Even Antinomians Really Believe in Repenting of Sin to Be Saved
By Jesse Morrell
Antinomian heretics often accuse me of preaching justification by works of the law because I preach that sinners must repent of all their sin to be forgiven through Christ. They falsely accuse me of preaching earning or meriting your salvation, when the Bible represents repentance as a condition of being forgiven by grace and mercy and not as a means of earning or meriting salvation.
Antinomians say things like, “You don’t need to repent of your sins to be saved. You only need to repent of your unbelief and self-righteousness.” But they overlook the simple fact that unbelief and self-righteousness are themselves sins. So in their own view, you do have to repent of sins to be saved.
They will point to Scriptures that speak of the Gentiles turning from idols and say that repentance is not turning from all sins but simply turning from idols to God. Granted, the Gentiles did in fact turn from idols. But now these Antinomians are saying that salvation includes an obedience to the first two of the Ten Commandments. If an unbeliever needs to repent of his idol worship to be saved, it stands to reason that He must become obedient to the first two of the Ten Commandments.
And does a man need to completely turn from idols? Does he need to perfectly keep the first two commandments? Or can he worship idols just a little bit every day of his life in word, thought, and deed? Certainly, even the Antinomians I am thinking of would be appalled at the notion of a genuinely saved believer worshipping idols every day of his life, even if it were “just a little bit.” And so in their own system, even they believe that a person must be made perfectly obedient to God’s commandments, at least in part.
And if an unbeliever needs to repent of putting other gods before the Lord and of worshiping idols, then this is in fact a repentance of selfishness or self-centeredness because every sinner has essentially made himself his own god. And if a sinner is going to repent of his selfishness, which is in fact the essence of all sin, the consequence will be that they will be obedient to all of the moral law of God.
And if Gentiles are going to repent of their unbelief and put their faith in Christ, they will consequently obey Christ or else they do not truly trust in Him. If they trust Him with the salvation of their souls, they will certainly trust Him with their daily lives as well. If a man trusts God, he will obey God.
I am not talking about keeping the Old Testament Torah, but the New Testament Law of Christ or the moral law of God. The New Testament says that believers “keep His commandments” and that “love is the fulfillment of the law.”
The real problem is that Antinomians confuse repentance for the remission of sins and justification by works of the law. Repentance for the remission of sins has to do with changing your mind about violating the moral law of God as a condition of gracious and merciful pardon. Justification by works of the law has to do with trying to earn and merit your salvation by being circumcised and keeping the law of Moses or Torah.
Abraham was justified by his faith. The Torah or law of Moses did not exist yet and so Abraham could not have been justified by The Law. Instead, Abraham was justified by faith. But justification is not being declared righteous while you continue to live unrighteous. Justification is when you are made actually righteous. Abraham was justified or made righteous by faith because it is faith that God imputes or considers as righteousness and because faith will result in an obedient life. The Bible also says that by faith Abraham obeyed God.
There were Jews, on the other hand, who sought justification by law and not by faith. They did not believe in the promises of God or trust in Jesus Christ as the Messiah, but they were circumcised and kept the letter of the Sabbath, etc. They, of course, were not justified. They were not righteous because fundamentally righteousness starts with faith. God did not impute them as righteous because it is faith that God imputes or considers as righteousness.
And so, it is by faith that a man is justified but that means that it is by faith that a man is actually made righteous. To be saved a man must repent of their unbelief and put their faith in Christ and as consequence, they will live a life of obedience to God. Furthermore, repentance from sin is not a means of earning or meriting your salvation but is simply a condition of the gracious and merciful pardon of God. Even those who deny the need to repent of your sins actually themselves do teach that you must repent of sin. It is inescapable. And if repenting of your unbelief, worshipping idols, (the first two commandments of the Ten Commandments) is not a means of meriting your salvation but is only a condition of pardon, than there is no reason why you cannot say that repenting of all of your sins or of all of your violations of God’s moral law cannot also be viewed as a condition of pardon and not as a means of meriting your salvation….
Do Men Need to Repent of Sin or Just of Unbelief and Self-Righteousness? Are All Good Works Filthy Rags? Antinomianism Refuted by Jesse Morrell
Did John Wesley Teach or Deny the Doctrine of the Imputed Righteousness of Christ? A Study by Jesse Morrell