Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Antinomianism and Motivation of Heart

Antinomianism has become more of an accusation; a perjorative aimed at those who prescribe to the belief that salvation is a matter of faith only where religious “moral” law is of no consequence when it comes to salvation.

Critics, while often agreeing with the basic “salvation through faith only” rationalize that one cannot be a murderer, adulterer, idolater, (and even sabbath breaker) without compromising salvation. It sounds rational. However, it begs the question, does a person, who is in receipt of the Holy Spirit, continue in a custom of sin, or does a person abandon a former lifestyle of sin? Both sides of the debate would agree. Where the divergence occurs is in the definition of “sin” and a person's motivation.

Legalists, with a heavy emphasis on sabbatarians, insist on defining sin as translated in the KJV, found at I John 3:4, sin being translated as: “the transgression of the law”. This translation is found in the earlier Geneva Bible, borrowed in whole by the KJV translators. The problem is, this is not what the Greek says or means, but rather is an extrapolation or interpretation that goes beyond translation. Another example is how the same translators translated “Passover” into “Easter”-- an Anglicized interpretation.

The transliteration states that sin is “anomia” ('a' – against 'nomia' law) What is important to understand when translating languages is to seek and understand how a particular word was used in the time and place it is found. In the first century AD, “anomia” was the word one used to convey the concept of iniquity. Therefore, sin is iniquity, and iniquity is sin.

Legalists prefer the KJV translation, flawed as it is, simply because it fits in so nicely with their theological model. What they shut their minds to are the examples that demonstrate the translation to be untrue. David ate the show-bread that was unlawful for him and those with him to eat, yet he was blameless, according to the Words of Christ.

One could even be iniquitous without actually breaking a law in the letter. Hatred is the spirit of murder. A person could hate another person, yet refrain from murdering them, yet Jesus points out that one is just as guilty of murder should they hate another just as much as someone who actually commits a murder. The same with lusting after someone sexually in regards to the prohibition against adultery.

The result of holding to the mistranslation of sin is that much of what Christ said and taught is relegated to the theological trash heap in favor of a pet flawed belief. Judging righteous judgment as contrasted to judging according to appearance genders lip service only. Jesus is actually re-created in the legalist's image, and attributed with teaching law, even as the prophets of old did. Jesus taught the law alright, but not in the way the legalist insists. Jesus' examples regarding the law demonstrated the utter impossibility of anyone truly keeping the law, telling people to go to drastic measures, such a plucking out eyes, or cutting off hands in an attempt to avoid the clutches of hell. Yet, even without eyes to see, a person can still find themselves thinking about lusting sexually.

There are two most likely scenarios that play out in relation to the law; the first is the realization that a person can never truly live up to that standard and be judged free of sin, thereby hopefully driving the person to Christ and His mercy and salvation based on faith. The other extreme is an act of denial, believing that the self can indeed keep the law, with the help of God of course, but keep the law nonetheless. There is a “faith” in Christ in that He will enable them to keep the law. Salvation ends up being a partnership deal of sorts. Jesus paid the penalty for sin, so that, should the “believer” sin due to human weakness and lack of spiritual growth/maturity, it is forgiven and this striving to overcome continues. As long as one is actively engaged in overcoming sin by keeping the “law”, all is well. It also sounds reasonable. The problem is, there is no real biblical support for this entire concept. Even ancient Israel suffered from this blindness when it came to the law, as attested to in Psalms chapter 44. Israel collectively cries out to God over their being punished, claiming all the while that they are in compliance with the law, keeping the law. God however was judging their hearts. Their hearts condemned them. God declared that their works were evil, even from their youth. Evil works come from evil intent of mind.

What goes unperceived by the legalist is that God Himself set up the conditions as they are, with that law, knowing full well that the egocentric nature of people would attract them to the law and the self-righteousness they would seek through the law. A proud person wants to demonstrate he or she is better than others, and what better way than to comply with a law set others “give up on”? So the proud and boastful set off on their journey on self-improvement, as taught also by the false religions of the world. Some seek nirvana, through their own efforts. Some seek enlightenment, through their own efforts. All false religions are based on improving the self through whatever personal means. True Christianity is about what God/Christ has done for us, due to our sinful nature that we come to realize we cannot alter on our own. A gorilla may aspire to be a human, and mimic a human and human behavior, but at the end of the day, he is still a gorilla. At the end of the day, a son of Adam is still a son of Adam. A person MUST be born again, of the Spirit. Whatever alteration is necessary, God will perform it through the workings of the Holy Spirit.

Scripture is full of traps waiting to snare the unwary; those who are careless with the written Word of God. Scripture “weeds out” the proud and arrogant. The law is one of those traps. On the surface, it appears attractive and as something to impart wisdom and understanding, which it can, up to a point. But, its fruit is still death. For to transgress in even one point of the “whole” law is to be guilty of the entirety.

You can spend all day long, extolling the virtues of the law, but in the end, the law ends up condemning the law breaker, and rightly so.

God wants no more Satans. Satan thought to himself that he could be like God. He took his faith off of God, and placed his faith on himself. The legalist also declares that he too can be like God, and he is going to prove it by keeping that law. The legalist cannot and will not believe that he is abandoning total faith and reliance on Christ in favor of striving to keep the law, so much so that he believes God will actually help him keep that law whose purpose was to bring all under sin. Some however refuse to admit defeat.

Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. – Romans 3:19

The legalist points to the law and states it is a sin to murder; that no murderer shall abide in the kingdom of Heaven. The one walking in faith will point out that the Spirit of God that now dwells within him motivates him to have love for even an enemy, and to do good to an enemy, and not evil. One is motivated by law; the other is motivated by the Spirit. One is motivated by the law not to do evil. The other is motivated to “do” good.
Which then demonstrates the greater morality? The one who insists on being led by the law, or the one being led by the Spirit?

Which is a demonstration of righteousness? The one who refrains from murder, or the one who has love for others, including his enemies?

The written “moral” law would be better described and defined as the “immoral” law, seeing as those points of law deal with man's immorality instead of man's morality. It is immoral to murder. Do not commit an act of immorality. Does refraining from murder demonstrate a man to be moral therefore? No, for a man can still harbor hatred while refraining from murder. The law proves no one righteous; the law proves men to be unrighteous and immoral. The “righteousness” of the law indeed is self-righteousness, where one merely believes himself to be morally upright, despite the heart that God describes that we are all born with:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? – Jeremiah 17:9

The real problem is not law versus “antinomianism”. The problem is the heart. You need a new one. You cannot develop it yourself, by your own actions and deeds. God must place it in you. It is an action that only He can do, and He will only do it for those who have surrendered themselves to Christ, confessing themselves to be sinful by nature and in need of His intervention in their lives, taking hold of Christ in faith.
If you believe you have to keep the law for the sake of salvation, you missed the point here. The law is not there to prove you worthy, or keep you worthy. The law was designed to prove men sinners and sinful so as to drive you to Christ and the salvation found in Him ONLY. You don't get to participate in your salvation beyond surrendering to Him. You don't get to brag or stroke your own ego. You are the clay; He is the potter, and He will make of you what He wants.

If you are of those who insist on keeping the law and sabbath, then you get that veil before the eyes Paul wrote of in II Corinthians chapter 3 regarding those who hold to the law, regardless of how you define it. You will continue to be held in darkness until such time you finally come to realize that you cannot keep even a fraction of the law (the ten commandments) and that God is not going to help you do so. I have challenged you people time and again to step forward and proclaim to me and others how God has enabled you to now keep the law, perfectly, as He required, so that you are now without sin. You never have a lustful thought. You never have a thought of hatred. You even keep the sabbath perfectly as prescribed in Scripture, preparing your meals the day before, and not performing “any” work on that day. You are now without sin.

God did not dumb down the law for you. Christ magnified the law, showing that the heart you were born with ultimately condemns you as a sinner, for God judges the heart. He said that if your eye offended you; made you sin by what you saw and by the thoughts of lust that followed, to pluck it out rather than find yourself cast into hell as a result of the lust of the eyes. If your hand made you to sin, to cut it off also. Let's take the idea and concept one step further. If your heart of stone causes you to stumble; if you find yourself thinking evil thoughts of lust and hatred, then maybe you need to rip out your heart in a last ditch effort to overcome sin.
Through mistranslation and misinterpretation, you have chosen a “path” you cannot walk down. You cannot keep the law, perfectly, as was required. You will always stumble and fall on that path.
You have chosen the wrong tree; the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that represents the law. The law taught one sin and evil. The law teaches good and wisdom. But its fruit is still death.

You need to fully grasp the other tree; that tree of life that is Christ. You either follow Christ and serve Him, or you follow and serve the law; no man can serve two masters.

It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; ) Acts 17:11


Martha said...

Bill, thank you for the time and effort that have gone into this fantastic post! This is the flip side of the coin of what I am trying to explain about justification. As a relatively new departee from the COGs, the typical legalist label of antinomianism is something I struggle to convey and counter adequately. You have done an amazing job here. Thank you!

Luc said...

Wonderful article Bill.