The Mosaic Law was “holy, just and good” (Rom. 7:14). It was a reflection of the very holiness of God. As such, it revealed the Sons of Adam to be sinners and was a “ministration of death, written and engraven in stones.” Its “Letter” killed! (2 Cor. 3:5-7). Furthermore, it was “weak through the flesh” (Rom. 8:3). It could only demand! It bid the sinner to fly but did not give him wings. The flesh could not perform, thus keeping people in “bondage” (Gal. 2:4; 4:3,9, 24-25; 5:1).
The Apostle Paul’s Gospel of Grace offered salvation by faith alone – independent of the Mosaic Law, works or ceremony. This was really good news! Christ was the“end of the Law for righteousness to everyone that believeth”(Rom. 10:4)! The songwriter said it well when he rejoiced in these words:
“Free from the Law, Oh happy condition,
Jesus hath bled and there is remission;
Cursed by the Law and bruised by the fall,
Grace hath redeemed us once for all”
It is not hard to imagine someone, filled with anxious concern for his soul, in hearing the good news, to mistakenly think of this liberty to be license. There is little doubt that this was the way some misunderstood Paul’s message of Grace. To put an end to this kind of thinking, the Apostle Paul raises a hypothetical question, “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” – something like this had already been rehearsed in his hearing (Rom. 3:8) – to which he answers with a resounding and dogmatic, “God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Rom. 6:1-2). This matter of dealing with sin, for either salvation or fellowship, is such an important issue that Paul repeats himself a few verses later saying, “What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the Law, but under Grace? God forbid” (Rom. 6:15). In the first comment the question is, “Shall we sin in order to obtain grace?” and the second the question is, “Shall we sin because we are in grace?” In either case the answer is, “God forbid!”
Salvation by grace is intended to produce both justification and sanctification. Antinomianism, like legalism, will draw people aside from the intended roll of Grace. It is a very serious perversion of Grace. Inherent in the Antinomians teaching is the idea that we can be saved and then live any way we please. As surprising as this may seem, this kind of thinking is not uncommon among some who would suppose themselves to be champions of Grace. More than one assembly has been destroyed by the infiltration of these lawless teachers and members (2 Cor. 12:21; Eph. 5:3-7; 1 Cor. 5:1-11). Antinomianism is as damning and dangerous as legalism!
Antinomianism means “against law.” When applied to theology, it refers to the idea that the Gospel frees a Christian from obedience to all laws, rules or regulations governing the Christian way of life. The Antinomian reasons this to be so because salvation is attained solely through faith and by Grace. Thus, the antinomian erroneously pleads such things as, “There is no necessity to deal with sin since we are already forgiven,” or “There is no need for repentance since we are already accepted in the beloved,” or “no need to worry about fellowship with the Lord because it cannot be broken.” Such comments are perilous and amount to so much balderdash and twaddle.
It is true that believers are not obligated to the ceremonies, sacrifices and rituals of the statutes and judgments of the Mosaic Law (Rom. 3:28; 10:4; Gal. 3:13, 24-25). But who would argue that God has relaxed His moral law or holiness? He has not! In fact, it is the Apostle Paul who points out that it is by the “Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus” that the “righteousness of the Law” is “fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:2-4). This Law of the Spirit is new with coming of the Dispensation of Grace. The internal Law of the Spirit replaced the external Mosaic Law. The Christian is not to be lawless! Paul said he was, “ not without law to God, but under the law to Christ” (1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2).
The Law of the Spirit and the Word of God are to be the controlling authority in the Christian’s life and to which he is held accountable!
Paul instructed the Thessalonians “how they ought to walk and to please God” (1 Thess. 4:1) because God had called them “unto holiness” (1 Thess. 4:7). For this reason, Paul gave them some do’s and don’ts or rules and regulations. It was not uncommon for Paul to refer to these standards for holy living as “commandments” (1 Thess. 4:2; 1 Cor. 14:37), “ordinances” (1 Cor. 11:2; Rom. 13:2), “traditions” (2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6), “rules” (Phil. 3:16-17; Gal. 6:16).
These are standards, given in the Greek imperative mood, that demand “obedience” like a military command (2 Thess. 3:14; Gal. 5:7). The Christian’s “behavior” is to be compatible with Godliness (1 Tim. 3:15). The believer is positionally sanctified, made complete and perfect, at the moment of salvation. He is “accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6). However, conformity to these standards through the filling and power of the Holy Spirit gives us “acceptance,” in an experiential way – in the here-and-now (Rom. 14:18; 2 Cor. 5:9). Praise God and give Him glory! Some believers yield to the temptations of the flesh and do not “please God” (1 Cor. 10:5 in context) and both grieve the Holy Spirit and lose their reward (Eph. 4:30; Col. 3:24-25; Gal. 6:7-9). They need to repent like the Corinthians.
“For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults…and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed” (2 Cor. 12:21; cf., 7:10).
These same perverters of Grace say, “remove the do’s and don’ts, remove the Law, alter the Word,” but the problem is not with the standard! It is their misunderstanding and misuse ofGod’s gracious provision of the Law of the Spirit to set us free and to conform us to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29; 12:2).
Concerning these lawless ones who disregard the Law of the Spirit, the Apostle Paul warns,
“The Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us His Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 4:7-8). He further instructs us, “from such withdraw thyself” (1 Tim. 6:1-5).