Dead in our Transgressions:
I had a man I know and love dearly debating the need of obedience to the Torah. One of his arguments, which took me off guard as to what he was saying, was "I was dead in my transgressions! Are you going to tell a dead man to repent?" This was a simple answer, but for what ever reason I was stumped at his question. I couldn't figure out why he was saying it.
So this statement came up while I was speaking on the importance of repentance. I was explaining that without repentance, there is no forgiveness of sin. Without repentance there is no reconciliation with the Father. I was trying to point out that we are called to repentance, and that it is a turning from a sinful life to one of obedience. So when I was asked if I could tell a dead man to repent, I wasn't really sure what to say. Truth is, I couldn't figure out why he was questioning one of the most repeated themes of every prophet including the Messiah Himself and that is to repent.
So, now that I have had time to think on it, and understand what was being asked of me, here is my answer... opened up with a question of my own. What does it mean to be dead in our transgressions? There were 4 men who lived in Texas...at least they were alive at the beginning of 1998. One was James Byrd Jr. Mr Byrd was the victim of blatant racial hate, and was dragged thru the streets of Jasper, Texas by John William King, Lawrence Brewer and Shawn Berry until he was dead. In 1998 Mr. Byrd was murdered for being black. Here and now, in 2019, Mr. Byrd is still dead. In 2011 Brewer was put to death by lethal injection and in 2019 John King was put to death by lethal injection. Those two men are now dead, and Shawn Berry has a sentence of life in prison.
Why do I bring up this gruesome story. Perhaps because it is fresh in the news. Perhaps because it is hanious crime I remember when I was a young man. But it also depicts 3 men who were "dead in their transgression" long before they were physically dead. King and Brewer lived in prison, on "Death Row" for almost 21 (King) and 12 (Brewer) years each. There is a famous saying that comes from American prisons, and prior to the 1960's, was stated out loud as guards would lead a condemned man down the prison hallway to the electric chair: "Dead man walking!". For those 12 years for Brewer and 21 years for King, they were dead men under the eyes of the law. They were actually under the law of penalty of death. These laws are still on the books today. If you desire to kill someone in Texas you would then be placed under these laws. Most of us have not and will not commit such a crime, and therefore we will not be "under the law" of Texas death penalty.
When Paul states in both Colossians 2 and Ephesians 2 that we were "Dead in your sins" and "Dead in your trespasses", he is pointing out that we were as King, Berry, and Brewer who lived, locked down, under the law, and condemned to death for all those years, so we too were on death row, awaiting our sentence to be carried out. Both of these passages are beautiful, and point out some very wonderful truths.
13- And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
14- Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, and took it out of the way, nailing to His cross;
The Judge forgave you all your trespasses. He has released you in His death. The Law sees that we died in Him, and no longer holds a judgement of guilt over us, and the blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us and took it out of the way...what does that mean. The tickets, the fines, the sentences written against us was taken in His death. Let us look at the example of King or Brewer in this situation. What if someone loved them enough to take their place? What if that someone took their place and was put to death for them and they were able to walk free? The law requires a man to die for this crime and a penalty must be taken. Make no mistake, if that had, or been allowed to happen, and they chose to go out and kill again, or break any other law on the books, they would once again place themselves under the law. There is freedom with law when it is obeyed. We as Americans know this. We know that with the law of the Constitution we have freedom and liberty. When someone violates those laws, peoples rights, liberty and freedom are infringed upon, and the perpetrator is to be punished. In no way did the Messiah nail the Law itself to the tree. He did not do away with it, as He stated in Matthew.
Lets look at Ephesians 2:1-3
1- As for you, you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
2- in which you used to walk when you conformed to the ways of this world and of the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit who is now at work in the sons of DISOBEDIENCE.
3- At one time we all lived among them, fulfilling the cravings of our flesh and indulging its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature children of wrath.
So once again Paul points out we were dead in our trespasses and sins (transgression against the Law of God). Notice one important thing here. He is not pointing out that they were literally dead. They were, as Brewer and King were, on death row awaiting their sentence to be carried out. How do I know that? The next verse points out "you 'used' to walk and then in verse 3 how we at one time all "lived" among them. Paul in no way is stating we were actually dead, but complete in our faculties and fully able to understand the the call to repent. Those who are and or remain dead in their trespasses are those who are conformed to the ways of this world (doing as the world does verses what the Word/Law of God says to do) and of the ruler of the power of the air, the very spirit who is at work in the sons of DISOBEDIENCE. Disobedient to what? A pastors ruling on church carpet? A popes ruling that you will keep the first day of the week instead of the Sabbath of the "Jews" or be put to death? Disobedient to the doctrine that says we may eat anything we want or celebrate God in any way or man made tradition we desire? No. Disobedient (sinful) against the very Law of God, which we are told by Him is good for us, and when obeyed complete with life and blessings.
So how does a dead man repent? Simple, he turns from his wicked (sinnful) ways. Repentance is so key that after Yashua's fasting for 40 days and withstanding temptation, His first words recorded, starting His ministry are "Repent, for the kindom of heaven is near." You can follow any doctrine you choose, it is your choice to make. But if you don't believe in repentance, if you believe that you can come to Him and simply believe He is who He says He is, and not believe, hear and obey what He says to do, then you don't know Him. If you believe you can live a life of wilfull disobedience, you follow a man made doctrine not found in the scriptures. And if you claim you do not teach we can sin, but teach we do not obey the Torah/Law of God, then you are confused and do not have a solid understanding of what sin is.
Make no mistake, we cannot choose to keep the law in order to be saved, and it may seem like a fine line or even confusing if you thought that was the purpose of the Law in the first place, but it never was the purpose. The purpose of the Law is loving Him and living out a life of allegiance and faithfulness to the One who has delivered us. This is the very picture shown to us in the Exodus of Moses. First came the blood of the lamb. Then they left their bondage on their way to meeting with the Almighty at His mountain. Once there He brought them into a covenant, a covenant that says IF you obey Me then I am your God and you are My special possession. Which also means IF they did not they were just as common and unclean, unholy, unsanctified (whatever word you want to choose) as the rest of the world who follow the spirit that is at work in the sons of Disobedience. Keeping the Law after trusting in the blood of the Lamb IS to follow the Messiah, and come back into covenant with the Almighty. Remember it is also Paul who wrote Romans 6:16-17
-16- Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin (transgression of the Torah/Law) unto death, or of OBEDIENCE (to Gods Law/Torah) unto righteousness (which is defined as the right ways according to God's Law).
-17- But God be thanked that you were slaves of sin, yet you OBEYED from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.
There has only been One Way, One doctrine. Here is the Doctrine Yashua/Jesus spoke of.
John 7:16- Jesus answered them and said, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me."
John 14:23-24- Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word (the doctrine of the Father as stated in 7:16); and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24- He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me.
So what is doctrine? What is His doctrine? Proverbs 4:2- My doctrine is good, forake not my Law (Hebrew word there is Torah).
Messiah says if you do not hear and obey Moses and the Prophets, you cannot possibly understand what He is saying nor can you actually follow Him as His steps were 100% in accordance to the Torah, which is why we can say He lived without sin. Messiah says to obey everything spoken by those who sit in the seat of Moses, a seat in which they only read the words of Moses. In 1 John, John goes on to state that those who know Him and keep His Word, truly the love of God is perfected in Him, and that by this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk JUST AS HE WALKED. Then John goes on to say, "If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who PRACTICES RIGHTEOUSNESS is born of Him.
So what am I getting at here today. Blood has been shed for you. Leave the bondage of sin and wrath and the ways of this world behind. Go to His mountain and hear what He says is in His covenant with His people. Jeremiah tells us that this new/renewed covenant is different in one way... His Torah will be written on our hearts and minds and not just stone as before. This idea that we have been saved and we can live in a way that is not in accordance to the Torah has been tried and tested and found wanting. Look at this verse...it simply shows the doctrine and theology of today's church.
Jeremiah 7:10- and come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, "We are delivered (same word as saved) to do all these abominations?" What was that? We have been saved and now we can do that which the Father states is an abomination to Him. This happens in every holy day kept by the church, in the food we eat, in how we ignore the needy and focus our attention to the "ministries" in a building, in how we teach that His Law, which is stated over and over again as standing FOREVER, is now done away with. If you want to know His Will, read His Instructions/Law/Torah and learn it, and apply it. It is what Yashua, His disciples and the Apostle Paul all taught. It is the same yesterday, today and forever. It is the written Word which was lived out by the Living Word Yashua Messiah.