Martin Lloyd-Jones wrote in his commentary on the book of Romans, “if we aren’t accused of antinomianism, we haven’t preached the gospel properly.” It was an accusation that Paul fought time and time again. The reason for the accusation is because Paul was showing that works has no contribution in the salvation of sinners. God’s love cannot be earned. God’s forgiveness cannot be bought. When God saves a person, his reasons reside solely with him. Our works do not figure into it in the least. It was a charge leveled by the Judaizers who insisted that obeying the law was a necessary contributor to being a Christian. Paul’s advice to Titus shows, however, that works are NOT a contributor to our salvation.
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)
But Paul also answers the charge of antinomianism by going on to show the proper place of good works. An antinomian believes there is no place for the law since it does not contribute to salvation. Paul is not an antinomian as he shows that good works are the product, even the goal, of the salvation that God freely gives by his mercy alone, as he goes on to say to Titus.
The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. (Titus 3:8)
While it may seem like legalists and antinomians are opposite positions, they actually view law in the same way. One says, “since the purpose of the law is to save, we preach the importance of keeping the law.” The other says, “since the purpose of the law was to save and it can’t, we preach grace.” they both start with the same premise, “the law’s purpose is to save.” The corrective to both of these heresies is to show that this isn’t (and never was) the purpose of the law. The law shows us our guilt before a righteous God (that is it’s first purpose), and also shows us to what kind of life God is saving us (it’s third purpose; the second purpose is to restrain evil). Law isn’t left out of the equation. Paul answers the charge of antinomians in Romans 6,
1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried 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 in newness of life. (Rom 6:1-4)
Michael Horton explains it well, “Paul answers antinomianism not with the law but with more gospel! In other words, antinomians are not people who believe the gospel too much, but too little! They restrict the power of the gospel to the problem of sin’s guilt, while Paul tells us that the gospel is the power for sanctification as well as justification.”
McCheyne’s Bible Reading Plan: Num 1, Ps 35, Ecc 11, Tit 3