Recently, while I was reading Matthew 7:23, “And then I will declare to the, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” the Holy Spirit put His finger on the word LAWLESSNESS and I heard Him say: “Church, stop winking at LAWLESSNESS!”
In an hour when the immoral norm in our society is declining precipitously; when many want to legalize abortion up to nine months, when same sex marriage, transgenderism and sexual abuse have become mainstream in both political parties, and when violence against authorities is being legitimized, lawlessness has become the spirit of a nation.
At the same time, when pornography is ceded as a struggle that all Christian men must endure, incessant cursing and hostility is encouraged among the people of God, pride is admired, racial antipathy is cheered, and the abdication of the Sermon on the Mount is rationalized by pastors and leaders, lawlessness is gaining a deep foothold in the body of Christ.
Both our culture, and the Christian Church are boiling in the waters of increasing lawlessness – like the proverbial frog in the kettle. For the sake of both the Church and our nation, we urgently need to bring what we think we know, seek the Lord, and plumb line ourselves to His unbending, unpartisan definition of “LAWLESSNESS”.
Here are twelve of the most important things we can learn from the New Testament about “lawlessness”:
1. “Everyone who practices sin also practices LAWLESSNESS; indeed, sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 3:4) Straight forward. The only question to ask after this scripture is “Holy Spirit, show me where I am practicing LAWLESSNESS.”
2. LAWLESSNESS is also the willingness to live our lives devoid of the fruits of the Spirit… “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such THERE IS NO LAW.” (Galatians 5:22)
3. Jesus considers suspending the principles of the Sermon on the Mount as LAWLESSNESS. “Do not think that I came to destroy the LAW or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill the LAW. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the LAW till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these LAWS, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20)
4. The ways of LAWLESSNESS are deceptive, and are not easily perceived within a LAWLESS world. The Lord is the true arbiter of “LAWLESSNESS”. We only see our own LAWLESSNESS in the light of His illumination on our hearts.
“In the same way, on the outside you look righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and LAWLESSNESS.” (Matthew 23:28)
5. The way of LAWLESSNESS is potently present in our age.
“For the hidden power of LAWLESSNESS is already at work.” (2 Thessalonians 2:7)
6. We are to make no alliances with those who are filled with LAWLESSNESS and champion the way of LAWLESSNESS.
“Do not become partners with those who do not believe, for what partnership is there between righteousness and LAWLESSNESS, or what fellowship does light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)
7. The Lord calls us to be vigilant; to “watch and pray” that we not be deceived, and led astray into LAWLESS thinking and living.
“Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard that you do not get led astray by the error of these LAWLESS men and fall from your firm grasp on the truth.” (2 Peter 3:17)
8. If we do not arrest the creep of LAWLESSNESS in our own lives, and culture, we will live in the place of great deception, where, though we may be good active church members, our hearts are deluded by LAWLESSNESS and our intimacy with the Lord will grow cold, stale and dormant – with dire consequences.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice LAWLESSNESS!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
9. LAWLESSNESS is a power that will actually increase on the face of the earth. If we fail to guard ourselves from its increase, it will overtake our hearts and cause our hearts to grow cold to the Lord, and to others.
“Because LAWLESSNESS will increase so much, the love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12)
10. This increase in LAWLESSNESS will actually lead millions to embrace the man of LAWLESSNESS. Many cultures will acclimate to an “anti-Christ” spirit, long before the anti-Christ mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2 arrives on the scene. He will lead those who find him to be a champion for the attitudes that are already reigning in their own hearts.
“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12)
11. The LAWLESS ones will ultimately find themselves among those who rage against God’s purposes and the reign of His Son on the earth.
“Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break Their bonds (laws, and moral codes) in pieces and cast away Their cords (narrow-minded and repressive ways) from us.” (Psalm 2:1-3)
12. Both those who know they’re in LAWLESSNESS, AS WELL AS those who are blind to their own LAWLESSNESS will be judged, separated from the Kingdom, and cast into eternal punishment.
“The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom everything that causes sin as well as all LAWLESS ones, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth… He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matthew 13:41-43)
THE WORD OF GOD ALSO OFFERS US GREAT HOPE IN OUR LAWLESSNESS:
A. The Lord has come to us Himself, our Champion of righteousness; completely fulfilling the LAW; filled with perfect zeal to destroy the power of LAWLESSNESS in our world, and our own hearts.
“You have loved righteousness and hated LAWLESSNESS. So God, your God, has anointed You over your companions with the oil of rejoicing.” (Hebrews 1:9)
B. “He gave Himself for us to set us free from every kind of LAWLESSNESS and to purify for Himself a people who are truly His, who are eager to do good.” (Titus 2:14)
C. He knows how to rescue and protect those who are zealous to live with integrity in righteousness, though they be surrounded by the deceit and power of LAWLESSNESS.
“He rescued Lot, a righteous man in anguish over the debauched lifestyle of lawless men. For while he lived among them day after day, that righteous man was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard.” (2 Peter 2:7, 8)
D. If we come to Him in humility and repentance, He totally forgives us of all our LAWLESS deeds, and our LAWLESS WAYS. “Then he says, ‘Their sins and their LAWLESS deeds I will remember no longer.” (Hebrews 10:17)
E. He also has the capacity to release us from helplessly living under the destructive curse of LAWLESSNESS.
“Blessed are those whose LAWLESS deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” (Romans 4:7)
F. He bids us to present ourselves to Him so He may daily give us circumspect wisdom, so we can live free, holy and uncompromised from the ravaging spirit of LAWLESSNESS in our world.
“For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and LAWLESSNESS leading to more LAWLESSNESS, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.” (Romans 6:19)
Beloved, this is a sober hour for us to open our hearts to the Lord, Beloved, this is a sober hour for us to open our hearts to the Lord, “to see if there be any wicked way in us” (Psalm 139:24) so that He may deal the death blow to our hidden ways of LAWLESSNESS in our lives.
HOW THEN DO WE DEAL WITH THE WAYS OF LAWLESSNESS?
Once we’ve decided the Lord is calling us to address the lawlessness in our fellowships, and in our own hearts, how do we proceed?
1. Turn Aside – Make a diligent and intentional, protected space to pursue the Lord and what He’s saying to you about lawlessness. Set aside focused time each day, each week, for you and others to pray, inquire and listen for the Lord’s Word re: the lawless thinking and behaviors in your life.
2. Seek His Face – Be specific. Let the Holy Spirit make the issues specific and personal. One good way to start is by taking up Matthew chapters 5, 6 & 7 (the Sermon on the Mount) and ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you are transgressing the norm that Jesus sets forth in this message. His Word (every dash and punctuation mark) is the law of the Kingdom. Our cavalier, luke warm attitude toward anything that He addresses in this sermon is fertile ground for seeds of lawlessness. Where have we grown lax in pursuing the vibrant depth of these glorious qualities? Ask the Lord. Seek out His wisdom and divine insight about your own heart. (For a more complete treatment of this reality see our new book: “Seek My Face: A Guide to Praying Through the Judgments of the Lord” at AMAZON.
3. Repent – As you read, everywhere you feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit, begin to make an inventory of the issues. Write them down, and begin to confess them as sin, and rebellion against the good and loving ways of the King. Determine in your heart to turn yourself and your ways away from viewing these behaviors as acceptable. Ask the Holy Spirit to make you vigilant in your pursuit to rid yourself of these expressions of lawlessness.
4. Receive His Grace – Listen for the voice of the King as you express your desire to live under His righteous reign. The enemy loves to keep us in condemnation. This is not for you! If you’ve written down your sin – also write down the words of forgiveness that the Lord gives to you. This is His pardon to you for your rebellion. Realize that these words of clemency have come at the cost of His own life, and are written in His own blood! – Listen for the voice of the King as you express your desire to live under His righteous reign. The enemy loves to keep us in condemnation. This is not for you! If you’ve written down your sin – also write down the words of forgiveness that the Lord gives to you. This is His pardon to you for your rebellion. Realize that these words of clemency have come at the cost of His own life, and are written in His own blood! The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7) The transference of your loyalty is that serious to Him!
5. Cultivate Intimate Dialoguing Love with the Lord – Determine how, where and at what times you will meet with the Lord to pray and read His Word, and learn to hear His voice in your life. This is not a normal “ability” for humans. It’s something that must be practiced and learned. The more you hear His voice, the more you will understand His loving heart for you, and the many specifics of your life. This is called cultivating intimacy with the Lord. The more His voice become precious to you, the more you will want to do the things that are pleasing to Him, and the more you will find yourself no longer seeking the false comforts of lawlessness.
For more information about knowing and following the Lord, and strengthening your dialogue with Him, contact us at All Nations House of Prayer Southwest: firstname.lastname@example.org
God bless you, friend.