Paul's Passing Thoughts

Happiness and Peace By Overcoming The Under-Law Mindset

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on November 15, 2018

ppt-jpeg4According to the Bible, there are only two basic people groups in the world; under law and under grace. If you will, lost and saved. Biblically, under law is framed as “under sin,” and “under condemnation.” It is important to understand that those under condemnation are dominated by the under law mindset. I have written about this before, but suffice for this post to say that those under sin are like sin in that they want to control others, and while condemned themselves, condemn others. As far as accusations to condemn others in an effort to control them or punish them for not being what they want them to be, people draw from the sin catalogue that violates their own consciences. This is why people accuse others of what they themselves are often guilty of. We see this constantly.

The Bible says that sin is empowered by condemnation, and that condemnation comes from the law. Because sin is at odds with God, and is driven by a desire to control humanity in unified opposition to God, it uses God’s law, which is good, to create sinful desires in people. These desires can take on a myriad of different characteristics like a desire to have sex with animals. This is kind of hard to understand, but here is an example that may help a little: have you ever stood at the edge of a cliff and had a weird temptation to jump? Of course, that would be against God’s wishes for many reasons, but hence the morbid temptation. As these desires are practiced, that is, the ones that don’t end your life, the desire intensifies leading to addiction, viz, the desire becomes so intense that we cannot say no to the desire. And yes, saying yes to the desire over and over again can add physiological dependence as well because of how cells try to adapt to a behavior’s effect on our bodies.

Jesus came to get rid of the condemnation by dying on the cross. His death ended the law. This stripped sin of its power. However, this was His primary part in salvation. God elected the salvation plan, not individuals, and the Spirit raised Christ from the dead. The Trinity worked together to establish the new birth which baptizes people into God’s family. There is a spiritual death with Christ and a spiritual resurrection with Christ BY the Holy Spirit.

THIS CHANGES OUR RELATIONSHIP TO THE LAW. This is where all religions and denominations miss the boat, that is, their single perspective on the law. Any single perspective on the law necessarily requires that all subjects remain under its condemnation requiring an ongoing covering for sin rather than an ending of sin. I find it striking that lofty Protestant scholars constantly refer to salvation as “the atonement” (covering) rather than what the Bible calls salvation: an ending of sin. This is where assurance of salvation comes from: there is simply no law that can judge us. And…”where there is no law there is no sin.” That’s what the Bible states.

Now, being under grace doesn’t mean that we are no longer under a law, nor is it a divine legal loophole for living any way we want to. The new birth does change our hearts from ones who were once indifferent to God’s law to ones who now love God’s law. This boils down to the Spirit’s two uses of the law: for those under law; to convict them of sin and the judgement to come, and those under grace; to sanctify them. Sanctification is a setting apart from something former, and endeavoring in what is not the norm. The new creature colabors with the Father, the Son, and the Spirit in this endeavor. To the believer, the law is now God’s wisdom for loving others and finding progressive peace with no fear of condemnation. Unhealthy introspection concerning motives is unnecessarily because those who properly understand the new birth know that it is the new birth that justifies, not perfect law-keeping. It can be rightfully said that Christians no longer sin, but fail to love, which is a family matter, not a matter of condemnation. No, Phil Johnson of Grace Community Church and many others, true Christians are NOT “under the righteous demands of the law”…that’s a false gospel that denies the new birth and how the new birth changes the believer’s relationship to the law.

Now a short conclusion concerning the thesis of this post: Even Christians who understand the new birth intellectually often function like they are still under law. That includes me. Habits and church brainwashing die hard. FYI: living statistics for church people and secular people are the same for one reason and one reason only; both are still under law.

In the conclusion of this post, I will point out some under law mentalities. First, we judge how well people are doing by how well they keep the law, that is, laws that are often those of our own preference. When someone offends you, did they actually break a law, or one of your personal preferences that you have made into a tablet of stone? Marriage is probably the best example with personal preference laws complete with punishments like the silent treatment and withholding sex. The silent treatment is actually a bloodless death penalty: you no longer exist in the household till the sin is atoned for in full, or until you “ask for forgiveness.” Pardon me, but Christ already took care of that. Certainly, an apology for failure to love may be in order, but we should be careful with the “forgiveness” approach, especially when a personal preference law has been broken. It may not be a sin just because someone didn’t do something you wanted them to do.

Secondly, under law thinking doesn’t consider another person’s motives. That’s because under law doesn’t care about motives, it only considers whether or not a law has been broken. Did we not hear the following in church for years? “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” To tell someone, “Oh my goodness! I didn’t mean to do that! That wasn’t my intentions at all!” is only making excuses and “not owning your sin.” Excuse me, but the Bible says, “love believes all things” and by the way, there is no sin to own, Jesus ended it.

Thirdly, the person is not seen through the lens of the big picture, that is, the sum and substance of their whole life, but the person is evaluated based on the present and particular “sin.” Is this not another thing we heard in church for years? Taking James 2:10 out of context, “If you break one law, you are guilty of breaking the whole law.” Trust me, many, many marriages are like that. Good luck.

Fourthly, under law thinking doesn’t employ biblical patience. Patience is enabled by seeing the person through the lens of their efforts and motives. Patience is possible when we know who the person really is, and the offence is seen as a stumbling, not a disrespect to one’s authority based self-importance. The Bible calls this a “love covering.” This is important because in the offenders mind, especially one who understands the new birth and makes every effort to live by it, they can never do enough to earn the approval of those who have under law thinking, and basically, that’s true. While striving to do what the Bible commands, viz, “make every effort to love God and others with all of your heart, soul, and mind,” under law thinking never remembers that this is how you live your life, but rather rejects the premise about you all together because of a single sin. The Bible says believers have a “willing spirit,” but are weak, and in some cases weaker because of some present life challenge. Under law thinkers disregard the willing spirit altogether.

Moreover, under law thinkers often cause others to function under law according to the following: others don’t do things for under law thinkers out of love, but rather to prevent condemnation by the offended. In marriage, we call it, “nagging.”

Fifthly, all in all, we must remember that church orthodoxy calls for a remembrance and looking for sin in order to appreciate what Jesus has done for us. This calls for all of reality to be interpreted through the law prism. This merely throws gasoline on the fire of humanity’s sad under law existence saturated with condemnation.

This has been drilled into our heads for years and evolving from this mindset will take work. This post only presents a few basic thoughts to get the ball rolling. But it begins with judging people by how much they love, not how much they sin.

The Bible says that love doesn’t keep a record of wrong, so we may assume that it keeps a record of right, and judges others accordingly. When someone offends you, where does your mind go? Which record does it focus on?

In many cases, in under law thinking, only one record exists in our mind to begin with. That’s not only a lie about the other person, but is more akin to hate than love.


3 Responses

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  1. Don Every said, on November 15, 2018 at 3:00 PM

    Hi Paul, thanks for your thoughts, though I find it all rather complex. Can I recommend a Catholic priest who isn’t now connected to that church but has gleaned new, simple insights from people in his tradition?

    His name is Richard Rohr, and he is established in New Mexico.

    Here is a sample with the link.

    Warm Regards,

    Don Every

    Warm Regards, Center for Action and Contemplation “What if Christ is a name for the transcendent within of every ‘thing’ in the universe? What if Christ is a name for the immense spaciousness of all true Love?”



    • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on November 15, 2018 at 4:53 PM

      Not sure how two relationships to the law is more complicated than realm manifestation though contemplationism/meditation. Am also unsure why he would have left the church for another version of the same thing.


  2. lydia00 said, on November 15, 2018 at 5:45 PM

    People don’t need to keep a record of wrongs when there is earthly justice. There should be a just consequence for harming another. But when, “saved sinners, sin” are born guilty and are totally depraved it’s just the normal.


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