Paul's Passing Thoughts

Christians Aren’t “Under” the Law? Oh Really?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 14, 2011

One of the realities that has hit home with me recently is the fact that Christians in this country have been dumbed-down like our children are being dumbed-down in public schools. In fact, the dumbing-down started in my generation (I am 54 years old). When I was in eighth grade, I went to Oakwood Junior High School in Dayton, Ohio; it has always been a top-rated school nationally. However, when I was there, for example, in literature class, we primarily studied the significance of Beatles (the rock band) songs and their lyrics. Now, my dumbed-down generation, who was rarely taught how to think objectively, has moved into the American church.

Couple that with the fact that by and large, seminaries have taken over the administration of doctrinal teaching. Try teaching a class on soteriology in the local church; no one will show up because Christians don’t even know what soteriology is, and anyone who does show up will mock you by saying, “Is this a church or a seminary?” Seminaries are now in total control of what is taught in the local churches and the average American parishioner perceives seminarians as authorities who cannot be questioned. I recently visited a local church here in Xenia, Ohio and the church was having an annual Sunday school presentation. The church has a strong affiliation with Cedarville [Christian] College and many of the students attend there. I listened in horror as a Sunday school teacher explained that the main focus of his class (the college age class) was to merely encourage the students because, “we could never teach them anything more than they are learning at Cedarville.” Adding to my dismay was the senior pastor / MC nodding in agreement like some bobbing head in the back window of a low-rider.

This blogsite concerns Gospel Sanctification, and it has become evident to me why this doctrine has been able to sweep across America unchecked: Christians don’t know the difference between justification, sanctification, and glorification. In fact, not only do they not know the difference, they don’t even know what the terms mean; and worse yet, they aren’t theological terms, they are specific biblical terms ( 1Cor 1:30, 6:11).

Hence, the mantra / cliché: “Christians aren’t under the law.” 99.9999 percent of all Christians, it seems like, would quickly agree with this statement. When someone replies, “Christians are not under the law for justification, but we are under the law for sanctification because that’s what the Holy Spirit uses to sanctify us (John 17:17 [the specific term Paul used for us being ‘under’ the law is, ‘we uphold’ the law]),” the reply will be, “That’s legalism,” another American Christian cliché that replaces working knowledge of the Scriptures. Let me tell you what they mean by “legalism” because they don’t even know what they mean by that themselves. They intend to say that you believe we are sanctified by keeping the law, BUT the belief that Christians are under (obligated to) the law does not hold to that. It rather believes that the Holy Spirit sanctifies, and that we are walking in the Spirit when we are walking (living) in the truth, which of course is revealed in the Scriptures (again, John 17:17). It’s a colaboring; we obey, the Spirit sanctifies. Sanctification means to “set apart,” and the only thing that distinguishes us from the world is God’s way of thinking and doing verses that of the world. That’s why the kingdom of darkness constantly strives to un-sanctify those whom they have lost to being damned eternally; encouraging them to be more like the world dampens their testimony to those they haven’t lost yet—du! That’s why the kingdom of darkness always propagates, “being against the law (which most Christians think always refers to the Decalogue [ten commandments], but most often the word refers to all of Scripture) of God,” and I am using those words because most Christians don’t know what an antinomian is which is really weird because that’s what the apostle Paul said Satan is, and Satan is our enemy so it seems like most Christians would know what he is, but I guess not, and please hold while I catch my breath for the next sentence.

Besides, and furthermore, most Christians really don’t know what “legalism” means either. It’s trying to keep “a” (not “the”) law to gain justification (in other words, salvation), but because it’s impossible to keep the law perfectly in order to be justified, they create “a” law / ritual / rite that is their own standard for salvation, or what they perceive to be obtainable by humanoids. This is contrary to being justified by faith alone and working dependably with the Holy Spirit to be set apart (sanctified). Legalism is NOT an attempt to uphold God’s law for purposes of sanctification, that’s a classic antinomian lie, and it’s why antinomians attempt to make sanctification and justification the same thing—it makes an attempt to uphold “the” law for purposes of sanctification the same thing as true legalism. Got that?

That’s what Gospel Sanctification does; it synthesizes justification and sanctification: “The same gospel (gospel concerns justification) that saved you also sanctifies you.” Hence, you are supposedly sanctified by justification, or sanctification by faith alone, which means the exclusion of “the” law in sanctification because it is impossible to keep the law in order to be justified. Got it? Bye, bye law. Unless somebody else is keeping the law for you, in you, or through you; namely, as many forms of GS teach—Christ obeys for us. This moves us to other things Christians usually are not privy to: imputation, atonement, etc. Bottom line: the level of un-indoctrination among American Christians is frightful, and I never cease to be amazed at our zeal to spread such Christianity abroad via missionaries.

Because Christians don’t understand what justification is, and sanctification, or the difference between the two, GS hacks can teach Christians that not being, as Paul said, “under the law,” equals not being “obligated to the law.” They can also teach that the two are the same thing and nobody even blinks. They can also teach that separating the two (justification and sanctification) is legalism because Christians don’t know what that means either. That’s why GS advocates can say, as I heard one say in a sermon, that “any separation of justification and sanctification is an abomination.” Also, a staple among GS advocates is teaching that Paul was speaking about sanctification in the first five chapters of Galatians. Supposedly, the Galatians were guilty of legalism because they were making efforts to obey God’s law, but the context of those chapters is clearly justification ( 2:16, 17, 21, 3:8,11, 24, 5;4). In fact, Paul says SPECIFICALLY in 5:4 that their error was an attempt to be “justified” by the law, NOT sanctified:

“You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.”

Hence the days we live in: teachers can teach that Paul’s line of thought is about sanctification, when Paul clearly states otherwise. That’s because they’re both the same, right?


4 Responses

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  1. Jess said, on March 15, 2011 at 10:44 AM

    You may be aware of this, but I’ve found out the Sonship course by World Harvest Mission uses a version of Galatians from Eugene Peterson’s “The Message”. It’s not surprising that people who go through the Sonship course may not know what justification or sanctification mean. Eugene Peterson doesn’t use that biblical language. For example, in the bible, Galatians 2:17-18 (ESV) reads as follows: “But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For, if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.” Peterson’s version goes like this: “Have some of you noticed that we are not yet perfect? (No great surprise, right?) And are you ready to make the accusation that since people like me, who go through Christ in order to get things right with God, aren’t perfectly virtuous, Christ must therefore be an accessory to sin? The accusation is frivolous. If I was ‘trying to be good,’ I would be rebuilding the same old barn that I tore down. I would be acting as a charlatan. What actually took place is this: I tried keeping the rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man.”

    So, studying the Sonship course requires familiarity with another language. (As if it isn’t confusing enough on its own.) Aaaargh . . . I have to go pop a couple Advil . . .


  2. paulspassingthoughts said, on March 15, 2011 at 11:53 AM


    I wasn’t aware of this at all. Most of my study has been on what Sonship has morphed into–GS. But, what you have shared here is the exact same take on Galatians (AG, essay on p. 52). What Paul was contesting is a situation very much like leading someone to Christ who was in a religion that believes in salvation by some ritual, and then you have to keep a form of the law to maintain your salvation. Religions that believe you can lose your salvation are very much like that. If that person, at some point goes back to that religion, they have rejected justification by faith alone. Paul was not talking about works in sanctification.

    Peter acknowledged that Paul’s writings could be difficult and that false teachers take advantage of that to distort the truth:

    “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen” (2Peter 3:16-18).

    Notice that Peter described them as “lawless.”

    A question one might pose for Eugene Peterson or those using his material:”You have defined ‘law man’ (not in the Bible), as an antithesis of ‘God’s man,’ So, please define a ‘lawless man’ (a biblical term found throughout Scripture). Please define all three and how they relate to justification and sanctification.”


  3. Jess said, on March 15, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    Excellent question. Thank you for the scripture from 2 Peter.


    • pauldohse said, on March 15, 2011 at 9:30 PM

      The guy is basically saying that Paul was saying:”We’re going to sin anyway, so why try? If you do,it’s works salvation.

      > —–Original Message—– >


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