Friday, January 16, 2009

Antinomianism - Comments (7)

I shall continue with my comments of a few more of the scripture references in the antinomianism article.

Take heed of 1 John 2:18-19 that says, "Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us." In other words, antinomians are antichrists. These were antinomian leaders, antinomian teachers, and they were kicked out. They were disciplined. They were sent out from the church of Jesus Christ in order that the church is kept pure. Antinomianism is a heresy!

I don't know how the writer is able to make the leap from the reading of the above verses to the conclusion that antinomians are antichrists.  To be honest, I don't know how to explain who "the many antichrists" are just from reading the above verses.

Nevertheless, how can antinomians be labeled as antichrists since at the beginning of his article, the writer has very clearly defined antinomianism as being "against the law" and hence antinomians are those who are "anti-law", rather than "anti-christ.". 

The writer referred to J.I Packer's categorization of "Christ-centered Antinomianism" which defined such antinomians as those who believe that they are in Christ and God sees no sin in them as He sees them through Christ.  I wonder how a Christ-centered antinomian can be in Christ and yet be antichrist at the same time.   

Perhaps the writer is referring to the other categories of antinomians which I have established in my earlier posts (see here and here) that they cannot be considered as Christians but judging from the spirit of his writing, I think the writer intended to include Christ-centered antinomians as well.


Furthermore in 1 John 3:7, John says, "Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray." Friends, antinomianism is not the way of God. It is wandering away from the straight path that God has revealed to us, which is the path of righteousness. "He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work." There were teachers and leaders in New Testament churches who were heretics. They taught this "salvation made easy" idea, that you can go to heaven while sinning to your heart's content as you live in this world!

The same thing was said in 2 Peter. 2 Peter, like Jude, was written to combat this heresy of antinomianism. In 2 Peter 2:19, we read: "They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity - for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him." This was the essence of their teaching. No wonder churches, especially those that only preach grace, are filled with people. The preachers are telling them, "You can be a Christian and sin." Everybody likes that, because there is pleasure in sin. Everyone is interested in it.


1 John 3:7 just says simply,"do not let ANYONE lead you astray".  I think that "anyone" also includes the writer himself.  The writer says that there were teachers and leaders in NT churches who were heretics teaching "salvation made easy", that you can go to heaven while sinning to your heart's content.

I have dealt in depth with this "you can go to heaven while sinning to your heart's content" issue in an earlier post so I will just briefly address it here.  The key word to take note here is not "sinning" but rather "heart".  When a Christ-centered antinomian's heart is full of Jesus, that heart will not be thinking of sinning to its content.  In fact, he will want to do what is right, just like Paul in Romans 7:15 (NLT): I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.  

However, I want to highlight that Paul was more concerned about the church re-embracing the law after receiving Christ, even to the extent of confronting Peter:

Galatians 2:11-21 (NIV)
When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

"We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

"If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"

Galatians 3:1-3 (NIV)
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

Paul has consistently argued against observing the law after we have been made righteous before God through faith in Christ.  Paul has also stated consistently that when he says there is no need to observe the law, he is not promoting sin (Gal 2:17, Rom 6:1-2,15, Titus 2:11-12).


What is God saying to people who practice antinomianism? 1 Corinthians 6:9-11: "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." What does Revelation 21: 8 say? "But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars - their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."

The writer indicated that he is quoting 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 but the quotation within the quotation marks actually quote only v9 and v10; the writer left out v11, intentionally or a genuine mistake?

Let's take a look at the full quotation with v11 (which I have highlighted in bold) included :

9Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 

When you read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 in context, v11 shows that Paul was not talking to "people who practice antinomianism".  Paul was addressing the whole Corinthian church. In v11, Paul said, "that is what some of you were"  i.e. some of the people used to be sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers , etc but they were no longer like that because they had been washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Paul is telling the Corinthian church to stop those evil acts since they have been justified in Christ.  They are to live out new lives as the righteousness of God, and not live their old lives again.  Paul repeated this theme in his second letter to the Corinthians:

2 Corinthians 5:15-17 (NLT)
15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. 
16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 
17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

The writer also quotes Revelation 21:8 to imply that antinomians are "the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars" who will go to hell.  And rightly so, if  you consider those other categories of antinomians whom I have established earlier are not really Christians at all.  However, Christ-centered antinomians are true Christians and we (I say "we" because I consider myself to be a Christ-centered antinomian) will be in heaven. 

The writer assumes that those who say they do not need to observe the law as a guide to holy life (ie. "people who practice antinomianism") are embracing license to sin and will descend into a sinful lifestyle.  He is doing exactly what Paul mentioned in 2 Corinthians 5:16 - evaluating others from a human point of view.  He does not see what God sees - we are the righteousness of God in Christ! (2 Corinthians 5:21)   

1 comment:

Jeffrey said...

When we try to establish truth as a balance between law and grace rather than dividing law and grace we get confused. 2 Tim 2:15, Jn 1:17

One pastor even said that law is not legalism then what is Gal 3 all about.The word legalism is not in the Bible.Legalism also means the law in the Bible especially in the book of Galatians