Antinomianism is a big word, but it’s a word you should get acquainted with. The word antinomianism comes from two Greek words: anti meaning “against”; nomos meaning “law”. Antinomianism essentially means “against the law”.

Theologically, antinomianism refers to belief in the misapplication of the doctrine of grace for licentiousness. A licentious person lacks legal or moral restraints. An antinomian believes that since salvation is guaranteed a believer can indulge in all manner of sin. This of course plays into the hands of those who wrongly oppose the doctrine of salvation by grace. The most frequent attack on the doctrine of salvation by grace is that it encourages sin. But God gave the Israelites 613 commandments and they still continued to sin, grievously. Do we then say the Law encourages men to sin? Of course not! The Law is good! The issue is not grace but man. Romans 7:14.

Neither antinomianism nor attack on salvation by grace is new. Both are as old as Christianity. But the term came about at the time of the Protestant Reformation c. 1517AD. Martin Luther employed it to designate the teachings of Johannes Agricola. Agricola pushed a perverted interpretation of the doctrine of grace to logical extremities. That teaching itself dates back to the heresies of Gnostic sects. Documentaries like The Gospel of Judas aired on National Geographic Channel are gnostic teachings. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown promotes gnostic teachings.

Gnostics believe a “demiurge” created the universe and not God, and that salvation is by self-knowledge. Gnostics believe that the physical body of Jesus was not real, but only “seemed” to be physical. They also claim the spirit of Jesus descended upon him at his baptism but left him just before crucifixion. In other words, Gnosticism questions the atonement on the cross by denying the humanity of Jesus. Gnostics claim to possess an elevated knowledge, a ‘higher truth” known only to a few. This “higher knowledge” is however not from the Bible, but acquired on some mystical plains of existence. The term “gnostics” derives from “gnosis”. It means knowledge in Greek.

Antinomianism is a heresy. And Apostle Paul combatted the doctrine in his epistles. He wrote in Romans 6:1-2 AMP: “What then shall we say to all this?… Are we to remain in sin in order that God’s grace may multiply and overflow? Certainly not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there?” Romans 6:3 (MSG)

He went further to use water baptism as analogy to explain why we should no longer be devoted to sin: “When we went into the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace- a new life in a new land. That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means.” Romans 6:3-5

That some choose to exploit the word of God for determinate sinfulness does not and cannot invalidate the word. Despite Paul’s emphatic condemnation of sin (Galatians 5:19-21), he was still accused of encouraging licentiousness. He wrote: ‘And some people even slander us by claiming that we say, “The more we sin, the better it is!” Those who say such things ought to be condemned.’ In countering the Nicolaitan doctrine of licentiousness Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:12: ‘You say, “I am allowed to do anything” – but not everything is good for you.’ Such an attitude he wrote, leads to slavery: “I must not become a slave to anything” (I Corinthians 6:12). “And you can’t say our bodies were made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord…” (I Corinthians 6:13). How can the grace of God be used as the basis for engaging in sins that God condemns?

Antinomialism is a Nicolaitan doctrine. The Bible condemns it (Revelation 2). Nicolaitans preach indifference to adultery and sacrifices to demons. The Protestant Reformation was based on what is referred to as Three Solae. (Sola is Latin for “only”). They are Sola Scriptura (scripture alone), Sola Fide (by faith alone), Sola Gratia (by grace alone). The three Solae of the Reformation still hold as the basis of sound doctrine. Salvation is by grace alone. Comes through faith in the Lord Jesus. The Bible interprets itself. All doctrines must align with scriptures. We cannot go outside scriptures. All church traditions, creed and teachings must be in accordance with scriptures. The Bible states without ambiguity that salvation is by grace and grace alone. It is the GIFT of Almighty God. Ephesians 2:8,9: ‘For it is by free grace, God’s unmerited favour that you’re saved, delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation through your faith. And this salvation is not of your own doing, it came not of your own striving, but it is the gift of God; not because of the works or fulfillment of the Law’s demands, lest any man should boast. It is not because of what any man can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.’

True salvation elicits a desire to please God our father, not to do things that will make him sad. ‘And this is how we may discern daily by experience that we are coming to know Him if we keep, bear in mind, observe, practice His teachings, precepts, commandments. Whoever says I know Him but fails to keep and obey his commandments and teachings is a liar. Whoever says he abides in Him ought as a personal debt to conduct himself in the same way he walked.’ 1 John 2:3-6

You owe God big time! You owe him your very life. No wonder Paul wrote: ‘My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in him. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless.’ (Galatians 2:20-21). Don’t take the grace of God for granted.

If you’ll like to give your life to Christ please pray this prayer: Father I come to you. I know I am a sinner. I believe Christ died for me, that you raised him from the dead. I confess with my mouth that Jesus Christ is my Lord and my savior. Amen.

© Leke Alder |