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Anatomy of a Living Faith Pt. 2 [3-12-23]


March 12, 2023

“Anatomy of a Living Faith, Part 2”

James 2:21-26


Did I hear you say you wanted to learn all there was to know about antinomianism?


The first part is the funnest. I love when we get to break down word meanings. Antinomianism = anti {“against”} & nomos {“law”}. In other words, antinomianism means there are no moral laws God expects Christians to obey. It takes a solid, Biblical teaching to an unbiblical conclusion.


Here's the solid, reasonable, rational Biblical teaching:

CHRISTIANS ARE NOT REQUIRED TO OBSERVE OLD TESTAMENT LAW AS A MEANS OF SALVATION.

You cannot get any clearer than that. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, he fulfilled the Old Testament Law:

  • Romans 10:4 – “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

  • Galatians 3:23-26 – “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God, through faith.”

  • Ephesians 2:13-16 – “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”


Here's how Paul dealt with the rising false teaching of antinomianism:

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

  • Romans 6:1-2

Paul was answering the most basic attack on the doctrine of salvation by grace alone. It encouraged sin. We know human nature. Too many people asked, “If I am saved by grace alone…if the law no longer applies to me…and all my sins are forgiven…then why not sin all I want?” Sort of a sin-a-palooza.


But here’s the thing. That mind-set revealed an unconverted heart. Hence the push-back by both Paul and James. When we kneel at the foot of the cross and take in what the beautiful song, “In Christ Alone” affirms - Till on that cross as Jesus died/ The wrath of God was satisfied/ For every sin on Him was laid/ Here in the death of Christ I live – it creates in us a desire to do what is pleasing to God. Sinning is not pleasing to God. Out of gratitude for His grace and mercy, we seek a deeper walk in Biblical obedience.


Two passages capture what God has given us:

  • John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

  • Romans 5:6-8 – “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person - though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die - but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

For both Paul and James, who were the first church leaders to face the challenge of antinomianism, out of love and gratitude for what God has done for us, we make God-honoring choices in how we live our lives. That also includes worship.


A second reason antinomianism is unbiblical is that God does expect us to strive to be decent people. As 1 John 5:3 reminds us, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” We can hear the direct encouragement to regard Scripture as our guide in faith and practice. Even Jesus encourages us along that path:

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

  • Matthew 22:37-40


Does our salvation depend on fulfilling the Old Testament Law? Absolutely not. But we are under the Law of Christ. That’s exactly what Matthew 22 means. The Law of Christ is about loving God…loving each other…loving our neighbors…striving to do nothing to displease God. To put it another way, from Galatians 5, we are called to be loving and joyful and peaceful and patient and kind and good and faithful and gentle and self-controlled. These things are not requirements to earn or maintain salvation. These things are a sign that God has chosen to save us.


As you can see, I have lived up to my promise. I have told you everything you ever wanted to know about antinomianism. It is contrary to what the Bible teaches. Here’s something you might want to write down:

GOD EXPECTS US TO LIVE A LIFE OF MORALITY…INTEGRITY…AND LOVE.

Just because Jesus has freed us from the burdensome commands of Old Testament Law, it doesn’t give us a license to sin. Instead, we are in a covenant of grace. We work to overcome sin. We resist temptation to sin. We want to do things that are good for our families, our church, and our community. Let 1 John 2:3-6 have the last word:

And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.


In order to flesh out how this all plays out, let’s turn to our final example from James 2, Rahab:

And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified 

by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by 

another way?


The contrast is fascinating. First there was Abraham…a man of extravagant faith. And then Rahab, a prostitute and unbeliever.


Both were used as examples of faithfulness in Hebrews 11. Both were mentioned in Matthew’s accounting of Jesus’ genealogy.


Rahab lived in Jericho. She was a prostitute. She ran an inn, which was basically, a brothel. She hid Israelite spies who were there to get the measure of the city to help Joshua plan his attack. God used Rahab, an unbeliever, to protect the two spies. Here’s the point when she came to profound faith:

“I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.

  • Joshua 2:9-11


Incredible. God spoke faith into Rahab’s heart. Her actions testified to her belief. Hers was a faith that works.


One of my favorite parts of Rahab’s story is when city officials asked her if she saw the spies. She said, “No.” Rahab lied.


Different interpreters take different approaches to the fact that she lied. Martin Luther defended “a good hearty lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian Church, a lie in case of necessity, a useful lie.” Such lies, Luther said, “Would not be against God.”


Some have a problem with Luther’s take. I read countless comments of concern about any readiness to accept deception. I see her lie as a courageous act of civil disobedience. If you knew where Anne Frank and her family were hiding, and asked by the Nazis if you knew, would you feel compelled to tell the truth? God bless Rahab and her protection of the Israelite spies.


As we have seen, Rahab believed the truth. Because of that, she was counted as righteous by God. Because of that faith, when the opportunity came up, she demonstrated her faith by taking a huge risk in hiding the spies. Do you hear the {anti}antinomian order of things? Faith and then action. James is attracted to Rahab’s story because it drives home the point of faith without works is dead. What would have happened if Rahab’s faith was void of works? The spies would have been dead. Faith without works is dead.


Here's one last thing to write down:

LIVING FAITH PRESENTS MONUMENTAL EVIDENCE.

Jesus said if you are not willing to take your cross and follow me, you are not worthy to be my disciples. Do you choose to honor God, no matter what the cost? Are your attitudes and actions testifying to a living faith?

Make no mistake. There is great benefit in a serious-minded faith. It’s crucial to know what you believe and believe what you know. Thank you for your faithful hearing on the subject of antinomianism. It’s never a bad thing to be serious-minded about our faith. Because that’s where we find things of lasting value.


I love how one man puts it:

PURSUING FUN BRINGS TEMPORARY HAPPINESS BUT TRUE, LASTING JOY COMES FROM A RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS, WHICH SEES YOU THROUGH GOOD TIMES AND BAD. JOY COMES FROM THE LORD AND IS NOT PASSING.

  • Jake Veach, Pastor, Dublin, Ohio


Until next week…

SOLI DEO GLORIA…

To the Glory of God Alone



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