Copyright © 2019 by Mark Overton.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. I highly recommend the NKJV as it’s easy to read and my measurements show it’s the most accurate.

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Why should you resist sin? When you are suddenly tempted, do you quickly respond, “No way; it’ll wreck my life!”? Probably not. We Christians have been taught several doctrines that give the impression that we are not under any law. We get the impression that sin will not bring us pain, making it difficult for us to firmly resist temptation. If we believe that we are under no law and that sin will not bring us pain, how can we resist it? Few of us will firmly resist something that brings pleasure with no pain. We are confused about God’s law, making us weak when tempted.

Under the Old Covenant (the Old Testament), God gave many detailed laws to Israel, which we call “the Law of Moses.” Under the New Covenant (brought by Jesus Christ), God split the Law of Moses, making the moral part of it stricter, and discarding most of the remainder. Thus, we are still under God’s moral laws, and God will punish us for violating them, giving us a strong motivation to resist sin.

Table of Contents

Why not?
The Law of Moses
God Split the Law of Moses
More Evidence of the Split
The Important Result
The Process
Laws in your heart
Diabolical Definitions
Eternal Life

Why Not?

Suppose you are suddenly tempted to sin. Why not go ahead and sin? Temptations of sex and dishonesty are frequent and strong. What is your quick and effective response to counter the temptation? You probably have no response. Instead, you will probably think something like, “I’m not under law but under grace, so maybe it’s okay to sin.” You thought maybe. That maybe shows that you are confused about God’s law, and this confusion makes you an easy prey to Satan’s temptations. We need something to give us a strong “no way!” when tempted. Your belief about God’s law will make the difference between yielding to sin or living in victory over sin. Your belief about this is crucial.

Much Christian teaching says that we are under no law, despite Jesus saying, “But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17). Elsewhere, Jesus said, “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19). Other statements in the Bible such as “you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14) and “For by grace you have been saved through faith … not of works” (Ephesians 2:8-9) appear to contradict Matthew 19:17 and Matthew 5:19. The result of these paradoxes is that Bible teachers usually promote only their misinterpretation of faith/grace and ignore the other verses, instead of prayerfully seeking the underlying understanding of these paradoxes. Choosing one and shunning the other is to reject God’s word, leading to deception.

We are confused. Here are three paradoxes that illustrate today’s confusion:

  1. “Keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17) versus “not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14).
  2. “…those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21) versus “God imputes righteousness apart from works” (Romans 4:6).
  3. In Galatians 5:18, the apostle Paul states that “you are not under the law,” and then in the following verses he gives us a list of 16 laws we must keep.
The result of these paradoxes is confusion. Does God require us to obey His laws or not? And if so, what are His laws? We don’t know. I will explain these paradoxes near the end of this article, and I think you will agree that with a proper understanding of God’s law and grace, these apparent paradoxes are not contradictory, but that these verses actually agree well.

“And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” (Matthew 5:30)
In this verse, Jesus is telling us that if we sin, we will go into hell. That means we are under some laws. Therefore, this topic of God’s law is crucial. Let’s explore it more deeply.

The Law of Moses

Before proceeding, we should define “law”:

A law is a constraint on our behavior, with a penalty for violating it.

You should remember the phrase, constraint with penalty. For example, the speed limit is a law because it is a constraint on our behavior, and it carries the penalty of a fine.

Through the prophet Moses, God gave many laws to ancient Israel. These laws are given in the Old Testament in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, and are known as the Law of Moses. When referring to it, I follow the accepted convention of capitalizing “Law”. The Law includes the Ten Commandments. Most of these laws fall into the following categories:

  • Moral laws.  These laws pertain to the way Jews treat each other. Such laws in the Ten Commandments include supporting parents, not being a false witness, and not committing adultery, murder, or theft. Additional laws found in Leviticus 18 and Deuteronomy 22 pertain to sexual matters. Others require honesty, and merciful treatment of the poor and widows. Others specify how justice is to be administered in response to various crimes. The phrase “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” is found in these laws (Exodus 21:24). The Ten Commandments are given in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. The moral laws are given in Exodus 20-23 and Leviticus 18. I recommend spending an hour reading these chapters.
  • Laws of consecration.  These laws require that the Jews devote themselves to God. In the Ten Commandments, they include keeping the Sabbath, having no other gods, creating no idol (“carved image”), and not taking God’s name in vain. Keeping the Sabbath (worshiping on Saturday) was particularly important to the religious leaders in Jesus’ day. Additional laws forbid sorcery and divination. God regards serving Him as similar to being married to Him, so He refers to sorcery and such as “prostitution” (Leviticus 20:6). Finally, Jesus said the greatest commandment in the Law of Moses is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). This law is in Deuteronomy 6:5, and demands consecration to God.
  • Sacrificial laws.  The main purpose of the animal sacrifices prescribed in the Law of Moses is to forgive sins. For example, chapters 4 and 5 of Leviticus contain the phrase “and it shall be forgiven him” eight times, all in response to various animal sacrifices. Bible teachers sometimes claim that Christ’s death on the cross achieved a better forgiveness than the animal sacrifices. That is incorrect; repeating “and it shall be forgiven him” eight times shows that the animal sacrifices provided an effective forgiveness. Additional sacrificial laws were called “fellowship offerings,” which provided the Jews with an optional way of drawing closer to God.
  • Symbolic laws.  These detailed laws symbolize the Jews’ holiness and devotion to God. There were extensive laws specifying what a Jew was allowed and forbidden to eat (the Kosher laws). A major concern with the Jews was pork, as it was forbidden. Additional regulations specified how pots and pans were to be washed. There were seven major feast days that Jews were expected to participate in, and you have probably heard of one of them: the Passover. There were many regulations regarding the tabernacle and the temple, most of which symbolize various aspects of God’s program of redemption (Hebrews 9:9). In addition, circumcision was a ceremony that was given to Abraham, the father of all Jews (thus predating Moses), and symbolized a Jew’s separation from the world. Circumcision was so important that, in New Testament times, people would often say “circumcision” as a shorthand way of referring to all of the symbolic laws. You will find several references to “the circumcision” in the New Testament, representing those Christians who valued, obeyed, and promoted the symbolic laws. These people gave the apostle Paul much grief, and the book of Galatians is Paul’s response to a church that was influenced by these “judaizers”, as we Christians often call them.
  • Health laws.  These laws specify how various diseases are to be handled in the nation of Israel. They usually require that a priest determine whether a person should be separated from society based on observable symptoms. Leprosy was always a serious matter, and the Law of Moses contains detailed instructions about its diagnosis and handling. These instructions regarding leprosy and other diseases had the effect of stopping the spread of such diseases without quarantining people unnecessarily, showing us that these laws came from God. They are found in Leviticus chapters 13-15.

God Split the Law of Moses

The coming of Christ, His atoning death on the cross and His bodily resurrection three days later represent the end of the Old Covenant (contract) with His people, and the beginning of the New Covenant. This change in covenant also caused the Law to change. But what aspects of the Law changed? Was it all dropped? Nowadays, people are ignorant of and confused about law. I am setting apart the next sentence because it explains how God changed the old Law into the new Law. Read this carefully:

God enlarged the laws that expressed His nature, and discarded the other laws.

God broadened and strengthened the laws that were based on His nature, and discarded the remainder, thus splitting the Law of Moses. These changes are described in more detail below.

  • Moral laws. The moral laws are an expression of God’s nature, so He broadened and strengthened them. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told us how God changed these laws. For example, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). We see that the law against adultery has been broadened to include lust in the heart. This New Covenant law more fully expresses God’s nature than the corresponding Old Covenant law. Likewise with laws regarding murder and hatred: We must watch our hearts more carefully than was required under the Old Covenant.
  • Laws of consecration. A few of these laws have been retained, such as prohibitions against idolatry and occult practices. Idolatry includes anything we regard as more important than God, such as money. These laws apply to everyone, Christian or not.
    The other laws of consecration have been replaced by laws that are more encompassing, and these apply only to Christians. Thus, there are two levels of salvation, which Jesus clearly revealed in Matthew 19:16-21 when He answered the rich young ruler. Jesus said to “enter into life,” the young man must “keep the commandments,” resulting in basic salvation, which is the first level. Then Jesus stated that to be “perfect,” the young man needed to sell everything and give it to the poor, and follow Him, representing the second level of salvation — being a Christian. In Matthew 16:24, Jesus expressed the second level as, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” In Romans 12:1, Paul expressed it as, “present your bodies a living sacrifice.” These requirements are the broadened laws of consecration under the New Covenant that apply only to Christians.
  • Sacrificial laws. Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross for our sins fulfilled the sacrificial laws forever, making them unnecessary. Consequently, these laws have been discarded. In my opinion, the fellowship offerings have been replaced by the additional laws of consecration described above.
  • Symbolic laws. The symbolic laws have been discarded. In Colossians 2:16-17, Paul states, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” Clearly, the symbolic laws of the Old Covenant such as foods and festivals are fulfilled in Christ, so we are no longer obligated to perform them. We can say that lightly, but the discarding of these laws was the controversial part of the transition to the New Covenant, and the understanding of this transition was given primarily to the apostle Paul. He fought diligently to prevent his churches from relying on the symbolic laws for salvation, and it’s in this social context that he wrote Romans 3:20, “…by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight…”
  • Health laws. The health laws have been quietly discarded, as their purpose was not to reveal God’s nature, but to keep His people healthy. In Mark 7:1-5, we see that Jesus neglected the laws regarding various washings, causing some controversy. Also, God knew that modern medicine and understanding of bacteria and viruses were coming, and I will speculate that He stopped imposing the health laws for that reason.

The detailed descriptions above can be summarized as follows:

Category How These Laws Changed
Moral laws Broadened (Matthew 5)
Laws of consecration Broadened for Christians (Matthew 16:24, Romans 12:1)
Sacrificial laws
Symbolic laws
Health laws
Discarded (most were fulfilled in Christ)

It’s clear that under the New Covenant, God split the Law of Moses into three pieces, expanding the laws of morality and consecration (for Christians), and discarding the rest of the laws.

Dr. Robert B. Thompson explains in his booklet, The Eternal Law of God (free download here), that “An abridged, covenantal form of the eternal law was given to Moses…” Thompson is saying that the Law of Moses is narrow and incomplete (abridged) and that it was designed for the context of the Old Covenant (covenantal). The enlargement and strengthening of these laws in Jesus makes them more fully reflect God’s nature, as seen in the above detailed table for the laws of morality and consecration. The sacrificial and symbolic laws were purely covenantal, and thus were discarded.

We are not under the entire Ten Commandments. Some people teach that God split His Law into the Ten Commandments and the remainder, saying that we are still under the Ten Commandments. This is incorrect because the Ten Commandments include keeping the Sabbath (the fourth commandment), which is no longer binding. However, God is still imposing on us the expanded forms of the moral laws in the Ten Commandments.

More Evidence of the Split

Below are some additional Bible passages that reveal that the Law of Moses has been split as described above.

Matthew 19:16-19  The following conversation about how to obtain eternal life occurred between Jesus and a rich young man:

Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 19:16-19)

This is a question about salvation, so we would have expected Jesus to tell this man that he must accept Christ, or follow Him. Instead, Jesus tells him that salvation comes by keeping the Law of Moses! Jesus’ reply is a severe violation of modern Protestant doctrines, which is probably why you don’t hear this passage taught in churches. But an intriguing part is Jesus’ response to the question, “Which ones?” Jesus listed only the moral laws. He omitted everything else, even the socially-important Sabbath and circumcision. In effect, Jesus was saying that from now on, God is holding us only to His moral laws.

Luke 10:25-28  The following is another conversation about how to obtain eternal life:

And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” (Luke 10:25-28)

In effect, Jesus told the lawyer that to obtain eternal life, he must keep the two greatest commandments, which are (1) love God, and (2) love man as himself. Loving man as yourself is the foundation of God’s moral laws (Matthew 7:12), so Jesus is telling us that God is imposing His moral laws on us.

But in this conversation, Jesus added another important law: love God. This is a law of consecration, and it forbids you from valuing anything more than God, which is idolatry. For most people, the temptation is to value a child, money, or pleasure more than God. If you do so, you are an idolator. You must be more devoted to God than to anything or anyone else.

The two greatest commandments (with no additions) tell us that God is imposing His laws of consecration and morality on us, thus discarding the remainder of the Law of Moses.

As an aside, assuming Antichrist is a “Christian”, I suspect he will swap the two greatest commandments when he begins his programs. He will create programs to help mankind while giving lip-service to God, thus valuing man more than God, and causing many to commit idolatry and to become angry with God when He harms mankind.

Galatians 5:18-21  In this passage, the apostle Paul states that “you are not under the law”, and immediately follows that with a list of 16 laws that we must keep. Examples include prohibiting fornication (sex outside of marriage) and hatred. Remember, a law is a constraint with a penalty, and these are certainly constraints. Paul follows this list with the penalty, which is not inheriting the kingdom. With both constraints and a penalty, these 16 items are unquestionably laws. Yet Paul just said, “you are not under the law.” Did he contradict himself? No. A careful study of Paul reveals that when he writes “the Law”, he is speaking generally, but often referring to the many symbolic regulations in the Law of Moses, which are no longer obligatory. And when he writes “the works of the Law,”, he is referring to the symbolic laws. But Paul emphasizes God’s moral laws, so they are binding on us. We see that God split the Law of Moses, retaining and strengthening the moral laws.

In both Romans and Galatians, Paul contrasts faith with works of the Law. In my definitions below, I define faith as confidence in God. Paul states that we are to be justified (regarded by God as righteous) by faith and not by works of the Law. This means that we are not to attempt to please God by keeping the non-moral precepts of the Law, but instead please Him by following and obeying Jesus — obeying Jesus’ commands with God’s help (grace). Don’t forget that Jesus’ commands include the moral laws.

In addition, Romans chapter 7 informs us that we cannot keep even the moral laws without God’s help, and thus no one will be justified by keeping the Law, because we are unable to keep all of it. So faith and grace are the only way to be justified, because they are the only way we can keep the moral laws.

Acts 15:6-29  Paul’s teaching that we don’t need to keep the Law of Moses caused an uproar in the early church, which culminated in a meeting of apostles and elders in Jerusalem. Acts 15:6-29 records this important council discussion about whether the Jews should require the Gentile (non-Jewish) converts to keep the Law of Moses. Peter makes an important remark in verse 11: “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” Peter is saying that we are saved by grace (I discuss grace below) instead of by keeping the Law of Moses. At the end of the discussion, the apostles write a letter to the Gentiles telling them to not keep the Law of Moses, but to abstain from fornication (a moral law) and some other items. In effect, the apostles agreed to split the Law of Moses, creating an essential moral component and dropping most of the rest. I say “most of” because the council was unable to free itself from a couple of regulations, which it turns out were dropped over time. Their decision was imperfect, but they accomplished the difficult and important job of splitting the moral law from the bulk of the Law of Moses.

Romans 2:26, Romans 8:4  Both of these verses describe those who keep the “righteous requirements of the Law.” These verses are describing an alternative to keeping the symbolic laws. Thus, the “righteousness requirements of the Law” is the apostle Paul’s term for the moral portion of the Law of Moses, thus splitting it.

Romans 7:22, 7:25, 8:7  These verses contain the expression, “law of God”. Based on its context and usage, we see that this expression represents the laws that are intrinsic to God’s righteous nature. That is, they proceed from and reveal God’s personality. As prophesied in Jeremiah 31:33, these laws are written on our hearts. These would be the moral laws, as broadened in Matthew chapter five. Because the “law of God” (in the context of these verses) excludes the symbolic laws, it represents a split in the Law of Moses.

Matthew 5:19  In this verse, quoted above, Jesus says that whoever does and teaches the commandments will be great in the Kingdom. That sounds like Jesus is telling us to keep the entire Law of Moses. But in the next verse, Jesus says that our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, telling us that He is discussing righteousness. Righteousness is defined as right behavior toward people, which is morality, so Jesus is referring to the moral laws (which we must keep), thus splitting the Law of Moses.

The Important Result

God requires that everyone, including Christians, keep His moral laws! We will be punished if we don’t. In addition, we Christians are under God’s enhanced laws of consecration. We are not under the remainder of the Law of Moses.

I know there are many doctrines out there saying that we do not need to keep His moral laws. These lies include:

  • “Hyper-grace”: Grace unconditionally forgives all our sins, past, present, and future, regardless of our behavior.
  • The New Covenant is covering and not measuring. In other words, it is forgiving and not judging.
  • We are under no law but the law of love.
  • We are saved by faith and not by works.
  • We are constantly sinning and God is constantly forgiving us.
  • Once saved, always saved.
  • God sees us through Christ.
  • As long as we are in the flesh, we must sin.

There are more. All of these doctrines are false. I refute many such lies in this article: Behavior Matters. They are based on our confusion about what law God is imposing on us. They are also based on confusion about other topics, such as faith, grace, and works. The teachers and promoters of these doctrines don’t know that God requires that we keep His moral laws, and that if we deliberately break such a law, Christ’s atonement will not help us and we will be facing God’s wrath (Hebrews 10:26-27). Hebrews 10:26-27 is such an important antidote to the above lawless doctrines that I’ll quote it below:

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. (Hebrews 10:26-27)

I suggest that you memorize this passage because it exposes the lie in many modern doctrines. I discuss some of these errors below, along with the true definitions of terms like faith, grace, and works.

The two greatest commandments. The following passage reveals the basis of all laws in both covenants.

Jesus said to him,
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it:
‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

These two commandments have not changed under the new covenant. However, from the broadenings listed earlier, we see that these two commandments are expressed in fuller form in the new covenant, more fully reflecting God’s nature and purposes. I suggest memorizing them because they can help in answering questions about what is and is not sinful.

How Can We Keep God’s Laws?

We keep God’s laws by grace!

I define grace as “God’s help in pleasing Him,” or simply “God’s help.” God helps us (i.e., gives us grace) in several ways, including initial forgiveness, and then strength, abilities, and power. The word “grace” means little to modern ears, so you can usually substitute it with “God’s help” or “strength” or “ability” or “power” wherever you see “grace” in the New Testament, and the result will reveal the original meaning. For example, “great grace was upon them” (Acts 4:33) makes no sense to modern ears, but “great power was upon them” reveals the meaning. In the broadest sense, grace is God’s blessing, but that’s vague, so I prefer help/strength/ability/power as they are more specific.

These forms of God’s help are administered by the Holy Spirit dwelling in you. Modern false doctrines define grace as primarily forgiveness, but that’s only a small part of grace. Yes, forgiveness gives us a fresh start when we repent, but the main work of grace is helping us to serve God. We see this in Acts 4:33: “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.” The “great grace” here is referring to supernatural power. It does not mean the apostles were having sex with the girls and thus needed constant forgiveness.

As a second example, II Corinthians 8:6-7 uses the phrase “this grace” twice in the context of giving money. Why? Because God was giving the Corinthians the ability to donate. Another example is Ephesians 3:8: “To me … this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Here, grace is the God-given ability to preach. One of the clearest verses is Hebrews 4:16: “…that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Grace here is God’s help in the form of strength. I suggest that you examine every occurrence of the word “grace” in the New Testament. In the cases where the context defines grace, it usually refers to God helping us by giving us strength or ability to obey His laws or to serve Him.

Having more grace (divine help) is what makes the New Covenant better than the Old Covenant. Under the Old Covenant, the Jews kept the many laws by their own fleshly strength, which was futile, as Paul bemoans in Romans 7. Obtaining this additional grace requires that we “walk in the Spirit”, as Paul states multiple times in his epistles. And with that grace helping us, we don’t have to sin; we are not forced to sin. Paul says this in Romans 8:12: “…we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.” He is saying we don’t owe the flesh anything. We are not compelled to obey its lusts. We need not sin. If you are being tempted severely, cry out to God for more grace (strength) to avoid sinning.

I refuse to wreck my future!

Knowing that we are under God’s moral law is a strong motivation to resist the temptation to sin. But those laws are only the constraints. To be laws, their violation must carry penalties, and the following verses reveal those penalties:

  • For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. (Hebrews 10:26-27)
  • If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (Matthew 5:29)
  • And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (Matthew 5:30)
  • But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)
  • For the wages of sin is death… (Romans 6:23). [Note that this was written to Christians summarizing why we must not sin.]
  • For if you live according to the flesh you will die… (Romans 8:13). [Note that this and the prior verse are not referring to the death of the human body.]
  • …those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:21)
  • For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. (Ephesians 5:5)
  • For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord… (II Corinthians 5:10-11)
  • Here is a blessing that sin will cause you to lose: If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (John 14:23)

I started this article by asking, “Why not?” Temptation can hit you suddenly and strongly, and you need a quick and strong defense against it. You can respond, “I refuse to wreck my future!”, while keeping the verses above in mind. The first four of those verses say that sin will put us in hell. All of the popular lies have one logical conclusion: Sin won’t bring you pain. This common feature of those lies tells us that they are demonic. Satan is trying to destroy the Christian Church by removing its resistance to sin, thus causing Christians to sin, knowing they will be disqualified and punished, posing no danger to Satan’s rule.

The Process

Rule-book.  Obey the written laws. Your salvation starts with obeying the rules. As Jesus said, “Keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17). If you have been worldly, and have recently repented and started serving God, you don’t know God’s moral laws, because nobody taught them to you. And our conscience is incomplete. For example, the consciences of most people do not warn them against fornication (sex outside of marriage). So you must learn the written laws and obey them. They are contained in the Ten Commandments, and in other Old Testament passages mentioned above. In addition, Jesus broadened them in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), and the apostles expounded on them in their epistles. For example, the apostle Paul says this about sex outside of marriage: “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you” (Ephesians 5:3). Galatians 5:19-21 is a good summary of God’s moral laws. Revelation 21:8 (quoted in the list above) lists eight behaviors that will put you in hell. These are eight constraints with a severe penalty, making them laws. Don’t forget that grace is available to help you, so ask God for help in keeping His laws. The apostle Peter says, “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (II Peter 1:19). Peter is saying that you must obey the rule-book until the nature of Jesus has grown in you.

Laws in your heart.  After obeying the rules a while, they grow in you. You begin to know them by heart, and they become part of your nature, ever deeper as the years go by. You will obey God’s moral laws by nature because these laws express your new nature, as well as God’s nature. At this stage, most of your effort is spent seeking and petitioning God and Jesus in prayer, and you spend little time thinking about the written laws. But you always keep them—by nature. Actually, God is quietly writing His laws in your heart, in fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:33: “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts.” This passage is saying that the New Covenant is the writing of God’s laws on your heart; it is not “accepting Jesus in your heart,” as is commonly taught nowadays.

Prayer.  Prayer is important. I recommend that you get in the habit of praying frequently about everything you do throughout the day. As I Thessalonians 5:17 says, “pray without ceasing.” If people are around, you can pray silently in your mind. In addition, you should dedicate some time each day solely to prayer. By immersing your life in prayer with an attitude of seeking God, you will be living in God’s presence, even if you feel no different. As Paul wrote, we are to “live according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:5), and such statements are usually in the context of avoiding sin. A similar Old Testament verse is, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21). God will correct you in this manner when you are veering left or right toward sin, as I have experienced. But you must be praying and obeying His laws to the best of your knowledge. If you are doing these things and God is not talking to you, it probably means you don’t need correction—you’re doing fine.

Also, as part of writing His laws in you, God also removes sin from your nature. The urges of sin should weaken and become less frequent over the years. I don’t know how it works, but I believe that this formation of God’s law in you is part of the growth of the divine nature in you. After all, being born again means that God’s nature was implanted in you. And it grows, provided that you seek Him in prayer and obey His laws. You are becoming like Christ in a deep way, having the same nature. You are becoming a mature son of God, suitable as a companion and servant of God in His kingdom.

Traps.  To help people follow God’s laws, some churches have lists of do’s and don’ts. That’s fine, as it helps new Christians, because Step One is obeying the written laws. I once attended a church that had a couple of pages on the board near the entry showing what was acceptable and unacceptable dress. They were needed because many people don’t know what is modest. The trap is that such lists can specify matters with excessive detail and precision, such as depths of necklines on women’s blouses, heights of their dresses, widths of men’s moustaches, and other minutia, measured in inches or millimeters. The danger of having such detailed rules is that they draw our attention off Jesus and onto the rules. Churches with such distractingly detailed rules are said to be “legalistic.” Nonetheless, dress codes are necessary, so we must keep a proper balance, communicating the components of modesty, which is one of God’s moral laws, without being overly detailed.

Another trap is believing the words of a false spirit that’s pretending to be God. When a spirit speaks to you, you will hear words in your mind, or you will recieve an impression or sense or knowledge about something. Test that spirit, especially if it’s ordering you or somebody else to do (or not do) something. Don’t be afraid to challenge it. If the spirit responds with something like, “If you challenge this, you’ll be blaspheming the Holy Spirit,” reject that spirit because it’s avoiding being tested. The Bible says:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God. (I John 4:1)
Test all things; hold fast what is good. (I Thessalonians 5:21)
Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. (I Corinthians 14:29)
These verses show us that spirits (and all religious phenomena) need to be tested, so I doubt that God will threaten you or make you feel guilty for testing a spirit that spoke to you. And whatever you do, never say “God told me…” unless others have tested you for years and agree that you are reliable. Otherwise, humble yourself and be truthful about your uncertainty of the spirit by saying, “I think the Lord is saying…”

A similar trap is a false spirit that gives you a false conviction of sin. It will be over something that neither God nor man regards as sin, such as stealing a pen from work or yelling at your child or feeling attracted to the opposite sex. But the false conviction will make you feel guilty and push you away from God, which is Satan’s goal. Reject the guilt; it’s not from God. Bring the issue before God in prayer, and examine it and decide whether it substantially violates any written law. If it doesn’t, it’s probably not sin and you need not be concerned about it. A good record of traps is the unabridged version of War on the Saints, by Jessie Penn Lewis with Evan Roberts available for free and available at

Another trap is Satanic condemnation after you sin. You might sin if you are tempted suddenly in an area in which you are weak but didn’t know it, causing you to be “overtaken in a fault”, as the KJV phrases it in Galatians 6:1. This can happen multiple times while battling a stubborn sin in you. After sinning, Satan might hammer you with condemnation to discourage you enough to give up (he hopes). Instead, memorize I John 1:9 beforehand, as it provides the following procedure for handling sin:

  1. Confess the sin. Implicit in confessing is repenting of it, deciding to never do it again. Although they claim to repent, many people fail at this point because they haven’t resolved against the sin deeply enough. So they sin repeatedly because they are double-minded (James 1:8, 4:8). In their hearts, they’re saying, “I’ve had it rough, and I deserve a little _______.” (Fill in the blank with a sin).
  2. Accept God’s forgiveness of it by rejecting any guilt pressing on you.
  3. God will clean the sin from you, but you also must take sensible (and sometimes drastic) actions to ensure it won’t happen again.

Diabolical Definitions

The apostle Peter mentions “the present truth,” referring to the truth needed at that time. Satan also has what I call “the present lie,” which is what he is promoting at this time. The present lie is this: “Sin will not bring you pain.” Satan teaches this through many doctrines. You can identify them because they all leave the impression that you can sin and not suffer for it. They all imply that you do not need to obey God’s laws.

Some of Satan’s most effective lies consist of redefining biblical words in ways that suggest that sin will not bring pain. Let’s look at some examples. These are in alphabetical order.


Belief is the same as faith, which is defined below (click here to go there). Hebrews 11:6 defines faith as belief. Also, Paul wrote, “… through faith in Jesus, to all and on all who believe” (Romans 3:22), and “… but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith …” (Romans 4:5). Both of these verses equate faith with belief.

Eternal Life

Satan tells us that eternal life means going to heaven when we die. He does this in order to get our attention off the important goal of attaining the better resurrection (Hebrews 11:35). So when we read John 3:16, we assume it’s referring to heaven. But what does the Bible say?

In Luke 18:18, a man asked Jesus how to “inherit eternal life.” When discussing this topic, Jesus remarked, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” Thus, Jesus equated eternal life with entering the kingdom. Furthermore, in Revelation 21:10, we see that the kingdom (the new Jerusalem) will move out of heaven to the earth. To the earth. That will fulfill the Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10). The New Jerusalem (by Robert B. Thompson) explains this topic in detail.

In John 6:54, Jesus stated, “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” In the nearby verses, Jesus repeats “I will raise him up” three more times, stressing the importance of attaining the resurrection, which can only be the “better resurrection” referred to in Hebrews 11:35. Thus, Jesus is telling us that eternal life is tied to the better resurrection.

We must conclude that eternal life reveals itself as immortality in the body on Earth, in God’s kingdom. That makes it important for us to attain the better resurrection (Hebrews 11:35; Luke 20:35-36).


Faith is mentioned three times in Romans 3:21-26, and together they tell us that faith is essential. What is faith? Here are five passages that define it.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. The fulfillment of God’s promises are the things “not seen” but “hoped for”. This definition of faith from the well-known faith-chapter (Hebrews 11) says that faith is confidence that God will keep His promises.
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. This verse defines faith as belief that God exists and rewards diligent seekers, which can be summarized as confidence in God’s faithfulness.
let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith … This verse suggests that faith is “full assurance”.
and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. This verse describing Abraham’s faith is a good definition of faith. The phrase “fully convinced” is synonymous with “confident”.
2 Cor
So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident … Paul writes “confident” before and after “faith” in this passage, thus defining faith as being confident in God.

The conclusion from these scriptures is:

Faith is confidence in God.

Faith in Jesus is confidence in Him: confidence that He is the Son of God; confidence that He will keep His promises; confidence that His teachings are correct.

If you have confidence in Jesus, then you believe in Him. Belief is not merely believing facts about Jesus and the Christian religion. Belief is faith: having enough confidence in Him that you will rely on and obey Him. Why would confidence in Jesus cause you to obey Him?

If you have confidence in the teachings of Jesus, then you believe them, and when He said we must do something, you know it must be done and you do it, obeying Him. When Jesus mentioned consequences, you will obey Him with those consequences in mind.

And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (Matthew 5:30)

Faith in Jesus means you are confident that His statement above is true. Thus, to avoid hell, you will be careful to not sin with your hands. You will repent of your sins; that is, you’ll stop them. On the other hand, if you say to yourself, “Jesus said those things before He died on the cross, and God surely isn’t that severe, so a little sin isn’t going to put me in hell,” then you are saying Jesus was wrong. You don’t have confidence in His words, so you don’t have confidence in Him. You don’t have faith in Him.

To clarify what faith is, God gave Dr. Robert B. Thompson the excellent analogy of having faith in your doctor. You might love your doctor, telling your friends that he is wonderful. But suppose he prescribes a costly medication for you, saying that the results of not taking the medication will be dreadful. And suppose you say to yourself, “It won’t be that bad, and that medicine costs a fortune, so I won’t take it.” By disobeying him, you are displaying a lack of confidence by doubting his words. You lack faith in your doctor. The same is true with Doctor Jesus. Faith in Jesus means having confidence in His sayings, causing you to obey them. Faith produces obedience.

Disobedience reveals unbelief, a lack of faith. What can you say about a so-called “faith” that does not bring works of obedience? By my definition, it’s not faith because faith includes confidence in Jesus’ statements about God’s requirements. But the apostle James says that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). Can dead faith save you? James asks this rhetorical question in verse 2:14, and the answer is “no”.

Read James 2:14-26. It forcefully tells you that faith must produce good deeds.

The promises of imputed righteousness and eternal life given in the New Testament apply only to those with faith in Jesus. Given that obedience to His words always follows faith in Jesus, we know that if a “believer” is disobeying Jesus, he will not receive eternal life. Therefore, to receive salvation, you must repent; you must stop sinning.

Satan has redefined faith or belief as “agreement with facts about Jesus”. Such facts usually include His virgin birth, being the Son of God, dying for our sins, etc. As James 2:19 points out, even the demons have that kind of faith — and they are destined to hell. Such dead mental “faith” will not save the demons, nor will it save you. Also, many churches teach that all you need to do is “come to Jesus,” which is true in a broad sense, but its vagueness doesn’t tell you that you must have confidence in Jesus, and thus must obey Him.

You can ask God to increase your faith in Him. Romans 12:3 says, “… as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith,” and in its list of gifts of the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:9 says, “to another faith by the same Spirit ….” These verses tell us that faith is a gift from God, which tells us we can pray for more of that gift of faith.

Remember, faith and belief are confidence, which must cause you to obey God’s moral laws and Jesus’ commands.


I discussed grace earlier, so I’ll add some insights here, starting by repeating the definition of grace:

Grace is “God’s help in pleasing Him”
— or simply —
“God’s help.”

This definition covers most uses of the term “grace” I see in the New Testament. Defining grace as “God’s favor” is more comprehensive, but is too vague to be practical as it doesn’t say how the favor affects us. Defining it as “unmerited favor” is equally vague, and also gives the false impression that the favor is unconditional, when in fact it’s usually conditional upon having faith that produces obedience. “God’s help” is specific (not vague) and covers the Bible’s usage of the term “grace” well.

As mentioned earlier, God dispenses His grace (help) in several ways:

  • Forgiveness,
  • Strength to resist sin,
  • Abilities and power needed for serving God.

The context of many references to grace in the New Testament does not indicate a particular form of grace, such as “grace to you” and similar salutations. But some verses do indicate a form of grace, and I quoted some of those in the discussion below to illustrate some common forms of grace.

≻  Forgiveness.

That having been justified by His grace … (Titus 3:7)  
being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24)

The moment you decide to have faith in Jesus, God gives you grace in the form of forgiving your past sins (Romans 3:25). There is a limitation on this forgiveness: Faith in Jesus means you are confident in His teachings, including those saying you must stop sinning. So if you don’t stop your known sins, you don’t have faith in Jesus and the verses quoted above don’t apply to you, leaving you without forgiveness.

≻  Strength to resist sin.

For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:14)  
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2)  
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Although the word “grace” is only mentioned in the first scripture above, they all describe a form of divine help, which thus qualifies as a form of grace. The Old Covenant did not help you resist sin, but the New Covenant does. Let’s thank God that, because of this form of grace, you cannot be forced to sin.

≻  Abilities and power needed for serving God.

And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. (Luke 2:40)  
And great grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:33)  
But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. [The context is the gifts of the Spirit]. (Ephesians 4:7)  
see that you abound in this grace also [The context refers to giving money]. (2 Corinthians 8:1-6)  
To me … this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:8)

God helps us to serve Him, including gifts needed for various forms of ministry.

By grace God first draws you to Himself. Then by grace He forgives you when you decide to have faith in Him. Then by grace you overcome sin. Then by grace you can minister in whatever capacity He desires for you. Thus, we are saved by grace from beginning to end.

Satan has redefined grace to be only forgiveness, and not divine help in pleasing God. You might have even heard that the letters g-r-a-c-e stand for “God’s riches at Christ’s expense.” And it’s taught that we are now in a “state of grace.” These doctrines are false. Neither the phrase “state of grace” nor that concept are in the Bible.

Hyper-grace. A similar diabolical doctrine is that grace forgives all our sins, past, present, and future, and that we are constantly sinning (because we’re forced to) and that God is constantly forgiving us by grace. This doctrine is known as “hyper-grace”. The only true part of it is forgiveness of past sins, and even that part is false for believers who lack the kind of faith that produces obedience. The rest of hyper-grace is false, because the Bible never says God forgives our present and future sins. Remember Hebrews 10:26. But God grants one exception on the condition that (1) the sin was not premeditated (deliberate), and (2) we repent of it. Teachers of hyper-grace are encouraging Christians to sin by removing their fear of God’s punishment. They “turn the grace of our God into lewdness” (Jude 4).

A popular diabolical doctrine is the perversion of Ephesians 2:8-9.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Satan has changed this to mean, “by unconditional forgiveness you have been saved through mental belief, not due to any good behavior, so good behavior isn’t necessary.”

Please read the definition of “saved” in this article (click here to go there). “Saved” generally means godly living and obtaining God’s rewards, but in the context of Ephesians 2:5, it stresses overcoming sin. Knowing this, the true meaning of Ephesians 2:8-9 is, “With God’s help (grace), you are avoiding sin and pleasing God (saved), but not by your own effort. That divine help is a gift of God, so stop bragging about how righteous you are!”

Apparently, the Ephesians were living righteously, having been saved from sinning (Ephesians 2:5), and were boasting. Paul reminded them that they have no grounds for boasting because they were living righteously by divine power instead of their own power; that’s why the conclusion of this verse is “lest anyone should boast.” Satan ignores that conclusion because it doesn’t fit his lie. Ephesians 2:8-9 is an injunction against pride; it is not saying that grace is unconditional forgiveness.

Here is another diabolical doctrine: “God gave us strict laws that we cannot keep, such as the Sermon on the Mount, to show us our need for forgiveness through the Savior’s blood.” This is yet another satanic doctrine that subtly says that it’s okay to sin. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) indeed contains strict laws. Examples include loving your enemies, turning the other cheek, and being perfect as the Father is perfect. Keeping these stricter laws appears hopeless, and it would be hopeless in our own human strength. But God also supplies us with more grace under the New Covenant which empowers us to keep the stricter laws. Thus, we can obey God’s laws with His help (grace).


“Imputation” is how God regards you. Paul speaks of imputed righteousness, meaning that God regards you as righteous. He also refers to imputing sin, so imputation goes both ways.

When does God impute righteousness? When you are believing in Jesus with the kind of belief that produces obedience (Romans 4:11, 4:24). Obedience means that you have stopped sinning (i.e., you repented). Thus, God imputes righteousness to you when you repent.

When does God impute sin? If you sin, God will not always impute that sin to you; He will not always count it against you (Romans 5:13). The Bible tells us that God will impute a sin to you only on these conditions:

  • You knew the action was wrong — a sin (Romans 5:13).
  • You did it deliberately, intentionally (Hebrews 10:26).

Satan teaches that imputed righteousness is a perpetual forgiveness of all past, present, and future sins, including deliberate sins, making it an excuse to sin.

Actually, imputed righteousness is a fresh start, the forgiveness of past sins, granted by God after you repent. It clears the guilt of your past when you decide to stop sinning (repent). But then, faith must cause you to obey Jesus’ commands, causing you to live righteously. Remember 1 John 3:7: “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous …” (emphasis mine). To keep imputed righteousness, you must keep practicing actual righteousness out of obedience from faith in Jesus.


Justification means that God regards you as just, as righteous. In Romans 4:5-6, one sentence contains the phrases “justifies the ungodly” and “imputes righteousness”, applying them to the same person, suggesting that justification is the same as imputed righteousness. Perhaps theologians can find subtle differences between them, but in practice, you can regard justification and imputed righteousness as synonymous. For more details, refer to Imputation above.


Near the beginning of this article, I defined “law” as follows:

A law is a constraint on our behavior, with a penalty for violating it.

The short phrase, constraint with penalty, is easy to remember.

The New Testament’s usage of the word “law” is similar to “works” in that it usually refers to the symbolic laws in the Old Testament. But it sometimes refers to God’s moral laws as well, so you must determine the kind of law from context.

Satan teaches us that “there is no law but the law of love”, and this is technically true (refer to Romans 13:8-10). The problem is we don’t know what love is. Our western culture thinks that love means good feelings toward others, but with God it means caring for others with our actions. If we care with our actions, then we are fulfilling God’s moral laws. But if we think of love as good feelings, then this doctrine leaves the impression that God doesn’t care about our actions, thus giving the impression that sin won’t bring us pain. The truth is that God requires that our actions obey His moral laws.

Here are two verses in Romans regarding law that are only a few sentences apart, and yet they appear to contradict each other:

the doers of the Law will be justified (Romans 2:13)
by the deeds of the Law no flesh will be justified (Romans 3:20)

How can you reconcile these two statements? Most Bible teachers don’t. Instead, they fasten on their favorite verse, and ignore the other. This is a path to deception, because such a person is rejecting God’s word. The correct response is to dig deeper. In addition, it helps to realize two things about the writings of the apostle Paul. First, his writings are difficult to understand, as Peter noted when he remarked that “…in which are some things hard to understand…” (II Peter 3:16). Second, as the above two verses reveal, Paul relies heavily on context. The above two verses can be reconciled by a careful study of their contexts. The first verse refers to the fact that God judges those who are ignorant of His law based on their conscience (which is a form of law), so Paul is referring to moral law in this context. The second verse refers to the entirety of the Law of Moses, which cannot be kept fully due to its lack of grace, as Romans chapter 7 explains. We must be very careful and prayerful when studying Paul’s writings.

In fact, II Peter 3:16 (partially quoted above) goes on to say regarding Paul’s writings, “…which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction.” Many of today’s false teachings are based on twisted perversions of Paul’s writings. With diabolical help, theologians have ignored Peter’s warning, to the destruction of both themselves and those who follow today’s doctrines. They are fulfilling this prophesy in I Timothy 4:1: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.” Today’s perversions of Paul are the teachings of demons. These demonic perversions include all of the doctrines listed here in the section titled “The Important Result” above, as well as the diabolical redefinitions of terms such as grace, faith, belief, etc. described in the paragraphs above. You are surrounded by cunning lies. Be careful.

Here is a cunning doctrine: “Those verses referring to laws and penalties in the New Testament are for the Jews. They are Jewish ground, and do not apply to us Gentiles (non-Jews). The Jews get laws. We get forgiveness.”

This doctrine is not in the Bible. The New Testament does not differentiate between Jew and Gentile, except when Jesus referred to Gentiles as “dogs.” The Bible states that God is equally willing to graft both Gentiles and Jews into the olive tree (Romans 11:17-24). It also states that God has broken down the wall of hostility between Jews and Gentiles, and made “one new man” out of both (Ephesians 2:14-15). Paul states twice that “There is neither Jew nor Greek…” (Galatians 3:28 and Colossians 3:11). From these verses, we see that God makes no distinction between Jew and Gentile. There is no Jewish church and Gentile church (that’s another popular error). There is only one church. It consists of Jews and Gentiles, and God does not treat either race differently. So being strict on the Jews and easy on the Gentiles is an antisemitic error. Note that this false doctrine contains the common sign of error that I mentioned earlier: It implies that sin will not bring you pain.


A lord is a man who must be obeyed.

You are probably in the habit of overlooking the word “lord” when you read “Lord Jesus” in the Bible. I suggest mentally changing that to “Jesus, who must be obeyed.” Doing so will remind you and emphasize that He is the lord of lords who must be obeyed.

Satan uses the word “lord” as a meaningless title that’s ignored. But using “lord” correctly reveals the true meaning of some passages, such as Romans 10:9,10, which says, “…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus … you will be saved.” Using “lord” correctly reveals that Paul is saying, “If you are obeying Jesus and telling people about Him, you’re saved.” But Satan has used “lord” as a title to claim that this verse means you can merely vocally confess Jesus and be saved, without obeying Him.

Truth or title? Satan uses “lord” as an empty title; you must use it as the truth, and live it — by obeying Him.


Repentance means to change both your mind and behavior, like a car making a U-turn. You must decide to make a U-turn in your behavior, and then you must do it. Repentance is your decision to change, and the change itself. Repentance means reversing your will and behavior. You must decide to stop the sin, and then stop it.

Satan has redefined repentance to mean feeling sorry or regretful about a sin. Even modern dictionaries define repentance as a feeling, which it is not. But my 1961 dictionary defines it correctly. Feeling sorry might not help because you can feel sorry about a sin without deciding to change your behavior. The good news is that you can repent of fornication or lying, for example, without any feelings at all. That’s true of me. I never felt sorrowful or regretful; I felt nothing. But I was concerned, so I changed.

Instead of feelings, God requires that you (1) firmly resolve to never again commit the sin, and then (2) do whatever it takes to stop sinning. In Matthew 5:30, Jesus tells you to cut off your hand if necessary to stop sinning, because the alternative is hell. Hence the resolve to never sin again.


The word “righteousness” might be distasteful to you because Satan has associated it with the arrogant self-righteous attitude found in some religious people. Try to push that impression out of your mind, because righteousness has this simple meaning:
  Right behavior.
That’s all. It refers to common-sense right behavior, such as honesty, truthfulness, sexual faithfulness, and so on.

There are many verses in the Psalms and Proverbs about righteous people, and from them we can determine what righteousness is. Here are some examples:

The wicked borrows and does not repay, but the righteous shows mercy and gives. (Psalm 37:21)
The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of justice. (Psalm 37:30)
A righteous man regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. (Proverbs 12:10)
A righteous man hates lying, but a wicked man is loathsome and comes to shame. (Proverbs 13:5)
The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil. (Proverbs 15:28)
Righteous lips are the delight of kings, and they love him who speaks what is right. (Proverbs 16:13)
The righteous man walks in his integrity. (Proverbs 20:7)

From these verses emerge a picture of what a righteous man is. He is generous, merciful, truthful, wise, and has integrity. I summarized these traits as “right behavior”.

Righteousness is obedience to God’s moral law. Most of us love righteousness and want others to treat us righteously.


Satan has defined “salvation” solely as forgiveness, implying there is no penalty for violating God’s laws. However, consider the following facts:

  • Resurrection: The Jews in Jesus’ day were aware of the resurrection (though the Sadducees didn’t believe in it), and the goal of some Jews was to attain a good resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:8; Acts 26:6-8; Luke 20:35-36; Hebrews 11:35; John 11:24). In fact, Paul states that we were saved in the hope (expectation of obtaining the goal) of the resurrection (Romans 8:23-24). Please read the definition of Eternal Life in this section for more information about the resurrection (click here to go there).
  • Entering God’s kingdom: Jesus taught about His Kingdom. In fact, two of the disciples asked to be on His right and left sides in His kingdom (Matthew 20:21-23). Obviously, His followers wanted to be in His kingdom. Luke 13:23-27 starts with a question about few being “saved”, and Jesus ended His reply by saying the “workers of iniquity” shall be “thrust out” of the “kingdom of God”. Thus, Jesus equated being saved with entering the kingdom.
    By the way, the kingdom is not the same as heaven, because the kingdom (the new Jerusalem) will move out of heaven to the earth (Revelation 21:10). The kingdom will be on earth as the Lord’s Prayer states: “Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10).
  • Doing good: The resurrection (bodily immortality) is obtained by “patient continuance in doing good” (Romans 2:7). In Luke 13:27, Jesus tells us that “workers of iniquity” will be expelled from the kingdom, so we know that only those who did good will enter the kingdom.

Combining the above facts tells us that, to the Jews of Jesus’ day, “saved” meant pleasing God and obtaining His rewards. Such success requires doing good (righteous behavior), causing the person to attain the resurrection. Jesus taught about the kingdom, so to His disciples, “saved” (success) would also mean entering His kingdom on the earth. This fact explains why the disciples replied “Who then can be saved?” when Jesus told them that it’s difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom (Matthew 19:25).

“Saved” usually meant “success” to the Jews of Jesus’ day. Success in pleasing God by overcoming sin and behaving righteously. Success in thus obtaining God’s rewards. The rewards include the resurrection and entrance into the kingdom of God. To the Jews, these composed success.

Salvation is also in the past, in the present (a process), and in the future. All three are true of us.

  • Past:
    For we were saved in this hope… (Romans 8:24)
    For by grace you have been saved through faith… (Ephesians 2:8)

    When we started serving God, with faith in Jesus, we were imputed as righteous and delivered from committing the sins we repented of, enabling us to live righteously, so that we have been pleasing to God.
  • Present process:
    …but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (I Corinthians 1:18)
    …fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved… (II Corinthians 2:15)

    Presently, we war against temptations, overcoming them by grace (i.e., God’s help) through prayer, and thus are being strengthened and saved from sinning.
  • Future:
    But he who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:22)
    …we shall be saved in the same manner as they. (Acts 15:11)

    At the end of this age, we who overcome will be raised at the resurrection of rulers and enter the kingdom, the culmination of salvation.

In the New Testament, the word “saved” is used in some other ways also, including:

  • Forgiveness, which is salvation from wrath (Romans 5:9; Luke 7:47-50),
  • Preservation of our present body (Acts 27:20; James 5:15),
  • Deliverance from sin so we are no longer forced to sin (Romans 11:26-27; I Peter 3:21; Ephesians 2:5).

But generally, “saved” means being a successful Jew through godly living and obtaining God’s rewards. Here is a terse definition that’s easy to remember:

“Saved” means:
godly living, bringing rewards.

Knowing this, please read the section in this article about grace (click here to go there). It includes the surprising true meaning of Ephesians 2:8-9.


Sin is an action or intent that displeases God; that is, it violates His moral law.

Satan makes the standard for our behavior either too low or too high. It’s too low when Satan whispers, “It’s okay because everybody’s doing it, so go ahead.” He is encouraging you to sin by claiming that sin won’t bring you pain. It’s too high when Satan claims that insignificant things are sin. This is the trap of false conviction of sin described earlier.

Also, Satan will claim that temptation is sin. If you are tempted to sin, but don’t commit the physical act, have you sinned? After all, Jesus said that “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Does that mean that being attracted to the opposite sex is sin? No.

I believe God’s principle is this: If you intended to sin but were blocked by circumstances, then you have sinned in God’s sight because you chose to violate His law. But if that’s not true of you, be at peace, because temptation is not sin. However, don’t foolishly walk into tempting situations. And remember to pray each day, “do not lead us into temptation” (Matthew 6:13).

I have also heard foggy teaching that confuses hurt feelings with sin. Having your feelings hurt is not a sin. Hurting another person’s feelings is not necessarily a sin. In fact, telling someone a painful truth that hurts his feelings might be doing him a favor, and would thus be a righteous act.


Note that “works” is often translated as “deeds”, which is its modern synonym. Satan says that “works” refers to righteous behavior, and that because we are not saved by works, we are not required to behave righteously. But in the New Testament, the word “works” is used in two ways. The first usage refers to our actions. For example, you have probably had Ephesians 2:8-9 hammered into you, but the next verse, Ephesians 2:10, uses “works” to refer to our actions as follows: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works…”

The second usage of “works” refers to following the symbolic laws in the Law of Moses. For example, Paul wrote that, “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Romans 3:28, ESV). When Paul writes “works of the Law” or even just “works”, he is often referring to the symbolic laws. But check the context, as he could be referring to the entire Law of Moses. Some people in Paul’s day were trying to obtain salvation by obeying the symbolic laws, and Paul and others taught that that’s not possible, and that we must instead have faith in Christ.

Remember, faith is confidence in Christ and His words that causes us to obey them. Therefore, if we lack the works of obedience to Jesus, we are not saved. God requires these works, but not the works of the symbolic laws. In Revelation chapters 2-3, God repeatedly said, “I know your works.” He said this to every Christian church addressed in Revelation, referring to their actions. God requires works of righteous behavior.

Now that we have the proper definitions of faith and works, we can understand the difference between them. Satan teaches that we are saved by a mental belief in facts (faith), and not by righteous behavior (works). The Bible teaches that we are saved by obeying Christ out of confidence in Him (faith), and not by obeying the symbolic laws (works). Satan’s doctrine implies that sin won’t bring you pain, whereas the scary truth in the Bible pushes you into righteous behavior.

* * *

Faith Versus Works

I mentioned this topic of faith and works above, but it’s a source of so much confusion in the churches that it deserves further discussion. Consider the following passage which is central to the confusion:

But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.” (Romans 4:5-8)

Does the phrase “not work” in this passage refer to disobeying the symbolic precepts in the law, or to disobeying the entire law? Because of the words “ungodly” and “lawless deeds,” Paul is referring to the entire law. This passage appears to apply to two cases:

  • A new convert who just decided to have faith in Jesus. Paul is saying that you can come to God as you are, even though you have been freely breaking God’s laws until now.
  • Sins of ignorance. We are naturally ungodly and lawless, so we might doing something that we are not yet aware is a sin.

In both cases, we have not earned our way into pleasing God. Paul attests to this fact by quoting David: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven” (Psalm 32:1). And in both cases, faith requires that we obey all the moral laws we know about. Otherwise, we are knowingly sinning, so the wrath of Hebrews 10:26-27 applies to us and not the forgiveness of Romans 4:5-8.

Titus 3:5 completes the picture of salvation: “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us…” This verse is saying that we cannot be saved even by keeping the moral laws (much less the symbolic laws), because “all have sinned,” as Paul plainly states in Romans 3:23, so we have not always kept all the moral laws. First, we must repent of those sins. Then we must rely on His grace to keep from sinning again. So we cannot boast that we saved ourselves.


As a side-topic, we see that boasting is an issue with God because Paul mentions it three times in the discussion leading to Romans 4:5-8, in the following verses: Romans 4:2, Romans 3:27, and in Romans 3:19 which states “that every mouth may be stopped.” Ephesians 2:9 also mentions the issue of boasting, and all of these verses mention it in the context of grace and our behavior. I will speculate that such self-righteous boasting is related to Satan’s rebellion against God which he expressed by saying, “I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14). I suspect that Satan and other high-ranking spirits have been boasting against God, and that they are trying to get man to join them in their rebellion. By boasting, you might be making yourself a god in competition with God, which He won’t tolerate.

Perhaps part of the reason that God allowed man to sin was to humble us and prevent us from boasting like Satan. We will never be able to boast about our righteous life, because we would have failed if God had not pulled us out of the sinful mud and helped us along the narrow path. So all of our righteous behavior in life was done by His grace (i.e., with His help, starting with forgiveness), eliminating boasting.

Always remember that God requires righteous behavior from us, and that we will suffer if we sin deliberately. Don’t fall into the trap of using a perversion of Romans 4:5-8 or any other passage as an excuse to sin.


Are We Under Any Law?  We Christians are often taught (or given the impression) that we are under no law. It is widely believed that God discarded the entire Law of Moses. That’s wrong. God discarded only part of that Law. But He retained and broadened the parts of the Law that express His nature, which are the laws about morality, plus some laws of consecration. Christians must keep additional laws of consecration. Thus, God split the Law into pieces. He requires that we keep the updated laws of morality and consecration. We will suffer if we don’t.

Near the beginning of this article, I presented three paradoxes in the Bible that illustrate today’s confusion about God’s law. Before proceeding, I suggest that you scroll up and try to resolve those paradoxes yourself. Here are their resolutions:

  1. Paradox:  “Keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17) versus “not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14).
    Resolution:  In Matthew 19:17, Jesus was referring to only the moral commands in the Law, and not the entire Law. Romans 6:14 is saying that we are not obligated to keep the symbolic laws in the Law of Moses, but rather we have God’s help (grace) to keep His moral laws.
  2. Paradox:  “…those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21) versus “God imputes righteousness apart from works” (Romans 4:6).
    Resolution:  The “such things” in Galatians 5:21 refers to violations of God’s moral laws. The works in Romans 4:6 refers to keeping the symbolic laws (stressing circumcision). These two verses are referring to different sets of laws.
  3. Paradox:  In Galatians 5:18, the apostle Paul states that “you are not under the law,” and then in the following verses he gives us a list of 16 laws we must keep.
    Resolution:  This passage says that we are not under the symbolic laws, but that we are under the enhanced moral laws (which are listed).

Another paradox.  In this article, I claim that God split the Law of Moses, enhancing part of it and discarding the rest. But the apostle Paul stated in the following verses that we are no longer under the Law, implying that God discarded all of the Law, not just part of it:

Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? (Romans 7:1)

What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come… (Galatians 3:19)

Therefore the law was our tutor [or guardian] to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. (Galatians 3:24-25)

Yet, in the following verses which you read earlier, Jesus told us to keep the commandments:

But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments. (Matthew 19:17)

Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19)

Are Jesus and Paul contradicting each other? I don’t believe so. There are two ways of thinking about what God did with the Law:

  1. God retained part of the Law and enhanced it. This article takes this approach, as did Jesus when He said “keep the commandments,” but made them stricter in the Sermon on the Mount.
  2. God discarded the entire Law, and replaced it with new laws. Paul’s statements quoted above are based on this approach to the Law.”
Both ways of thinking have the same result, and are therefore equivalent in practice. Both approaches to God’s law say that God requires that we live in concert with His righteous and holy nature, which can be expressed in the form of laws of morality and consecration which we can keep by grace (God’s help/strength/ability/power). And after these laws are written on our hearts, we will obey them by nature.

Further reading.  I have identified over 40 satanic lies regarding our behavior that are commonly taught in Christian churches, and I have exposed and refuted them in this article: Behavior Matters. In addition, Dr. Robert B. Thompson has written hundreds of books and articles based on the many truths that God revealed to him. All are available for free download here.

(“Are We Under Any Law?”, 4353, 20230920)

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