The Antinomian
September 10, 2012, 1:34 pm
Filed under: Antinomianism

by David Bishop

1 Corinthians 15:56  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

The Corinthians were under the impression that the most efficient way to overcome the power of sin was for God to remove the imperative demands of His law.  In other words, if there is no more law, then there is no more law to violate, and therefore, violation of the law can no longer be charged to me.

The problem with this is that it is actually a form of self righteousness.  If there is no law anymore, then I live not because God charged Christ’s righteousness to me, but rather because there is no more law that I can violate.  I’ve earned my right to resurrection, you see.  Why should God raise me from the dead?  Because I have violated no law, for there is no law to violate.

An Antinomian is someone who believes that Christ satisfied the penalty for His people’s guilt by dismissing God’s law in His death, rather than by satisfying the law’s just demand for His people’s death.  In such a system, assurance is found not in Christ’s death for His people, but rather in one’s self righteous claim that he can no longer violate God’s law.   In other words, how do you know Christ has effectually secured your salvation?  Answers the Antinomian, “Because all things are now lawful for me.”

1 Corinthians 6:12-13 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful.  “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.  Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food – and God will destroy both one and the other.  The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

Now let it be said from the start that at the moment I declare that a man is not justified by an indifference to law, every Antinomian from Idaho to Egypt leaps to the conclusion that this means that I am declaring a man is justified by obedience to the law.  Let me say it clearly now, I am not!  The conclusion is a false dichotomy.  It falsely argues that there are only two choices; either justification by obedience to the law, or justification by indifference to the law.  I am saying neither.  I am saying that both are legalistic.  I am saying there is a third choice.

Romans 8:1-7  There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.  For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.  For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

It is true that God does not charge His elect with the guilt of their sin, but this is not because He has set aside His law.  Rather, it is because God has charged Christ at the cross with the guilt of their sin.  Their sinning is still sinning, their violation of the law is still a violation of the law, but the guilt for violating that law has already been charged to Christ.  Christ has already satisfied the penalty for that violation.

Why is this important?  It is important, because the law said, “do this and you shall live” (Luke 10:28).   If Christ “did this” and now lives, by what right does He live?   If the Antinomians are correct about Christ’s death being a death to any further demand from the law, then God had no just basis for raising Christ from the dead.  If Christ’s death was a death to any further demands from God’s law, and yet God raised Him to life anyway, then God is an unjust God.

The law demanded Christ’s death.   I think most Antinomians have never thought about Christ’s death that way.   I know most evangelicals haven’t.  It did though.   At the moment God charged the sins of His people to Christ, the law demanded Christ’s death.  (2 Cor 5:21)  Had Christ not died at that point, then God would have violated His own law by justifying His people, which of course, is impossible.  But if the Antinomians are correct, if Christ’s death is all that the law ever demanded of Christ after He died, then God is unjust to have raised Him from the dead.

But Christ’s choice to die for His people was also an obedient act.  It was the Father’s will that the Son go to the cross and die for the sins of His people.   It was the Son’s will to obey the Father.  Christ obeyed.  As a result, He obtained a righteous standing with God.  The law, which had at the cross demanded His death, now in His death demanded His resurrection.  After all, the law said, “do this and you shall live”.  Well, Christ “did this”, and as a result, He now lives.

Hebrews 5:7-10  In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.  Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

Christ died to the law’s penalty for sin.  In other words,  He died to death.   But He did not die to the law itself, for the same law whose penalty for disobedience Christ satisfied, is the same law that then demanded His resurrection after He had died.   The law wasn’t dismissed.  If you believe it has been, then like the Corinthians, you had better get used to saying there is no resurrection.

God gives His people imperatives.  They are found all over the New Testament.  Love another even as I have loved you, honor your father and mother, wives submit to your husbands and husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church, etc.  These are all imperatives.  These are things that God commanded His saints to do.  When they violate these imperatives, God still counts their violation as sin, but He does not count them with the legal guilt, for He has already also charged the guilt for that violation to Christ at the cross.

Romans 6:15 What then?  Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?

“Not under law” does not mean no longer under God’s commandments. It could not possibly mean that, for Paul had just stated earlier in the fifth verse of his sixth chapter, “For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.” Christ was raised, because God’s law demanded that He be raised, for Christ had obeyed God perfectly in every respect possible.  “Do this and you shall live” was the basis for Christ’s resurrection.

“Not under law” does not mean I am no longer under the imperatives of Christ’s law.  And no, “Christ’s law” is not shorthand for “the gospel”.  Christ’s law means Christ’s commandments.  Love one another even as I have loved you, honor your father and mother, and so forth.  The law, which still demands, “do this and you shall live”, now demands that I live, because Christ has satisfied that law’s former demand for my death, and because the righteousness He earned by His obedient death has been charged to me.

But if there is no law anymore, then I live not because God charged Christ’s righteousness to me, but rather because there is no more law that I can violate.  I’ve earned my resurrection, you see.  Why should God raise me from the dead?  The answer is not, “because I have violated no law, for there is no law to violate.”

Galatians 6:2  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

2 Comments so far
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God does not accept faith as a substitute for righteousness. God’s demand for perfection has not been replaced by a demand for faith. The requirement of God’s law is not better faith and more faith but for the complete righteousness obtained and imputed by God. .

Three facts.. First, Christ died under the curse of God’s law only for the elect alone. Second, faith has as its object not just any ” Christ” or any “grace”, but the Christ who satisfied the law for all who will be justified (and not for the non-elect). Third, this faith is not only a sovereign gift but a righteous gift, given on behalf of Christ and His satisfaction of the law (Philippians 1:29; John 17).

Comment by markmcculley

Reblogged this on Possessing the Treasure.

Comment by Mike Ratliff

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