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Antinomianism – What is it?

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The word antinomianism means "against the law." The dictionary defines antinomianism as the belief that under the gospel dispensation of grace, the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary for salvation. While salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), God's moral law is still perfect and will never pass away (Matthew 5:18).

The Bible teaches that Christians are not required to observe the Old Testament Law as a means of salvation because doing so is impossible. Rather, we are saved by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for our sins. By that act, He fulfilled the Old Testament law for us (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-26; Ephesians 2:15). However, the belief that there is no moral law which God expects Christians to obey is not taught in Scripture.

The moral law God expects us to obey is the law of Christ—"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40). If we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, we will do nothing to displease Him. If we love our neighbors as ourselves, we will do nothing to harm them.

The most frequent attack on the doctrine of salvation by grace alone is that it encourages sin. People often ask, "If I am saved by grace and all my sins are forgiven, why not sin all I want?" The apostle Paul dealt with this issue in Romans 6:1-2, "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?" True conversion yields a greater desire to obey, not a greater desire to sin. God's desire—and our desire when we are regenerated by His Spirit—is to avoid sin. After we are saved, when His spirit lives in us, we can still sin, and when we sin we do not lose our salvation. However, we find that when we do sin, we bring the Holy Spirit through that sin and afterward, we can feel that He is not happy with our actions. Since we want to please Him and obey Him out of gratitude for His grace and forgiveness, we gradually learn discipline and self-control and obedience. God has given us His infinitely gracious gift in salvation through Jesus (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). Our response is to consecrate our lives to Him out of love, worship, and gratitude for what He has done for us (Romans 12:1-2). Antinomianism is unbiblical because it misapplies the meaning of God's grace.

Jesus Christ freed us from the burdensome commands of the Old Testament Law, but that is not a license to sin, but rather a covenant of grace. We are to strive to overcome sin and cultivate righteousness, through the power of the Holy Spirit. The fact that we are graciously freed from the demands of the Old Testament Law should result in lives lived in obedience to the law of Christ. "And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says 'I know him' but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked" (1 John 2:3-6).

Related Truth:

Are Christians expected to obey the Old Testament law?

If Jesus forgave all my sins when I became a Christian, why shouldn't I continue to sin?

Why does obedience to God matter?

What is dispensationalism?

How do we know if a doctrine is really biblical?

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