Paul's Passing Thoughts

Do You Believe A False Gospel?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 27, 2018

True or False?

  1. Jesus died for all of our past, present, and furture sins.
  2. Jesus obeyed the law perfectly so that His righteousness can be imputed to us.
  3. Christians are “sinners saved by grace”.

If you answered “True” to any of the above questions, you believe a false gospel.

But how can this be?

Let’s examine each of these statements one at a time.

 

Question 1: Jesus died for all of our past, present, and furture sins.

FALSE

The Reformation gospel of Protestantism teaches that Jesus’ death on the cross and the shedding of His blood is an “atonement” or “covering”, not only for past sins, but for any sin a believer may commit in the future.  According to this gospel, this “covering” is necessary so that when God looks on the believer, He doesn’t see sin, He sees the righteousness of Christ.

Here is why this is false:
The New Testament makes no reference anywhere of Jesus’ death being a “covering”.

The “atonement” is an Old Testament concept and refers to the Law’s function as a “guardian” until the “Promise” came. (Galatians 3:22-24)  That Promise is Jesus Christ!  When Jesus died, He ended the Law and with it, its ability to condemn.  Believers are born of God; new creatures who are not “under law”.  The apostle Paul taught that where there is no law there is no sin. (Romans 5:13)  Since believers are no longer “under law”, they can no longer sin.  There is no law to condemn them.  Because the law is ended for believers, we no longer need a guardian. (Galatians 3:25)

Jesus died for your past sins only!
For the believer, there are no present or future sins.  There is no condemnation for believers! (Romans 8:1)

 

Question 2

Jesus obeyed the law perfectly so that His righteousness can be imputed to us.

FALSE

The Reformation gospel of Protestantism teaches that the standard of righteousness is perfect law-keeping.  According to this gospel, because of man’s metaphysical depravity he is unable to keep the Law.  But because of Jesus’ perfect law-keeping, His righteousness is imputed to believers.  Therefore, believers are not righteous as a state of being, they are simply “declared righteous” (forensic justification).

Here is why this is false:
The Bible teaches that righteousness is apart from the Law (Romans 3:21, 28).  To say that believers are “declared righteous” by virtue of some vicarious imputation of Jesus’ righteousness is an attempt to make Law the standard for righteousness.  This is not righteousness apart from the Law.  Furthermore, the Bible never states that believers have the righteousness of Christ.

The standard for righteousness is the New Birth!
When a person believes on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, he is born again, literally “born from above”.  When that happens, a believer inherits his very own righteousness from God because the old man who was “under law” has died, and in his place is a new creature who is the righteous offspring of the Father!

And since this new creature is born of the Father, he is not under law.  And since he is not under law, he CANNOT sin (1 John 3:9), because where there is no law, there is no sin!

 

Question 3

Christians are “sinners saved by grace”.

FALSE

The Reformation gospel of Protestantism teaches that Christians are still sinners.  Martin Luther referred to this as simul justus et peccator – “simultaneously saint and sinner.”  According to this gospel, because Christians are still sinners, they are in need of perpetual forgiveness of sin.  In other words, Christians are still metaphysically depraved.

Here is why this is false:
This statement is a contradiction.  It is an impossible reality for man to exist in two different states at once.   The Bible says that man is either “under law” OR “under grace”.  “Under law” is the Biblical definition of an unsaved person.  A person who is “under law” is under condemnation.  Only those who are “under law” are sinners.  So to say that a Christian is a sinner means to consider him still “under law”.  The Protestant gospel makes Christians no different than the unregenerate.

Such a statement is a patent denial of the reality of the New Birth.  The New Birth is an existential change in a person’s state of being.  A believer is literally reborn as the righteous offspring of the Father.  He is no longer a “sinner” because the law is ended for him.   Where there is no law there is no sin.

Christians are righteous children of the Heavenly Father!
The New Birth has freed us from sin.  It no longer has any power over us.

 

What Is the True Gospel?

Man does NOT have a sin problem.

That is a scandalous statement and one that contradicts everything you have probably heard in church your whole life. It would seem to be a logical conclusion that the Bible teaches that man’s problem is sin, but let us reconsider two primary assumptions:

  1. Does man indeed have a problem?
  2. Is that problem sin?

The Bible teaches that there are only two kinds of people in this world; those who are “under law” and those who are “under grace”. To be “under law” means to be subject to the Law’s condemnation, which is death, and ultimately the Lake of Fire. Every person ever born into this word is “under law” and is therefore condemned because at some point in his life he has broken the Law in one way or another.

Even if a person has no knowledge of God’s Law from scripture, the Bible tells us that every man has the Law of God written on his heart, which is the conscience (Romans 2:14-15). The conscience is what gives man knowledge of right and wrong. One day, every person “under law” will be judged by God according to the Law, whether that be God’s law as recorded in scripture or by his own conscience. So clearly, man does indeed have a problem.

What about Sin?
The Bible describes Sin as an entity which seeks to wield control over others. (Genesis 4:7) Sin’s desire for control is manifest in man’s subsequent desire to wield control over others. Ironically, Sin obtains its power of control over others through the Law (1 Corinthians 15:56).   Sin uses the Law to control others by provoking man to break the Law through desires. Once there is a law that governs some behavior, Sin uses that same law to provoke a desire to rebel against what that law requires (Romans 7:7-8).

Without the Law, Sin has no power. Therefore, where there is no Law, there is no Sin. Any person who is “under law” is not only provoked by Sin to break the Law, but he is condemned if he does.

So the problem then is not with Sin, rather it is the reality that any man “under law” is under condemnation. The solution then is that man needs a way to get out from under the Law’s condemnation. Man needs a new relationship to the law.

Man’s New Relationship to the Law
When the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas how to be saved, their response was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved…” Belief means faith. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. A person is born again (literally “born from above”) when he hears about Jesus and believes what he hears. Hearing implies a cognitive process of allowing oneself to be persuaded by a reasonable argument.  So we understand then that “faith” is more than just an assenting to the facts, but it has to do with being thoroughly convinced in your mind that something is true.

God made it possible for man to get out from under the Law’s condemnation through the New Birth. When a person believes in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the “old man” who was “under law” dies. Laws have no jurisdiction over dead people. Dead people cannot be condemned.

When the “old man” dies, a new creature is reborn in his place. This new creature is born of God. He is the literal offspring of the Father. This new creature is not born “under law”. The Law has no jurisdiction over him. This means the Law CANNOT condemn him. And since there is no Law to condemn this born again new creature, there is no Sin. The one who is born of God CANNOT sin!

“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.” ~ 1 John 3:9

Notice, the apostle John does not say the believer “won’t sin” or “chooses not to sin”. He says he CANNOT sin. He is not ABLE to sin. Why is the one who is born again not able sin? Because sin has to do with Law. You cannot condemn one of sin when there is no Law under which to accuse someone. Think about it; if there was no 55 mph speed limit on the highway, and you were driving 56, would a patrol officer be able to write you a citation for speeding? Of course not. Why not? What law could he use of which to accuse you? There would be none. So it is with the one who is born again. The believer is no longer “under law,” therefore there is no Law than can be used to condemn. The believer has a new relationship to the Law.

Since the Law can no longer condemn, the Law’s original intent can now be realized: to show love to God and to others!

This is why believers strive to obey. It is not a means to merit some right standing with God. The believer is already righteous because he is God’s offspring. The believer obeys because he wants to show love to God and love to others. Love is the fulfillment of the Law.In fact, the Bible teaches that those who love God have a natural love for the Law as well.

“O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” ~ Psalm 119:97

“I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.” ~ Psalm 119:113

“I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.” ~ Psalm 119:163

“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” ~ Psalm 119:165

Even if there was no speed limit on the highway, would you still drive as fast as you possibly wanted? Hopefully not, because you would recognize the inherent danger, not only to yourself by driving recklessly, but also to the other drivers on the road. You would drive in such a way as to preserve your own life and the lives of others. You would be functioning according to the Law of Love.

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”~ Romans 8:2

This new relationship to the Law through the New Birth is offered as a free gift to any who believe on Jesus’ death on the cross for the forgiveness of their sins.

How does Jesus’ death on the cross forgive sin?
In Old Testament times, when God codified the Law for Israel with Moses, the Law took Old Testament saints into protective custody. During this time, believers were preserved from condemnation upon their death because sin was imputed to the Law. This was the “covering” aspect of the Law, and the ceremonial observation of the “Day of Atonement” was a recognition of Israel being under the Law’s protective custody. (Galatians 3:22-24)

This protective custody was in effect up until the time of Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus’ death was the fulfillment of a promise made to Abraham. When Jesus died, He ended the need for the Law’s protective custody. When the Law ended, all sins that had been imputed to the Law were taken away with it.

The picture of the “scapegoat” in Leviticus 16:21-22 describes what Jesus’ death on the cross accomplishes. The priest would lay his hands upon a live goat, a symbol of sins being imputed to the Law. That goat would then be delivered into the hands of a strong man who take that goat into the wilderness and release it.   Jesus is that “strong man” who took away the sins imputed to the “scapegoat” of the Law.

“…Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” ~ John 1:29

In essence, Jesus is both the “Lamb” and the “strong man”. He is the Testator of the Old Covenant, the One of whom the Law speaks, the One to whom sin is imputed. The death of the Testator brings an end (fulfillment) to that covenant, thereby taking with Him all sins which had been imputed to Him.

Since the Promise of Christ has come, there is no longer a need for a guardian. The “covering” aspect of the Law is no longer needed. (Galatians 3:25-26) This is true for every person who believes in Jesus Christ for salvation. The New Birth puts the old man to death. All those past sins are forgiven. They were taken away when the Law was ended for him upon his New Birth. There is no ongoing need of forgiveness for “present” or “future” sins because the believer CANNOT sin. There is no Law to condemn him, therefore there is no sin.

Why do Christians still “sin”?
Man is and always will be a free-will agent. His behaviors are governed by choices that are the logical conclusions of his assumptions. Man was created by God to be a rational, thinking, creature. It is how man is made in God’s image. In this way, man is good. To say that man is “good” means to be good existentially, or that which is intrinsic to the nature of his existence. It means man has the capacity to act in accordance to the purpose for which he was created: to think, to reason, to live, to BE.

That a man may make a choice to do evil does not mean that he IS evil. Conversely, that man may make a choice to good is not what MAKES him good. Man’s ability to even make a choice at all is what makes him “good”. He is functioning according to how God designed him to be.   Do not misunderstand – “goodness” should not be conflated with “righteousness”.

It is not a man’s choosing to do evil deeds (or lack of good deeds) which condemns him, no more than it is a believer’s choosing to do good deeds (or lack of evil deeds) which saves him. Unregenerate man is condemned because he is “under law”. A believer is saved because he is born again and NOT “under law”. Therefore, because one who is born again is not “under law”, there is no such thing as “sin” for the believer.

Nevertheless, this does not preclude the fact that a believer can still choose to not obey the Law. At the same time, this does not give a believer license to ignore the Law. While failure to obey the Law no longer condemns the believer, it is still a failure to show love. Children of the Heavenly Father ought to behave in a manner that is consistent with their righteous nature.

The Bible says the flesh is “weak”. Weakness does not mean evil. The apostle Paul said that the treasure of our righteous new creature-hood is contained in “clay pots”. So even though a believer is righteous, Sin still seeks to control him through the weakness of his flesh. And because man is a moral agent capable of free-will decisions, a believer can still choose to give in to fleshly desires provoked by Sin. But it is important to understand the distinction; such an action does not condemn! It is a failure to show love.

Perfection is not the issue here. This is why it is so important to understand that righteousness has nothing to do with law-keeping. There is a reason Paul and the other apostles bent over backwards to make this case throughout the New Testament. Believers are righteous because they have been born again and are no longer “under law”. Whether or not a believer obeys the law “perfectly” is irrelevant because there is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1)

This reality is incredibly freeing, because now a believer can aggressively pursue love without fear!

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear:” ~ 1 John 4:18

A believer no longer has to worry about what laws he has kept or hasn’t kept because the threat of condemnation has been removed. That possibility is no longer hanging over his head like some impending doom. Now he is free to focus on just loving God and loving others, and the way he shows love is by striving to obey the Law.

“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” ~ Matthew 22:36-40

“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” ~ Romans 13:8

“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” ~ Galatians 5:14

 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” ~ John 14:15

A Misunderstanding of the Law
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, the Jewish religious leaders had come to believe that keeping the statutes in the Torah was what made a person righteous. But because they made the assumption that man was metaphysically evil, this assumption meant that man was disqualified from being able to understand the Law’s requirements. This is turn meant that if man could not understand the Law then man could not keep the Law.

The Jewish leaders believed it was necessary for some mediator to dictate to man the requirements necessary for righteousness. To accomplish this, they crafted their own interpretation of the Torah for man to follow. Since man could not understand the Law, he could obtain righteousness by following the interpretations of the Jewish leaders. This interpretation is what was known as their “traditions” or “orthodoxy”.

There are a number of problems with this, not the least of which is that the Bible teaches that righteousness is apart from the Law. As already mentioned, the apostles went to great lengths to make this point clear. For the Jewish religious leaders to hold this perspective, it was indicative of their egregious misunderstanding of the Law’s purpose. The Law was never intended to be for the purpose of obtaining a righteous standing with God.

“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”~ Galatians 2:21

“Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” ~ Galatians 3:21

“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” ~ Romans 3:20

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” ~ Galatians 2:16

The Law is the means by which man shows love to God and others, but making the Law the standard for righteousness actually circumvents love. How does this happen?

The Jewish religious leaders replaced the Law with their orthodoxy. The people were taught that since they could not keep the Law, it was pointless to even try. By replacing the Law with orthodoxy, the Jewish leaders effectively took away man’s only means of showing love to God and others. Rather than striving to show love to God through obedience, they became preoccupied with adhering to Jewish orthodoxy. Their lives were no longer characterized by love but fear.

When the standard for righteousness is perfect law-keeping, fear is always the result. Fear is the result of condemnation. Condemnation comes from being “under law”. Any system that makes Law the standard for righteousness keeps man “under law”. The Jewish system of perfect law-keeping by adherence to orthodoxy kept the people “under law” and took away their means of showing love.

This is exactly what Jesus accused the Pharisees of doing.

“… Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition [orthodoxy].” ~ Matthew 15:6

“And he said unto them, ‘Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition [orthodoxy].’” ~ Mark 7:9

“Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition [orthodoxy], which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.” ~ Mark 7:13

“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” ~ Matthew 24:12

The word translated “iniquity” in Matthew 24:12 is the Greek word ανομια (anomia). It literally means “no law”. This is the Biblical definition of antinomianism. It means to take away the law. Jesus said Himself that taking away the Law would result in love growing cold. And why wouldn’t it? If you take away the Law, you take away the only means man has to show love to God and others.

Jesus spoke these words as a prophesy, but the end result of this logical progression of thought is always the same: taking away the Law results in a lack of love and lives characterized by fear. Be sure to understand the distinction. The Jewish religious leaders misunderstood the Law’s purpose. They thought it was for the purpose of meriting righteousness. But righteousness is apart from the Law. Righteousness comes through the New Birth. The Law is used as a means to show love to God and others.

What was true of first century Judaism is also true of every religion that ever existed or still exists today: it makes some form of law-keeping as the standard for righteousness. Every religion begins with the same root assumption: that man is metaphysically evil, making him disqualified from being able to understand truth. Since he cannot understand truth he must have truth interpreted for him. Religious orthodoxy is nothing more than truth repackaged for mass consumption. It is therefore adherence to this interpretation of truth that brings righteousness.

Protestantism is no different! But Protestantism’s version of orthodoxy is obfuscated under the pretense of “faith alone”. On the one hand, it will acknowledge that righteousness is apart from the Law; that man does not merit righteousness by keeping the Law. Then on the other hand, it will insist that Jesus keeps the law for us. In other words, since man cannot keep the Law, Jesus must do it instead.

How is it proposed that man is able to benefit from this so-called perfect law-keeping of Jesus? By living by “faith alone”.   You see, if at any time you find that you are performing a work of obedience to the Law “in your own efforts”, you are attempting to rely on your own strength to merit salvation instead of “resting” in Christ to do the work for you. (Notice that the assumed motivation is to merit salvation instead of showing love.)

It should be blatantly obvious that regardless WHO is keeping the law, even if it is Jesus keeping the Law in our stead, it is still a righteousness that is based on perfect law-keeping. This is NOT a righteousness apart from the Law.   Moreover, to rely on Jesus doing the works of the Law for us so that His righteousness can be imputed to us is nothing more than works-based salvation.

For over 500 years, Protestantism has been perpetrating a fraud and a contradiction of epic proportions! Like every other religion that has come down the pike since the beginning of time, Protestantism is based on a faulty assumption that results in a willful misunderstanding of the Law. It is a religion of antinomianism that circumvents a believer’s ability to show love through obedience. It makes obedience nothing more than a subjective experience that Christ supposedly performs through the believer. It defies the believer’s natural inclination to love God’s Law. It defines righteousness as perfect law-keeping. This unwittingly puts the believer right back “under law”, the Biblical definition of an unsaved person. Protestantism views believers no differently than the unregenerate.

Most importantly, the false gospel of Protestantism robs the believer of assurance. The Christian life becomes one of constant introspection of whether one is living by “faith alone” or not. Protestantism’s single perspective on the Law means the believer is in constant fear that he might come under condemnation. He is not free to love others. He is not free to love his Heavenly Father. He can never know for sure if he really is saved.

Dear Christian brother, know this. The Bible says that we CAN know for sure that we are saved. When we understand that our righteousness comes by virtue of the fact that we are the literal offspring of the Father, everything becomes so simple. It doesn’t matter if we fail. Perfection is not the point. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! Believers are no longer “under law”. Where there is no law there is no sin. This is a wonderful reality!

This is the Gospel news that believers need to bring to a world that needs to be reconciled to God.

The world is full of unsaved people who do very good deeds. Whether he realizes it or not, every time man shows love to another, he is fulfilling the Law. It does not matter if the person is saved or not. Unsaved man has the ability to show love to others just as much as one who is saved. But it is not that expression of love that saves. It is not a fulfilling of the Law that saves. For even though an unsaved man might obey the Law of Love, he is still condemned because he is still “under law”. That is the whole point.

Man does not have a “sin problem”. He has a relationship to the Law problem. This is why Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again.” The exhortation to you, dear brother in Christ, is this: Go out this day and show forth your love to God and others. You are God’s righteous child. Pursue obedience and fulfill the Law of Love!


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Do You Believe A False Gospel?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 27, 2017

True or False?

  1. Jesus died for all of our past, present, and furture sins.
  2. Jesus obeyed the law perfectly so that His righteousness can be imputed to us.
  3. Christians are “sinners saved by grace”.

If you answered “True” to any of the above questions, you believe a false gospel.

But how can this be?

Let’s examine each of these statements one at a time.

 

Question 1: Jesus died for all of our past, present, and furture sins.

FALSE

The Reformation gospel of Protestantism teaches that Jesus’ death on the cross and the shedding of His blood is an “atonement” or “covering”, not only for past sins, but for any sin a believer may commit in the future.  According to this gospel, this “covering” is necessary so that when God looks on the believer, He doesn’t see sin, He sees the righteousness of Christ.

Here is why this is false:
The New Testament makes no reference anywhere of Jesus’ death being a “covering”.

The “atonement” is an Old Testament concept and refers to the Law’s function as a “guardian” until the “Promise” came. (Galatians 3:22-24)  That Promise is Jesus Christ!  When Jesus died, He ended the Law and with it, its ability to condemn.  Believers are born of God; new creatures who are not “under law”.  The apostle Paul taught that where there is no law there is no sin. (Romans 5:13)  Since believers are no longer “under law”, they can no longer sin.  There is no law to condemn them.  Because the law is ended for believers, we no longer need a guardian. (Galatians 3:25)

Jesus died for your past sins only!
For the believer, there are no present or future sins.  There is no condemnation for believers! (Romans 8:1)

 

Question 2

Jesus obeyed the law perfectly so that His righteousness can be imputed to us.

FALSE

The Reformation gospel of Protestantism teaches that the standard of righteousness is perfect law-keeping.  According to this gospel, because of man’s metaphysical depravity he is unable to keep the Law.  But because of Jesus’ perfect law-keeping, His righteousness is imputed to believers.  Therefore, believers are not righteous as a state of being, they are simply “declared righteous” (forensic justification).

Here is why this is false:
The Bible teaches that righteousness is apart from the Law (Romans 3:21, 28).  To say that believers are “declared righteous” by virtue of some vicarious imputation of Jesus’ righteousness is an attempt to make Law the standard for righteousness.  This is not righteousness apart from the Law.  Furthermore, the Bible never states that believers have the righteousness of Christ.

The standard for righteousness is the New Birth!
When a person believes on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, he is born again, literally “born from above”.  When that happens, a believer inherits his very own righteousness from God because the old man who was “under law” has died, and in his place is a new creature who is the righteous offspring of the Father!

And since this new creature is born of the Father, he is not under law.  And since he is not under law, he CANNOT sin (1 John 3:9), because where there is no law, there is no sin!

 

Question 3

Christians are “sinners saved by grace”.

FALSE

The Reformation gospel of Protestantism teaches that Christians are still sinners.  Martin Luther referred to this as simul justus et peccator – “simultaneously saint and sinner.”  According to this gospel, because Christians are still sinners, they are in need of perpetual forgiveness of sin.  In other words, Christians are still metaphysically depraved.

Here is why this is false:
This statement is a contradiction.  It is an impossible reality for man to exist in two different states at once.   The Bible says that man is either “under law” OR “under grace”.  “Under law” is the Biblical definition of an unsaved person.  A person who is “under law” is under condemnation.  Only those who are “under law” are sinners.  So to say that a Christian is a sinner means to consider him still “under law”.  The Protestant gospel makes Christians no different than the unregenerate.

Such a statement is a patent denial of the reality of the New Birth.  The New Birth is an existential change in a person’s state of being.  A believer is literally reborn as the righteous offspring of the Father.  He is no longer a “sinner” because the law is ended for him.   Where there is no law there is no sin.

Christians are righteous children of the Heavenly Father!
The New Birth has freed us from sin.  It no longer has any power over us.

 

What Is the True Gospel?

Man does NOT have a sin problem.

That is a scandalous statement and one that contradicts everything you have probably heard in church your whole life. It would seem to be a logical conclusion that the Bible teaches that man’s problem is sin, but let us reconsider two primary assumptions:

  1. Does man indeed have a problem?
  2. Is that problem sin?

The Bible teaches that there are only two kinds of people in this world; those who are “under law” and those who are “under grace”. To be “under law” means to be subject to the Law’s condemnation, which is death, and ultimately the Lake of Fire. Every person ever born into this word is “under law” and is therefore condemned because at some point in his life he has broken the Law in one way or another.

Even if a person has no knowledge of God’s Law from scripture, the Bible tells us that every man has the Law of God written on his heart, which is the conscience (Romans 2:14-15). The conscience is what gives man knowledge of right and wrong. One day, every person “under law” will be judged by God according to the Law, whether that be God’s law as recorded in scripture or by his own conscience. So clearly, man does indeed have a problem.

What about Sin?
The Bible describes Sin as an entity which seeks to wield control over others. (Genesis 4:7) Sin’s desire for control is manifest in man’s subsequent desire to wield control over others. Ironically, Sin obtains its power of control over others through the Law (1 Corinthians 15:56).   Sin uses the Law to control others by provoking man to break the Law through desires. Once there is a law that governs some behavior, Sin uses that same law to provoke a desire to rebel against what that law requires (Romans 7:7-8).

Without the Law, Sin has no power. Therefore, where there is no Law, there is no Sin. Any person who is “under law” is not only provoked by Sin to break the Law, but he is condemned if he does.

So the problem then is not with Sin, rather it is the reality that any man “under law” is under condemnation. The solution then is that man needs a way to get out from under the Law’s condemnation. Man needs a new relationship to the law.

Man’s New Relationship to the Law
When the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas how to be saved, their response was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved…” Belief means faith. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. A person is born again (literally “born from above”) when he hears about Jesus and believes what he hears. Hearing implies a cognitive process of allowing oneself to be persuaded by a reasonable argument.  So we understand then that “faith” is more than just an assenting to the facts, but it has to do with being thoroughly convinced in your mind that something is true.

God made it possible for man to get out from under the Law’s condemnation through the New Birth. When a person believes in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the “old man” who was “under law” dies. Laws have no jurisdiction over dead people. Dead people cannot be condemned.

When the “old man” dies, a new creature is reborn in his place. This new creature is born of God. He is the literal offspring of the Father. This new creature is not born “under law”. The Law has no jurisdiction over him. This means the Law CANNOT condemn him. And since there is no Law to condemn this born again new creature, there is no Sin. The one who is born of God CANNOT sin!

“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.” ~ 1 John 3:9

Notice, the apostle John does not say the believer “won’t sin” or “chooses not to sin”. He says he CANNOT sin. He is not ABLE to sin. Why is the one who is born again not able sin? Because sin has to do with Law. You cannot condemn one of sin when there is no Law under which to accuse someone. Think about it; if there was no 55 mph speed limit on the highway, and you were driving 56, would a patrol officer be able to write you a citation for speeding? Of course not. Why not? What law could he use of which to accuse you? There would be none. So it is with the one who is born again. The believer is no longer “under law,” therefore there is no Law than can be used to condemn. The believer has a new relationship to the Law.

Since the Law can no longer condemn, the Law’s original intent can now be realized: to show love to God and to others!

This is why believers strive to obey. It is not a means to merit some right standing with God. The believer is already righteous because he is God’s offspring. The believer obeys because he wants to show love to God and love to others. Love is the fulfillment of the Law.In fact, the Bible teaches that those who love God have a natural love for the Law as well.

“O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” ~ Psalm 119:97

“I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.” ~ Psalm 119:113

“I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.” ~ Psalm 119:163

“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” ~ Psalm 119:165

Even if there was no speed limit on the highway, would you still drive as fast as you possibly wanted? Hopefully not, because you would recognize the inherent danger, not only to yourself by driving recklessly, but also to the other drivers on the road. You would drive in such a way as to preserve your own life and the lives of others. You would be functioning according to the Law of Love.

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”~ Romans 8:2

This new relationship to the Law through the New Birth is offered as a free gift to any who believe on Jesus’ death on the cross for the forgiveness of their sins.

How does Jesus’ death on the cross forgive sin?
In Old Testament times, when God codified the Law for Israel with Moses, the Law took Old Testament saints into protective custody. During this time, believers were preserved from condemnation upon their death because sin was imputed to the Law. This was the “covering” aspect of the Law, and the ceremonial observation of the “Day of Atonement” was a recognition of Israel being under the Law’s protective custody. (Galatians 3:22-24)

This protective custody was in effect up until the time of Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus’ death was the fulfillment of a promise made to Abraham. When Jesus died, He ended the need for the Law’s protective custody. When the Law ended, all sins that had been imputed to the Law were taken away with it.

The picture of the “scapegoat” in Leviticus 16:21-22 describes what Jesus’ death on the cross accomplishes. The priest would lay his hands upon a live goat, a symbol of sins being imputed to the Law. That goat would then be delivered into the hands of a strong man who take that goat into the wilderness and release it.   Jesus is that “strong man” who took away the sins imputed to the “scapegoat” of the Law.

“…Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” ~ John 1:29

In essence, Jesus is both the “Lamb” and the “strong man”. He is the Testator of the Old Covenant, the One of whom the Law speaks, the One to whom sin is imputed. The death of the Testator brings an end (fulfillment) to that covenant, thereby taking with Him all sins which had been imputed to Him.

Since the Promise of Christ has come, there is no longer a need for a guardian. The “covering” aspect of the Law is no longer needed. (Galatians 3:25-26) This is true for every person who believes in Jesus Christ for salvation. The New Birth puts the old man to death. All those past sins are forgiven. They were taken away when the Law was ended for him upon his New Birth. There is no ongoing need of forgiveness for “present” or “future” sins because the believer CANNOT sin. There is no Law to condemn him, therefore there is no sin.

Why do Christians still “sin”?
Man is and always will be a free-will agent. His behaviors are governed by choices that are the logical conclusions of his assumptions. Man was created by God to be a rational, thinking, creature. It is how man is made is God’s image. In this way, man is good. To say that man is “good” means to be good existentially, or that which is intrinsic to the nature of his existence. It means man has the capacity to act in accordance to the purpose for which he was created: to think, to reason, to live, to BE.

That a man may make a choice to do evil does not mean that he IS evil. Conversely, that man may make a choice to good is not what MAKES him good. Man’s ability to even make a choice at all is what makes him “good”. He is functioning according to how God designed him to be.   Do not misunderstand – “goodness” should not be conflated with “righteousness”.

It is not a man’s choosing to do evil deeds (or lack of good deeds) which condemns him, no more than it is a believer’s choosing to do good deeds (or lack of evil deeds) which saves him. Unregenerate man is condemned because he is “under law”. A believer is saved because he is born again and NOT “under law”. Therefore, because one who is born again is not “under law”, there is no such thing as “sin” for the believer.

Nevertheless, this does not preclude the fact that a believer can still choose to not obey the Law. At the same time, this does not give a believer license to ignore the Law. While failure to obey the Law no longer condemns the believer, it is still a failure to show love. Children of the Heavenly Father ought to behave in a manner that is consistent with their righteous nature.

The Bible says the flesh is “weak”. Weakness does not mean evil. The apostle Paul said that the treasure of our righteous new creature-hood is contained in “clay pots”. So even though a believer is righteous, Sin still seeks to control him through the weakness of his flesh. And because man is a moral agent capable of free-will decisions, a believer can still choose to give in to fleshly desires provoked by Sin. But it is important to understand the distinction; such an action does not condemn! It is a failure to show love.

Perfection is not the issue here. This is why it is so important to understand that righteousness has nothing to do with law-keeping. There is a reason Paul and the other apostles bent over backwards to make this case throughout the New Testament. Believers are righteous because they have been born again and are no longer “under law”. Whether or not a believer obeys the law “perfectly” is irrelevant because there is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1)

This reality is incredibly freeing, because now a believer can aggressively pursue love without fear!

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear:” ~ 1 John 4:18

A believer no longer has to worry about what laws he has kept or hasn’t kept because the threat of condemnation has been removed. That possibility is no longer hanging over his head like some impending doom. Now he is free to focus on just loving God and loving others, and the way he shows love is by striving to obey the Law.

“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” ~ Matthew 22:36-40

“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” ~ Romans 13:8

“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” ~ Galatians 5:14

 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” ~ John 14:15

A Misunderstanding of the Law
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, the Jewish religious leaders had come to believe that keeping the statutes in the Torah was what made a person righteous. But because they made the assumption that man was metaphysically evil, this assumption meant that man was disqualified from being able to understand the Law’s requirements. This is turn meant that if man could not understand the Law then man could not keep the Law.

The Jewish leaders believed it was necessary for some mediator to dictate to man the requirements necessary for righteousness. To accomplish this, they crafted their own interpretation of the Torah for man to follow. Since man could not understand the Law, he could obtain righteousness by following the interpretations of the Jewish leaders. This interpretation is what was known as their “traditions” or “orthodoxy”.

There are a number of problems with this, not the least of which is that the Bible teaches that righteousness is apart from the Law. As already mentioned, the apostles went to great lengths to make this point clear. For the Jewish religious leaders to hold this perspective, it was indicative of their egregious misunderstanding of the Law’s purpose. The Law was never intended to be for the purpose of obtaining a righteous standing with God.

“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”~ Galatians 2:21

“Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” ~ Galatians 3:21

“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” ~ Romans 3:20

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” ~ Galatians 2:16

The Law is the means by which man shows love to God and others, but making the Law the standard for righteousness actually circumvents love. How does this happen?

The Jewish religious leaders replaced the Law with their orthodoxy. The people were taught that since they could not keep the Law, it was pointless to even try. By replacing the Law with orthodoxy, the Jewish leaders effectively took away man’s only means of showing love to God and others. Rather than striving to show love to God through obedience, they became preoccupied with adhering to Jewish orthodoxy. Their lives were no longer characterized by love but fear.

When the standard for righteousness is perfect law-keeping, fear is always the result. Fear is the result of condemnation. Condemnation comes from being “under law”. Any system that makes Law the standard for righteousness keeps man “under law”. The Jewish system of perfect law-keeping by adherence to orthodoxy kept the people “under law” and took away their means of showing love.

This is exactly what Jesus accused the Pharisees of doing.

“… Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition [orthodoxy].” ~ Matthew 15:6

“And he said unto them, ‘Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition [orthodoxy].’” ~ Mark 7:9

“Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition [orthodoxy], which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.” ~ Mark 7:13

“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” ~ Matthew 24:12

The word translated “iniquity” in Matthew 24:12 is the Greek word ανομια (anomia). It literally means “no law”. This is the Biblical definition of antinomianism. It means to take away the law. Jesus said Himself that taking away the Law would result in love growing cold. And why wouldn’t it? If you take away the Law, you take away the only means man has to show love to God and others.

Jesus spoke these words as a prophesy, but the end result of this logical progression of thought is always the same: taking away the Law results in a lack of love and lives characterized by fear. Be sure to understand the distinction. The Jewish religious leaders misunderstood the Law’s purpose. They thought it was for the purpose of meriting righteousness. But righteousness is apart from the Law. Righteousness comes through the New Birth. The Law is used as a means to show love to God and others.

What was true of first century Judaism is also true of every religion that ever existed or still exists today: it makes some form of law-keeping as the standard for righteousness. Every religion begins with the same root assumption: that man is metaphysically evil, making him disqualified from being able to understand truth. Since he cannot understand truth he must have truth interpreted for him. Religious orthodoxy is nothing more than truth repackaged for mass consumption. It is therefore adherence to this interpretation of truth that brings righteousness.

Protestantism is no different! But Protestantism’s version of orthodoxy is obfuscated under the pretense of “faith alone”. On the one hand, it will acknowledge that righteousness is apart from the Law; that man does not merit righteousness by keeping the Law. Then on the other hand, it will insist that Jesus keeps the law for us. In other words, since man cannot keep the Law, Jesus must do it instead.

How is it proposed that man is able to benefit from this so-called perfect law-keeping of Jesus? By living by “faith alone”.   You see, if at any time you find that you are performing a work of obedience to the Law “in your own efforts”, you are attempting to rely on your own strength to merit salvation instead of “resting” in Christ to do the work for you. (Notice that the assumed motivation is to merit salvation instead of showing love.)

It should be blatantly obvious that regardless WHO is keeping the law, even if it is Jesus keeping the Law in our stead, it is still a righteousness that is based on perfect law-keeping. This is NOT a righteousness apart from the Law.   Moreover, to rely on Jesus doing the works of the Law for us so that His righteousness can be imputed to us is nothing more than works-based salvation.

For over 500 years, Protestantism has been perpetrating a fraud and a contradiction of epic proportions! Like every other religion that has come down the pike since the beginning of time, Protestantism is based on a faulty assumption that results in a willful misunderstanding of the Law. It is a religion of antinomianism that circumvents a believer’s ability to show love through obedience. It makes obedience nothing more than a subjective experience that Christ supposedly performs through the believer. It defies the believer’s natural inclination to love God’s Law. It defines righteousness as perfect law-keeping. This unwittingly puts the believer right back “under law”, the Biblical definition of an unsaved person. Protestantism views believers no differently than the unregenerate.

Most importantly, the false gospel of Protestantism robs the believer of assurance. The Christian life becomes one of constant introspection of whether one is living by “faith alone” or not. Protestantism’s single perspective on the Law means the believer is in constant fear that he might come under condemnation. He is not free to love others. He is not free to love his Heavenly Father. He can never know for sure if he really is saved.

Dear Christian brother, know this. The Bible says that we CAN know for sure that we are saved. When we understand that our righteousness comes by virtue of the fact that we are the literal offspring of the Father, everything becomes so simple. It doesn’t matter if we fail. Perfection is not the point. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! Believers are no longer “under law”. Where there is no law there is no sin. This is a wonderful reality!

This is the Gospel news that believers need to bring to a world that needs to be reconciled to God.

The world is full of unsaved people who do very good deeds. Whether he realizes it or not, every time man shows love to another, he is fulfilling the Law. It does not matter if the person is saved or not. Unsaved man has the ability to show love to others just as much as one who is saved. But it is not that expression of love that saves. It is not a fulfilling of the Law that saves. For even though an unsaved man might obey the Law of Love, he is still condemned because he is still “under law”. That is the whole point.

Man does not have a “sin problem”. He has a relationship to the Law problem. This is why Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again.” The exhortation to you, dear brother in Christ, is this: Go out this day and show forth your love to God and others. You are God’s righteous child. Pursue obedience and fulfill the Law of Love!


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The “Legalism” Myth and Why Antinomianism and Justification by the Law are the Same Thing

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 24, 2015

Good evening everyone welcome to False Reformation Blogtalk radio. This is your host Paul Dohse. This is a special live presentation for tomorrow night’s episode because I will be out of town attending a conference.

Therefore, tomorrow night’s weekly Friday episode will be prerecorded here tonight. If you would like to add to the show or ask a question call 347-855-8317.

Per the usual, I will say “This is your host Paul. You are live on Blogtalk what is your comment or question?” With that, just start talking—identifying yourself is optional. Also per the usual, we will be checking in with Susan to get her feedback on tonight’s show.

Now, on to our topic. Let’s summarize the commonly accepted narrative of our day. The Reformation’s justification by faith saved Western civilization and stands in stark contrast to its two primary nemeses: “legalism,” and “antinomianism,” with antinomianism being the lesser evil by far.

Legalism is attempting to be justified by the law, and antinomianism is the belief that there is no use for the law—it only condemns. In other words, Christians are not obligated to the law in any way, shape, or form. The word means literally, “anti-law.”

This is the theses for tonight’s show:

Point 1: There is no such thing as legalism.

Point 2: Antinomianism is really justification by the law—they are the same thing.

Point 3: The Reformation’s justification by faith is really justification by the law.

Point 4: Therefore, Protestantism is both justification by the law and antinomianism because the two are the same thing.

Point one, there is no such thing as “legalism.” Without a doubt, this is proffered as kingdom enemy #1. However, the term is found nowhere in the Bible, nor is the concept found anywhere in the Bible. What is it? What’s the technical definition according to Protestant orthodoxy?

So-called legalism is the idea that Christians can do a good work. Legalism is closely associated with the Reformed truism, the imperative command is grounded in the indicative event. The primary criticisms of legalism are “it jumps directly from the command to obedience.” This is also known as “fruit stapling.”

Closely associated with the legalism myth is the anti-legalism truism, “all change comes from the inside out.” That’s yet another truism among Christians that is accepted as absolute gospel out of hand. But what does it mean? I’m not saying that there is no truth in the statement, but what do they mean by it?

Listen carefully; I want to interject a principle of deception. Readily accepted truisms that sound good and not subjected to scrutiny are stepping stones that take you to a place of other people’s choosing. They know where you are going, but you don’t. No person anywhere or at any time ended up in a mass grave apart from this concept. No person was ever duped out of their lifesavings apart from this concept. No person has ever wasted years gifted to them apart from this concept. This concept applies to every strata of life.

So, what is meant by this anti-legalism myth truism? It is the idea that all good works must be filtered through the inner person before they appear outwardly. This dissects the role of the believer, if the dreaded legalism is to be prevented, into two categories: active and passive. The active is understanding only, and the passive is the actual manifestation of the outward work.

This necessarily requires an understanding of what is meant by “heart change.” Heart change is your capacity to see only. It defines faith as something that only perceives outwardly. So, the ONLY active role of the Christian is to SEE reality in a kingdom of God way, or at least what they define that to be. This is known as, watch it—we here it all the time: “a Christian worldview.”

So let’s pause for a summation thus far: in order to prevent the dreaded legalism myth, we must know that the only active role of the Christian is to have a proper worldview, or a proper perception of reality. This is faith, and the growth of faith is heart change. Got it?

This results in works being separated from the Christian and manifested by Christ. This prevents “legalism” which is the supposed errant belief that Christians can perform a good work, and thus, watch it, here is another one, “possessing a righteousness of our own.”

Are you getting this so far? So, in less than 700 words so far, we have defined: legalism; fruit stapling; faith; heart change; and Christian worldview. The Christian’s active role is to see according to the right worldview, his passive role is to WATCH…here is another one…here it comes…”what Jesus has done, not anything we do.”

Let’s now add this: typically, those who are supposedly guilty of legalism will only believe that Christ died for our sins, while denying that Christ lived a perfect life to fulfil the Old Covenant law for us. This is the Protestant/Lutheran/Calvinist formal doctrine of double imputation. Christ died for our justification, and lived for our sanctification so that His perfect obedience to the law of Moses can now be applied to our life through faith alone in our sanctification, or Christian living if you will.

That’s the “indicative,” viz, all works are grounded in what Christ did, not anything we do. Therefore, when you see a command in the Bible, it must be seen in its quote…”gospel context” of double imputation. The imperative shows us what we cannot do, but rather what Jesus has done for us. Hence, “the imperative command is grounded in the indicative event.” Supposedly, when Jesus commands us to be perfect, He is driving this point home that perfection is the standard and we cannot be perfect.

Side note: What Jesus is really doing is telling us to be who we are, viz, perfect. “But Paul, we sin!” Hold that thought, we will address that.

Another side note: Christ didn’t have to obey the law perfectly in order to prepare our works for us, the Holy Spirit did that before the foundation of the world:

Ephesians 2:10 – For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

1 Corinthians 6:11 – And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

The works were prepared by God and sanctified by the Holy Spirt before the foundation of the world, and Abraham was justified 430 years before the law of Moses—Christ did not have to obey the law for us and clearly, we are the ones who “walk” in the pre-prepared works sanctified by the Holy Spirit before the world was ever created. The more you study election, the more you realize it’s just another angle on trying to get it into the heads of Christians that law and justification are mutually exclusive.

So, in the closing of our first point let us define so-called legalism: it is the belief that a Christian can do a good work. See, among myriads of examples, the Calvin Institutes book 3, chapter 14, sections 9-11 and Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation. “Paul, the Heidelberg Disputation has 28 theses, which one?” Answer: All of them. Pick one.

Now let’s define antinomianism. That’s actually in the Bible. That’s actually a biblical word. What does it mean? “Antinomianism is the English transliteration of the Greek word, “anomia” which means “anti-law.” As we have discussed on this program before, “law” is a biblical word that really just refers to the full counsel of God. Antinomianism for all practical purposes is “anti-godly wisdom.” As we will see as we move along, the best meaning is “anti-love.”

In the biblical sense, antinomianism has no reference to justification. Because law and justification/righteousness/salvation are mutually exclusive, the bible would actually endorse an antinomian view of justification. The only biblical reference point antinomianism has regards sanctification, or the Christian life. Antinomianism is the absence of law in sanctification.

Curiously, the Reformers, both past and present, define antinomianism as the absence of law in justification. Remember, in Protestantism/Calvinism/Reformed soteriology, law is justification’s standard. This is a segue right into the definition of antinomianism according to the Reformed.

This is where the Reformed pound the pulpit against antinomianism and vehemently deny that they are antinomian. Some Reformed guy even wrote a book titled “Friends of the Law” expounding on the Reformed virtue of upholding the law of God. But of course, why wouldn’t they? They think law is the standard for justification! No law, no justification.

But here’s the dirty little secret: justification, which according to them is synonymous with perfect law-keeping, is justification by faith alone right? So, if the perfect demands of the law have to be maintained in order for there to be any justification, Christians cannot remain justified in sanctification unless the demands of the law continue to be met. Right?

That creates a problem: how can the perfect demands of the law continue to be met in sanctification, or in other words: the Christian life? The dirty little secret is that justification by faith alone (also known as simply “justification by faith”) also pertains to sanctification also.

Aside: Some in the Reformed camp, actually many, claim that antinomianism is a misnomer because mankind is helplessly enslaved to chronic self-justification. Someone who believes in throwing the law away so that grace may abound is a description of someone who is an anomaly. Elyse Fitzpatrick wrote an article advocating such a view that went viral. According to the view, man’s natural bent is to attempt to justify himself through law-keeping.

Aside to that aside: This teaching can be particularly cruel and confusing to many born again Christians because the new birth results in a desire to obey the law. Fitzpatrick et al are now charging that such a desire to please God is sin. Follow?

Well, how does one live by faith alone in their Christian life? That is the money question; that is the lynchpin in this study, and now moves us to the biblical definition of justification by law. This is a very biblical concept that saturates the Scriptures.

What is scriptural justification by law? What is the specific definition? Here it is: justification by law (JBL) makes law the standard for justification. The law’s perfect demands must be fulfilled at all times in order for anybody to be considered righteous. There is only one problem; obviously, no person can keep the law perfectly. So, what to do?

Answer: faithfulness to a ritual or authoritative tradition is added to the law as a qualified faith-act that fulfills the law for man. JBL is NEVER an attempt to keep the law perfectly because everyone knows that’s impossible; hence, faithfulness to a system that appeases the law is implemented. In the case of the JBL that drove the apostles nuts, it primarily came from the Jewish culture that was heavily influence by Philo.

Let me demonstrate from Scripture how this worked:

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.

Herein is the biblical definition of JBL: clearly, it is a ritual or tradition that replaced the necessity for being justified by keeping the whole law. It is a faith-based ritual that appeases the law. In this case what is it? Right, circumcision. Paul said “no,” if you want to be justified by the law you are obligated to keep the whole law because the law is not appeased by ritual. Circumcision, so they thought, was atonement for sin certified by the authority of leaders and their established traditions.

More than likely, circumcision was the ritual that got you in, and then you had to follow other traditions in order to keep the law satisfied:

Galatians 4:9 – 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? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

Get it? The law is replaced and dumbed down with easy-to-keep rituals, customs, and traditions as a way of fulfilling the whole law and apparently atoning for sin according to whatever system you have signed up for. In some cases, it may be believed that these customs inaugurated by the authority of men actually abolish the law rather than fulfill it. But whatever it is matters not—the results are the same.

This brings us to the inevitable problem with such systems: the finer points of the law are disregarded because the ongoing demands of the law must be met to keep yourself saved. Besides, the law can’t be kept perfectly anyway, and focus on the accepted customs is what keeps you saved.

This is why JBL is antinomianism, because it voids the law by the traditions of men in sanctification in order to appease the law for justification. Let’s look at a prime example of this:

Matthew 5:17 – “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Why would one relax the law in their Christian living? Because in justification by law the law isn’t for sanctification it’s for justification. That’s almost too obvious when you state it that way. And in regard to where this passage comes from what is the Sermon on the Mount about? Right, sanctification. The cross or justification is nowhere in that sermon. It’s a message about Christian living. Also, the dominate theme of the message is a warning against replacing the law of God with tradition. How many times in that message do we read, “You have heard that it was said… but I say to you…”?

Let’s look at some other examples:

Romans 2:17 – But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

25 For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

Galatians 2:17 – 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! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.

Side note: many in our day in-fact say that we are found justified in Christ by professing that we are what? Right, “sinners.” We hear it all the time!

Next, let’s look, as promised, at how antinomian justification by law leads to anti-love. This is because one biblical definition of love follows: love is an endeavor to learn God’s law and truthfully apply it to life:

Matthew 28:18 – And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

John 14:15 – “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

John 14: 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. 25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

There is no surprise then that the Bible links antinomianism with lovelessness. It is impossible to love God and others without obedience. If there is law in justification that must be continually appeased, we must fear the motives for our obedience in sanctification, we are still enslaved to the law and its demand for perfect law-keeping. But if there is no law in justification and justification is a finished work, we are free to aggressively love in sanctification without fear that our justification will be harmed. Motives for obedience are a non-issue because law-keeping does NOTHING for our justification—the two are mutually exclusive. The only motive left is love. This is why justification by law is antinomianism leading to lovelessness:

Matthew 24:11 – And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.

The word for lawlessness in this verse is “anomia.” Love will grow cold because of anomia. Why? because love and obedience are mutually inclusive and there is only obedience in sanctification—not justification. Elsewhere we read:

Psalm 119:70 – their heart is unfeeling like fat, but I delight in your law.

Lastly, why is Protestant justification by faith really the justification by law resulting in loveless antinomianism that the Bible warns us about? Because law is the standard for justification, its demands must be continually met during the Christian’s life, and “faith alone” ritualism fulfills the law on behalf of the Christian.

In the 1st century it was circumcision, now it is a baptism into church membership where we can find a continuing cover for sin. If we are faithful to the local church and disavow any “righteousness of our own,” the righteousness of Christ will continue to satisfy the law in our stead. It’s really the same justification by law resulting in loveless antinomianism that has plagued God’s people from the very beginning. In fact, we even hear notable Calvinists like John Piper in our day claim the following:

If you are not being accused of antinomianism, you are probably not preaching the gospel.

Why are they right about that? Because it is antinomianism—it replaces our obedience, and frankly our love as well, with the obedience of Christ. Also, it is supposed that justification and law are mutually inclusive because Jesus keeps the law for us. However, the Bible continually states that we justified APART from the law and “apart” means “totally separate.”

Who keeps the law is not the issue; the law period is the issue.

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