We Are Those Who Have Died to Sin, Not Antinomians

We Are Those Who Have Died to Sin, Not Antinomians
Sometimes I hear professing Christians share antinomian beliefs - a heresy that's been around since the early church. 

Antinomians believe that since we're saved by grace, it doesn’t matter if we obey God’s moral laws.  

Jesus rebuked this belief: "If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:1).

Paul rebuked this belief: "We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" (Romans 6:1-2).

Christ did not abolish the law. He fulfilled it completely and took us out from under its control (Matthew 5:17-20;.Romans 6:14). No one can be made right by obeying the law (Galatians 3:11).

Grace now empowers us to obey the New Testament commands, becoming become like Christ, devoting ourselves to purity, love and good works (Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 2:12-13; Titus 1:1; Hebrews 13).
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*If you are confused by the ceremonial and dietary laws in the Old Testament, this series of short articles explains why we no longer follow them: Old Testament Law.
We Are Those Who Have Died to Sin, Not Antinomians

13 comments:

  1. Thank you for continuing to share solid truth. Embracing heresies may make us happy (momentarily), but they will not make us holy. I'm so glad you and I know we are "set apart for His glory;" and being set apart means we must be sincerely seek to be holy as He is holy.

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  2. You got me on this one... I've never heard or seen this "antinomian" word before. Is this about the theory that we know longer have to follow old laws because now fall under Jesus & the NT?

    I've heard this several times & respond that God gave us 2 commands, if we follow them, all the old laws will be covered. 1. We are to Love the Lord, our God, and 2. We are to Love one another as He loves us. If you think on these verses, I really believe all the 10 commandments will be covered if we follow these 2 the way Jesus would follow them.

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  3. Gail, I have read your Bible Love Notes for years and enjoyed the succinct nuggets you provide to a busy reader. This post I have followed up on, because I have struggled with an issue you brought up.

    I agree that the belief that 'since we're saved by grace, it doesn’t matter if we obey God’s moral laws' is not Biblical, but Jesus' rebuke does not include the word "moral." In John 14:1, He tells us, "If you love Me, you will obey My commands." We know from John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Jesus also tells us, "My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me," John 7:16


    Jesus repeatedly reiterated the concept that He and the Father are in agreement, even to the point of saying, "I and the Father are One." John 10:30 So, I see that His commandments are one and the same as the Father's commandments.

    When Jesus says, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another." John 13:34 What is "new" is not to love one another, which has always been part and parcel of the Father's commands, but "as I have loved you." We have an example in Jesus life of how to love one another, laying down His life for us, a life lived in complete obedience to the Father.

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    1. Thank you for your comment and question.
      I may not fully understand your question, but I agree with what you've written here. I believe that we are to obey God (Father, Son, and Spirit) because they are in complete unity.

      I use the word "moral" for lack of a better word. The dietary laws, sacrificial laws and civil laws given in the Old Testament were moral even though they didn't address something immoral in nature. They were moral because God told Israel to obey them, so disobeying them was a moral problem.

      But they were not moral in the sense that they made a man more godly. That's why God abolished the dietary laws in Acts 10 and why Jesus said "What goes into someone's mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them." Matthew 15:11.

      The sacrificial laws ended when Christ died because their purpose was to foreshadow His coming. Hebrews 10:1: "The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming--not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship."

      The ceremonial laws were replaced by communion and baptism, the ceremonies of the New Covenant.

      Then there were civil laws that were given specifically to the Hebrew people and the nation of Israel that were given for that time and people, not universally. For example, the stoning of an adult child who cursed his parents (Lev. 20:9).

      We glean principles from the Old Testament sacrificial, dietary, and civil laws, but we are not called to obey them.

      The best way to determine which laws are universal and permanent is to find them in the New Testament.

      There are Christians who feel the Saturday Sabbath, the dietary laws, and the ceremonial laws apply today, but the New Testament says:

      Romans 14:5 "One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind."

      Colossians 2:16-17: "Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ."

      I hope this explains my meaning in this devotion.
      God bless you.

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  4. Let's look at the context of Romans 14:5. Paul is speaking on the topic of judging one another's faith. This is not about God's food laws. Verse 2 says, "One man has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only." The Scriptures do not require one to eat vegetables only. This is about having the faith (or not) to go to the market to buy a goat or sheep or cow and trust that the meat has not been sacrificed to idols. The first century believer had to be fully convinced that he could eat this meat without offending God. If he was not (if he doubted, "weak in faith") and was concerned about eating something that may have been offered to demons, making himself unclean, he was not to be judged for this opinion. 14:1 Likewise, verses 4-5 are about not judging one another for how we worship God.

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  5. Also Acts 10 is not about abolishing the dietary laws. The vision Peter had is explained to Cornelius (and us) in Acts 10:28b Peter says, "God has shown me that I should not call any MAN profane or unclean." This is about God showing Peter that His gospel is indeed for all the world, whosoever believes. This was a difficult concept for any devout believer in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    In this same verse (Acts 10:28), Peter says it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with a foreigner. Again, this is not in the Scriptures (the Law). So to what is Peter referring? This must be the Oral Law, which later became the Jewish books of Mishna, Talmud, and Drash. These are the Pharisees (who were later called Rabbis in the Orthodox Jewish tradition), the Oral Law was their interpretation of Scriptures, which Jesus Himself railed against. Because we don't have the culture to understand this, we think that Jesus abolished His own Law, when in fact, He said quite the opposite: Matthew 5:17-20.

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    1. Hi Unknown,

      The clear and obvious meaning of Scripture refutes your belief about dietary laws, as do Bible scholars throughout history.

      There have always been teachers who try to place the burden of the dietary and ceremonial laws on Christians, but Scripture rebukes them.

      Colossians 2:16-17: "Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you EAT or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 THESE ARE A SHADOW OF THINGS that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ."

      Romans 14:3-4: The one who EATS everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not EAT everything must not judge the one who does, FOR GOD HAS ACCEPTED THEM. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?

      And in Acts 10, this is what God says to Peter in the vision of all the foods that were formerly unclean:

      13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and EAT.”
      14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never EATEN anything impure or unclean.”
      15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
      16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

      I know there are teachers who try to explain away the clear meaning of this passage, but they are ignoring the obvious intent. The Bible is not a book of riddles. The meaning of this passage is extremely clear.

      God was telling Peter that the things that formerly made a man unclean like the food he ate and being in a Gentile home and eating at a Gentile table were no longer laws under the New Covenant. You are right that it was hard for Peter to accept this and that is why he was confused until Cornelius invited him to his Gentile home where he would be eating formerly "unclean" things and being in an "unclean" environment. One reason a Gentile was unclean was because of what he ate, and that is why God's vision to Peter started with formerly "unclean" foods. Even though Peter understood at this point, he later reverted and refused to EAT with Gentiles (Galatians 2:11-13) and Paul strongly rebuked him.

      You say God was telling Peter that no man can be unclean, then food cannot make him unclean. So even by your own reasoning, dietary laws would no longer be in effect.

      CONTINUED IN NEXT COMMENT

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    2. And even if this passage didn't exist, Jesus clearly said that no food makes a person unclean in Matthew 15:11. That couldn't be clearer. There is no other possible meaning for this passage.

      Matthew 5:17-20 says the law was fulfilled in Christ. Old Testament laws served an important purpose. Christ didn’t abolish them. He fulfilled them because we are incapable of fulfilling them on our own. Now, we have commands to obey in the power of Christ.

      If you believe all dietary laws are in effect, do you also follow all other laws regarding unclean activities – separation and cleansing during a women's menstrual cycles and sexual intimacy, being barred from religious activities if you touch anything dead, and the 100's of other laws regarding uncleanness. These laws all have to do with unclean things. If dietary laws are applicable, they must also be.

      Colossians 2:20-23: You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, 21 “Don’t handle! Don’t TASTE! Don’t touch!”? 22 Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. 23 These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires."

      There is nothing wrong with a person obeying the dietary laws as long as they understand that they are not more holy for doing so and as long as they are not judging their brothers who choose not to obey them.

      There is a great deal of dangerous teaching about dietary laws that is leading people to believe that Christianity is about external laws not about changed hearts that seek purity in thoughts and actions, not in type of foods eaten or days observed.

      “the kingdom of God is NOT A MATTER OF EATING AND DRINKING, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).

      I pray you will find freedom from laws that have been fulfilled in Jesus and concentrate on commands that draw us closer to God and to His desire for our inner purity.

      God bless you, my unknown friend. I will pray for you.

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  6. As to the dietary laws, I don't see anywhere in Scriptures where a division is made of the Law into dietary, moral, ceremonial, etc. These divisions seem to be added by man. Now, I can see that the priesthood has been made obsolete, so any laws regarding Temple sacrifices are superseded by Jesus' priesthood because His is a better priesthood, according to the book of Hebrews.. But what is to be considered food is a separate issue. This even preceded the Mosaic Law as we see God bringing the animals to Noah's ark. Genesis 7:2 records God telling Noah to "take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female." So, clean and unclean animals were part of God's ways before there even was a Mosaic covenant.

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  7. When we look at the entire passage of Matthew 15, we see the Pharisees questioning Jesus, "Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread." This is not about cleanliness or about food. It is much easier to understand when the culture of the time is understood. The Pharisees took it upon themselves to make oral laws, which are here called tradition of the elders. These oral laws required one to wash one's hands in a ritual that was prescribed by the elders but not by the Law. This is why Jesus quoted Isaiah (and called them hypocrites), warning them not to teach as doctrine the precepts of men. They were teaching that you must observe their ritual or your food is defiled. This is why Jesus responded that this is not what defiles your body. I agree that "out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immorality, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man but to EAT WITH UNWASHED HANDS does not defile the man." Matthew 15:19-20. I don't mean to shout at you with all caps; but I do want to emphasize what Jesus is saying here that we tend to miss (but those living in His day would have understood clearly). We have to overcome cultural differences 2,000 years later just as much as the language differences if we are really to understand what Jesus taught.

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    1. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and beliefs, Unknown. I have a Masters degree from seminary and have carefully studied these subjects, but I would not trust my own knowledge if it did not agree with the majority of Bible scholars throughout church history who have far more knowledge than I have and who have studied the original Greek as well as the culture and history of the New Testament.

      But I think further debate would be fruitless. I have no questions in my mind that Christians need not obey the dietary or ceremonial laws. I have written about this specific subject in the past and will be writing about it next week. And I believe you also have no questions in your mind about your beliefs.

      So we must agree to disagree.
      God bless you.

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