Mystical Antinomians Think That Christ Replaces us
Some of those who assume that everybody to whom they talk is a Christian tend to also speak of “sanctification” as a second blessing you can get by doing things the right way. For the mystical antinomians, doing things the right way means not doing anything at all.
Even though these preachers assume that everybody is a legalist, they also assume that all these legalists are Christians, and they command these folks to be more “gospel awake” and promise that “doing not doing” will result in better sanctification and more of everything, including more works and more joy. But as Jacques Ellul like to say, after all has been said, nothing has been done. The various competing theories of sanctification don’t seem to have caused any of us to be more sanctified.
But the “exchanged life” antinomians put pressure on us (and our faith) to have a crisis experience ( at some conference perhaps) to claim God’s supposed promise that God will live our lives for us. The idea of the “exchanged life” is that we “let go and let God”. But the threat is always that, if there is a problem, the fault is ours for not “letting go” enough. Instead of trusting in Christ’s death as our consecration (Hebrews 10:10-14), we are supposed to trust in Christ’s “vicarious life” or in the “power of His resurrection life in us”.
I won’t say Osiander (I just did), but the solution to this problem is not simply to point to Christ’s humanity and to the fact that Christ died for the purpose of God’s forgiving our failure to positively do what the law tells us to do. We also need to remember human agency. God’s sovereignty does not mean that God believes the gospel for us. God causes us to believe the gospel.
God’s sovereignty does not mean that God is doing what we do. God is not sinning when we sin, and God is not obeying when we obey. God causes us to obey. and that is different from saying that God obeys for us.
The Bible does not command us to “empty yourselves” so that Christ can be in you. The presence of the person of Christ is in us, but not because of something we did.
Nor does the Holy Spirit make Christ present in the “sacrament”. The Holy Spirit does not “take us up” to heaven. The Holy Spirit does not “unite us to” Christ.
The Bible does not command us to empty ourselves so that Christ will then do the believing and obeying in us and for us. The Holy Spirit does not replace us, nor does the Holy Spirit unite us to Christ so that Christ can replace us. Do we have to be “united to” the Holy Spirit before we can be “united to Christ”? If it takes the Holy Spirit to unite us to Christ, who does it take to unite us to the Holy Spirit?
Even though Christ alone replaced us in the one and only Propitiation, Christ is not now replacing us, and we should never confuse what we do or don’t do with what Christ is doing or not doing.
One “mystical antinomian” named John Crowder writes “God didn’t save you so you could do good. God saved you so you could be dead and then God could work through you. God does not want to you try to work. God is only pleased with what Christ does, God does not help you. God does things for you”. (Mystical Union, Sons of Thunder Publishing, 2010)
if soundbites like that make you think the grace of God is being exalted, then you need to begin to ask some more questions. It is not some present work which is our Propitiation, and there is no need to confuse our present working with God’s present working.
Hebrews 13: 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God…. 18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. … 20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good so that YOU DO HIS WILL , working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
I am not going to say “hyper-grace”, because I don’t like the word “hyper” and I don’t think we can ever say too much about grace, but we do need to beware of the “mystical antinomians” who teach that the Holy Spirit takes over the agency from Christians so that Christians have no duty to obey the law of Christ. Those who teach the “exchanged life” fall into this category, people like Joseph Prince, Steve McVey, Malcolm Smith, Andrew Farley and Paul Ellis.
J I Packer warns us : “With regard to sanctification, there have been mystical antinomians who have affirmed that the indwelling Christ is the personal subject who obeys the law in our identity once we invoke his help in obedience situations, and there have been pneumatic antinomians who have affirmed that the Holy Spirit within us directly prompts us to discern and do the will of God, without our needing to look to the law to either prescribe or monitor our performance.”
Packer: “The common ground is that those who live in Christ are wholly separated from every aspect of the pedagogy of the law. The freedom with which Christ has set us free, and the entire source of our ongoing peace and assurance, are based upon our knowledge that what Christ, as we say, enables us to do he actually does in us for himself. So now we live, not by being forgiven our constant shortcomings, but by being out of the law’s bailiwick altogether; not by imitating Christ, the archetypal practitioner of holy obedience to God’s law, but by … our knowledge that Christ himself actually does in us all that his and our Father wants us to do.”
Romans 6: 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin HAVE BECOME OBEDIENT FROM THE HEART to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now PRESENT YOUR MEMBERS AS SLAVES TO RIGHTEOUSNESS leading to sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, lasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is lasting life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 7: 4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, in order to belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order to bear fruit for God.