#25 Antinomianism or To Sin Or Not To Sin, That Is The Question
Our text for this morning is found in Romans 6:1-7. As it has been a while since we have been in Paul’s letter to the Romans let me refresh your memories concerning what we have seen. First of all, this is a letter to Christians living in Rome. It is not a letter to the general public per se even though anyone can read the words Paul wrote. There is no restriction on who can read this letter. But it is a letter that was addressed specifically to Christians.
Francis Schaeffer wrote a book titled “How Shall We Then Live” and here in this letter Paul addresses every facet of the Christian life from who and what we were before Christ saved us, to how we are to conduct ourselves in this world. Paul revealed to us the horrific inner workings of the mind when he spoke of how we suppressed the truth in unrighteousness.
When we were outside of Christ we were not ignorant of Him though our knowledge was limited. But what we did was that we sinned against knowledge. The heavens declare the glory of God and the earth shows forth His handiwork. Creation shouts out praises to God. But rather than acknowledge Him as creator we instead suppressed that knowledge and we focused our eyes on creation for the purpose of exploiting it for the gratification of our sinful desires.
Now God could have left us in our sins. He, being the Divine Potter has the right over the clay to make of the same lump either a vessel for honorable use or one for common use. He being sovereign can do with us as He wishes and we can say nothing in protest for He is always right. But God has made everything for its own purposes…He has made some to be to the praise of His glorious grace while leaving others to wallow in their sins to the praise of His glorious justice. “Whether to heaven or hell you bend, God WILL have glory in the end!”
Paul laid our hearts bare in chapters 1-5, interspersing the glorious truth of the grace of God upon sinners in terms like “the kindness of God leads you to repentance” (2:4)… “being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.” (3:24-25) “but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,” 4:24
Chapter 5 is so full of statements of mercy that I just have to read the whole thing. Listen to the word of God, 1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. 12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. 18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul’s letter overflows with the message grace. We have been shown great mercy. But there is a danger in grace is there not. The danger takes the form of laziness rather than watchfulness, or in just downright taking advantage of the situation. And that is what Paul addresses here in the 6th chapter or his letter. You see there were two factions that were rearing their ugly heads in the church. The first group was the Antinomians; those who believed that grace gave them a license to sin, and the second were the Gnostics, who believed that the flesh and the spirit were separate, the spirit was always holy to God while the flesh was going to sin anyway so why fight it. These two groups, as you can see, had a similar M.O. Each believed there was a loophole in which they could gratify their sinful nature. Each had perverted the Gospel.
Now notice Paul addresses this. He says; “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? He attacks these groups head on. “Are we going to say that because grace covers a multitude of sins, let’s have some fun?” If we further decipher this question it is clear what is being said; “Since Jesus paid for our sins, can we therefore continue to practice the sins we love so much? Do we get to have fun in the Son?
In John’s first epistle chapter 3 and beginning at verse 2 he says “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. 7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.
The meaning is clear; if you are practicing sin, it sin is the #1 priority in your life then you are still in your sins, you are lost, a child of the devil and you need to repent of your sins. You’re going the wrong way. The signs for life are pointing the other way. Turn Back, Turn Back for why will you die…!
Back in our text picking up at verse 2 Paul answers the question of whether or not a Christian can continue to practice sin. He says “May it never be!” Some translations say “God Forbid!” But it is interesting to see what the Greek text says. A few years back it was popular when you disagreed with something to merely say “NOT.” Verse 2 contains the Greek word mh which literally means, NOT! Very simple and direct. Should we sin? NOT!
Paul continues saying “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” You remember the story of the woman who was propositioned by the deacon whose rational was “We’re going to do it anyway” and “I’m not under the law, I’m under grace.” And Paul asks the same question of us that the woman asked the deacon…How shall we…How could you even suggest such a thing? How could you want to go back to the pigsty and the vomit? Don’t you know who you are? Don’t you know what happened to you when you repented? Don’t you have any idea of what it means to be a follower of Christ? Paul is about to tell us what Jesus Christ has accomplished in our lives. What he is about to tell us is what happens when God saves sinners.
In his letter to the Church at Colossae, Paul makes this declaration in Col 3:3 “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Do you understand this? Do you know this in your daily life…that you are dead…that it is no longer you that is living but Christ is living in you…or are you living for yourself…which should cause you to go before God and ask Him to reveal to you whether or not you really are one of His children!
Look at verse 3 in our text again and hear the Apostle Paul ask you. Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
Do you know this? Is this true in your life?
You see, in so many churches across the land people are being taught that you don’t need to die to yourself and your desires. You can have fun in the Son. You can be all you want be without any sort of sacrifice or obedience to God or all that doctrinal stuff. There’s no need to take up the cross. That was for them back then. Sure God saved you but He didn’t take away your free will. He didn’t destroy your personality. You are still you!”
Now let me make this thing perfectly clear; THIS IS FOREIGN TO SCRIPTURE! Paul is laying out the truth before us of what God has done in your life…of what salvation accomplishes in the life of the child of God. If you have been saved by Jesus Christ then you have been born again. You are a new creature in Christ Jesus and the old things: the old life has passed away. You are no longer who you once were…if you are a Christian. If you are a Christian then you died. You were baptized into His death. You took up your cross and died to yourself. And the life you now live in the flesh you live by faith in the Son of God, who loved you and gave Himself up for you. It used to be all about you…but now its all about Him. At least it should be.
Look at verse 4 “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism… Now there are two aspects here to be noted. When we were baptized in water we were immersed under the water…below the surface…we were separated from the world of air that we once knew. Water baptism symbolizes a burial. By it we picture Christ’s burial in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea.
Note further that we were buried “into death,” The idea here is that we have died to the world and its allurements. Think of Christian and Hopeful in Vanity Fair. The sights and sounds of the fair which are the call of the world to come and wallow in the pigsty of sin repulsed them. They had no desire to partake of the wicked dainties that were being offered to them. What they once loved they now hated for they had died to the allurements of the world. They had been buried and their sinful desires had expired.
But God did not leave us under the water to die physically for the Paul continues saying “so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. Chuck Smith once told a story about one of the men he was about to baptize in the ocean. He said that baptism symbolized a burial for it was the end of the line for the old life.
This particular man spoke up and said “Hold me down a long time Chuck; I’ve got a lot to bury.” Pastor John once joked about holding someone under the water till the bubbles came up.
We are put under the water to symbolize our burial to the old life and then we are raised out of the water to symbolize a new life. We open our mouths and take a deep breath as we are restored to the world of air and we once again enter the land of the living. But if you have been saved by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ you have been saved from your old life. You have been saved from the way you used to do things…from the way you used to live. God has begun a good work in you. He has made you a new creature, a new creation. He has begun the work of conforming you to the image of His dear Son. We have heard the voice of Jesus speaking to us through the Holy Spirit. And Jesus has called us to follow Him! He has called us to learn of Him; to be His disciples. And a disciple not only hears what his Master says but he obeys the voice of his Master.
The next aspect of baptism is that we have been immersed into Jesus Himself. We were placed into Him. That is what Paul says in Ro 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Our lives are hidden with Christ in God. Therefore the life of the Christian is a reflection of the life of Jesus who dwells within him 5 “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin.
We used to be slaves of sin. We had no choice but to sin. We couldn’t live godly for our best efforts were and still are tainted with sin. We had the freedom to live in the sphere of existence we were in and we had the freedom to do what we wanted to do in that sphere. And what we wanted was to SIN! But when Christ called us and saved us from our sins He set us free from the tyranny of the devil. We had been held captive by him to do his will but God in Christ set us free.
And this is a sovereign act of a sovereign God who sovereignly moves in the lives of His creatures choosing and calling them from darkness to light. God did what no man could ever do. He bridged the gap between sinful man and Himself.
I once read a statement by A.W. Tozer concerning the sovereignty of God and I will use his analogy as a base for a description of how God calls sinners out of the world and to Himself. “God’s sovereignty can be likened to a ship that is on its way to London England. Now the ships course is unalterable…it will not turn to the right or to the left but hold a steady course to its destination. On the ship are decks on which men move about freely. While the ship moves on in its unalterable course, the passengers are going to and fro; entering shops, eating in the restaurants, playing games, reading etc.
There is only one restriction on this ship; no one is allowed to come up to the Captain’s deck unless called for by name: those whose names are written on the Captain’s list. And when thus bidden the personally called ones can come to the Captains deck. Those who are called to the Captains deck have special liberty to move about the whole ship now. Some of them down to the lower decks to proclaim the glories and the joys that are to be found with the Captain…but those who haven’t been called, cannot understand such things…the knowledge that is being shared seems like a fairy tail. But some who hear begin to long to see such glories and so they begin to petition the Captain and plead to be allowed entrance.
At the Captains good pleasure, those whose names are written on his list are called, not when they desire but at the set time that is written next to those names. When these are called, they are admitted entrance to the glorious upper deck where they find rest.
Notice that it is at the Captains good pleasure that any are admitted to be with Him. He does not go down and plead with those on the lower decks to ascend to the upper to see what lies in store for them if perchance they might want to be with Him. He doesn’t wring His hands and plead with them or hope that they will come! On the contrary, it is they who petition the Captain, who plead with Him to be allowed access to the place of glory and joy. The lesson here is a simple one; God is God! He rules over His creation and directs all things according to His Sovereign will. No one has the power or the privilege or the ability to stop God from carrying out His divine decrees for we are but the created and He the Creator!
When God calls a sinner to repentance He takes away the veil that has blinded the eyes…He unstops the deafened ears and exchanges the stony heart for one of flesh. He sets the sinner free from the power of sin, from the devil as his master. The sinner is transformed by a power outside of himself; he is made a new creature in Christ Jesus by the very power that raised Christ from the dead. In all of this, God is the initiator while we merely respond with the newly implanted faith given us by God! Indeed we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works that God ordained beforehand that we should walk in them.
So to return to the original question: “Can we go on practicing sin? Can we go on sinning that grace may abound? NOT! We have been delivered from our old life. Indeed we have died to our old life and we have been raised to walk in newness of life. We are in Christ and He indwells us as Paul states in Eph 4:6 that there is “one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” 1Jo 3:9 “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot (practice) sin, because he is born of God.
The truth is clear; if we are born again we are new creatures and we cannot go back to our old way of life for very long. Unfortunately we do make excursions back to the sty but we can’t stay there. The sty is no longer our home. On the other hand, the antinomian, the hypocrite, the church person is quite at home in the world though he puts on a façade of loving Jesus. But God knows the hearts of these people. Just as the child of God cannot remain in the place of sin for very long, so too the hypocrite cannot abide the things of God and when they return their hearts are laid bare by the truth of scripture which declares; “It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.” 2Pe 2:22
Where do you fit in the scriptural scales? How do you stack up against the truth of the word of God? Have you died? Is your life hid with Christ in God? I am going to close with the words of Peter from his second epistle, Chapter 1 and as I read, as you hear the voice of God speaking to you through His word, examine yourself. 1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.