Antinomianism

by Mike Ratliff

Πᾶς ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν καὶ τὴν ἀνομίαν ποιεῖ, καὶ ἡ ἁμαρτία ἐστὶν ἡ ἀνομία. καὶ οἴδατε ὅτι ἐκεῖνος ἐφανερώθη, ἵνα τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἄρῃ, καὶ ἁμαρτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν. πᾶς ὁ ἐν αὐτῷ μένων οὐχ ἁμαρτάνει· πᾶς ὁ ἁμαρτάνων οὐχ ἑώρακεν αὐτὸν οὐδὲ ἔγνωκεν αὐτόν. Τεκνία, μηδεὶς πλανάτω ὑμᾶς· ὁ ποιῶν τὴν δικαιοσύνην δίκαιός ἐστιν, καθὼς ἐκεῖνος δίκαιός ἐστιν· ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ἐκ τοῦ διαβόλου ἐστίν, ὅτι ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς ὁ διάβολος ἁμαρτάνει. εἰς τοῦτο ἐφανερώθη ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, ἵνα λύσῃ τὰ ἔργα τοῦ διαβόλου. (1 John 3:4-8 NA27)

4 Everyone practicing sin also practices lawlessness and sin is lawlessness. 5 And you know that he was manifested to take away sins, and there is no sin in him. 6 No one who abides in him continually sins; those who continually sin have not seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you; the one practicing righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous 8 The one practicing sin is of the devil for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. For this cause the son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:4-8 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Antinomianism means “opposed to law.” Antinomian views are those denying that God’s law in Scripture should directly control the Christian’s life. Dualistic antinomianism appeared early in the Gnostic heresies as we discussed in our last post, The Word of Life. The Gnostics taught that salvation was for the soul only, making bodily behavior irrelevant both to God’s interest and to the soul’s health. The conclusion was that one may behave riotously and it will not matter. 

A “spiritual” antinomianism puts such trust in the Holy Spirit’s inward prompting as to deny any need to be taught by the law how to live. Think of those who are continually telling us how God speaks to them audibly, directing them to say and do things rather than simply teaching and preaching God’s Word. Freedom from the law as a way of salvation is assumed to bring with it freedom from the law as a guide to conduct. In the first 150 years of the Reformation era this kind of antinomianism was common. The Corinthian church may have been in the grip of this error, since Paul warns them that a truly spiritual person acknowledges the authority of God’s Word (1 Corinthians 14:37; cf. 7:40).

Another kind of antinomianism begins from the point that God does not see the sin in believers, because they are in Christ, who kept the law for them. From this they draw the false conclusion that their behavior makes no difference, provided they keep on believing. However, 1 John 1:8-2:1 and 3:4-10 point us in a different direction. It is not possible to be in Christ and at the same time to embrace sin as a way of life.

Some dispensationalists have held that since Christians live under a dispensation of grace, not law, keeping the moral law is at no stage necessary fro them. Romans 3:31 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 clearly show, however, that keeping the law is a continuing obligation for Christians.

It is sometimes said that the motive and intention of “love” is the only law God requires of Christians. The commands of the Ten Commandments and other ethical parts of Scripture, although they are ascribed to God directly, are regarded as no more than guidelines that love may at any time disregard. However, Romans 13:8-10 teaches that specific commands reveal what true love is. The law of God exposes the counterfeit love that will not accept its responsibilities toward God and neighbor.

The moral law revealed in the Ten Commandments and expounded in other parts of the Bible is an expression of God’s righteousness, given to be a code of practice for God’s people in every age. The law is not opposed to the love and goodness of God, but shows what it is in action. The Spirit gives Christians the power to observe the law, making us more and more like Christ, the archetypal observer of the law (Matthew 5:17).

Soli Deo Gloria!

9 thoughts on “Antinomianism

  1. I appreciate your growing in boldness to speak the Truth in love, and letting the Word do It’s Work to divide Truth from error. Mike this is showing great Fruit in you that has matured quite wonderfully over the past year and one half. It appears that the things of this world, and the threats of the prince of this world are growing wonderfully dim, in the Light of His Glory and Grace within you. The price you pay is certainly worth the Cost He paid. I am proud to call you my brother in Him!

  2. Pingback: The True Christian Serves the Law of God with the Mind but the Law of Sin with the Flesh « Possessing the Treasure

  3. Most people who declare that “all we need is love” fail to recognize that “love God, love your nieghbor” is a summary of The Law of God. One cannot love God or neighbor rightly without the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. With Whose help we struggle mightily against sin – until He comes again!

  4. Dear Mike,

    “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” Romans 6:12-13

    “I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.” Romans 6:19

    Interesting quote from Henry Scougal “The love of the world, and the love of God, are like the scales of a balance, as the one falleth, the other doth rise: when our natural inclinations prosper,and the creature is exalted in our soul, religion is faint, and doth languish; but when earthly objects wither away, and lose their beauty, and the soul begins to cool and flag in its prosecution of them, then the seeds of grace take root, and the Divine life begins to flourish and prevail.”[ pg.107 The Life of God in the Soul of Man]

    The Christian life is hard and taxing because we are waging a war against sin. If we are not battle worn then we need to question if we are really in the fight.

    Kept only by His grace, charisse

  5. I love to read of the encouragement of brothers and sisters in the Lord. that brings me such joy…

    Mickey Merrie you must have learned such gentle moments with Jesus in your life to speak such kind words that are all attracting and reflect the unfailing beauty of Jesus.-“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones”~Pr.6:24

    I simply don’t see much spoken amongst brothers and sisters in the Lord especially on the internet. It just grieves my heart that there is sucha lack of genuine love.

    True Christians “uphold the law”-Rom 3:31 “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.”

    Jesus when he came did not do away with the law -he fulfilled the law.

    I think majority of people who practice Antinomianism do so because they’ve never truly been set free. When a Christian looks to the law we find freedom-James 1:25 and joy. When an Aninomist looks to the law it’s a dread and a burden to him because he’s trying to (perform) the very law that wears him our her out–it’s no fun at all. The righteous shall live by FAITH

    Thanks Mike you’re spot on in helping others in your service to the Lord Jesus

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