Ephesians 2:4-5 -But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
The truth of the glorious Gospel is that we are saved by grace provided for us by the sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross. We can add nothing to it by our actions, it is the best Gift ever given.
There is a dangerous teaching running around in the Body of Christ in our day. It is not a new error, but an ancient one. In a nutshell, this teaching states, since we are saved by grace, we live under grace and so it doesn’t matter what we do, grace covers all.
Running hand in hand with this almost truth is since my sin has been forgiven by Jesus’ shed blood; I can no longer sin or at least be held accountable for my sin because it is forgiven. Therefore, I can do anything and it is just fine.
This ancient error is called antinomianism. A big word, but basically it means, since Christ fulfilled the law, and we have died to the law, we are therefore no longer under any law, particularly, moral law. One trait I have noticed regarding this error is that those who embrace it typically end up endorsing all manner of immorality.
Some verses to consider:
- Matthew 7:23 – And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
- Matthew 24:12 – And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.
- 2 Corinthians 6:14 – Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
- 1 John 3:4 – Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.
It would certainly seem from these verses that there can be those who practice lawlessness.
I believe we are saved by grace so we can learn to walk in obedience to Jesus’ commandments thus fulfilling the calling to do good works. We are not saved by works, but saved to work. If there is no longer any law, why did Jesus bother to give commandments to His followers? Commands imply a choice between obedience and deciding to disobey. Sounds like law to me.
Jesus is very clear on what His desires are for His disciples:
- John 14:15 – If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
- John 14:21 – Whoever has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me…
- John 15:10 – If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
- John 15:14 – You are My friends if you do what I command you.
- Luke 6:46 – Why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and not do what I tell you?
How someone can read this sampling of verses and conclude that there no longer is any law or moral restraints is beyond me. Jesus gave commandments with the intention that they be obeyed, and He directly tied our behavior to our love of Him.
“Works,” scream the opponent! “We are saved by grace and grace alone! We are free in Christ! We are no longer under bondage to perform! We have died to the law and its rules!” This is all true, but Jesus is the One who said, if you love Me, obey Me. “Obey” implies law, and we are never to walk in lawlessness because we are free in Christ. We are free in Christ to become a slave to righteousness and a servant of all. Never to gratify our flesh, indulge our sinful desires, or to do as we wish. We serve Another and His command is now our law.
Speaking (or writing) about works, we are not saved by works, but we are called to work after we are saved. If heaven was the only goal, then we should all die immediately after we are saved. Most of us don’t so it seems we are left here to do something. Notice how many times we are commanded to do good works in this small sampling of verses:
- Matthew 5:16 – In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
- Ephesians 2:10 – For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
- Titus 2:7 – Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity,
- Titus 3:8 – The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
- Titus 3:14 – And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.
- Hebrews 10:24 – And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
Let’s see – let our light shine in the darkness so they see our good works, we were created for good works, we are to be a model of good works, we are to be devoted to good works, actually Titus was told that twice, and we are to stir up one another to do good works. It seems like good works are a good work to do! Nowhere in any verse are we ever commanded to gratify our flesh, indulge in sinful behavior, or ignore God’s commands. We are free in Christ, free to do good works. If someone is promoting lawlessness, run, do not walk away from them quickly.
My take then is this – we are saved by grace, commanded to obey our Lord’s words, so we accomplish God’s works. Lawlessness is never an option to choose in our freedom gained through Christ.