Anomianism/Antinomianism has spread like wildfire through Reformed, Predestinarian, Sovereign Grace, and related circles. It is on my heart deeply, due to my own state, and due to the state of the church as a whole, to put forth an even clearer refutation of it.
1 John 3:4 in the KJV reads as follows:
“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”
However, in the Greek, it is most literally “All the ones making/doing/bringing forth/committing/ working SIN also [simultaneously/contemporaneously] makes/does/brings forth/commits/works LAWLESSNESS [anomia, that which is against, instead of, or without the law] for SIN [literally] IS LAWLESSNESS” [again, anomia, that which is against, instead of, or without the law].
Notionalism (Sandemanianism, Neo-Sandemanianism, Mental-Assent-Alone-ism, etc.) so wants to distance believers from the extant (non-Mosaic) law of God that it puts forth all manner of vain sophistry (all manner of unbiblical arguments) against obedience to it. The problem is that you cannot separate SIN from LAWLESSNESS (which, again, is being apart from, or without, or against/instead of the law), seeing that sin literally IS lawlessness, and thus the transgression of the law. To be clear, by law, I mean God’s extant (non-abrogated) commandments, imperatives, etc., as opposed to the (nailed to the cross, put away forever) Mosaic Law, which is the law of ordinances. God’s spiritual law, as made abundantly clear by the Book of Genesis, far outdates the birth of Moses.
In light of the inseparable link between sin and lawlessness, you simply cannot both agape love (truly, perfectly), whilst simultaneously sinning against someone — whether God, man, or beast. Sin is transgressing the law, but love is the obedience to, or keeping of it (not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, by the Spirit, with God’s word as the means by which the Holy Spirit operates). God doesn’t put His law in our hearts magically, notionally, emotionally, or figuratively. He puts His law in our hearts, by His word (Holy Writ / Scripture), as made alive, powerful, effectual, by the Holy Spirit. There is no law in the heart apart from reading, hearing, and obeying the word of God that reveals the (extant, non-Mosaic) law that pertains to us today.
This is why the Bible teaches that whereas SIN is nothing short of, or less than, being without/against/instead of the law… love is the keeping, manifesting, obedience to, and working out of the law, towards God (and others), as God commands. Once again, we read:
Romans 13:8-10 “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that LOVETH [agape, not phileo or eros] another hath FULFILLED THE LAW [plēroō, G4137, to fulfil, make replete, cram, level up, execute, accomplish, etc.]. 9 FOR THIS [all that which pertains to the commandments of God], Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] ANY OTHER COMMANDMENT, it is BRIEFLY COMPREHENDED (summed up, summarised by, condensed into a summary, gathered together under one heading/header) in this saying, namely, Thou shalt (agape) LOVE thy neighbour as thyself. 10 (agape) LOVE worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore LOVE [IS] the FULFILLING [plērōma, G4138, fulness, abundance, filling up, completeness] of the law.”
How much plainer can it get? Wherever heart-felt, Spirit-enabled obedience to the law abounds… (agape) love abounds… for they are one and the same! You show forth (i.e., manifest) agape love by treating God, people, etc., as God commands us to do so. Notionalism explains all of this away; whilst Biblical Christianity makes it clear that whereas SIN IS LAWLESSNESS (being without the law, transgressing it, acting contrary to it), (agape) LOVE IS ADHERENCE TO THE LAW (i.e., manifesting, executing, performing, accomplishing the law at a level wherein it is like “cramming nets,” “leveling up holes, making something replete, etc.”).
So when someone says that the Christian (the born again believer, the one who has the Spirit of God indwelling them, and working within them) CANNOT spiritually HEAR God’s word (which includes His extant law), cannot spiritually OBEY God’s commandments (note that biblically, hearing is yoked with obeying per the very meaning behind Shema/šāma), and cannot KEEP His commands (so as to do them, albeit not perfectly), they are not only (1) lying to you, but (2) calling God a liar… seeing that God Himself promises in:
Ezekiel 36:26-27 “A NEW HEART also will I give you, and a NEW SPIRIT will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put MY SPIRIT within you, and CAUSE YOU to walk in my statutes, and YE SHALL KEEP my judgments, AND DO [them].”
Ezekiel 11:19-20 ” And I will give them ONE HEART, and I will put a NEW SPIRIT within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: 20 THAT THEY MAY WALK IN my statutes, AND KEEP mine ordinances, AND DO them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”
One of the greatest harms done within Predestinarian/Sovereign Grace/Reformed circles, as it relates to the Christian walk and warfare, is the propagation of that damnable lie that says that the Christian cannot keep/obey God’s commandments. We cannot keep/obey perfectly; we cannot keep/obey as much as we ought; we cannot keep/obey as much as we would like; and we surely cannot (and out not) keep/obey FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS (as in, going about to establish one of our own). However, to repeatedly, incessantly, call God a liar when it comes to His promises, is not just wicked in the abstract, but outright wickedly damaging to the hearts, minds, homes, congregations, etc., of God’s chosen people. We must do better, starting first and foremost with my own self. We must desire, and cultivate, obedient hearts. I feel this deeply and perceive it deeply. I simply cannot stand, in fact I outright detest, the anomian/antinomian error described above. Every inch of the Bible rejects it, and yet so many in the name of “liberty,” and “trusting in God only” cling to it. Sadly, far too many have no idea what is really meant by:
Did you notice the parallel? The same Greek word for “lawlessness/transgression of the law” (anomia) in 1 John 3:4 is used here in Matthew 7:23. Moreover, poieō used in 1 John 3:4 is clearly, and undoubtedly, synonymous with ergazomai used in Matthew 7:23. This, “whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law” speaks of the same people, with the same/synonymous words, as “depart from me, ye that WORK INIQUITY” — when rightly understood. And how do we rightly understand it? By keeping in mind that though all of God’s people commit sin (none are perfect or anywhere close), this is still a far cry from, a very different reality from, being in an ever present state of, even an unrepentant course of life consisting of, lawlessness (which, again, includes the desire to be apart from, or unyoked to, the law…. or as some prominent Sovereign Gracer’s have put it … “wanting to have nothing to do with the law”).
IN CONCLUSION: The True Christian “DELIGHTS [rejoices internally in] IN THE LAW of God after the inward man” [Romans 7:22] and desires to “verily/truly serve” it [Romans 7:25] — [“men douleuō“, G3303 & G1398, which is literally TO… WITH “UMPH” / “gusto” / intense desire/effort, OBEY!, submit to, yield obedience to, be a slave of, be in bondage to, or be bound by the law of God”]. Again, this is NOT FOR SALVATION, this is NOT FOR JUSTIFICATION, this is NOT IN LIEU OF THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST imputed to His people, but in the very light, blessing, and power of it all, Moreover, lest anyone argue that serving in the mind, does not result in real world (manifest) action/obedience/law-keeping, see Ephesians 4:17-32, which deals specifically with the kind of renewing of the spirit of the mind that leads to an upright Christian walk, a successful Christian warfare, ye even one that includes (i.e., manifests) consistent (thought not perfect) obedience to God’s commands.
My exhortation to everyone, myself chiefly, is to let God be True, and every man a liar, especially any man who would deter you from either (a) Gospel truth or (b) the love of God’s law, and a desire to keep/obey/serve it, all by God’s own grace, mercy, and effectual working. Many a heretick exists within true Gospel circles, seeking to spread their anomian/antinomian views. Sadly, within the same circles, are true and beloved brethren who are deceived by them for a season. The two can be indistinguishable at times; hence, we should not judge (as in, condemn) before the time, but use discernment, and warn of the great severity of these things. Nonetheless, I must reiterate, the Bible knows of no (agape) love apart from, or distinct from, keeping God’s commandments (obedience). Remember what the Lord, Himself, said (and notice the love/keep yoking)):
John 14:15, 21-24 “If ye love me, keep [tēreō, G5083, attend to carefully, guard [in the heart, so as to do], observe, hold to, hold fast to, preserve, etc.] my commandments… 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.”
God help us… and to Him alone be the glory,