section contents

(Supporting article)

Christian Rules, Laws
and Commandments

Rules, laws and commandments within Christianity
and how they actually affect Christians.




It is 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 context of rules, laws and commandments within Christianity. It then describes how Christians principally know right from wrong. Lastly, it presents Christian views on the cost of disobedience or wrongdoing, i.e. committing sin.


It is necessary, before going on, to highlight some important issues. Rules, laws and commandments of Christianity need to be 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 second is grace’, a term that encapsulates Gods unconditional love for all humankind and his forgiving nature. Grace is explained in the article, Justified and saved by grace.

2.1   Grace and forgiveness

Christians believe that God Incarnate (Jesus) has, by his grace, paid for the cost of our sins through his death on the cross. That is, Gods grace offsets the cost of our sins. We Christians need only believe this and our sins are forgiven; we have eternal life! In exchange, we are expected to concentrate on our relationship with him.

2.2   Obeying the rules

This 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 the law within Christianity is not to be just followed blindly with a view to being saved (gain eternal life after physical death).

2.3  The big picture

Summarising then, faith in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour essentially comes first, in relation to being saved. But importance is applied to the law within Christianity none-the-less. It is also worth making clear here that our Lord wants, more than anything else, for 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 greatly reduced.


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.)

3.1   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 laws that certainly have relevance to all Christians. They are summarised below:

1.    You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven
       or on earth.
You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
4.    Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
Honour your father and mother.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
8.    You shall not steal.
9.    You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.
You shall not covert your neighbours house...wife...etc.

Beginner 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 Commandments.)

3.2   Jesus' special Two Commandments

But when asked for advice, Jesus summed up those Ten Commandments, and provided much more, 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 and with all your mind.” Then continuing, Jesus added, “Love your neighbour as yourself” [Luke 10:27].

As he inferred, if we love God and all humankind we would not commit any breaches of the Ten Commandments.

However, because Jesus did 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 humansmay be interpreted as to deeply care about rather than as we apply the word today, i.e. a deeper or more significant emotion reserved for those who are very close to us personally.)

Anyway, from this viewpoint, when applying Jesus advice on 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, wealth or 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 silence while 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.

Number eight, as another example, opens a plethora of issues for Christians. It is 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 theft, i.e. performing little of value in return for ones 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 by many people in society, that clearly defy Jesus two commandments of love.

3.3   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 religious) sources, than any other religion.

And Jesus actions during his life on Earth are to be closely studied by Christians for guidance. Indeed, we have only to read of those actions in the New Testament (the Jesus bits) of the Bible to know exactly 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 didnt 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 powerful 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.

After Jesus 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 Gods love for us; to follow Jesus example and the principles demonstrated there; to ever increase the depth of our relationship with God,


The details so far in this article, by and large, are accepted by major Christian denominations. All denominations also expect that each of us must make a real attempt to repent from our sinful ways; to change ourselves for the better, 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.

4.1    Effect of sin on life after death

As I indicated earlier in this article, there is some difference of opinion regarding whether all Christians will gain eternal life in Heaven after physical death, i.e. whether they will be saved.

Protestants, who make up a significant proportion of the Church, largely believe that they will be saved regardless of their subsequent sins. They essentially believe that once a person has been saved through the grace of God, after accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour, they are guaranteed a place in Heaven. Most Protestants believe that the only way to damnation for a believer is for he or she to mindfully reject their faith. Some Protestant theologians 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).

On the other hand, Catholics in the West, who make up another large proportion of the worldwide Christian Church, believe that serious sin, which they refer to as ‘mortal sin’, terminates a believer’s relationship with God (damnation). They can however be absolved from that sin by a priest, i.e.  the priest interjects on their behalf to God to ensure forgiveness. 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. Sins of an even higher level may possibly lead to excommunication from the Catholic Church itself.

I have read the Biblical verses which Catholic theologians refer to when reaching their understanding of mortal sin. Galations 5:19 is certainly one of the more powerful examples. My own research from a Protestant point of view indicates that such people being referred to in that Galations verse written by the apostle Paul, may have reduced their relationship with God to a sham. In effect they may have actually rejected their faith by living such a hedonistic, sinful and self centred life as described there. Such people would need to seriously repent; positively alter their lives and genuinely recommence their relationship with God.

I think it is safe to say that not all who call themselves Christians will find full favour with God after physical death. Bear in mind though that what I have written here does not negate the loving nature of God and the impact that will have on our salvation. He loves us despite our weaknesses, which often stem from ingrained personality traits that can be hard for us to control (speaking from experience). He lovingly meets us in our day to day struggles.

4.2    Effect of sin on our day-to-day lives

But the simple truth is that sin does weaken our relationship with God and 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 low 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 life.

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. Above all else, such a life leads us to fulfill the Lord's greatest desire for us, i.e. to have a deep one-on-one personal relationship with him.

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 Christians, i.e. all monotheist 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 religions.


how to read website info

To save time you, the reader, may first read high level information in Lead Articles after clicking the major headings above.

You can then drill down into supporting articles when, and if, you require a deeper understanding on any subject.

Drilling down can be achieved from links in Lead Articles or by selecting "Supporting Articles" from the far left column on those pages.