Paul's Passing Thoughts

“Cross-Centered” Living Keeping “Christians” Under Law

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on January 5, 2018

Yup, we’re all just filthy scum…Now go have a happy “cross-centered” day!

Originally published January 5, 2017

Focusing on sin is all the rage among “christians” today.  Is it any wonder?  The “cross-centered” orthodoxy teaches that the more one gains a deeper understanding of their sinfulness, the more they gain a greater understanding of God’s holiness and a realization of what a great price was paid for their salvation, making the cross bigger.

So are you bothered by the realization that you continue to screw up in life?  Well, you should be.  After all, you are just a dirty, rotten, totally depraved sinner.  But don’t worry, the Bible is full of dirty, rotten, totally depraved sinners, and it worked out for them just fine!

That should make us feel better right?  Yet the number of “christians” who lack assurance of their salvation is pandemic.  However, the problem is not that “christians” don’t focus enough on their sin.  The problem is not that they are not living “cross-centered” lives enough.  In fact, such behavior is only going to exacerbate the problem.  Constant introspection on sin only produces fear.  Most christians’ lives are characterized by a fear of whether or not they are living “cross-centered” at any given moment.  Rather than showing love to God and others by aggressivly pursuing obedience as the Bible commands, they are paralyzed in their continual self-enslavement to sin.

Protestants like to go around saying “Man has a sin problem”.  My counter to that is, no, the problem is not man’s sin, the problem is his realtionship to the law!

Careful study of scripture reveals that there are two perspectives on sin and the law instead of the single-perspective that has been propagated by protestant orthodoxy for over 500 years. For an unbeliever who is “under law” (the biblical definition of an unregenerate person), the law is used to judge a person to eternal condemnation.  Romans 8:2 calls this “the law of sin and death.”

But for the person who is born again, the law can no longer condemn (Romans 8:1) because the old man has been put death (you cannont condemn a dead man). In his place is a new creature who is the literal righteous offspring of the Father. The law has a new purpose.  Romans 8:2 calls this “the law of the spirit of life.”  The law is now used as the means by which the believer shows love to God and to others.


Yeah, I know, it’s that pesky cross chart again.

Dwelling on sin leads to fear of condemnation because sin uses the law for that purpose.  So when we dwell on sin, we are willingly empowering a Sin master from whom we were freed when we were born again.  But this is exactly what protestant orthodoxy does; it keeps a believer under law and under constant fear of condemnation.  Is it any wonder why “christians” constantly function like the unregenerate?

A born again believer does not sin.  Not only that, he CANNOT sin (1 John 3:9).  Sin has to do with condemnation, and the believer is not condemned because there is no law to condemn him.  Since there is no law to condemn, there is no sin!  To the extent that he obeys the law or not is irrelevant.  He is no longer condemned.  His motivation is not one of seeking to merit righteousness.  He already IS righteous.  His motivation is a desire to express his love for God and others.   At worst, he simply fails to show love as he should.  It does not affect the reality of his righteous state as God’s child!

~ Andy

18 Responses

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  1. Emily Miers said, on January 5, 2018 at 3:43 PM

    If we, as born again Christians, don’t sin, then what do we call what we do that God, our Father, disciplines us for?


    • Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on January 5, 2018 at 3:46 PM

      It is called a failure to show love. It is not sin because it does not bring condemnation. It is not sin because the believer is no longer under law, therefore there is no law that can condemn.


  2. John said, on January 6, 2018 at 6:16 AM

    The diabolical ACBC (the Calvinist/Reformed arm of this spiritual darkness) is a huge proponent of the content of your article. That they are allowed to operate at all is, simply put . . . criminal.


  3. Anonymous said, on January 7, 2018 at 2:02 PM

    So, since I am born again, I can sleep with as many women as I want, and can steal my neighbor’s belongings without sinning? Doing those things would only be “failing to show love”?


    • Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on January 7, 2018 at 2:43 PM

      If you were born again, why would you want to do such things?
      This is the traditional pat response of someone who does not really want to understand the point. The argument is invalid. Nice try, but I am not going to play this game of logical fallacies.


      • Anonymous said, on January 7, 2018 at 3:17 PM

        Ah yes. The classic “I say your point is invalid, and because I declared it so, I no longer need to address the obvious contradictions inherent in the point I am trying to make.”

        You question of why a person would want to do these things is a non sequitor. You said a person “can’t sin” if born again. Yet, a person can obviously do these acts. If these acts are sin before being born again, then they are either sin after being born again, or they are not sin. Every human act can be only one of those two binaries. Each act is either sinful or or is not sinful.

        Many people make a decision to follow Christ and be born again. Many people make a decision to be healthy and purse an athletic lifestyle that includes good eating choices. The athlete can can choose to eat donuts after their initial decision. That was a poor eating choice before and it remains a poor eating choice. The Christian can choose to lie to his doctor and say he works out three times per week. That lie was a sin before accepting Christ and remains a sin after accepting Christ.


      • Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on January 7, 2018 at 3:52 PM

        You are purposefully ignoring the point that was made in the article and that this blog has made time and time again that sin has to do with condemnation. So if there is no condemnation then there is no sin. This is what it means to be no longer under law. The very premise of your question is a dead giveaway that you are still hung up on the law issue. One’s justification and righteous state has nothing to do with law. Your attempt to quibble over points such as, “What if I do this or that” shows that you are still attempting to make justification a law issue.


      • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on January 7, 2018 at 6:00 PM

        Ok, sin is sin. Fair enough. And as you state, sin before salvation is the same as sin after salvation. Is this what you are saying?


      • Anonymous said, on January 7, 2018 at 8:31 PM

        Ok, so now I’m really confused. I can’t respond to Mr Dohse in thread, but he said, “Ok, sin is sin. Fair enough. And as you state, sin before salvation is the same as sin after salvation.” However, Andy says there can’t be sin after salvation. So which is it.

        Let’s talk a very obvious and practical example. People who try shut down discussion by simply declaring one perspective as false and not worth a response hate real examples, but I’ll try anyway.

        If an unmarried unbeliever regularly fornicates, the unbeliever is sinning. If the unbeliever accepts Christ and is born again, according to Andy, he can continue to fornicate without sinning (because sinning is – in his words -impossoble). Andy would ask, “why would a believer want to do this?” The answer is obvious – because it feels good. The same reason he did it before becoming saved. Thus, according to Andy, the Christian can have the best of both worlds. He can repent and become born again AND continue to fornicate since such fornication would not be sinful. However, Mr. Dohse may agree that the post-born again fornication is indeed sinning.

        So, specific to this obvious and practical example, is it sinning or not for a born again believer to fornicate? If it’s not, why wouldn’t a believer enjoy both his his salvation and a few women along they way? What rational person would turn down salvation AND fleshly desires in exchange for salvation alone?


      • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on January 8, 2018 at 5:56 AM

        So, sin, being the SAME pre/post salvation condemns after salvation as well. Therefore, an ongoing atonement for sin is needed for the saved, right?


      • Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on January 8, 2018 at 9:49 AM

        The problem with your question, and this is what Paul is getting at with his comments to you, is that you are approaching this with a single perspective on sin. According to typical authentic protestant/Calvinist/reformed orthodoxy, sin is defined as that which condemns, so therefore “sin” for the believer would be no different from sin for an unsaved person. I reject your question because I reject the premise of your question because it assumes that ALL sin is condemning.

        The Bible defines sin in several ways.
        1. A transgression of God’s Law
        2. Personified as an Entity that seeks to control others through condemnation
        3. A violation of one’s own conscience
        4. Anything not done in faith (not being fully persuaded by reason)
        5. A failure to show love

        So before we can even address your question, we need to come to an understanding of what you mean by “sin”. This is not an attempt by me to be coy or evasive, but unless we agree on definitions we will only end up taking in circles around each other and this conversation will be pointless.

        So strictly speaking, because a believer is no longer under law (ie, there is no law to judge him), he CANNOT sin. 1 John 3:9 makes this clear. Where there is no law there is NO SIN! In this context we are talking about sin as something that condemns someone. So to answer your question, if a believer willingly engages in fornication or adultery, how are you going to condemn him? What law are you going to point to as a basis to judge him? The answer is, there is none! The law was ended for him. If you are driving down the highway at 80 mph, the state highway patrol cannot stop you and issue you a ticket for speeding if there is no law that says the speed limit is 55 (or any speed limit for that matter). What law can he point to as a basis to judge you for having violated? There would be none.

        The old man who was under law is dead. The law no longer had jurisdiction over him. This is why a literal new birth is so vital. The new creature who is reborn is not under any law that condemns. This is why he is truly righteous as a state of being.

        Now I ask you this, if there are no traffic laws, are you going to get into your car and drive as fast as you want, however you want, whenever you want because it “feels good?” The answer is no. Why? Because hopefully you recognize that doing so would pose a danger not only to you (love for self) but also to other individuals with whom you share the roads (love for others – thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself). Notice that while there is no condemnation, you are operating under a law of LOVE. This law does not condemn, but it does operate under the natural consequences of life and goodness and death and evil.

        “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil… therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” ~ Deuteronomy 30:15, 19

        Now even though a believer is no longer under the law of sin and death (and therefore no condemnation, Romans 8:1-2) and is operating under the law of love, he still has the capacity to make wrong choices that result in less life because of the weakness of the flesh (notice that weakness is not evil). That there is no condemnation does not preclude the natural consequences for one’s actions when one does not act according to love. Furthermore, such behavior would be incongruent with one who is a child of the Father. The apostle Paul poses this same rhetorical question in Romans.

        “ What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” ~ Romans 6:1-2

        Paul says this kind of behavior is unthinkable and is antithetical to someone who loves God and others. Anyone who understands what it means to be saved understands clearly going in that he is signing up for a changed life and that he should no longer behave the way he once did. Not only that, the Bible says that the one who is born again also has a love for the law and therefore strives to keep it. That does not mean that because of the weakness of the flesh he may from time to time fail to show love all the time. But perfection is not the issue. Perfect obedience to the law is not the issue or the motivation. The motivation is love. A person is righteous, not because he loves perfectly all the time, but because he is the born again offspring of the Father.

        So we can go round and round with example after example if you like, but such a practice would only be indicative of one who still thinks that law is the basis for justification. My answer to you will still be the same. Stop getting hung up on the law (condemnation and the fear that accompanies it) and focus on loving others. If you focus on love, you never have to worry about breaking the law.


      • John said, on January 8, 2018 at 11:52 AM

        Andy, Calvinists don’t get it because they don’t get/have/understand the New Birth/being born-again. They need to stay worms as one of their gods Calvin wants them to stay. The law is another of their gods. They have gods all over the place: MacArthur (the smiling liar); Sproul (the blasphemer); James White (rudeness and lies personified); Washer (the fake man’s fake man). Oh, these are ad hominem “attacks”? Roll me an iPod. Well, rather ad hominem attacks than the false, hellish gospel of Calvinism/Reformed nonsense; whatever.


  4. Argo said, on January 11, 2018 at 2:09 PM

    “If you were born again, why would you want to do such things?”

    I think this question of Andy’s was pretty insufficiently answered. The answer Anonymous provided was essentially, “because I can”. Hmm…seems weak. A born again believer presumablely accepts a specific Christian virtue, which, if I’m not mistaken eschews doing things which run contrary to Christian ethics. And so unless I’m further mistaken “sinning because I (technically?) can” is not a rational ethic for one truly born again. I think that he who continues to do things contrary to Christian virtue could not be rationally said to have accepted Christ, I would hazard. Just like anyone who says they accept black people but still runs Klan rallies would obviously be a liar.

    Plus, I think anonymous is equating condemnation to consequence. Just because a believer isn’t thrown into hell to roast indefinitely as a cosmic grease fire doesn’t magically make evil a good idea. It’s not sin for me to run into traffic. I don’t need the Law, and I don’t need threats of punishment. I just know it’s stupid. So yeah, for me, the consequences aren’t condemnation for failing that obey. They are the knowledge that I don’t want to be a paraplegic.

    Wrapping up my rant: one can’t sin as a believer because one would, we’d hope, have gained a more rational ethic. That is, because one’s smarter. Not because God is calling awful ideas and behavior sin. Dumb people need the law to tell them what’s good. Smart people already know. Dumb people need to be threatened with punishment for failing to obey. Smart people are incentivized by wisdom to act morally.


    • Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on January 11, 2018 at 2:37 PM

      Well said!


  5. Matt said, on February 19, 2018 at 7:53 AM


    I like your reply. In a nutshell Paul is saying in Romans 6:1-2 that continuing to do what we know God does not want us to do, would prove that the saving Grace of Jesus is more powerful than our wrong doing. Paul’s statement: “God forbid (we continue in sin). How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” is pointing to the fact that our sin is an act of disobedience and not showing love to God. Jesus says in John 14:15 “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” Your point reminds of 1 Corinthians 9:6-11 where Paul gives a list of sinful people that will not inherit the kingdom of heaven but he follows up by saying “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” In other words, he is saying, stop this kind of behavior because this is not pleasing to God.

    We should want to please God because we love Him not because we don’t want to get into trouble. Our motivation should not be self centered trying to be perfect people but God focused trying to please Him because we love Him.


  6. Matt said, on February 19, 2018 at 8:37 AM

    Also, in reply to this point: “A born again believer does not sin. Not only that, he CANNOT sin (1 John 3:9). Sin has to do with condemnation, and the believer is not condemned because there is no law to condemn him.”

    I believe this is why Paul discusses the purpose of the law is to point us to the fact that we were condemned by the law and needed to Jesus to free us from the law then, in Romans 7:20 says, “Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” and then in Romans 8 gives us the good news that we now live in Christ and are no longer condemned by the law. Romans 8:2 “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”


    • Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on February 19, 2018 at 9:06 AM

      Matt, great points. And the greatest irony of all is that Calvinists/Protestants in one breath will acknowledge that, yes, we need to be freed from the law, and in the next breath will turn around and say that the way this happens is by Jesus keeping the law for us. What they have done, either wittingly or unwittingly, is made salvation a function of the law. Even if Jesus keeps the law for us, that is STILL justification by the law!


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