Theology Thursday: Antinomianism

With much anticipation I present to you the first “Theology Thursday” post in quite a while. I apologize for the delay but I hope that this post was worth the wait.

The topic that I want to address in this post is Antinomianism. For those of you who don’t know what the heck “Antinomianism” means (Like myself before I listened to a podcast) it is the belief that says  “Jesus has paid for my sins therefore I am now free to sin all I want.”

This issue was mainly brought to my mind through a podcast that I recently listened to from The White Horse Inn that addressed this topic.

Now before we go any further we must address where this idea comes from. Why would anyone in the first place ever think that sinning is OK simply because Jesus paid for their sin.

Well… It is actually not so surprising when you think about it. Let us first think about what the gospel is; lets think about what Jesus did for us!

Paul says that individuals are saved by grace, through faith, apart from any work or merit on their part. Paul’s claims in The Gospel are radical. These claims are so radical that many Jewish leaders wanted Paul dead. Therefore it should come to no surprise to us that whatever Paul was preaching was in stark contrast to a common understanding of “The Law” in his time, especially from a Jewish perspective.

Well…What should we think of The Law then? What essentially does “The Law” tell us?

In essence, the Old Testament Law told its hearers that in order to be blessed you must do certain things. If you do “X”, “Y”, or “Z” then you will receive blessings.

The Gospel of the New Covenant is in stark contrast to this part of The Law.

Now lets be very clear here. In no way does the New Testament say that The Law is wrong or false in what it commands. In contrast the message of the New Testament, the message of The Gospel, affirms the demands of the law “Do” but, informs its hearers that they are unable to meet the requirements. An informed reader of The Old Testament even sees that the Law presents its own impossibility.

For example Deuteronomy 10:16 says “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.” However, God knows that it is impossible for Israel to circumcise their own hearts and tells them in Deuteronomy 30:6 “And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” In the end God promises to accomplish that which he commands.

The Gospel, in contrast to the commands of the Old Testament Law says that blessing flows to God’s people in accordance with what Christ has done for them. Not in accordance to what they do for God.

With such a drastic change in how one is to properly relate to God there is bound to be some confusion.

The Gospel is so free, so radically gift oriented that it is not difficult to see how people would assume that it no longer matters what they do since they are no longer under God’s condemnation because of what Christ has done. In fact it seems that one of the ways you can know that you are truly presenting the gospel is if someone asks, “does this mean I can sin all I want?”

However, Paul clearly shows that Christian’s should not think this way (Romans 6:1; 15). At the same time however, Paul does not point them back at the law in order to condemn their thoughts.

What Paul does is much different. Paul addresses these antinomian questions with more of the Gospel. Paul shows them that the Gospel is more than simply a removing of an individual from God’s wrath (Although that is part of it). Paul explains that The Gospel also completely changes one’s identity (Romans 6:2-14). The individual, who used to be under the identity of “sinner” and “condemned“, is now under the identity of “son” and “redeemed“.

Paul says, “how can one go on sinning when they are now dead to sin?” (Romans 6:7) Paul is trying to show his readers that those who have been redeemed by Christ have received a new nature. It is not a matter of “can we sin now because we are under grace?” but “How can I now live in sin? I am under grace!”

Grace is not simply forgiveness, it is transforming. It creates a new nature. The heart that receives the grace of Christ also receives the nature of Christ in the Holy Spirit.

The way to combat antinomianism, which wants freedom to sin, is the same way you combat a person who wants to live under water.

You tell them that they are not a fish, if they are truly a person.

Grace & Peace!

Michael

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