Men Who Preach a Lawless Christ
God is eternal, as is Christ, the Son of God, along with the eternal Spirit. From everlasting to everlasting, God is three Persons, diversity in perfect unity. God is holy (Ex 20:26; Mk 1:24; Rev 15:4), and this is crucial for man to know. The reason is that man is not holy. As a sinner, man is set apart from God and under the just wrath of God (Rom 1:18).
God gave the first man, Adam, one rule to live by. It was a prohibition to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:9) The promised consequence was death (Gen 2:17). Man surely did die when he rebelled against the Law of God, revealed in the Word of God spoken to him in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3).
All of Adam’s progeny are conceived in sin (Ps 51:5; Rom 5:12–21), with sin as their immediate inheritance. Sin nature reigns in the flesh of all people who make it out of the womb alive (Eph 2:3). Dead souls are conjoined with living bodies that soon begin to die (Eph 2:1). It is appointed once for a man to die in his body, and then comes the judgment (2 Cor 5:10; Heb 9:27; Rev 20:11). The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23) and the second death is eternal punishment in the fiery hell of the lake of fire (Mt 25: 46; Jude 7; Rev 20:14–15).
To help God’s people, Israel, Yahweh issued His Law through Moses, the prophet (Jn 1:17). God’s Law reveals the holiness of God in such a manner that sinful man can understand. For example, if one wanted to visit God at His house, there must be an approach that makes the ungodly man acceptable in the holy presence of Almighty God.
Right standing before God is called, “righteousness.” The Law of God gave numerous reasons why no man was acceptable in the presence of the holy God. There is none righteous, not even one of the sons of Adam (Rom 3:10–12), who are called, “sons of disobedience” and “children of wrath” (Eph 2:2–3).
Man’s big problem is that he thinks he is good, along with his works presented before God. God’s judgment of all people is that there is no one good and every work of sinful man is valued on par with a bloody tampon (Is 64:6). God is not impressed with man.
Like God who gave it, the Law is holy (Rom 7:12). Sinful man balks at the Law of God because he is not spiritual (1 Cor 2:14). The Law is spiritual (Rom 7:14). He hates the Law of God because nothing exposes man’s evil heart like the Law (Gen 6:5; Jer 17:9; Eph 5:11). The Law is good (Rom 7:12, 16; 1 Tim 1:8). The Law is just, but no man is justified by works of the Law (Rom 2:13; 3:28; Gal 2:16; 3:11). Just as God knew what Adam would do with one prohibition, so God knew the effect His revealed Law would have on sinful men. Sin actually increased, as knowledge of the Law was made known to sinners (Rom 5:20). The need for grace becomes evident.
Recognizing this, did Moses retract the Law and hide it from the people? Of course not, he along with Israel endeavored to be obedient to the Law, as they were instructed. Teachers of the Law followed in Moses’ steps and the parents taught their children (Dt 6:1–2, 7–8, 20).
God even made provision in His Law, for His sinful people to be reconciled to Him, after they broke the Law. Sin is lawlessness (1 Jn 3:4). That provision was the system for sacrifices in the tabernacle and later the Temple at Jerusalem. Lawbreaking worshippers of Yahweh came to the house of God with appropriate sacrifices. They offered their sacrifices as atonement for sins (Lev 16).
Israel in the Old testament was a type of the true Israel, Jesus Christ (Is 49:3). The aspects of life for the Israelites all pointed to Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah to come, according to the prophecies of the prophets, who were themselves types of Christ (Jer 23; Dan 9:24–26). The summing up of the story of Israel is Christ, who is prophet, priest, and king. Not only do those offices have their fulfilment in Christ, so does the Temple (His body), the sacrifices (Lamb of God slain), the covenant (Mediator), with all the promises of God being “yes” and “amen” in Christ (2 Cor 1:20). Truly, Jesus is our all in all.
Even the Law of God found its fulfillment by Christ and in Christ (Mt 5:17). Jesus, the perfectly obedient Son of God, served as our Great High Priest (Heb 4:14), in offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice, once for all His people (Heb 7:27; 1 Pet 3:18). He Himself was without sin (Heb 4:15), but He bore our sins in His body on the cross (1 Pet 2:24).
Once everything was fulfilled in Christ, the obvious question is, “Now what is the use of the Law?” Jesus Himself said, “Do not presume that I came to abolish the Law and the prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill (Mt 5:17).” Sadly, there are some who discard the Law in the dumpster with disdain. They treat the Law of God as if it were evil and something to be despised. They loathe the Old Testament and avoid it like the plagues found on its pages. They preach a lawless Christ.
Has the obedient Son of God, who wonderfully fulfilled the Law in perfect compliance, discharged the Law as unnecessary? May it never be! Christians are taught the Law of God, so that they may join the ancient believing Israelites in knowing the holy God. We are taught by the Spirit to acknowledge, confess, and repent of our sins. We know our sins by the Law of God (Rom 3:20; 7:17). As disciples, we daily seek forgiveness for our innumerable trespasses (Mt 6:12). We rejoice in knowing the One who is faithful and true to forgive us (1 Jn 1:9).
In the same manner, Christians know that righteousness exalts a nation (Prv 14:34). Jesus is the Lord, our righteousness (Jer 23:6), who blesses nations that fear Him, by endeavoring to establish laws that are in alignment with His Law. Just as individuals fail to keep the Law so nations fail, too. Still, the Law of God in the public square serves as a restrainer of evil, by the Spirit (2 Thess 2:6). When God’s Law is shirked, the people groan because lawlessness prevails. This is evident in many places, today.
Christians know the Law of God (Ex 20; Dt 5), and they know the Lord Jesus Christ. They understand the relationship Jesus has to the Law. When God the Father (Law giver) and God the Son (Law keeper) sent the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:26; 15:26), they were not sending a lawless spirit into the world. That would have been a reckless tragedy. Instead, they sent the Spirit of perfect compliance.
Jesus taught His disciples that when the Spirit would come into the world, He would be their Helper (Jn 14:26). Christians follow in Jesus’ steps (1 Pet 2:21), in suffering for the cause of righteousness (Col 1:24; 1 Pet 5). Christians are persecuted in the world, to differing degrees in diverse places (Mt 5:10–12). Having received imputed righteousness upon receipt of the Spirit, the born again now live by faith (Gal 3:11), in the finished work of Christ their God and Savior (Gal 2:20; Tit 2:13).
Faith does not mean that Christians live loose and free apart from the Law of God. On the contrary, believers look to Jesus (Heb 12:2) and acknowledge that God is maturing them in conformity to His obedient Son (Rom 8:29; Heb 6:1).
Christians know they did not get into this righteous position by works of obedience to the Law (Rom 4:5). They also know that whatever measure of obedience they manifest, in relationship to the Law, it is all a work of the Holy Spirit (Phil 2:13), who causes them to walk in God’s statutes (Ezek 36:27). In this, they walk in the good works prepared by God for them (Eph 2:10) and to which Jesus commanded they be obedient to perform (Mt 28:19–20; Jn 13:34).
Is Christ lawless? Of course not. Are born again Christians, as new creations by God to be lawless? Of course not. Christians love the Law of God (Ps 119:97, 113), and unlike lawless unbelievers, we grieve when we break the Law of Christ, which is a Law of love. Before Christ, the Law promised punishment to lawbreakers. After Christ, for the believer, the Law is beautiful because there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1). The Law is preferred for Christian living with the hope that it would be reflected in the laws of the society in which Christians reside.
The Christian does not hold his breath, in anticipation of righteousness prevailing in this world. Rather, he hopes and prays for some semblance of Law in the land that he might labor in peace and freedom (Rom 13).
Christians are not lawless citizens of lawless states. We do not preach a lawless Christ as some men do. When these Antinomians proclaim their lawless Jesus to their lawless followers, they are preaching another gospel of another Christ (2 Cor 11:4). They are known for their zeal for their lawless Christ, but it is a zeal without knowledge, of the proper relationship between Jesus Christ, the Law keeper, and His body, the church.
Christ’s church loves our perfectly obedient Christ. We trust in His perfect works that have positioned us in His righteousness, holy and blameless before God (Eph 1:4; 5:27; Col 1:22). We also trust in His Spirit, who leads us and guides us on the path of righteousness.
We put no confidence in our flesh (Phil 3:3), but we know the will of God is our sanctification (Eph 1:11; 1 Thess 4:3) and Christ has become that for us (1 Cor 1:30), by giving us His Spirit, who is not lawless, but who is the One to align us with Christ, whose rule we live by, in the Spirit at war with the flesh, until we are glorified (Rom 7; Gal 5:17). We will not be lawless in eternity, either. May the preacher of the lawless Christ take heed.
Spokane Valley, Washington
January 31, 2021