layers to Sin that Must be Revealed and Explored within Scripture if We are to Have any Hope in our Personal War with Sin’s Insidious Enslavement…
Note: Primary Source…Sin: NIDNTT.