[Paradox: A statement that seems to contradict itself but may nonetheless be true. A statement that is self-contradictory or logically untenable, though based on a valid deduction from acceptable premises.]
NAS: Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law strive [contend, fight] with them.
Message: If you desert God’s law, you’re free to embrace depravity; if you love God’s law, you fight for it tooth and nail.
CJB: Those who abandon Torah praise the wicked, but those who keep Torah fight them.
Young’s: Those forsaking the law praise the wicked, those keeping the law plead against them.
The word translated as law in the “Old Testament” is the Hebrew תּוֹרָה Torah, the definition is “teaching, direction, instruction, law.” Torah usually refers to the Five Books of Moses, but it in the broad sense can mean the entire Bible.
So we could say: “Those who forsake, desert, abandon the Teachings, the Word of God, praise the wicked; those who love and keep the Word of God fight for it, and stand firm against the wicked.”
NAS: He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, even his prayer is an abomination.
Message: God has no use for the prayers of the people who won’t listen to him.
CJB: If a person will not listen to Torah, even his prayer is an abomination.
For this verse, we could say: “For he who turns away from hearing and obeying the Teachings of God, even his prayer is disgusting, an abhorrence, detestable, loathsome to God.”
NAS: What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?
Amplified: What then [are we to conclude]? Shall we sin because we live not under Law but under God’s favor and mercy? Certainly not! Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness (right doing and right standing with God)?
Message: So, since we’re out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we’re free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you’ve let sin tell you what to do.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NAS): The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. (The word for fear in Hebrew is יָרֵא ya-rey, meaning, “reverence, stand in awe.” The word because in Hebrew is כִּי kee, and means, “assuredly, certainly, doubtless, surely, truly”.)
So from all the above, plus the Ecclesiastes conclusion, here’s what we can deduce: First of all, we have to believe that the entire Word of God is Truth – Rock Solid Truth – every bit of it, down to every jot and tittle, or in Hebraism, every yud [י] or kotz [stroke, thorn, letter distinguisher]. Yeshua/Jesus verified that statement. Secondly, is He God, part of the mystery of the triune Godhead? Thirdly, if the Word is truth, then we are created beings, and all life DID NOT “just happen.” As created beings, created by the Uncreated God, there then is this truth: God created humans to have free-will, to make our own choices. Thus, in accordance with the above Romans 6:15-16, we are a slave to what or whom we choose to follow.
The paradox of free-will is that we are free to be a slave!