Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Lie of Lawlessness

"Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God" (1 Peter 2:16).

Yesterday we looked at legalism, and today we want to look at the opposite error: antinomianism. Antinomian means “against the law,” and antinomianism is an approach to righteousness that repudiates the law of God. Just as there are different kinds of legalism, so there are also various kinds of antinomianism.

The first is called “libertinism.” This is the idea that since we are justified by faith alone, and since our sanctification is by grace, we are now entirely liberated from the law, and so it is called libertinism. It assumes that redemption has given us license to sin.

The second kind of antinomianism we can call “gnostic spiritualism.” Gnosticism was one of the earliest of all heresies to invade the church. Gnosis means “knowledge,” and the Gnostics believed that they had special insight into hidden knowledge. They were a “higher class” of believers, and they held that they were exempt from some of the biblical rules that bound “ordinary” believers.

Of course, there is no special group of gnostics in the church today, but the same tendency is often present. When people say, “The Spirit led me to do such and such,” they may be making a gnostic claim without even realizing it. The Spirit, however, never leads us apart from the Word, and He never leads us to disobey.

The third form of antinomianism is “situational ethics.” Situational ethics says that there is only one law for the believer, which is to do what love seems to demand in any given situation; all other laws of Scripture are negotiable. But how can we know what love demands, if we don’t take biblical laws seriously? If we do what it seems to us that love demands, we are left without standards. This is just another cloak for lawlessness.

Obedience is not simply a Christian duty, it is a delightful virtue that greatly pleases God. Believers are free from the curse of the law, but never free from obeying it. Today ask God to increase your heart’s capacity to love Him, so that your obedience never becomes cold and legalistic, but remains warm and affectionate.