Though there are plenty of important discussions debating the semantics of whether or not Christians are subject to the Law, as given by Moses, that is not my subject today.
When you think of someone who does not keep the law, what do you see? Is it a stereotype you imagine, a rough looking individual? Does the phrase “cast off restraint” make you think of Mardi Gras in New Orleans? At its most basic definition, lawlessness means without law. That does not necessarily mean against the law. It is a very important distinction we must see.
The spirit of lawlessness has borders that might surprise the average believer and there are some very interesting ways this spirit affects people. In fact, it may shock you to hear that most people today have it. A spirit of lawlessness has paved the way in the hearts of men to think and do a myriad of appalling things.
The subject of lawlessness goes deep and has far reaching ramifications. The distance of which, we as the Church, underestimate.
To begin with, God makes the rules. He set the laws of nature, of what is love, what is holy and so on. He set them all, regardless if we accept them as true or not. We cannot rewrite the laws, the standard, that God set into motion. But that is exactly what we try to do. We are ridiculous and head strong.
Each of us has our own personal concepts and our personal defining of what is right and wrong, even in light of scripture we do this. We actually put our individual self on the scale of righteousness. Like a shade of gray on the spectrum from black to white. If Adam did that and shifted the awareness of his own sinfulness and need for the Lord and then next generation shifted that a notch down the ladder? Multiply that from generation to generation further on the scale away from holiness. Our “perceptions” are so far off the mark now that we are standing neck deep in sin and claim we are barely up to our ankles.
“And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.”
This personal standard (pure invention) of right and wrong sets up an entire panorama of justification for sin and perception on who is in error. Yes, it means hating God’s law in many cases (some would argue “all cases”), but this lawless spirit goes farther. Some of it is along the lines of ‘what is right for you is not what is right for me’ but that is way over simplified. Really that is just the first layer. The foundation being- we as creatures are steeped in sin and we refuse to conform or obey ANY standard unless we ourselves judge it to be acceptable. By doing that- we are setting our own laws– not conforming, but instead copying portions of a premade set of standards. Creating our own new set, and because these new laws are our own, we can flex them and bend them to allow ourselves to still be “sinless” in our own eyes and therefore above judgment. What a set up! We are fooling ourselves. It is exactly as if we are plugging our ears and singing “Free To Be You And Me” as loudly as we can, all the while believing that butterflies and sunshine await us when we die. Denying truth and embracing the lie.
Jesus said, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”
“Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
We cannot reject God’s law without consequence. We are not above judgment. We are not sinless. We do not set the standard. So then, what can we do? Can we correct this gross distortion our society (and the Church) is entrenched with? Perhaps. I believe we need to start within each of ourselves and teach our children as well. We must pull in the reigns on our ideologies. Correct our vision. We must get on our faces before the Most Holy and pray for revelation:
Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.
When we receive revelation FROM GOD, we see clearly. The false perceptions we have fall off like scales from our eyes. Restraint becomes very important suddenly… Righteous living, or rather living within the standard that God has set, has enormous significance as a result. Therefore, our personal relationship with the Lord will intensify and deepen. One by one, we raise the societal standard of righteousness and holy living… OR one by one we each lower that standard.
Today, the Church has a choice.