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The word antinomianism is a theological term which comes from the Greek anti (against) and nomos meaning law. It refers to the doctrine that it is not necessary for Christians to obey the moral law. In other words, such people who embrace that incorrectly think faith frees the Christian from such obligations. That person would be an antinomian. In our day the antinomian would most likely identify himself as being free grace. Though antithetical to Scripture, this view is popularly embraced by many who hold influential positions on radio and TV in our day and believe the teaching of Once Saved Always Saved (or eternal security). [The internet should also be included in that listing and that would include people like false teacher David J. Stewart.] Under the heading of the carnal Christian, such teachers have especially spread their antinomian message.
Antinomian Charles Stanley
And so, sometimes out of ignorance or whatever it might be, they attempt to gratify and meet those needs the same way they did before they were saved, and therefore, you can’t tell a carnal believer from a lost man. That is, you can’t tell the cold from the carnal because the truth is, they’re both acting the same way. Now, one of them is in Christ and one of them isn’t. One of them is lost and the other one is in Christ. One of them knows about God and knows him in the experience of salvation; the other doesn't know him at all.(1)
As far as overt behavior is concerned, a carnal believer cannot be distinguished from an unbeliever.(2)
So according to Charles Stanley and other popular teachers of our day, a carnal Christian (or antinomian) behaves the same sinful way as the unsaved! That is antinomianism or free grace theology. Sadly others, besides the Charles Stanley and Robert Thieme, have been teaching the same detestable antinomian way, yet they seemingly go unchallenged.
Paul can only mean that these carnal Corinthians lived like unsaved men. That clarifies why the word carnal can label both unbelievers and believers, simply because the lifestyles of both are the same.The cure for the unbeliever's carnality is salvation; the cure for the believer's is to grow in the Lord (italics his).(3)Carnal To have the characteristics of an unsaved life either because one is an unbeliever or because though a believer, one is living like an unsaved person (italics his).(4)
Antinomian Chuck Swindoll
Chuck Swindoll made a similar assertion about one’s understanding of the carnal Christian:
Let me clarify something because many, many in the family of God have no room in their theology for the carnal Christian, which creates tremendous confusion. If you don’t understand the carnal Christian, you will begin to believe that you have fallen from grace. You will believe that you have been born again and then you will think later when you do these number of things, you have not been born again.(5)
According to Chuck Swindoll, one may have a misconception about falling from grace unless he understands the once saved always saved, antinomian, carnal Christian, free grace teaching! Imagine that. Last but not least is Dave Hunt, who calls himself a Berean. He also teaches about the antinomian, but refers to him as a carnal Christian:
He warns them against prostitutes and various other sins unbecoming of Christians. He even declares that a person could have been so carnal that all of his works will be burned up-yet “he himself shall be saved” (1 Cor 3:15). (6)
Hunt is not only wrong there about loss of rewards, but also thinks the sexually immoral man of 1 Cor. 5:1,2 was a Christian even though he was committing sins that even the pagans were not doing. Demon faith won’t save anyone, but these teachers say otherwise! All eternal security teachers are very dangerous people!
To read into carnal and openly teach, as the aforementioned grace changers do, is to dangerously distort the image of Christianity. By fabricating this new type of antinomian Christian, who is behaving just like the darkened, God-hating, hell-bound, Christ rejecters, multitudes are being deceived. Some are even re-opened to the greatest possible danger of being thrown into eternal fire, yet are unaware of it. Such proponents have only a false hope. Besides the immediate context of 1 Cor. 3:3, this OSAS concept of the antinomian carnal Christian is also refuted Scripturally by the following:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor. 6:9,10, NASB)
First, Paul stated by question form the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9), then told us in the next verse how to identify someone who is unrighteous from their behavior. The sexually immoral, drunkards and the greedy, among others, are included in this group and will, therefore, be excluded from the kingdom of God, unless they turn from their sins and get forgiven. No exception is made for one who previously believed on Christ. This is the true grace teaching, according to Scripture.
Dear reader, do not be deceived by the glib-speaking, teachers in our day, who will present grace in a different way and speak as to appeal to those having “itching ears” (2 Tim. 4:3). Paul also wrote this about a justifying faith:
Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. (Rom 3:31)
Paul taught against the dietary law and ceremonial law, but upheld the moral law, which is what he is referring to in Rom. 3:31. Remember that truth and Rom. 3:31. That is a very important verse related to this subject. Paul certainly was not an antinomian, like many in our dark day have been taught. Paul taught the faith in Jesus of Nazareth that justifies is a faith that obeys. Paul wrote:
God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. (Rom. 2:6,7)
Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. (1 Cor 7:19)
He could not have been a free grace person. See also Heb. 5:9; Gal. 6:8,9; 1 John 2:3,4; etc. Remember: If you are not obeying God you do NOT have eternal salvation (Heb. 5:9). Do not be deceived by the antinomian eternal security carnal Christian or free grace teaching.
For much more information on NO eternal security and salvation in general, please consider ordering our Evangelical books, “The Believer’s Conditional Security” and “The Myth of Eternal Security.”
GOD BLESS YOU.
(1) Charles Stanley (Atlanta, GA: In Touch Ministries, 1982), Spiritual Vs. Carnal: Study in 1 Corinthians, audiotape #8, PQ092.
(2) R. B. Thieme, Jr., The Prodigal Son (Houston, TX: R. B. Thieme, Jr. Bible Ministries, 1974), p. 8.
(3) Charles C. Ryrie, So Great Salvation (Victor Books, 1989), p. 62.
(4) Ibid., p. 155.
(5) Chuck Swindoll, Clearing the Hurdle of Carnality: Selections from 1 Corinthians, audiotape CHH 5-A.
(6) Dave Hunt, January 2007, The Berean Call, p. 5.
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