AngerLustThoughtAction (ALTA)

Matthew 5 gives 2 examples that I find very interesting – anger and lust – and they go into some detail about thinking as being the problem – not just the doing aspect.  This usually gets justified as the reason to not do or watch a lot of things – lest one should think something wrongly. I want to go into these ideas and dissect them.  

(1) Anger/Murder You have heard that the ancients were told ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” (Matthew 5:21-22)  

To me, it seems like there is an amping of the court systems one will deal with in their belligerence or anger. We go from court – to Supreme Court (higher court) – to God’s court (not sure ‘fiery hell’ is the correct interpretation?). To me there are a few things being said: 

(a) We have a few chances to reconcile with the ‘other person’ no matter the grievance before we come to God’s court – responsibility is always on us. However, at some point – we do move from anger to action (murder in this case) – and after that we have no recourse with the ‘other’ – we have literally handed the case to God to judge us.

 (b) The passage also shows us that anger is something that builds from one extreme to another if it goes unchecked (not personally dealt with). A person starts with a feeling – then that emotion progresses to plans – and then plans become action – in this case anger (emotion) is the spring-board for murder (action). They are directly correlated and the key to not murdering is dealing with one’s anger (not letting ideas linger that can become hurtful to another person).  

(c) What also might be happening in this passage is someone is thinking ideas then acting upon them – and they keep getting worse in degree – until they result in murder (anyone ever look into what stalkers do?).  

(2) Lust/Adultery

“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)

(a) How can one be judged for adultery (action) that they did not commit? You cannot be judged by law – this one is about judging yourself before you commit this act.

(b) The same argument for anger/murder is also valid here – it starts with feelings – then feelings lead to plans – eventually plans become a reality. You do not cheat on your wife/husband unless you somehow think about it first and then judicate the process in your thoughts whereby this becomes a possibility.

Conclusion

Thoughts, in and of themselves, are not bad but the cultivation of those thoughts – nor dealing with those thoughts – is. I can watch adultery/murder on a TV screen 1000 times in 10 years – but just having the thought pass my mind does not make it a ‘sin’.

What makes something dangerous is the thought being connected to someone else – then that being elaborated upon in my mind – until I have an action plan to commit (ie: meet her at the bar or meet him in the alley). I would say this doesn’t even need to be connected to someone and can exist separately from a specific person – just has to be someone’s basic rationale (ie: kill or be killed).

Moral of story – do not let your darkest thoughts build into actions – or else you are extremely liable for them.

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17 thoughts on “AngerLustThoughtAction (ALTA)

  1. All good, although…
    I can watch adultery/murder on a TV screen 1000 times in 10 years – but just having the thought pass my mind does not make it a ‘sin’.

    Of course there’s no reason why you would do this. Like looking at porn, it desensitizes the person. Also, Phillipians 4:8 tells us to fill our heads with good and noble things.

    You do not cheat on your wife/husband unless you somehow think about it first and then judicate the process in your thoughts whereby this becomes a possibility.

    That’s exactly right, I think. I’ll still notice an attractive female from a distance (5 miles or less) but that’s all I do, I don’t think further; which is where the line is crossed. Lust means that in your mind you gotta have her IMO. If just recognizing for a moment that a female is attractive is lust, then I’m toast. 🙂

  2. I agree with Jim. Noticing is not the same as lusting. In Every Man’s Battle, Fred Stoeker writes of a principle that helps men from crossing that line – to avert our eyes… to “bounce” our eyes away from an attractive woman or sensual image lest we go down the road to lust.

    I would have to disagree with you supposition that the thoughts aren’t as bad as the actions. In Matthew 5 Jesus is teaching something pretty revolutionary – that sin begins in the heart and mind. Therefore lust, the precursor to sexual sin and hate the precursor to murder are just as sinful. The consequences for outside parties may not be as severe compared to when we act out, but before God who knows our hearts it is just as much of a sin.

  3. I don’t think that thoughts are as bad as actions, for a few reasons. One is the example you mentioned — it’s not thinking those thoughts, it’s the cultivation of those thoughts. You reference how stalkers behave. Normally, in that situation, they don’t just wake up and kill someone. That killing was a process that built upon the cultivation of thoughts. Jesus is making a connection between the two. It’s not just enough to not kill someone, you need to make sure the origin of that murder is also eliminated. But a random burst of anger at someone, that then fades? That’s not as bad as murder. Just don’t let the anger build.

    THe other reason why I don’t see thoughts as bad as actions is because there are people who may truly want to commit adultery, or murder, or anything that’s bad. They’re thinking about, they’re cultivating it. But there’s another side of them that isn’t letting them, because they know it’s wrong, or they’ll hurt the people they love. In a lot of ways, that person is almost stronger than the person who isn’t tempted at all.

  4. “Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court”

    “everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart”

    As much as I appreciate the thoughts lead to action reasoning, because it makes a lot of sense. I don’t think this what Jesus was suggesting in these passages, it appears that he is making comments on the human condition.

    Jesus takes well understood concepts from the Law to help the people understand just how “sinful” they and we really are. (In the larger picture, Jesus is demonstrating how he has come to fulfill the Law)

    You have to look at little closer into the ideas that Jesus is verablizing in these statements.

    Anger/Murder – Jesus (to paraphrase) says murderers go to court. Jesus also says even if you only just have anger for your brother you should also go to the same court as the murderer. The feelings of anger and the actual act of murder are no different. Because, basically what a person does when they are angry at someone is tell them to “get lost”, “get away from me”, “leave me alone”, “change your ways” which is just the same as killing some one.

    Lust/Adultery – Its the same concept being taught in the lust/adultery passage. If action is the key that determines sin, then the simple act of thinking lustful thoughts means you are an adulterer and no better than the person who actually carries the thoughts all the way to physical action. The thought is the action and it reveals what is in your heart, or what you are truly made of.

    When you read these pasages you are supposed to think “Jesus, when you define it that way, and if what you say is true, then there is no hope for me, I’m a sinner”. Which is designed to lead you to the next logical question “What I am supposed to do about it?”

  5. Thejust1,

    **Jesus takes well understood concepts from the Law to help the people understand just how “sinful” they and we really are. **

    The problem I would have with this statement is that it’s not how Judaism understands the Law. If anything, in reading the Tanakh, the Psalms express the delight in God’s law, how it is good, how they enjoy following it. They don’t see the Law as a burden. I mean, just take Psalms 1, where it says that the man is happy who does not do wicked, for the law is his delight. Or Psalms 119, which is just praising the law and how happy it will make the Psalmist. I don’t see those as portraying the law as a burden to condemn the sinner, and to show how they need a Savior.

    **When you read these pasages you are supposed to think “Jesus, when you define it that way, and if what you say is true, then there is no hope for me, I’m a sinner”. **

    Except if the next question is supposed to be “what do I do about it,” then there’s no answer to that question until the crucifixion. There’s not even an answer supplied in the Sermon, or even Jesus saying that this is why they need a Savior. In the end, the crowd marveled at the teaching. They didn’t then go around saying how condemned they were, and how they needed a Savior. Especially since this is also tied to the idea that the meek inherit the earth, those who mourn are comforted, those who hunger/thirst after righteousness will be filled, the peacemakers are the children of God — all of those speak to poor/oppressed people, who would’ve been reassured by such statements.

    As it is, the lust/adultery is also a social commentary, dealing with sexual oppression. Per Thomas Cahill, “Of course, what Jesus is objecting to here is not spontaneous arousal but sexual oppression — the ease with which any man of the ancient world, especially a well-connected one, could arrange to satisfy himself on any woman he wished, her wishes in the matter being beside the point” This is from ‘Desire of the Everlasting Hills.’

  6. “Of course there’s no reason why you would do this” (Jim)

    Well, to be honest, I don’t even have to try to fulfill that – I just have to watch tv in general (any channel) to see examples of this ideology of violence and sexual promiscuity – it’s unavoidable – whether we watch sitcoms or even basic news. Which does mean we cannot avoid these issues because we have to deal with reality – and issues of adultery and anger confront everyone daily. I think cheating and violence in television/movies/video games are quite the norm now.

    “Therefore lust, the precursor to sexual sin and hate the precursor to murder are just as sinful” (Shane)

    I slightly agree but I also don’t agree. I think Jesus is addressing the idea of dealing with issues inside your thoughts first so as to prevent it from happening – where I differ with you is – action is the actual sin – not acting is not really sin (breaking the law and wronging another). The ideas within one’s head is only a personal problem but once one decides to act upon the thoughts – then we see a breaking of the law and offense to another.

  7. “The feelings of anger and the actual act of murder are no different. Because, basically what a person does when they are angry at someone is tell them to “get lost”, “get away from me”, “leave me alone”, “change your ways” which is just the same as killing some one.” (Just1)

    I disagree altogether because this is flawed in theological reality. Feelings of anger are not murder – they are feelings that can be dealt with. Murder is murder – and once that is done – that person has to be hauled to the court for justice. I think Jesus is pointing this exact thing out in this passage in Matthew. Jesus does offer solutions in this case – like go and make things right with the one with whom you have a problem with and deal with your anger in a ‘merciful’ way…so as to avoid murder altogether via dealing with the reality of your feelings and the need for justice.

    However, here is what I think is happening in these teachings – Jesus is pointing to our personal responsibilities with the thoughts we make. But he is not making a sweeping statement about thoughts being sin – if this was so then Jesus is defeating his own idea straight out. If someone has thoughts like these and they are dealing with issues in their life concerning anger or adultery – how can they deal with them – they can’t even think through the thoughts without them being ‘sin’? That’s why I can’t see Jesus making the point of thoughts being ‘sin’.

    “The thought is the action and it reveals what is in your heart, or what you are truly made of.” (Just1)

    That’s the exact problem with this line of reasoning – a thought is not an action. The thoughts are pre-cursors to action (and making of plans) – but one can back out of their very thoughts prior to commital of an action (including lust or anger). I think cultivating the thoughts (which I think Jesus is addressing here) leads one to ‘sin’ – I am not sure Jesus is calling your thoughts sins – but your thoughts is where it starts.

  8. OSS I liked that Thomas Cahill point you made also – addressing the historical context of when these comments by Jesus were made. This is something that is also mainly ignored in many interpretations of these sermon on the mount passages – including by me (knowing little of the climate of that day). Thanks for the insight.

    I think in my theology I am moving away from mainstream interpretations on this passage (and I know this because of some of the comments so far) but I think it is justified by the theological reality I am addressing – mainly your thoughts are problematic but they are not sin per se – they are the beginning of sin but they are not sin in and of themselves.

    I would say we are in need of ‘savior’ – but that savior seems to be the teachings that lead us towards godly living (and an example set by someone’s life – in this case Jesus) – and this ALTA teaching is a prime example. This teaching is almost the sole basis for any counseling I do for another – deal with the thoughts before you committ an action you will regret. If the action is committed already (ex: cheating) then that person needs to take action to set things right – that they previously wronged – that’s repentance (or responsibility). And any counseling you look at it is done this way.

    The big point I am addressing in this specific blog is how our teachings make their way into reality of life (the way we live). I think the mainstream teaching on this passage is actually good and preventive – which makes it good irregardless – however it also creates one small problem – people pre-judging themselves too harshly for something they haven’t even done (which is not a just measurement to me).

    Also in defining the line of when a sin occurs – which is also quite important – is something I am addressing. How can one say ‘they broke the law’ if they merely only thought of breaking the law? To me, I look at passages like this and I compare them to living within the laws of country (which in essence is a large community)…that’s the comparison I use. If I think about stealing – I have not broken the law in any way. If I do steal something then I know full well I am breaking the law and have to be held accountable. That’s certifiably reality and each of us can test this out if we want. Point being – sin is sin when you ‘do’ something and thus cross the line from ‘thinking’ it to ‘doing’ it and harming another.

  9. Society,

    **I would say we are in need of ’savior’ – but that savior seems to be the teachings that lead us towards godly living (and an example set by someone’s life – in this case Jesus) – and this ALTA teaching is a prime example. **

    My agreement with this depends on how the need arises. I agree with the sense that we all need God by the idea that we all need love, justice, compassion. I would agree that we need a savior in the sense that there will be times for all of us when we need a ‘light.’ Someone to show us that no matter what’s happened, we’re still loved. We would need to see that the good life is the best one to live, and maybe we need help in seeing what encompasses that good life, or even what ‘good’ means.

    However, if the savior idea is coupled with the sense that you’re telling someone how bad they are, or if they don’t deserve anything good that God provides, then I don’t agree. In that sense, you’ve got two competing ideas, which can almost mirror an abusive situation. You’re telling someone they literally deserve eternal torment, and yet they’re loved. I just don’t see the two co-existing, without the very aspect of love becoming twisted.

    For me, I’ve never seen saying that people are good as taking away from any sort of ‘need.’ You’d still need something, such as God, to get an idea of what ‘good’ involves, and what the word even means. Hence the ‘need.’

    **people pre-judging themselves too harshly for something they haven’t even done (which is not a just measurement to me). **

    Agreed. To go along with a point I made earlier, take two people. Both are married, both are lusting after a non-spouse. And they’re indulging in this lust. One person has no problem with the indulgence, and actually ends up physically committing adultery. The second person doesn’t want to indulge, and watches his/her thinking. While there is a part of this person that wants to commit adultery, there’s another part that doesn’t want to hurt the spouse, and still loves the spouse. Can we really say the two are equal in terms of immorality? Because as much as the second person is lusting, there’s a part of him that is fighting that lust. So what does that person’s heart show? It’s not complete and total sin, because there’s a yearning to do good as well.

  10. That’s the exact problem with this line of reasoning – a thought is not an action (svs)

    Perhaps you’re right on this one. The actual action in the two passages are:
    (1) everyone who is angry with his brother. The action of being angry.
    (2) looking at a woman with lust for her. The action is looking with lust.
    So, its not really the thought that is the sin, its the action that is the sin.

    Still, in the larger picture Jesus is talking (or Matthew is writing) about fulfilling the Law and our ability or inability to fulfill the law, unless we make some kind of a change. Changing our way of thinking, changing our understanding of the Law, and changing the road we are on

  11. Except if the next question is supposed to be “what do I do about it,” then there’s no answer to that question until the crucifixion. There’s not even an answer supplied in the Sermon, or even Jesus saying that this is why they need a Savior. (OSS)

    I don’t see or think Jesus is proclaiming an evangelical salvation message in this passage either. However, I do think that Jesus offers answers in the sermon. Building your house upon a rock, being perfect, and entering in the straight gate as three examples.

    The question “What do I do about it?, is more like “what do I do about my sin and sinful tendencies?” The manner in which you or anybody answers that question is a personal choice. The answer, what ever it is, does set the course for your life although.

    I’ve got not problem accepting that I’m a sinner and even with the fact that I sin an inummerable amount of times in a day. I don’t even know how many people I offend in a day, either by the things I say or do ,or by what I do not say or not do. It only becomes problematic when I don’t address my sin or my sinful tendencies.

  12. **1) everyone who is angry with his brother. The action of being angry.
    (2) looking at a woman with lust for her. The action is looking with lust.
    So, its not really the thought that is the sin, its the action that is the sin. **

    But is initial anger or lust a conscious action? Do we always choose to respond that way? We could choose to remain in both states, but the initial thought isn’t in our control. We don’t choose to act that way.

    **The question “What do I do about it?, is more like “what do I do about my sin and sinful tendencies?**

    But this is still seems to be assuming the message was given with the understanding that no one can fufill the Law, and the purpose behind it was to show how sinful everyone is. That’s still not a teaching in Judaism, and not even a concept that I find reflected in the Tanakh, given the Psalms I used as an example. The Law was a joyous thing to the Psalmist/s.

    And that the being perfect line, which is tied to the idea of no limit to one’s goodness, and resembling God in terms of loving one’s enemy, ties back to the lust/murder. Because saying that the solution to not lust/murder is to be perfect, or enter through the straight gate is meaningless as a way of addressing *how* to stop indulging in those two emotions. If I tell you that I wanted to stop being angry at my brother, and you tell me to be perfect since God is perfect, what good would that do me as a solution? Perhaps part of the perfection can entail loving one’s brother, but even the question of how do I stop being angry is asking how do I let the love blot out the anger?

  13. But is initial anger or lust a conscious action? (OSS)

    That’s a tough question to answer. The initial thought or instinct, which you may not be able to control, is something you can probably filter out and not have to act upon. But when the thought or instinct, which was not filtered out, then develops into ‘anger’ or ‘lust’, then you have probably crossed a line. But is the initial feeling of anger or lust a sin, I don’t really know and I guess I don’t want to really know.

    I don’t want to analyze and dissect my every thought, feeling, and action to know when I have crossed the line into unrighteous acts. It becomes too mind boggling after awhile and is probably not very helpful. I find it more constructive to admit I am sinful, I have probably done something offensive today to someone, then to ask for forgiveness and the wisdom to do better.

    “But this still seems to be assuming the message was given with the understanding that no one can fufill the Law, and the purpose behind it was to show how sinful everyone is. That’s still not a teaching in Judaism” (OSS)

    When you look at it, the Law is pretty tough piece of legislation to fulfill. Just the 613 mitzvot alone, never mind the rest of the Law, shows you how many different ways a person can be sinful. In the sermon, Jesus quotes certain points within the Law or the oral tradition, to make a larger point. Which I don’t think we are being very faithful to when we take two sentences out to examine, because we don’t like what Jesus is implying in them.

    “Because saying that the solution to not lust/murder is to be perfect, or enter through the straight gate is meaningless as a way of addressing *how* to stop indulging in those two emotions” (OSS)

    Yes, that is too simplistic an answer to someone struggling with lust or anger. But those questions are matters of relationship and counselling, which Jesus does not elaborate on in the sermon. I personally would never tell someone who is angry or struggling with lust to simply “go and be perfect” or “stay on the straight and narrow”. That would not be helpful, anger and lust are too complex to just sweep aside with simple statements.

    It is still what Jesus said (or what Matthew wrote) in that Sermon, although.

  14. “Still, in the larger picture Jesus is talking (or Matthew is writing) about fulfilling the Law and our ability or inability to fulfill the law, unless we make some kind of a change” (Just1)

    Well see – this all depends on how we look at what fulfill means in that Matt 5:17 passage (which I am almost sure you are referencing here). Jesus states quite clearly this concept ‘Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill’. Jesus did not come to ‘abolish the law’ – which if we take literal means the law is not something to be afraid of nor is it going away.

    What I think Jesus is doing in that passage is pointing out that ‘fulfill’ means to have a more complete picture of the law – since Jesus goes on to also say ‘For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven’. These same examples he uses in Matthew 6 about ideas of hypocrisy in our following of God – Pharisee’s just happen to be the example used (3 times). Point being – your faith should reflect sincerity towards God’s standards and this is a more ‘complete’ picture of the law and the prophets. Maybe Jesus is giving us a well rounded view of the law via comparison and teachings?

    Now we can vicariously use Jesus’ actions towards the law and then apply them to ourselves – which is basically the Christian standard in this debate (ex: we are whole because we accept Jesus’ perfection). I would ask quite plainly – where in the world does Jesus even reference an idea like this in Matthew? We are simply reading in something from doctrinal ideals within certain denominations to ‘make complete’ this passage…and in essence…to make ourselves complete/perfect also. Maybe it’s just me but living vicariously through the actions of another doesn’t fly in reality.

    “It is still what Jesus said (or what Matthew wrote) in that Sermon, although” (Just1)

    But this is subject to a fuller interpretation also. We can make the literal statement Jesus is saying ‘thoughts are sinful’ via these passages – but I would ask deduce how a thought is a sin then? You have netiher broken a law at that point nor have you ruined a relationship as of yet (It’s all in your head at this point). I see Jesus making a strong point about ‘guarding our thoughts and dealing with problems before they can happen’ but what I fail to see is how thinking something is the ‘sin’. Although, we all know our thoughts happen first prior to an action – if we deal with that then no offense has to happen (that aspect I totally get).

    Maybe true fulfillment of the law is following the spirit of the law – ‘treat others how you want to be treated’ and this is where we need to bounce our thoughts off first – whether the thought is about a wife or a friend. There can be 613 laws which are meant to guide a society and bring about a just existence – but you follow one simple line and basically you never have to worry about 613 laws – control yourself and how you treat others (or be just in your measurement to another). Fulfill the law – which basically seems to be in any society – respect yourself and respect the rights of others. How many criminals will we truly have if people start at that premise before acting out?

    It seems to me ‘law’ is good and guidance given by God is thoughtful even loving (since God could of left us to our own devices to determine the basic rules). I actually see law(s) as a good thing and guidance/teachings that lead us to God (and a better society) as ‘gracious’. Is the law really all that bad? Look at the laws of our land – they guide society and ideas of justice – are they really all that bad? If we break them – we feel the full intent of the law – to corral the problems so they don’t effect others (ie: jail) – because we can’t control ourselves. Without law what do we have? I think this is how I view the intent of the law.

  15. “For me, I’ve never seen saying that people are good as taking away from any sort of ‘need.’ You’d still need something, such as God, to get an idea of what ‘good’ involves, and what the word even means. Hence the ‘need.’” (OSS)

    I am moving more to this idea as time goes by – since it makes sense in real life. Maybe the gospel truly is knowing the better answers to life and then using them – to help change the situations we are in that basically are not as healthy as they could be. The gospel seems to be used to ‘help the sick become whole’ (symbology) – or situations in life we are in that are not working and are in need of ‘salvation’ (which can also include us and how we act). Let’s continue to learn good then I also say.

    “You’re telling someone they literally deserve eternal torment, and yet they’re loved. I just don’t see the two co-existing, without the very aspect of love becoming twisted.” (OSS)

    I think we both see this problem in theology concerning punishment – namely of the eternal sorts. It seems hell/or pure degregation is being used as an amplifier for God’s love – this is the problem you point out. It’s an interesting theology to look through and I am more than sure we will have to defend your line of reasoning a lot more in future conversations – since it is non-conformist to basic church doctrine. But I am starting to think you have a point worth noting!

  16. The Just1,

    ** I find it more constructive to admit I am sinful, I have probably done something offensive today to someone, then to ask for forgiveness and the wisdom to do better.**

    Random question — unless you know what the sinful thing was, how can you have the wisdom to do better?

    **When you look at it, the Law is pretty tough piece of legislation to fulfill. Just the 613 mitzvot alone, never mind the rest of the Law, shows you how many different ways a person can be sinful.**

    And yet, the Law delighted the Psalmist. People were still considered righteous in the Tanakh. Can we say that the Tanakh says, anywhere, that the law is impossible to fufill? Or a struggle to fufill? Or is it something that everyone is capable of? The law is something that the rabbis loved studying, loved debating, loved analyzing — the works.

    It might ultmately come down to the point behind the law. Is it so we can be constantly reminded of sin? Or because God knows that the behaviors He says not to do cause heartache/pain if done? Is it God saying, “I’ve rescued you, I’m here for you, don’t do these things because then it’ll just cause destruction?”

    ** Which I don’t think we are being very faithful to when we take two sentences out to examine, because we don’t like what Jesus is implying in them.**

    I’m not sure if you’re alluding to this particular post, or just stating a generalization, but if it is in relation to this post, then our “problem” stems from the fact that we interpret the implications differently. I do agree that harmful thoughts are “sinful.” Not as sinful as actual actions — see my example of the person who lusts, and yet yearns to remain faithful to a spouse. But I also see this addressing the root causes of any action, and that it’s not a blanket statement on every single thought.

    **I personally would never tell someone who is angry or struggling with lust to simply “go and be perfect” or “stay on the straight and narrow”. That would not be helpful, anger and lust are too complex to just sweep aside with simple statements.**

    I’m confused about this statement. You say that telling someone to be perfect, or to go the straight way would not be helpful, because the issues are too complex. And yet you earlier said that those were the answers Jesus provided, in terms of what one does with one’s sin, which would include these tendencies.

    Society,

    **The gospel seems to be used to ‘help the sick become whole’ (symbology) – or situations in life we are in that are not working and are in need of ’salvation’ (which can also include us and how we act). Let’s continue to learn good then I also say. **

    Agreed. I think there’s too much emphasis on being saved from one’s self in certain Christian quarters, and a blind eye towards behind saved from outside forces, such as the sin of others, or an unjust situation, and so forth. While we are, at times, perpetrators in our own life and the life of others, we are also the victim at times, as well.

    **It’s an interesting theology to look through and I am more than sure we will have to defend your line of reasoning a lot more in future conversations**

    I’d place a wager on us not having an argument, but I don’t have money to lose right now. 😉

  17. When you look at it, the Law is pretty tough piece of legislation to fulfill. Just the 613 mitzvot alone, never mind the rest of the Law, shows you how many different ways a person can be sinful

    Just a point of clarification, the 613 mitzvot, commandments, encompass all of the laws in Torah so that there is no 613 commandments plus the rest of the law. If anyone is curious, a list can be found here.

    From what I’ve seen in Torah, it isn’t the difficulty of following mitzvot that got us in trouble, it was deliberately going after the gods of other people. We made very conscious decisions to turn and go the wrong way. But even with that, we also had the ability to turn and go the right way again, “When all these things befall you – the blessing and the curse that I have set before you – and you take them to heart amidst the various nations to which Adonai your God had banished you, and you return to Adonai your God, and you and your children heed Adonai’s command with all your heart and soul, just as I enjoin you upon this day, then Adonai your God will restore your fortunes and take you back again in love.” (Deuteronomy 30:1-3)

    And Torah tells us the commandments are not that difficult to fulfill. Deuteronomy 30:11-14, “Surely, this instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. It in not in the heavens, that you should say, ‘Who among us can go up to heaven and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?’ No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it.”

    Every night before we go to bed, our prayers include ‘With constancy You have loved Your people Israel, teaching up Torah and mitzvot, statutes and laws. Therefore, Adonai our God, when we lie down to sleep and when we rise, we shall think on Your laws and speak of them, rejoicing always in Your Torah and mitzvot. For they are our life and the length of our days: we will mediate on them day and night. Never take Your love from us. Praised are you Adonai, who loves the people Israel.’

    And in the morning when we rise, ‘Deep is Your love for us, Adonai our God, boundless Your tender compassion. Avinu Malkenu, our Father, our King, You taught our ancestors life-giving laws….Praised are You Adonai, who loves the people Israel.’ ‘Happy is the one who obeys Your mitzvot, who takes to heart the words of Your Torah.”Blessed are those who trust in Adonai; Adonai is the source of their security. Trust in Adonai forever and ever; Adonai is an unfailing stronghold. Those who love You trust in You; You never forsake those who seek You, Adonai. Adonai, through divine righteousness, exalts the Torah with greatness and glory.’

    And my favorite chanted every day the Torah is read in shul: ‘Precious teaching do I give you: Never forsake My Torah. It is a tree of life for those who grasp it, and all who uphold it are blessed. Its ways are pleasant, and all its paths are peace.’

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