Christian Rules, Laws
laws and commandments within Christianity
and how they actually affect Christians.
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recommended that readers should first gain a quick
overview of Christianity by accessing the Lead Article for this section
of the website, “Christianity
explained simply”, before reading any further.
This particular article firstly explains the
Christian rules, laws and commandments. In other
words, it presents how Christians principally know right from wrong. It then briefly presents various Christian
views on the
cost of disobedience or wrongdoing, i.e. committing ‘sin’.
It is necessary, before going on, to highlight
important issues. Rules, laws and commandments of Christianity need
understood in that context. Within Christianity, there are two
major factors relating to how
God deals with us in
regard to our wrongdoings (sin). The first is the ‘rules,
laws and commandments’ that were laid down for
our guidance; for an understanding of what God expects of us. The
a term that encapsulates
unconditional love for all humankind and his forgiving nature. Grace is explained in
the article, “Justified
and saved by grace”.
Grace, in effect, offsets the costs of sin.
all else, Christians believe that God
has, by his grace, paid for the sins of his ‘faithful’ through
his death on the
article does explain, however, that even though Jesus has paid for
whatever sins we Christians commit in life we cannot just ignore
our ‘obligations under the law’.
Just as importantly, we also need to understand that
within Christianity is not
to be followed blindly with a view to being saved (gain
after physical death), i.e. there is no guarantee, within Christianity,
that by solely living a so-called “good life“
one will gain a place in Heaven. Now God may have a
different plan for people with no faith who lead ‘good’ sin free lives of course, but such a reward
for just being good is not
mentioned in the Bible. Please see the article, “Heaven and Hell”
for more on this.
Summarising then, faith in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour
essentially comes first, in relation to
being saved, but importance is applied to law within
none-the-less. It is also worth saying here that our Lord wants, more
than anything else, each of us to
have a deep personal relationship with him; to walk closely with him.
Clearly, if we do this, then the risk of sin within our lives is
ESTABLISHING THE LAW
For most Christians, knowing right from
wrong is not
as simple as accepting
every rule or command within the entire Bible. Whilst standards
provided by Jesus throughout the Gospels of the New Testament are all
accepted as guidance to be followed, many laws contained within the Old
Testament, e.g. what we may or may not eat, are not seen as important.
(Of course all Old Testament laws still have significance to
Jews, and are a significant part of their covenant with God.)
2.1 The Ten Commandments
Although, not all laws within the (pre-Jesus) Old Testament apply to Christians, some definitely do. Most Christian theologians see the Ten
Commandments as the core of acceptable Old Testament law, i.e. moral
that certainly have ‘relevance’ to all Christians. They are summarised
1. You shall have
no other gods before
Christians can, for a start, look to the Ten Commandments as the basis of ‘right
and wrong’, just as Jews do. (Islam has its
own laws which also encompass the basis of the Ten
shall not make for
yourself an idol in the
form of anything in heaven
shall not misuse
the name of the Lord your
Remember the Sabbath day
by keeping it holy.
your father and
shall not murder.
shall not commit
You shall not steal.
You shall not give false
shall not covert your
2.2 Jesus' special Two Commandments
But when asked for advice, Jesus summed up those Ten Commandments, and
in his own two commandments of love,“Love the Lord your God
with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength
all your mind.” Then continuing, Jesus added, “Love
your neighbour as yourself” [Luke 10:27].
inferred, if we love God and all humankind we would not commit
any breaches of the Ten Commandments.
‘summarise’ those old laws in the way he did,
Christians are led to look deeper into their
essence from the viewpoint of ‘love’.
(Remember, the word ‘love’ in the Bible
– in relation to our fellow humans –
may be interpreted as ‘to
deeply care about’ rather
as we apply the word today, i.e. a deeper or more significant emotion
reserved for those who are very close to us personally.)
when applying Jesus’
declarations to the “Ten Commandments”, we need to identify their true spirit or relevance to us
as Christians. Even careful analysis of the very first commandment, “no gods before me” or the second, “not make for yourself
an idol” is required. To Christian
thought, anything that becomes
more important to us than God (examples are a real lust for power,
material things, together with bad habits/ addictions and any other
genuine obsession) are
false gods or idols. No, we are to love God above all of these things!
Number six is important in that it
should be expanded in an
understanding that we neither harm, or knowingly allow harm
to, other human beings. Jesus explained in Matthew 5:21-23,
within the famous “Sermon on the Mount”,
that even anger towards a brother can constitute a breach of this
commandment. As another example, do we stand back idly in
the innocent in our society, or in foreign lands, are unjustly harmed? Also,
we really have to think about what
impact our decisions, actions and attitudes have on others.
As to number seven, Jesus also singled that out in his sermon (Matthew 5:27-30), “But
I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already
committed adultry with her in his heart”.
We, as husbands, have betrayed our wives’
love in effect by thinking in this manner. Of course this is just as
applicable for a wife who lusts after any man other than her husband.
eight, as another example, opens a plethora of issues for Christians.
not only wrong to just plain steal, it is also wrong to
misrepresent or grossly overprice goods or services for sale, or to
perform any kind of ‘shonky’ dealings with others. With thought it can be
seen that even bludging at work (a poor work ethic) is really
performing little of value in
return for one’s
salary or wage. Such behaviour towards those we ‘love’ is not acceptable .
And so we can go on. When we think
about it, there are
many good examples of everyday actions, considered acceptable in
society, that clearly defy Jesus’ two commandments of
2.3 Jesus, our guide for life
It is clear to most of us Christians that Jesus was the
human face of God – he was indeed alive, as a fellow human being,
amongst us 2,000 years ago. The reasons for this opinion are explained in “Christianity
explained simply” and those articles that support it, particularly “Jesus as ‘God the Son’”.
Christian beliefs are probably better supported by ancient
documentation, including from secular (non religous) sources, than any
Jesus’ actions during his life on Earth are to be closely studied by
Christians with regard to guidance. We have only to read of those actions in
the Bible to know how we
should lead our own lives. He gave examples of how we should structure
life: what should be important to us; our relationships with God
and our fellow humans.
Essentially, he didn’t
lay down more laws for us to dogmatically follow. No ... he largely led
by example, showing us how it should be done: to place others before
ourselves, to not judge others, be ready to forgive those who do wrong
towards us etc. In the main, he again provided
us with generalised guidance on how to live a life based on the
principle of love.
But, he did make some points of order very clear! Mistreating children for
example was absolutely ruled out.
death, the apostle Paul also provided us with much clarity on Jesus'
legacy of example. In his epistles (letters) to early Christians, Paul
highlighted that although Jesus did not give us a mile long
list of laws, that did not mean we could do ‘our own thing’
as it were. No, we are to live life with due reverence to God's love
for us; to follow Jesus' example and the principles demonstrated there!
THE COST OF SIN TO CHRISTIANS
The details so far in this article, by and
accepted by major Christian denominations. All denominations also expect that
each of us
must make a real attempt to repent
from our sinful ways,
whenever we knowingly backslide into wrongdoing. But, there is some
disagreement throughout the greater Christian Church on the price we
may pay for our wrongdoings. This price relates to both our life after
death and our current human day-to-day lives.
3.1 Effect of sin
on life after death
believe that sin, particularly serious sin, can
completely break the
relationship between God and sinner, preventing them from gaining a
place in Heaven after death
(damnation). As an
example, Catholics in the West, who make up a major
of the worldwide Christian Church, believe that serious sin, termed ‘mortal
sin’, terminates a believer’s
relationship with God (damnation again) unless they are absolved from
sin. So Catholics require continued
‘absolution of their sins’,
via detailed confession to a priest, to
ensure they will gain that
place in Heaven after death.
Protestants who similarly make up another
large proportion of the Church, on the other hand, largely
believe that they
will be saved regardless of their subsequent sins, after
having initially committed themselves to faith in
Jesus as their saviour. They
that once a person has been saved through the grace of God, after
accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour, they are guaranteed a place
Even so, general absolutions from sin, to all in attendance, are
provided within most Protestant church services. Most Protestants
believe that the only way to damnation for a believer is for he or she
reject their faith. Many
consider however that those of us who do make it to Heaven, may
not enjoy equal conditions or rewards there. Which makes sense I guess.
Our closeness to God in Heaven may well bear a resemblance to our
closeness to him in this life. And if we are
close to him in our
relationship, we should
freely follow his will
(including doing what is right and proper).
3.2 Effect of sin
on our day-to-day lives
simple truth is that sin does weaken our relationship with God
indeed threatens our faith, through a distancing of his place within
our day-to-day thinking etc. Lingering feelings of guilt on our part,
after committing sin, also makes us feel less than worthy to
interrelate with God (i.e. we ‘lay
and again distance ourselves from him). The Bible (e.g. psalm 66:17-20,
John 9:31) also makes it clear that God will limit his support to us in this life
when we wilfully and continually commit sin. In essence then, as a
minimum, sin negatively impacts our relationship with God in this
Obedience to God’s will, which includes
avoiding sin, ultimately leads to the greatest contentment with life.
And of course, the closer we walk with God the more we recognise his
presence in our lives, which equals stronger faith. That is, it all
becomes self proving. More of
this line of thought is presented in the Lead Article of the
website’s section, “How to really believe in God”. Most of
the advice included in that article and a supporting article, “God within our Lives”
in that section is just as relevant to Jews and Muslims as it is to
religions. The first supporting article in that section, “God within the Church” is of
course Christian by nature, as is the third supporting article, “The Born Again Movement”. The
final article in the section, “How to deal with doubts” is again
largely relevant to all monotheist