The Right to Be One’s Own God

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The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. – Genesis 3:5

This is precisely the power claimed and offered by the tempter in Genesis 3:5, the “right” to be one’s own god, determining, knowing, or establishing for one’s own self what constitutes good and evil.

God’s law and redemption are directed precisely against this claimed power. For churchmen to re-introduce it into the context of Christian thought, Biblical commentary, and pastoral counseling and preaching is to deny the covenant of God. The covenant of our Lord re-establishes us by sovereign grace into a position of obedience, not “free decision.” It replaces our “dungy gods” with the clear and unchanging word of God. It frees us from the burden of our sin, playing god, and it surrenders judgment to God the Lord.

The world often appears to be an easier place if I forgive where God requires judgment. Adultery and murder call for death, as does homosexuality. “Extenuating circumstances” are always easy to find. The world becomes less frightening to me if God is made less harsh, or so it seems. If I undercut God’s judgment, I also undercut His grace. If I tamper with the law, it is because I have no law, and if I have no law, I am faced, not with freedom, but with death. Adam and Eve wanted all of Eden, plus their liberty of discretion, the right to independent verification and judgment. They found instead exile in a fallen world. As long as man claims that right of discretionary judgment, he remains a citizen of the fallen world.

– R. J. Rushdoony, Law & Society, Vol II of the Institutes of Biblical Law, p. 671