The word “antinomian” is a curse word of the highest degree in the church today. To be charged as an antinomian is to be branded a libertine, careless in morality and one who cheapens the precious blood of our Savior.
So why would I be a proud antinomian?
Let’s begin on the other end of the continuum—with legalism. Legalism—another dirty word in the church—is defined as believing “salvation is attained or maintained through the keeping of the law.” Since a real legalist in this sense is hard to find in the Christian world (they would be Christian in name only), let me give a more typical definition of legalism: “One who believes that sanctification is reached, at least in part, through the keeping of the moral law.” This kind of legalist is very common.
In fact, most Baptist churches are filled with this typical legalist. Members who believe they are attaining spiritual maturity because of the many things they don’t do and the select things they faithfully do.
The problems with this kind of legalism (sanctification through obedience to a moral code) are numerous, including—
· Lack of real spiritual maturity
· Condemnation of others.
So what is an antinomian? Typically, such a charge is given to one who believes they may sin that grace may abound. They deny any need for moral living and throw caution to the wind.
But the typical definition of an antinomian is not the real definition. Miriam-Webster’s online dictionary says that an antinomian is “one who holds that under the gospel dispensation of grace the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation.”
Under this actual definition, I am antinomian…and proudly so!
Paul speaks about legalism, and he is obviously no legalist.
Romans 3:20 (NAS) 20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
Paul speaks about the more “typical” legalism, and he is still obviously no legalist.
Colossians 2:23 (NAS) 23 These [matters of the Law] are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.
Paul also speaks of typical antinomianism, and he is no antinomian under such pretense.
Romans 6:1–2 (NAS) 1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
Finally, Paul speaks of actual antinomianism.
Romans 8:1–4 (NAS) 1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
What amazing grace, that Christ would fulfill the Law within us, both for salvation and sanctification! Because I do not believe that obedience to the law can save me nor sanctify me (both coming to me as a gift of God), I am an antinomian, and proud!
Worried about my position? Stay tuned for the next post regarding sanctification.