Galatians: Protestantism is No New Thing Under the Sun; Law-Based Justification is Functioning Antinomianism
The law was NEVER the standard for righteousness, but it is the standard for love and the work of faith.
Protestantism is the Galatian problem all over again. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians he attacks law-based justification, but functioning antinomianism has a slick way of dissing the law while applauding it. On the one hand the law is applauded as the standard for righteousness; ie., justification, but on the other hand some sort of substitute for the law fulfills it. This is anti-law while presaging to applaud it. And by the way, antinomianism is really anti-love.
Hence, while Protestants proudly proclaim themselves people of the book, evil and tyranny reins in the church. Those who show themselves reasonably equitable are really just good Germans. Why is this? Answer: law-based justification. Protestants are perhaps the wiliest in this falsehood because the banner over them is “justification by faith.” While proclaiming justification by faith alone apart from the law, it is really justification by the law. The key here is that like all law-based religions before it, Protestantism makes the law justification’s standard.
As a result, that standard must be met by some sort of substitutional ritual that fulfills the law FOR the “believer.” This actually leads to a “relaxing” of the law because we can’t fulfill its…watch for it….”righteous demands.” Why strive to obey the law when it demands perfection? In fact, Martin Luther and John Calvin both stated that any little falling short makes one guilty of violating every point of the law. Will this lead to a “relaxing” of the law which was the very thing that Christ accused the Pharisees of? Of course it will. As the institutional Protestant church rediscovers its true roots more and more will antinomianism increase? Of course it will. Is that the very thing we are witnessing in our day? Absolutely.
With the Judaizes, the substitute for functioning righteousness was a litany of manmade traditions including the recognition of days and circumcision:
Galatians 4:9,10,11 – But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.
Again, Protestants are really slick at this game. One of their rituals is “living by faith alone.” Instead of salvation being a onetime act that makes us righteous, our salvation is maintained by ritual faith alone works. This is the sort of thing James addressed in his epistle and why Martin Luther had open contempt for that particular New Testament letter.
In Protestantism, like all law-based false gospels, the law is the standard. Righteousness is defined by perfect law-keeping coupled with a substitute for fulfilling the law. Let me repeat that:
In Protestantism, like all law-based false gospels, the law is the standard. Righteousness is defined by perfect law-keeping coupled with a substitute for fulfilling the law.
With the Judaizes it was circumcision et al, with Protestantism it is the manmade tradition of “double imputation.” What’s that? It is the idea that Jesus kept/keeps/fulfills the law for us. If we keep the law we will fall short of its “perfect demands” and will be guilty of violating the whole standard for righteousness. The very verse they use to prove this makes the opposite point (James 2:10) as we shall see further along. But, this very error can be addressed using Paul’s letter to the Galatians:
Galatians 5:2 – Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.
Note that in order to be justified by the law, the receiver of the justification must be the one who keeps it. Unless they alone keep the whole law, they are severed from Christ. “Every man” that wants to be justified by the law must keep it himself. This is why double imputation doesn’t cut it. And in regard to the whole idea of a substituted righteousness, what is the result in every case? A relaxing of the law, and a righteousness that does not exceed that of the Pharisees who substituted the law with their manmade traditions.
This is where double imputation keeps the so-called believer under the condemnation of the law and calls the “believer” to live by faith alone works (ritual) invented by men. Jesus is a substitute for perfect law-keeping which completely misunderstands the purpose of the Old Covenant. The OC uses the law to hold all sin captive. All sin is against the law. The OC imputes all sin to the law, and then Jesus came to end the law (Romans 10:4).
Galatians 3:19 – Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one. 21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
When one believes on Christ, he/she is baptized in the Spirit and is no longer under the OC to which all sin is imputed. The believer is saved by “the promise” of new birth, NOT the law. In fact, if the law has anything to do with being made righteous, even if it is fulfilled by a substitute, that would make the law an additional “seed” BUT there is only ONE seed:
Galatians 3:15 – To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
Protestantism, like all law-based salvation plans, makes the law an additional life source other than the new birth made possible by “the promise” of the Spirit who raised Christ from the grave. This changes the true believer’s relationship to the law. Instead the law condemning, it is the standard for loving God and others.
The law was NEVER the standard for righteousness, but it is the standard for love and the work of faith:
Galatians 5:6 – For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
This is the whole point of James 2:10 as set against many verses noting that love fulfills the whole law. The contrast is the point. The new birth is the standard for righteousness—not the law. This makes the whole Protestant “sinners save by grace” a lie from the pit of hell. Those who sin against the law are still under law. Grace in not a covering for sin, it is an ending of the law and its condemnation. Grace has a law: the law fulfilled by the believer’s work of love; read Romans 8 and…
1John 3:3 – And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. 4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. 6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother (KJV).
Christ didn’t come to cover sin via obedience to Protestant orthodoxy which holds to a law-based standard for justification like all other false religions. He came to end enslavement to sin and the law’s condemnation in order to free us to live by love. The law is good for that purpose. In this sense, the law and its truth sanctifies us (John 17:17). In this sense, “If you love me keep my commandments.”