Is grace a license to sin? This sort of question does not arise from a heart that has truly tasted the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Grace is an undeserved merit given to us through the atoning work of Christ on the cross. We are indeed “saved by grace” alone apart from the works of the Law. But there are many across Christian denominations who misunderstand grace into thinking: Once saved, always saved, regardless of what you do. Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes:
“Antinomianism is that terrible misunderstanding of grace that says, “Because you are saved, you are always saved and it does not matter what you do.” The first two statements are right – because you are saved, you are always saved – but if you go on to say, “Therefore it doesn’t matter what I do”, then the question is: Are you saved at all?” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (The Banner of Truth, Issue 577, Oct. 2011)
The word antinomianism comes from two Greek words, anti, meaning “against”; and nomos, meaning “law.” Antinomianism means “against the law.” Antinomianism is the belief that once you are saved by grace there are no moral laws that God calls Christians to obey. Antinomianism takes a biblical teaching- namely that we are “saved by grace” and arrives at a false unbiblical conclusion.
Indeed, born again (John 3:18, 36) Christians are not required to observe the Old Testament Law as a means of salvation. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He fulfilled the Old Testament Law fully and perfectly (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15). The unbiblical conclusion is that there is no moral law God calls Christians to obey.
The apostle Paul addressed this issue in his letter to the Romans.
“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? Do you not know that all of uswho have been baptizedinto Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We wereburied therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk innewness of life” (Romans 6: 1-3).
It is crucial to note the underlying force of these verses, particularly – verse 2:
How can we who died to sin still live in it?
We are graciously freed from the demands of the Old Testament Law which results in joyful obedience to the law of Christ. 1 John 2:3-6 declares,
“We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands. The man who says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys His word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.”
Conclusion: We are dead to sin, but alive to God. We have been “saved by grace” in order that “we too might walk in newness of life” by His grace that is able to lead us to joyful submission and obedience.