(From Outside the Camp, Vol. 10, No. 3)
This edition of Outside the Camp dedicated to some basic moral issues. This is not something on which we have typically focused; our main focus has been and continues to be in the area of gospel doctrine. However, there is a critical need to take a stand regarding some moral issues with which we are faced. We have already taken such a stand in our assembly and in our numerous conversations and correspondences with people, and it is now time to bring these things together into articles.
We are, of course, going to be accused of legalism by the antinomians, just as we have been accused of antinomianism by the legalists. (In fact, we have even been accused of believing that a regenerate person can believe all the right doctrines and yet live in immorality.) But this just comes with the territory.
The truth is that promoting morality and promoting salvation by grace alone are absolutely compatible, as the apostle Paul showed many times. Our morality forms absolutely no part of the ground of our acceptance before God, and all who have been accepted before God based on the work of Christ alone will have lives characterized by morality - not in order to gain or maintain acceptance before God, but out of love for God who saved us based on nothing in ourselves.
We must also mention judgment based on morality. We cannot judge someone to be a believer based on that person's moral lifestyle, since there are moral unbelievers. Judgment must still be made on gospel doctrine. Not all who live moral lives are saved; in fact, most who live moral lives are unsaved. On the other hand, all who are saved will live moral lives. Thus, if anyone lives a life that is characterized by immorality, he is unsaved; he shows he does not believe the gospel. But if we encounter someone whose life is characterized by morality, we do not know if that person is saved or unsaved until we know what gospel doctrine he believes or does not believe. Two people can look the same in character and conduct who are in opposite spiritual states. The primacy of doctrine in making judgments remains.