Does it Matter? (Is Doctrine Important?)

Ted Noel

Romans 6:14

14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.

This text presents the classic antinomian (Greek nomos = law) argument: “We are under grace, not under the Law.” The implication is that the Law is no longer important. God’s grace will take care of everything. You don’t have to worry about obeying the old commands: they have been abolished! This is clearly an attractive thought for many people. However, taken logically, this is absurd. For if the law doesn’t matter, then we can rape, pillage, and murder, and God’s grace will cover it all.

Let’s try that again. I can do anything, and it doesn’t matter? Something just doesn’t add up. The reason it doesn’t add up is that that isn’t what Paul said! Verse 15 continues the discussion:

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!

Paul continues by pointing out that:

17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,
and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

This theme is repeated again and again in Paul’s writing. While God’s grace is sufficient to save us from all sin, we are not to continue in sin. Perhaps this is best summed up in Romans 5:20-6:2.

20 …where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?
May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

This concern with sin is so overriding that Jesus began His ministry calling for repentance from sin. Matthew 4:17

17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

He even went so far as to state that there was no hope of salvation without repentance. Luke 13:3

3 “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

In His final statement to us, in His message to the church at Ephesus, Jesus repeated this need. Revelation 2:5.

5 ‘Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you, and will remove your lampstand out of its place– unless you repent.

In order to repent, we have to know what sin is. James 4:17

17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin.

But how do you know the “right thing to do “? Jesus put it very simply in John 14:15.

15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

Since Jesus is God (Rev 22:21), these are the commandments of God. Matthew 28:18-20.

18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying,…
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,…
teaching them to observe all that I commanded you;

The apostles carried this theme to the early church. 1 Corinthians 7:19

19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.

1 John 2:4-7

4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;
but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:
the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.

1 John 5:3

3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

Revelation 12:17

17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Revelation 14:12

12 Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

It is very clear that there are standards of conduct for God’s people. These are known as “commandments” or “law”.

1 John 3:4

4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.

We should also remind ourselves that we do not have the luxury of picking out part of the law to observe. We have to observe it all. James 2:10

10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.

Jesus condemned those who do not keep the law. Matthew 7:21-23

21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.
“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’
“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

But those who keep the commandments are promised in John 15:10

10 “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.

Abiding in God’s love is the greatest promise He can give us! Psalm 91

1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation. (KJV)

At the end of time we will be protected from the time of trouble (Daniel 12:1), then, when Jesus comes again, we will join him for eternity. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.