There are many people who feel safe “straddling the fence” regarding what to do with Jesus. One of the reasons for their indecisiveness is they see their options as painted a neutral gray rather than black and white. However, there is no middle ground with Jesus. The Lord said, “He who is not with Me is against Me” (Luke 11:23). In the same way, the Gospel has no middle ground. Knowing this, It may be better understood by considering the “law of antithesis” that is evident throughout Scripture. The word “antithesis” means a sharp contrast of ideas that are set opposite one another, such as: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). This verse gives a sharp contrast between the saving grace of God and the worthless works of man.
An antithesis also can be two people who are directly opposite of one another, such as a believer, who is under God’s grace, and an unbeliever, who is under God’s wrath. Regenerate people are alive in Christ and unregenerate people are dead in sin (Rom. 6:11, Eph. 2:1). The apostle Paul described people as either slaves to sin, or slaves to righteousness (Rom. 6:17-18). Everyone is either in Adam, or in Christ (1 Cor. 15:22). There are only two groups of people, those who have been called out of the world into the church and those who are still in the world (John 15:19, 1 John 4:5). Everyone is either a child of God, who is the creator of life, or a child of the devil, who is a destroyer of life (John 1:12, 1 John 3:10, 1 Pet. 5:8). There is no middle ground in God’s message of redemption. According to God’s court of justice, everyone on this earth is either justified or condemned, and either declared righteous or guilty (Rom. 5:18-19, James 2:10). Everyone is either trusting what the Lord Jesus has DONE to satisfy divine justice, or trusting what they must DO.
The most powerful use of the “law of antithesis” to explain God’s Gospel may be found in Romans 6:23. Paul writes: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The antithesis of “wages,” which is the payment for work rendered, is “the free gift”, which is freely given by God’s grace, exclusive of works (Rom. 11:6). The antithesis of “death”, which is everlasting punishment in hell, is “eternal life” in Christ Jesus. In this one verse, we see the “law of antithesis” contrasting man, the sinner who has earned spiritual death, and God, the Holy One, who offers the means of escape, as a gift of His grace. From a human perspective, the presentation of two opposing contrasts should make it easier for people to choose the more desirable one.
The Gospel gives us many more opposing contrasts. Everyone is either walking in the light or in darkness (1 Thes. 5:5, 1 Peter 2:9). People are either free in Christ or in bondage to sin and Satan (Gal.5:1, John 8:34, 2 Tim. 2:26). They either demonstrate deeds of the flesh or the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:16-25). People are either lovers of God or lovers of the world (1 John 2:15-17). One day our Lord will return in glory and separate all the people of the world into two groups. He will welcome His sheep (believers) into His eternal kingdom and send the goats (unbelievers) to be punished in the eternal fire (Mat. 25:31-46).
Throughout human history, Satan has tempted God’s people to compromise “the law of antithesis” by seeking to unite sanctified believers with unbelievers in spiritual enterprises and ungodly marriages (2 Cor. 6:14-18). One of his most effective ploys has been to use evangelical leaders to compromise the purity and exclusivity of the Gospel by making it more inclusive. Many are teaching a man-centered gospel instead of a Christ-centered Gospel. This is a fatal deception because only God’s Gospel has the power to save those who believe (Rom. 1:16). Any other gospel gives people a false hope and brings condemnation to those who preach it (Gal. 1:6-9). Those who do not stand for truth will fall for anything.
The Father of Lies has also compromised “the law of antithesis” by creating a middle ground for people who do not believe they are good enough for heaven or bad enough for hell. He fabricated another destination after death called purgatory, which has become a safety net for Catholics since they do not know the sufficiency of Jesus in salvation. The Lord Jesus made it clear that there are only two ways and two destinations. He said, “…the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Mat. 7:13-14).
As we consider all the antithetical statements in Scripture, I especially enjoy the ones which identify born-again Christians. God’s Word tells us we are strongest when we are weak, richest when we are poor, exalted when we humble ourselves and loved when we are unlovable. We empty ourselves so we can be filled, and we confess our wrongs so that we can be declared right. The more we die to self, the more we can live for Christ. May He be honored and praised as we share His glorious Gospel of grace!
Mike Gendron (Proclaiming the Gospel)