Complete List of Sins for the Scrupulous

Scrupulosity Video Post

Jaimie Eckert

Published on Jan 19, 2021; Updated on Jan 19, 2021

Every month, 100,000 people search google for a “list of sins.”

I wonder how many of those people have the religious form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, also known as “scrupulosity.”

That’s what we talk about here at — the intersect between the vibrant realities of a relationship with God, and the compulsive, overextended energies of religious OCD.

Today I thought we’d sit down and write out a complete list of sins for the scrupulous. You might be surprised what’s included — and what’s not!

Discovering a List of Sins from Scripture

Human beings love lists. We like to have all the requirements on one page in front of us so our minds can grasp the totality of what needs to happen.

God understands that.

In fact, He created our brains to search for patterns and birds-eye views. Creating a list of sins might sound like a severely obsessive-compulsive thing to do, but in actuality, it’s been happening for ages, all the way back to Bible times.

In the Garden of Eden, we know there was only one verbalized restriction — eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Pretty simple list, huh? But there was more to it. The law of God was written in their hearts. Naturally, they had no desire to kill, steal, or create idols.

But after the fall, sin grew like weeds. God’s requirements had to be taught and remembered.

By the time Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, it was necessary to codify God’s laws and get them written down. But watch carefully, because the next episodes in the “list of sins” saga are a bit tricky…

There were actually THREE bodies of laws that came into existence in the time of Moses. These three sets of laws were:

  1. The Ten Commandments (written in stone by the finger of God, Exodus 31:18)
  2. The Civil Laws (written in a book by Moses’ hand, not God’s hand, relating to civic society)
  3. The Ceremonial Laws (also written in a book by Moses’ hand — relating to ceremonial cleanliness, sacrifices, offerings, and feast days)

Which List of Sins Applies Today?

In Jennifer Traig’s memoir of her own experience with scrupulosity, Devil in the Details, she talks about how she would read the Old Testament ceremonial laws and feel compelled to never sit on beds.


Because beds might be “ceremonially unclean” if an “emission” from a married couple had “defiled” it. Traig couldn’t possibly know what activities had taken place on beds, so she compulsively sat on floors instead, trying her best to follow the Old Testament purity laws.

Others have felt bound by obscure Old Testament injunctions that relate to the civic structuring of ancient Israel. One of my clients used to get intrusive thoughts that she might be required by God to stone someone for their sins — the OT version of capital punishment, which today is carried forward by our nation’s law enforcement officials.

list of sins in the Bible

All this stems from a misapplication of the laws found in Scripture (and we haven’t even touched the scrupulous tendency to creatively “invent” sins and rigorously hold ourselves off-limits from completely innocent things — but we’ll discuss that later).

For the scrupulous soul that is compiling a lengthy list of sins from the Bible, the first thing we need to understand is which still apply to us today.

Jesus and the Law

When Jesus referred to the Law of God, He spoke of the Ten Commandments. Remember when He talked to the rich young ruler? He didn’t bring out a list of ceremonial requirements and animal sacrifices. He talked about the Ten Commandments.

When the Pharisees were quizzing Jesus about the Law, He famously summarized all ten commandments into two: love God supremely, and love your neighbor as yourself. Theologians have typically suggested that the first four of the ten commandments relate vertically to our relationship with God, and the last six relate horizontally to our relationship with others.

So yes, Jesus believed in the eternal perpetuity of the law. List of sins? Yep, He had one up His sleeve. But not necessarily the one that was expected in His day.

He regularly breached the expectations of religious leaders of His time. He was guilty of “harvesting” grain on Sabbath, healing on Sabbath, and eating in a state of ceremonial uncleanness. But yet, the book of Hebrews assures us that Jesus never sinned.

Everything that Jesus did in His life showed that the ceremonial pattern of symbols that had been pointing forward to the Messiah was passing away. Shadow was about to meet substance. No longer would believers need to sacrifice a lamb, because the true Lamb of God had come. No longer would the stringent community laws of Israel be in effect, for God’s chosen ones would be found in every Gentile community around the world.

This is how Paul could write that Jesus had

…wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross…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.  

Colossians 2:14-17

Christ’s incredible victory on the cross put an end to the yearly round of religious ceremonies, purification requirements, and intricate feast days. Praise the Lord! We have direct access to our Father in Heaven, because the Passover Lamb has died for us, once and forever!

Jesus our Passover Lamb

Moral Law vs. Ceremonial Law: Knowing the Difference

However, Christ’s death on the cross did not change the validity of God’s eternal law. This is why we can logically say, “hey, don’t steal your neighbor’s lawnmower. It’s a sin to steal.”

No one would refute that it’s a bad idea to murder. Even unbelievers recognize such atrocities as morally unacceptable.

What was “nailed to the cross?” The “handwriting of ordinances that was against us.” Let’s compare that language to how Moses’ book of the law (which was the ceremonial and civil laws) was referred to in the Old Testament.

So it was, when Moses had completed writing the words of this law in a book, when they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying: “Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there as a witness against you; for I know your rebellion and your stiff neck. If today, while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the Lord, then how much more after my death? 

Deuteronomy 31:24-27

The tables of stone on which the Ten Commandments were written were kept inside the ark of the covenant. The ceremonial and civil laws were written in a book kept beside the ark.

One was written by God’s finger, the other by Moses.

Deuteronomy 31 and Colossians 2 speak of the law which was “against us,” and the Colossians passage specifically mentions food, drink, festivals, and new moons, which clearly indicate that we are speaking of the ceremonial law.

In short, the ceremonial law has been nailed to the cross and taken out of the way. There is absolutely no compelling evidence anywhere that Christians of today must keep the Old Testament ceremonial laws.

The Ten Commandments, Applied

Despite the fact that I take a strong theological stance against the keeping of Old Testament ordinances (and yes, I’ve listened to some very sincere people try to convince me otherwise), at the same time, there is strong Biblical evidence for the keeping of the Ten Commandments.

I will assume that most of my current readership on this blog are in agreement, so I will not spend a lot of time defending my belief in the Ten Commandments.

The real issue we face with scrupulosity is that we are so concerned with wanting to keep the Ten Commandments perfectly that we build a whole scaffold of supporting rules to help us keep them, and these manmade rules are typically quite one-sided.

For example, we want to make sure we don’t break the commandment about committing adultery, so we check off all the boxes: not looking at porn, not having an affair, not even going to the pool or places where an accidental glimpse might happen. But despite all these restrictions, which are intended to safeguard a passionate, God-glorifying marriage, I’ve talked with clients who haven’t made love with their spouse for several years (no exaggeration) because of a fear of sin.

It’s like throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

the law of God protects marriage

Believe me: I don’t take sin lightly. Coming from a conservative theological background, I believe the Bible teaches that some things are wrong, and I’m not going to play with that. But the scrupulous person creates sin where there is none, and I want to be a voice to balance that tendency.

To combat this one-sidedness, I decided to try developing a comprehensive “list of sins for the scrupulous” that will remind you of “the other side” of the discussion. There are undoubtedly a lot of things that you consider sinful that will not be on my list, like the client I had who thought wearing cologne was sinful, or the client who felt oppressive guilt for not “doing enough” for God even though she was working full time and leading out two huge nonprofits on the side.

The following list is based purely on an application of the Ten Commandments and Christ’s own statement that He has come that we may have life, and that we may have it more abundantly (John 10:10) — that is, rules are primarily meant to safeguard the gifts of God in this life — for us and for other people.

A Comprehensive List of Sins for Scrupulosity

1. Supreme Loyalty to God

And God spoke all these words, saying: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.

Exodus 20:1-3

The uncomplicated meaning: no religious syncretism. You may not be Hindu and Christian at the same time, for example. You may not pledge yourself to follow a pagan deity and still belong to God.

What it doesn’t mean: this doesn’t mean that everything in life that gives you pleasure is a “god.” God created us to have love, pleasure, and enjoyment, and the scrupulous tendency to feel guilty and sinful in beautiful moments is not the true meaning of the first commandment.

2. Unmediated Relationship with God

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

Exodus 20:4-6

The uncomplicated meaning: God invites us to have an unmediated relationship with Him, one that does not pass through an intermediary or statue. Applied, this means we should neither create idols nor pray to them.

What it doesn’t mean: similar to the previous commandment, it doesn’t mean that everything in life we enjoy is an “idol.” Nor does it mean we cannot have beautiful images and art, unless we are praying to them as an intermediary to help us access God.

4. Respect for God

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

Exodus 20:7

The uncomplicated meaning: God asks us to remember the distinction between creature and Creator by showing Him due respect. We should avoid using His name in a frivolous or vulgar manner. Expletives like, “Oh my God!” “Jesus Christ!” “I swear to God!” “God d*** it!” and so on are offensive to the Lord.

What it doesn’t mean: Although it is reasonable to make recommendations or requests, the third commandment does not require us to police others in their choice of language. It also does not mean that unwanted, intrusive, blasphemous thoughts that stem from obsessive-compulsive disorder are sinful.

3. Rest and Security in God

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

Exodus 20:8-11

The uncomplicated meaning: God invites us to refrain from working on the Sabbath day. It is the only commandment that includes the injunction to “remember,” perhaps predicting our busy lifestyles that would lead us to forget our God-dependency. As a memorial of creation that reminds us of God’s power to create the world, Sabbath is elsewhere called a “sign” that indicates our trust in His ability to re-create us spiritually.

What it doesn’t mean: This commandment is not something to “do.” It is a “not-do” moment where we stop our works and rest in God’s. (See my article on Sabbath as a beautiful weekly ritual for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder.)

scrupulosity and resting in God

5. Care and Respect for Parents

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

Exodus 20:12

The uncomplicated meaning: there are many culturally appropriate ways to “honor” your parents, depending on where you are in the world. The Bible stipulates that we should obey them when we are children (Ephesians 6:1) and make sure they are comfortable and cared for in their old age (Mark 7:9-13).

What it doesn’t mean: This commandment does not endorse letting yourself be hurt or manipulated in toxic parent-child relationships. You are not breaking the fifth commandment if you need to draw healthy boundaries.

6. Protection of Life

You shall not murder.

Exodus 20:13

The uncomplicated meaning: avoid engaging in actions that take life or quality of life. Not only would this refer to murder and suicide, but it would most likely include slower forms of death, such as drugs and self-harming practices. (What about watching violent movies or playing violent video games? See next section.)

What it doesn’t mean: some have equated anger with the sin of murder because of 1 John 3:15 — “whoever hates his brother is a murderer.” However, hatred is not the same thing as anger. And hatred is not the same thing as the “general annoyance” or “suspicion” that many people with scrupulosity feel guilty about.

7. Protection of the Marriage Relationship

You shall not commit adultery.

Exodus 20:14

The uncomplicated meaning: no extra-marital affairs. This would include any kind of extra-marital sexual activity (penetrative or not), emotional affairs, or remarriage after cases of unbiblical divorce. (What about porn? See next section.) And for cases of unmarried persons, this commandment would still be relevant, since you have no way of knowing whether your premarital sexual partner is your future spouse or someone else’s.

What it doesn’t mean: many people with scrupulosity struggle with intrusive, unwanted lustful thoughts. They believe that such thoughts indicate they are breaking the seventh commandment. Others deal with unwanted and inappropriate emotional attractions. These issues are not what this commandment is addressing. A temptation is not a sin. Don’t ruminate for too long on whether it is a “chosen” thought or an unwanted temptation. The more attention you give to a thought, the stickier it will become. Ignore the thought and move on.

8. Protection of Community Assets

You shall not steal.

Exodus 20:15

The uncomplicated meaning: don’t take what doesn’t belong to you.

What it doesn’t mean: it isn’t referring to your obsessively-marked timecard, items you touched in the supermarket, or favors/coupons you received.

9. Protection of Truth and Reputation

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Exodus 20:16

The uncomplicated meaning: speak the truth about others, and don’t corrupt justice with lies.

What it doesn’t mean: this commandment uses legal vernacular. “Bearing witness against” someone is what takes place in a courtroom. A courtroom witness or testimony involves very serious thought and intention. The same would go for everyday lies or even “white” lies. But this commandment is not talking about accidental misinformation. People with scrupulosity are highly fastidious about getting the “details” correct so they aren’t guilty of lying. I’ve had clients email me after sessions to “fix” their mistakes, like saying they take medicine X when they actually take medicine Z. These kinds of mistaken details might be misleading, but they are not sin. Also, the ninth commandment does not mean we may never speak a negative truth about someone else. If you are in an abusive or emotionally toxic situation, it is not “bearing false witness” to speak to a pastor or counselor about it, even if you’re confused about the details.

10. Contentment with God’s Gifts

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.

Exodus 20:17

The uncomplicated meaning: no matter what our materialistic culture tells you, focus on a spirit of contentment and gratitude rather than greediness.

What it doesn’t mean: it doesn’t mean you can’t “want” anything. Many people with scrupulosity guilt trip themselves for normal desires. This has crossover with the first and second commandment about having other gods or idols. I’ve coached a few people with scrupulosity who intentionally purchased shabby thrift-store clothing and cut their hair in awkward styles to avoid the “pride” of looking nice, and others who feel guilty for the feeling of admiration that arises when they look at their neighbor’s new car. Admiration and self-respect are very different from the covetous, self-seeking greed this commandment appears to be addressing.

What About Porn and Violent Entertainment? Do They Make It on the List of Sins?

Of course, let me reiterate that my purpose for writing a post where I attempt to make a comprehensive list of sins is simply to dial back and remind the scrupe community that we usually take it too far. And while the Ten Commandments can be probed for almost infinite applications as society adapts and changes, it’s good to remember that there are limitations. Many people in the world (probably the vast majority) need to be reminded of the claims of God’s law. But for our teensy little segment of the population, we need to be reminded to not label innocent things as sin.

That’s my goal here, is to try and talk about God’s requirements with faithfulness to the Biblical message without giving ya’ll permission to go overboard. 🙂

making a list of sins and guilt tripping

But here I just want to insert one element that many people might be wondering about. What shall we do with porn and violent entertainment? Should that be on the “list of sins” or not?

Porn isn’t high on my list of topics to discuss with my clients, but occasionally someone will bring it up. Usually, it’s viewed negatively. Such views are based on verses like Matthew 5:27-28, Job 31:1, and Psalm 101:3. Taken together, these verses suggest that voluntary looking equals vicarious participation in such sins.

(Note: please don’t start ruminating now if you’re one of those guys who accidentally sees a scantily clad woman in the supermarket, looks away rapidly, and then obsesses about whether you actually meant to look or not.)

I’m talking about people — this could be men or women — who voluntarily turn the computer on, go to specific sites, and sit there ogling. 

In my view, as far as I can understand Scripture, consuming porn is sin. 

And, thankfully, there’s a huge segment of the Christian world who believes that way, too.

But if voluntary looking equals vicarious participation, then why are many Christians against porn but not against violent entertainment?

How can we play video games that involve pulling the trigger and killing someone? How can we watch movies that glorify shoot-outs, deadly explosions, and mysterious murders?

The same principle would seem to apply.

Either porn and violent entertainment are both sinful, or neither are sinful.

Trying to Be “Too Righteous”

King Solomon wrote an interesting statement in the book of Ecclesiastes. He said, “Do not be overly righteous, nor be overly wise: why should you destroy yourself?” (Ecclesiastes 7:16.)

He must have seen that there is a tendency within some people to strive so hard and be so persnickety in the details that we actually end up harming ourselves.

Paul wrote in Romans 7:6 about serving in the Spirit and not in the letter. He must have understood that clocking out a few minutes early and then answering some business calls on the weekend was better than standing around doing nothing in the lobby for the last 6 minutes and 35 seconds of the workday.

Making a list of sins is only as effective as our understanding of sin and righteousness actually is. Do we understand how we actually become righteous through the indwelling spirit of Christ, or are we trying to white-knuckle ourselves to holiness? Are we aiming for the true spirit behind God’s laws, or are we more interested in ticking off a million little boxes?

An old friend of mine used to be a faculty at the Bible college I attended. Every year, staff and teachers had to sign off on all the school’s agreements and waivers. This staff member regularly refused to sign the contract allowing him to drive school-owned vehicles, because it stipulated that he could not drive over the speed limit.

Sounds like a good stipulation, right?

But he thought about the spirit of the law rather than the letter, and he refused to sign. He recognized that there would be times when following the speed limit would be a safety hazard — for example, in highway situations where the speed limit is 55 but everyone is going at least 70. Rules that are intended to keep everyone safe, if followed with determined fastidiousness to the letter of the law, might sometimes cause more harm than good.

So when we sit back and think about the ever-so-small “list of sins” we find in the Ten Commandments, let’s remind our scrupulous selves to pay attention to the spirit of the law. The spirit behind it is life, preservation, and rich relationships with God and others.

Not self-flagellation. 

Not intensive guilt-tripping for minuscule details that don’t even count as sins.

God’s law doesn’t lead to death, it leads to life!

victory over sin by the power of Christ


Writing up a comprehensive “list of sins” isn’t easy, but since 100,000 people are searching for it every month, I decided it might be a topic to try wrangling.

I hope my attempt has been helpful in some way.

If you have scrupulosity, remember that the intense passages in Scripture about sin and guilt were more or less written for people with a less sensitive conscience than you. Others need a big kick in the pants. You may need only a nudge. Don’t let your hypersensitivity to guilt and sin lead you to a state of resentfulness towards God or an avoidance of religion.

God loves you.

He sees that you are authentically and genuinely trying to follow Him.

And He’s the One who will make that a reality.

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6

May you have an accurate and not overblown picture of sin. May you trust in God to work the miracles of sanctification in your life that you cannot produce in your own human effort. May you rest trustingly in His hands with the calmness of a little child.

Best wishes on the journey,

  • Thank you i Love Reading These Pages when i am soo anxiety and anxius it calms me to read These Pages i ve been for 26 years in ocd scrupulosity i wish and look and pray to overcome and ignore the thoughts it feels much Hard work for me to ignore but only to now much moré struggling with that givea me a Little Hope i will ask for prayers please sometimes it feels i have the Bad thoughts against god After i hate myself and cannot forgive myself so it go s on and on

  • I always love your articles! I have struggled with this for YEARS! I’m not saying I’ve never engaged in any sins at all of course, but I think a lot ‘sins’ I thought I was committing weren’t sins at all. Back in August, I struggled with this intrusive thought that had me paranoid and the next day, I’d gotten so overwhelmed that I purged the next day. I apologize if this is TMI, but I hated purging as a kid and I rarely purge when it comes to my OCD and anxiety. In reality, I believe it was just an emotional overload of many things that were currently happening in my life. I just started jumping to false conclusions believing that God was punishing me. I had a couple of rough weeks that month of sleepless nights that just seemed like they went on forever. I’d only sleep for 3 hours. Thankfully, I came to find out that my body and everything in it was out of balance, so I wasn’t actually going crazy. But unresolved issues from my past came up when I was feeling like that.

    However, I began to grow more paranoid as I feared that I would have to face some severe punishment for that intrusive thought cuz there was no going back and it was too late (Thought-Action Fusion). I have Pure OCD, so I suffer from all subsets of OCD (HOCD, Magical Thinking/Superstitious OCD, etc.). But then it occurred to me, the only one punishing me was me. Everybody has intrusive thoughts. It’s a broken world. If other people can move forward, so can I. I have to also keep in mind that in my upbringing, I grew up with a parent who is obsessed with doomsday so that’s what I grew up hearing in my house all the time. But I began to think I was weak if I allowed the enemy to get the best of me. I thought that I was a failure. I just have a lot of unlearning to do and to start, I’m beginning to form new neural pathways. I’m in the very beginning of these pathways, but I trust that God is still helping me through it.

  • Thank you for this article Jaime. I really was in need of it today. I suffer terribly from scrupulosity and am coming to the end of my endurance with my pastor, the teachers and members of my Sunday school class, and a friend who has a website that provides daily Bible lessons and devotionals. All of these individuals lately seem to talk constantly about sin. Actually, it is worse than that. Avoiding sin whenever possible is very important of course. But all of these individuals, each in their own way manage to imply that everyone commits sin constantly or that everyone is equally guilty of committing a certain sin under discussion. In the case of my Sunday school class, the members and the teachers seem to glory in confessing what loathsome, vile sinners they are. They show no distress at all regarding their condition which gives an impression of false humility that smacks to me of the sin of pride. They go further and imply or say outright that “we” are all loathsome, vile sinners. I want to stand up and shout “don’t you presume to lump me in with yourselves !”I live every day of my life evaluating whether or not my actions, lack of actions, and thoughts qualify as sins. I already live with hating myself for my perceived sins (most of which are not sins but only seem so because of my scrupulosity. In the case of my pastor, his sermons lately center on sin rather than God’s love and forgiveness. He too says things like “we all are guilty of this or that” I experience the same desire to stand up and shout “I would not dream of doing such a thing. Do not presume to know what I do or don’t do” Of course I never would do such a thing in either case. In fact, I like all of these people. They have all shown me kindness in my depression and I believe they try to practice what they preach. They don’t know about my scrupulosity and I don’t expect them to tailor their behavior to accommodate my disease. The problem is mine. Still, it has turned attending church and going to Sunday school into triggers for me.

    As for my friend with the website, he has decided to do a series on sin and why God hates sin (as if we all do not know already why sin is wrong and why God forbids it.) One do his “reasons” goes like this : “Sin is an intentional violation of our relationship, with our Creator, wishing Him dead.” Another little gem was : “Our flesh is always hostile toward God. We sin because we are selfish and prideful. When we disobey God we want out from under His authority… blah blah blah. Okay.

    I don’t know if anyone else would agree with me in my indignation upon reading these statements. I am unaware if they are Biblical and frankly don’t care. I take issue with their truth and with their application to humanity as a whole. I am far from perfect, but I have never in my life sinned from a hatred of God. I have never had any hostility toward God, not even when my scrupulosity has led me to feel He hates me. I fight any action that is selfish (I don’t always succeed but I avoid it if I possibly can) I have also been told that what I think is selfishness in me is not, that I only think I have committed this sin because I have scrupulosity. I am anything but prideful. I have no doubt at some point in life sinned due to offended pride. However, it is not such a dominant part of my character that it is the motivation of all my sins. Like selfishness and all other sins, I go out of my way to scrutinize my behavior and make sure I am not committing the sin of pride. I would never deny that I am a “sinner.” I am a human being and all human beings sin. As I said, I take issue with is truth and their application to humanity as a whole. But what truly offended and distressed me is the way they portray God. I actually started to cry at the thought of God seeing me as an enemy, of my sins being committed with the sole motive of demonstrating my hostility and malice for him. I never plan to sin knowingly or decide to do what I want even though I know that God has forbidden what I want. I place importance on the respect and obedience God demands from me. I think this is the case for most genuine Christians. Sins like anger when someone I trust hurts me emotionally are beyond my control. All I can do is struggle not to show or nurture it. My depression and my scrupulosity are very distressing and annoying for my parents. I cry frequently and when they express exasperation, I count my inability to hide my suffering as a sin. I count any anger I feel at their annoyance as a sin. Maybe they are sins, maybe they are not. That’s not really the point. I
    see them as sins, and to read that God sees these impossible-to-prevent sins as the actions of an enemy, as indicative of hostility toward Him, as the result of selfishness and pride was devastating.
    If God views sin in the way this person claims, He should never have created human beings in the first place. There are acts that are voluntary, vicious sins and their are acts that result from the misfortune of being human and are more human weakness that cause the sinner suffering and
    remorse than they are indications of depravity and hatred and disrespect for God.

    • Hi Patti,
      I think it can be helpful to remember that the Bible portrays the human condition in at least two ways: sin as intentional rebellion against our Creator, and sin as a vicious and unwanted captor. Romans 7, in particular, depicts sin as a slave master whom we hate but we cannot escape in our own power.

      “I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do…I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:14-15, 21-25

      I think it may be more helpful for you to envision sin and human nature in this captor-slave analogy rather than as direct rebellion. Yes, we sin–but in most cases we don’t want to. We say, “Oh how wretched! How can I be delivered from this anger/bitterness/selfishness etc?” And the answer is that Jesus is the One who delivers. We can safely look away from self and claim God’s promises for our growth in grace, so that each day we will see the power of our sin-captor decrease.

      Hope this helps,


      • Jaime, thank you. This helps tremendously. I have always believed that there are certain things about myself that can I simply cannot change or eliminate without God’s help. I am no believer in self help books or any philosophy that claims or implies that you can accomplish self improvement on your own. I am not condemning all self – help books : I am sure there are some that are useful. If a person claims they succeeded in changing himself/herself for the better solely by personal efforts, I am not going to challenge them on it. I don’t believe such claims- God aided that person even if they didn’t ask Him to do so; they just don’t realize it. However, I will not stay silent when told that I can change something about myself all on my own if I just “think positively” “try harder” “try hard enough” “ have a better attitude”. Since becoming a Christian, I have changed for the better and I know absolutely that any improvement in my character, any decrease in “sinning are due to God who knows how desperately I want to be free of sin and the pain it causes me.

        As always, thank you for taking time to reply to me.

        Grace and peace.


  • Dear brothers and sisters in Christ. God loves you so much and nothing you do will ever separate you from the love of God. Scrupulosity is caused by a false belief that the law still applies to you. It doesn't, it has passed away. The law has gone and grace has come. The law was always powerless to stop you from sinning. It says do not do, do not say, do not think. Trying to overcome sin by the flesh is useless and nobody met the requirements of the law except Christ himself who is God. That is why he came – to fulfil the law so that we would not have to.

    We can rest in His sacrifice through faith in Him so that we don't have to meet the law. It is true. You are saved by faith alone not works of the flesh. Nothing you do or don't do in the flesh (works of the flesh) can ever save you. That's why Jesus said the ONLY work is to believe in Him who the Father sent. You are released from the works – it's true. Just believe in Christ through faith.

    Trying to write lists of sins to stop doing is legalism – remember the law says do NOT, do NOT, do NOT and you are powerless to stop it in the flesh. The law has passed away. Grace has come and it says do walk in the Spirit. You have the power of the Spirit to draw upon and it says you are a child of God, heir of God, co-heir with Christ, seated in the heavenly realms. It is true.

    As soon as your mind says do NOT do, do NOT say or do NOT think such and such – stop and recognise this as legalism. Ignore the thought saying the law has passed away and grace has come. Let the thought go. Grace says do walk as a child of Christ, do Love God, do love your neighbour. There is no more don't. We walk as a child of Christ who aims to please God through the grace given to us in the power of the Spirit. Aiming to please God and "having" to stop sinning is a completely different requirement. This is the difference between grace and law. You are already saved by faith. Now we make it our aim to please God even whilst we are still sinners.

    A lot to learn. Please read your Bibles, particularly the new Testament and God will reveal these truths to you. I have suffered from religious OCD for 12 years and I found complete release from this complaint by knowing that it was caused by a false belief that the law still applied to us. It does not. The law has passed away and grace has come. Walk in the Spirit as the Child of Christ that you are and the power of the Holy Spirit will help you. God bless you all.

  • Hi Jaimie! There's been these few sin-related questions I've been struggling with. First of all, here in Finland I've often heard people saying that leaving trash in nature is same as stealing, because it is stealing either from other people, because they have to suffer from one's carelesness or stealing from the future generations. I see the point, but it also leaves me to have this one big question: is it a sin to NOT pick up someone else's trash? This may sound extremely weird, even hilarious, but here in Finland we're very proud of our pure nature. There's been couple of times when I've walked back to some place when I've remembered that I saw a chocolate bar paper or an empty cardboard mug laying on the ground there.

    Another thing, is the misusing of God's name. You said that intrusive thoughts are just intrusive thoughts and I agree with that. But what if these thoughts come so naturally that I'm afraid that they actually are my thoughts? Sometimes if something bad happens, a swear word just pops into my mind. They often come in situations when someone else would actually swear.

  • Hello,

    I have struggled with scrupulosity for over 8 years. I’ve been concerned with many issues, ie worrying watching fantasy television shows was sinful, worrying the things in my life that I loved were idols, that I was sinning every second of every day and not realizing it etc etc. But it all boiled down to one common theme: going to hell. I struggled with, and still do, intrusive thoughts about if I am a true believer or not, if I produce enough spiritual fruit, or any at all, and if I don’t then I must not be saved. In the compulsive state, I feel compelled to seek reassurance that my thoughts are untrue. Since 2015, I’ve had a great group of Christians around me who understand God’s grace and have assured me that the things I worry about are not legitimate fears. (At one point, I thought watching shows that had supernatural elements such as witches or magic, was the same as actually PRACTICING magic! OCD sure puts strange thoughts in ones head, huh lol). I felt comforted after hearing my devoted Christian mother in law also loves Harry Potter.
    Anyway, before I had a good support system, I would seek reassurance online. And for the first few months, I didn’t know what scrupulosity was, so I thought I had a faith problem. Sometimes I’d find good articles written by grace filled Christians, but most of the time, I’d find legalistic sites that confirmed my OCD thoughts were valid and they said if I did this thing or that thing, it didn’t matter that I had accepted Christ and I was going to hell anyway. I know now that’s not true and since I’ve accepted Christ, I when I do sin, no matter what, I am still saved, though asking for forgiveness is still necessary, not to keep salvation, but to nurture your relationship with God.
    Anyway, now for my question: you mentioned above that any remarriage where the person was previously divorced for an unbiblical reason would be considered adultery. I agree and I think biblical reasons are sexual unfaithfulness, abandonment and abuse. But, I read some articles online that said if you are remarried and your previous divorce was unbiblical, then you need to divorce your current spouse cuz you are living in a constant state of adultery and by sinning willfully in this way, you forfeit your salvation.
    My support system, along with some different online articles, have told me that this belief is false and only the ACT of remarriage is adultery, and once married, the couple is married in God’s eyes.
    I’ve also been told that if a man and woman divorced cuz the man was unfaithful, she is free to remarry. Then say later he asks for forgiveness; my friend, a pastors wife, says that he can remarry without it being adultery.
    I’ve also been told that everyone sins willfully and that is not the meaning of the passage in Hebrews that says if you continue in sin, Christ is not in you. Rather it was saying that if you willfully sin by denying Christ and die in a state of unbelief, there remains no sacrifice for your sin and you’ll go to hell. Now this is NOT an excuse to sin and live however you want, BUT all believers have times in their life when they fall into sinful patterns. It doesn’t mean they lose salvation; it just means they need to come to the realization of their sinful behavior and ask for forgiveness, and all true believers will stray at times, but we will always come back because God does not let us fall away as a shepherd goes after his sheep if it strays away.
    Anyway, sorry that was a mouthful lol. I just want to know if you think my understanding of all this is correct?


    • Hi Ashley,
      It sounds like you’ve really been processing a lot of ideas! One of the things we cover thoroughly in our group coaching sessions is how to find a healthy understanding of salvation, where we avoid “cheap grace” on the one hand and “legalism” on the other hand. Probably there’s more to answer to your post than I could do justice to in a short response, but it would be lovely to have you join us in our weekly sessions to dig deeper. You’re on the right track to seek answers to these questions!

      • I already know what I believe is true. I don’t believe God’s grace gives us believers a license to sin, but at the same time we are all sinners and we sin everyday, whether it’s an unconscious sin or a willful sin and when we do sin, we don’t lose our salvation. I’ve heard some legalistic people say, oh if you sin willfully and/or repeat the same sin, it’s proof that you’re not truly saved. Not only is that not true, but it also fuels my OCD and gets me caught in an endless thought spiral. Every Christian at some point in life, even after salvation, has had a sin that becomes a habit or a lifestyle. Doesn’t mean they aren’t still saved. Just means they need to come to terms with their sin, make amends with God to strengthen their relationship with Him and ask for His help in defeating whatever the sin is that the person is struggling with.
        Honestly, when I typed my first comment, I was in the middle of a thought spiral and all those questions I asked, I already know what I believe are the answers. By asking you for reassurance, I was seeking validation for my beliefs and therefore feeding the OCD. I’ve literally asked my fellow Christians in my life these questions hundreds of times.
        I don’t need any more opinions or others interpretations of what scripture says on these topics. I already know what I believe. They just keep coming up because of the OCD. I’ve literally been asking these same exact questions for the past 8 years and just when I think I’m satisfied with what I believe is the biblical truth, the doubting thoughts come back and the process starts all over again. But it’s not a faith problem; it’s the OCD.
        So in conclusion, I know that I am saved because I have accepted Christ as my Savior. All my sins have been forgiven and I know I will go to heaven when I die. Even though sinning is not my goal, and I do NOT have the attitude of, “oh I’m already saved so I can live however I want and do whatever I want, no matter how sinful”, I still do sin and there have been times in my life when I had a sinful habit in my life. When I was in the midst of that, I did not lose my salvation as salvation comes from faith alone, which I still had, but coming to terms with said sin and asking God’s forgiveness is important to remain in close fellowship with God.

        • Also, my end goal is to follow Christ’s example and live my life in a way that would please Him, but I fall short of His standard every single day, as all of us do because of our sinful natures. That’s why we have Him as our Advocate, so that when we do sin, I imagine He tells God something like, “yes, Ashley did sin, but that sin was already paid for by My sacrifice.” It’s a daily struggle and sometimes we struggle with a sinful habit, but our salvation is paid for with the blood of Christ, not by our own efforts. Even when I have struggled with a sinful habit, it was never my intention to disregard Christ and live however I pleased. I love Him and want to follow Him and be more like Him, but it’s a process and it won’t be complete until I die and go to heaven and am free from the sinful desires that come from living in the flesh.
          But anyway, my point is, Jesus loves me just as I am, warts and all, and will never forsake me because of my faith in Him. BUT, He will work in me through the Holy Spirit, changing me as I grow in my faith and help me become more Christlike. Even though I’ll never achieve perfection in this life, I can always do better with the help of the Holy Spirit and I want to do better because of the love I have for the One who granted me salvation ❤️🙏🥰

          • Also, I do not agree with your stance on violence in entertainment being sinful. It is not the same thing as porn. For one thing, porn is real. The people in them are actually having sex and performing other sexual acts.
            Violent entertainment such as action movies for example, are not real. The actors are not actually doing these things. It is a fictional story made for purely entertainment. For you to say you are vicariously participating in these acts by watching it, wouldn’t that also mean we need to avoid anything that might cause us to witness sin being committed? I read Romeo and Juliet in school. That’s full of murder and other sins. Was I sinning by reading it? I would vehemently say no.
            Watching FICTIONAL programs that feature sinful acts, ie premarital sex, murder and other forms of violence, lying, homosexuality, etc etc is not a sin because IT ISN’T REAL! The actors are not ACTUALLY performing these acts. They are acting, ie putting on a show.
            The only way watching these things would be sinful, is if watching them makes you believe these sins they are portraying are not sinful and they are okay to do because your favorite characters do them; or if seeing these sins influences you and you go out and commit the sins in real life. Watching/reading/playing games etc is a personal choice based on how it affects your walk with Christ. As long as it doesn’t distort your understanding of God, Jesus, sin etc etc, then we have freedom in Christ and consuming entertainment will be just that: a source of entertainment, not reality.

  • Hi Jamie, thanks for posting these and good job on the depth. However I do disagree with the stance on the Ten Commandments. Romans 7 tells us we have to die to the Law in order to bear fruit. The whole law. The biggest evidence of not following the Big Ten as guidance to believers today is 2 Corinthians 3:7-10 , as the Ten Commandments are literally described as the ministry of death as it is discussing the letters engraved on stones. The only law as u stated above written by the hand of God on stones were the Ten Commandments. They are referred to the ministry of condemnation. A great book on this is Twisted Scripture by Andrew Farley and Paul Ellis website escape to The Law was pure and holy but no one could abide by it. Which is why the rich young ruler went away sad. He couldn’t embrace the message of grace. He didn’t believe at that time that Jesus was Messiah. As believers, we have Christ dwelling in us. It’s great knowing that Paul states we have died to the whole law. Lastly, we are all gentiles on here. The commandments and the law was never meant for us anyways. We were never Jewish and will never be Jewish. We gentiles were never bounded by the law as Galatians tells us which is why Paul was so upset with religious leaders trying to get gentiles to do ceremonial laws and what not. It was silly.

    Again thanks for all you do. Great website.

    Another good book is Clash of the Covenants.

    • Hi, Neal,
      Thanks for your comment. I think all your thoughts are good ones that deserve a thorough response, but just in brief to describe where I’m coming from.

      My understanding is that God’s law is still valid today, but the question is HOW it can be kept. Legalists say it is kept by human effort. Proponents of cheap grace say it is impossible and cannot be kept by anyone, so let’s just ignore it. My understanding from Scripture is that God’s law CAN and SHOULD kept, but only through the indwelling power of God’s grace which He gives us through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, sanctification is a work of God upon my heart rather than a self-powered endeavor.

      A key component here is understanding the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, which I think is what you are partially getting at with some of the points you have mentioned. The Ten Commandments, as they were understood under the Old Covenant made at mount Sinai, were based upon a legalistic framework. Remember what the people said when Moses read God’s law to them? “All that the Lord has spoken, we will do” (Exodus 24:3). Notice who does it? WE will do it. It is a self-powered, humanistic, legalistic attempt.

      It was oppressive and impossible, but it taught a good lesson: the lesson of human impossibility.

      This is why many years later, Paul could say that the law was a “tutor” to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24) but after the tutor (the law) brings us to Christ, we are no longer under the tutor. What does this mean? Does it mean we may now go out to rape and pillage? Is it ok for me to cheat on my taxes? Can we make idols now?

      I argue no.

      But I make this argument based on New Covenant theology. They (and we) have to go through the experience of recognizing that it’s humanly impossible to keep the law. But because it’s humanly impossible to keep the law does not mean the law should not be kept. It’s the “how” question. For your consideration, I will copy the text from Hebrews 8:7-12 below, which explains this shift from the Old to the New Covenant.

      For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8 Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

      When God’s law is written on my heart and mind, Christlike actions will spring forth naturally. It is a supernatural work done upon the human soul, one that I can never hope to imitate by my own actions.

      You brought up 2 Corinthians 3, and I think it’s a very strong support to the idea that the law, under the Old Covenant of human works, was terribly oppressive. But that period of salvific history was necessary to show what does and doesn’t work. It was a “tutor.” Unfortunately, many believers have failed to grasp the nuance that the New Covenant does not throw out God’s law, but rather it teaches the true meaning of how the indwelling Christ keeps the law in us.

      I am not entirely sure how it would be possible to believe in biblical sanctification without a healthy appreciation for the law of God. What is “sanctification” if there is no law as a standard? The important thing is HOW this happens. (Your comment, by the way, makes me think I need to make a totally separate blog post on this topic, which I’m almost doing right now, lol — there has to be an alternative to legalism on the one hand or throwing away the many many verses about growth in grace on the other hand). Again, for your consideration, some verses about how sanctification happens. Notice that none of these are humanly powered.

      Romans 15:16 “sanctified by the Holy Spirit”
      1 Corinthians 1:2 “sanctified in Christ Jesus”
      1 Thessalonians 5:23 “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (notice the passive voice)
      Jude 1:1 “To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ”

      Also of special note is Christ’s own words in John 14:15: “if you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

      You’ve definitely given me some ideas for a future blog post, because some of the things you’ve brought up remind me that I need to be careful not to overemphasize some aspects to the neglect of others. So, thank you for that. I hope we can all walk this road together of studying the Word of God to figure out what it means for our lives today.
      God’s blessings!

      • I think we agree on a lot but have some minor differences on the method or application of the OT law.

        If we are walking by the Spirit we obviously won’t be murdering or pillaging as you stated. I don’t need the the OT law to bear witness to that. In fact a majority of the New Testament believers who were gentiles never read any of the OT law and scripture itself. Partially because for hundreds if not until the printing press did anyone have copies of the OT. Also 80 percent of people couldn’t read even if they did.

        So if we walk by the spirit and choose to follow in any given moment then No reason to follow the law. Which is why Paul states if u keep any section of it u must be perfect in it all. It doesn’t mean we don’t murder or cover, it just means to be led by the Spirit.

        If the stones bring a ministry of death and condemnation and thats what I abide by then when I fail in even a portion of it then I’m living in condemnation… etc.

        For years I grew up in very legalistic traditions as u do I think we know where we come from and the damage lol. To be honest up until about 2 years ago I never understood what grace was. And how Paul described it as over abundant grace, or in modern terms, hyper grace. I think people get offended by that term because they think it gives people a reason to sin. Well that’s silly if we are abiding by the spirit because in our hearts we know it’s wrong. It’s not our new creation. We are enlightened with the truth. Nobody who has truly embraces Gods grace purposely abuses Gods grace. The earthly consequences are not what we as believers want.

        Check those resources out I gave. They have a very good and in depth look at the scriptures of the covenants. And it’s important to realize Jesus was born of law and taught the law do not all in the red letters are us under the new covenant. He was prepping us for the message of grace.

        Regardless great work Jaime. Thanks for these blogs and the healing process in this.

        I still struggle a lot with this disease as many of this due. I’m getting better and better but it is a process I’ve seen.

        • Yesssss, Neal! My estimate after hearing your description is that we are talking about the same exact thing with different vocabulary. What you call living in the spirit, I call having the law written in my heart. In the end, for all practical intents and purposes, it sure seems like the same thing. I’m glad we are in agreement that no amount of human effort or legalism will earn the favor of God. His transformative grace is wonderful news!
          Praise God you’re doing some better with scrupulosity. Yes, it’s a process, but thankfully our Savior walks with us every step of the way. 🙂
          Many blessings,

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