I think I could have been clearer in my last post about my understanding of sanctification. I expanded a bit in the comments after Brad pointed out the lack (thank you!), and hopefully that helps on that score. Here are R.W. Glenn’s timely thoughts on sanctification.
But there’s another way in which I think I could be clearer–and that’s in regard to antinomianism–something I’ve understood in principle, but only recently learned the name for when reading about a crisis going on with Exodus International. Hang in there reader, this is important stuff.
Antinomianism is the belief that God’s moral law has no hold on Christians–that even when living in open, acknowledged sin, you are still acceptable to God because of grace. This is huge in our culture and it’s patting a lot of people on the back on their way to hell.
I want to be crystal clear about this: I believe that one of the marks of a Christian is hatred of sin and love of Jesus (who is our Righteousness). Living in open sin and being impenetrable to correction is a sign that the new birth has not happened.
Here’s why: Because once you’ve been awash with grace and had your sins forgiven (past, present and future) it’s impossible to feel OK about continuing on in sin. I think antinomianism is exactly what Paul addresses in Romans 6 when he says, “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may abound? By no means!”
Here’s my understanding from Scripture. The Old Testament moral law of the Bible is completely fulfilled in Jesus–he followed it perfectly AND he followed it perfectly on my behalf, that’s part of substitution. Not only that, he explained the point behind it: heart attitudes. So, he takes “Do not murder,” and explains it, expands it–saying that anyone who hates his brother in his heart has murdered him.
So not only should I not murder, my heart is told not to feel certain things and to feel other things, like love my neighbor. Feelings! That’s utterly impossible for me to control–apart from the new birth. Old Testament rules about hand-washing I can at least try and DO. Feelings? Not so much. The new birth gives me a new heart that gives me new feelings, new desires. My new desires actually want to keep the law that Jesus has given–not to earn my salvation, but as the result of my salvation.
I also need to say a word about repentance. Repentance is not optional for the Christian. It also isn’t some legalistic thing, it’s just evidence of what has happened to us–having our sins forgiven and being born again.
A Christian who doesn’t repent, doesn’t exist.
If you’re a Christian, you’re new heart is a repentant one. And it will be repentant until Jesus comes again, because sin still lives on in us.
Evidence isn’t legalism. It’s just a sign of what’s there. If I say I love God, but hate my brother, there’s a problem, not because God is requiring me to fulfill the law, but because it doesn’t show evidence of a new heart who’s had the law fulfilled on its behalf. Now, I could love God and hate my brother and hate that I hate my brother and be very sorrowful for hating my brother and ask the Lord to give me a loving heart toward my brother. That’s evidence of a new heart. Ask and it will be given to you, dear Christian.
Patience is needed when it comes to turning from sin. We all have blind spots that may take repeated times of pointing out for us to see. The point is, do we want to see? And when we see, do we want to turn?
We must also remember that what Jesus describes as His follower has nothing to do with food, exercise, schedules and the like. Being His follower IS about a host of other things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. It IS about turning from sexual impurity, unnatural relations, drunkenness, slander, gossip, cowardice, malice, envy, strife, and so on.
The miracle of the new birth is that my heart actually desires to abide with the Spirit which produces the fruit. The miracle of the new birth is that my heart actually hates sin and wants to turn from it. The struggle against it is still there and very real. We just need to be sure that sin is the issue, not adhering to made-up rules that make us feel superior to others.
Made-up cultural rules are what I want to do away with in the mom-world, but I want to embrace God’s loving, kind, gracious morality, that is for our good, that requires loving our neighbor and (here’s the miracle!) supplies the new heart with which to do it.
I still can’t be better on my own or meet any requirements apart from Christ.
Antinomianism? No thanks.
The Better Mom? Not me.
Continuing in sin so that grace may abound? May it never be so.
Loving righteousness because of Jesus? Definitely.
Bought with a price, beloved of God, living in an ocean of grace? Yes, thank you Lord.