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Antinomianism Rears its Ugly Head

August 20th, 2008
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I ran across this rather breathtaking, but helpfully candid, statement of antinomianism, the teaching that there is no unique use, or function, of the law in the life of a Christian. The person who made this statement was asked, "Are you free to sin?" His answer:

Stand fast in the freedom for which Christ has set you free”! The 1st
and 2nd use of the law is all that is necessary. God doesn’t need your
good works, your neighbor does. You’re free to do them… or not. You are
FREE! Sins and all.

Your reaction?

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Categories: Christian Life
  1. August 20th, 2008 at 19:03 | #1

    I asked an antinomian whether a prostitute, having confessed the sin and received forgiveness, ought to continue being a prostitute.
    No answer.

  2. Mike Baker
    August 20th, 2008 at 20:36 | #2

    I am not free. I am free from sin. I am free from death. I am free from God’s just wrath. I am even free from legalism and man-made foolishness. …but that does not make me free.
    St. Paul calls me a slave to Christ. I was bought with a price. This life that I live now belongs to Jesus and not to sin and rebellion.

  3. August 20th, 2008 at 22:52 | #3

    My reaction would be the same as Mr. Baker’s.
    Also, how do I know what is a good work if there is no 3rd use. If the Holy Spirit is not using God’s Word to teach me what is right to do, what is good to do, what am I basing “good” on?

  4. The Rev. Benjamin Ball
    August 21st, 2008 at 08:57 | #4

    I wonder what this person you quoted would do with the catechism’s table of duties?
    B. Ball

  5. Jeffrey G
    August 21st, 2008 at 11:50 | #5

    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.
    Romans 8:1-2

    The person is essentially correct.
    This sets up a very specific theological problem. One in which St. Paul addresses:

    What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
    Romans 6:1

    I can think of no reason St. Paul would set up this rhetorical question except as an answer to: “God doesn’t need your good works, your neighbor does. You’re free to do them… or not. You are FREE! Sins and all.”
    Christ died to free you from your sins. Now go. Be free. I think this is a powerful concept. The next logical question is “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” Which Paul answers. There is no reason to ask that quesition if the prostitute is not free to remain a prostitiute.

  6. Josh S
    August 21st, 2008 at 13:03 | #6

    You’re not free from the law of sin and death if you’re free to sin. That’s the whole point of Romans 6: “Free from the law” means “no longer under condemnation,” not “given a license to do as you wish.” You are free from the law precisely because you have died to sin in Christ Jesus. Continuing to walk in the ways which the Lord put to death is a denial of that which he came to do.
    I’m reminded of a story Jesus told in which a fellow was forgiven a large debt, then proceeded to go and demand a trifle from his friend. The king responded not with a hearty laugh and affirming his freedom to forgive or not, but threw him back into the dungeon.

  7. August 21st, 2008 at 14:38 | #7

    My reaction is that I would like to see this statement in its context. I would like to see the entire thing he writes. Maybe what he writes is all very good, maybe not. Bu this statement as it stands is a proclamation of the Gospel and therefore true. Good works have no place in the proclamation of the Gospel, except for, of course, the good works of Christ. The third use of the Law does have a place in the life of the Christian, and maybe this guy does deny that, but there’s no way to know without seeing the whole thing he wrote. It must always be remembered, though, that while the third use of the Law is very much a part of the life of a Christian, it is still and always the Law and therefore condemns. That’s why there is no place for the Law, first, second, third, or otherwise, in the proclamation of the Gospel.

  8. Mike Rose
    August 21st, 2008 at 16:29 | #8

    I rather miss parts of my evangelical past. In particular, the teaching of the Bible as it applies to my life and spiritual growth. “Principles and Applications” is what it is referred to in that preaching community. I believe that Holy Scripture is profitable for teaching and training in righteousness (as it claims to be). What I don’t understand is the Lutheran school of thought that insists that all talk of sanctification (biblical principles to apply to my life) is wrong and that the “new man” is neither matured nor in anyway motivated by such a thing.

  9. August 21st, 2008 at 18:00 | #9

    Thinking about it as a “license to do as you wish” is taking it in the wrong perspective. It is thinking about it like you are still under the law, it is just that the law now says you can do anything. That would be like the Department of Motor Vehicles giving me a drunk driving license.
    It is more like the DMV telling me they aren’t giving me any license. They aren’t going to tell me when I can and can’t drive or pull me over for anything. They are taking no responsibility for my driving behavior. I am free. Traffic laws are no longer a guardian for me.

    Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,
    Galatians 3:23-25

    Can I run red lights willy-nilly? All things are permissible, but not all things are helpful. The third use of the law is that they didn’t take the stoplights and posted speed limits down.

  10. Mike Baker
    August 21st, 2008 at 18:52 | #10

    Individuals who have a low view of the 3rd use of the Law tend to see faith as a chronological event rather than the eternal past/present/future understanding of faith that is outlined in Scripture. We were saved / are being saved / will be saved by Christ. The Law always condemns, but Grace is always present for those who are crushed by the gravity of their sin. The purpose of the Law is to drive us to repentance and faith. Christians need to be driven to the cross as much as non-Christians. We sin, the Law exposes and accuses us, we run to Christ and are forgiven… repeat, repeat, repeat.
    Returning to the rebellious disregard for the Law after coming to faith interupts this eternal understanding of faith and salvation. It takes the eternal understanding of faith (along with faith’s proximity to the cross) and restricts it to a historical reference point that determines the forgiveness of sins. This is the essence of the “changed life” theology that creates errors like antinomianism, altar calls, the Purpose Driven Life, and the “once saved always saved” philosophy of many modern protestants. The idea that one is saved and then is free to sin and remain under grace is not supported by Scripture. This understanding of the relationship between Law and Gospel is under-developed as it makes the false assumption that one can live in unrepentant sin and still consider himself in the faith because he once had faith or plans to have faith in the future after he is done pleasing himself with this sin. These ideas about faith are Satanic lies that seek to divorce faith from the One who gives faith to men. The secure sinner prefers to deal in chronology of the Christian rather than in his present proximity to Christ.
    Those who claim that there is no need for the third use of the law ignore the very words of Christ when He says, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” [John 8:11] Obviously no one is going to say that Christ misplaces the Law here in this proclomation of the Gospel.
    We are to follow Christ’s example and exhort each other to “go, and from now on sin no more.”
    “In the fourteenth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the universal corruption of mankind is described in such a manner as to create the impression that even true believers are still under the spell of ruling sins and are sinning purposely.”
    -C.F.W. Walther

  11. August 21st, 2008 at 23:53 | #11

    This was from my blog, on the third use conversation I had up. Yeah, glad you talked about it here, too. It was getting confusing. ;-)
    I’m not the antinomian, either….(not sure what that means!)

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