Rebellion across the nation is on every headline of major newspapers across our land. The picture above took place in the state of Colorado in 2008. The image isn’t a new phenomena, it has been present the world all the time.
I have been reading 2 Thessalonians over the past several days when I ran across the apostle Paul’s words in Chapter 2. It grabbed my attention because of the current news on television and on the internet, so I decided to write this blog about That Hidden Principal of Rebellion in Society. The “lawlessness”, the “iniquity” being observed.
“For the mystery of lawlessness (that hidden principle of rebellion against constituted authority) is already at work in the world” (2 Thess. 2:7–Amplified Bible).
Paul wrote this letter to the church in Thessalonica, a seaport trade center from the city of Corinth in approximately 51 AD. Corinth had a slogan similar to Las Vegas: “What happens in Corinth, stays in Corinth“. So rebellion was rampant throughout the world during Paul’s time of ministry as it continues today.
I remember a sermon by my first pastor, right after I came to know the Lord. He walked up to a wooden stool placed on the platform and sat down with a newspaper. He began reading the headlines without saying a word, then shook his head and said, “Now that’s bad news”. He proceeded in turning the pages of the paper and saying, “More bad news”, until finally exclaiming out of exasperation, “There is nothing in this newspaper but bad news!” His sermon’s message that morning, if you haven’t guessed it already, was “The Good News (the “Gospel”) of God’s Word”.
BAD NEWS FIRST
No one can possible fail to see the lawlessness that prevails in our society today. From the highest levels of government to the lowliest slum-dwellers in our great cities in America. That is the reason why none of us dares to walk the city streets after dark. We see lawlessness, but do we understand? Jesus foretold this lawlessness of one the signs of His return; the end of the world:
“And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity, BUT he who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:12, 13–Amplified Bible).
These verses in Matthew are a part of Jesus’ answer to His disciples’ question in verse 3:
“While He was seated on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately and said, Tell us, when will this take place, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end (the completion, the consummation) of the age?”
His answer to that question is tied together with verse 11; the rising of false prophets deceiving many people. The number of the faithful people of God will become smaller and smaller in the end. One of the reasons for the decline will be the deception of many by false prophets and false teachers.
Another reason will be the abounding iniquity, causing the love of many to become cold. What does the word “iniquity” mean? The Greek word is, anomia; meaning “lawlessness” (literally, “without law”). Jesus told His disciples-and us, a sign of the end will be abounding lawlessness. The very thing that we are seeing today. Not just in our own country but also in all the world.
“LAWLESSNESS” IN THE DAYS OF NOAH
Jesus makes a comparison in Matthew 24:37: “As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” Genesis 6 describes the worlds condition before the Flood. In the days of Noah, “the wickedness of men was great upon the earth” (Genesis 6:5, 11, 12). The earth also was corrupt before God and was filled with violence.
The Gospel According to Luke gives another comparison of the world in the last days:
“So also [it was the same] as it was in the days of Lot. [People] ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; BUT on the [very] day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed [them] all. That is the way it will be on the day that the son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:28-30).
The Old Testament city of Sodom, God destroyed it with fire and brimstone. That comparison of Lukes’ is of special significance today. The world shamelessly practices the same sin. Sodom was notoriously recognized which gave its name; homosexuality and sodomy.
“LAWLESSNESS” ABOUNDS TO THE END
Scripture says, “Lawlessness is a life of disobedience to the law of God”. Disobedience of a special kind; the deliberate trampling upon God’s law.
A lawless man is not someone who is ignorant of the law; or someone who breaks the law, whose authority he even acknowledges. He holds the law of God in contempt; He “owns” no law, he does what he pleases; to “do his own thing”. The “lawless” man, or woman openly practices the very thing which the law of God forbids as normal, acceptable, right behavior!
“LAWLESSNESS” IN OUR GOVERNMENT
Such a time is NOW! Such a society is our society in a lawless time and a lawless society. The government itself, God’s servant is to rule bylaw. Not guilty of “lawlessness”. I’m not referring to the fact of politician’s occupancy in their offices for their own wealth, fame and their power. King Solomon says, “There is nothing new under the sun”. What I am speaking of is the fact that the state legalizes the murder of unborn children in its abortion-statutes. And at the same time prohibits by law the execution of murders. Those of whom God says, “Thou shall not kill”; the state murders. Those who God says, “Punish with death”, the state saves alive, then sets them free in some cases for more mayhem and lawlessness. The state is showing its radical lawlessness as it takes of its function in society as we know it.
The duty of government is to punish evil doers and protect and reward those who do well; maintaining order in the state. We now see the state abandoning its fundamental responsibility with ruinous consequences for the country; intruding into areas of life of its citizens with no business whatever.
“LAWLESSNESS” CHARACTERIZES THE BEHAVIOR OF THE PEOPLE
They despise authority:
–Children, that of their parents.
–Wives, that of their husbands.
–Employees, that of their employer.
–Citizens, that of their rulers. Not only do they disobey their superiors, they deny that they have any superiors to honor or obedience that are due.
THE EFFECT OF “LAWLESSNESS” IN THE CHURCH
Jesus had no abstract interest in the crime rate when He was here on earth. He wasn’t concerned about the ungodly world; what He said in Matthew 24:12 was, “because lawlessness still abounds, the love of many shall wax cold“. It’s only the people in the churches who profess to be God’s people in the world, that have LOVE; who can wax cold. The unbelieving world never had any love, except ‘love of self’.
The effect of abounding iniquity and the forsaking of the church by those who once professed allegiance to her and to her God; their LOVE waxes cold on account of “iniquity”.
Jesus gives us a radically different view of the state of affairs at the end of the age; which looks for the world to become better, the size of churches swelling through conversion of multitudes, even whole nations. The reality is, the world is ever the world going from bad to worse (more bad news); exhausting the resources of sin. The churches, according to many surveys say that the church is becoming smaller and smaller in attendance. Many are deceived by false doctrine, offended because of persecution and many will have their LOVE wax cold because of iniquity. I have members of my own family that fits into this scenario for whom I pray for reconciliation.
The LOVE that the text in Matthew 24 is referring to is ‘the LOVE of man for God’; ‘the LOVE for Jesus Christ’; ‘the LOVE for the gospel in the Scriptures’; ‘the LOVE for the church’. This love is “blown cold” by iniquity. Literally what Jesus said: “The love of many SHALL be blown cold by abounding iniquity”. He did not say that because people’s love becomes cold, there will be iniquity but that the iniquity cools off people’s love. I hope you can see the differences pointed out. In the last days, an icy wind blows through the churches, cooling the love of many; the icy wind is “lawlessness”.
Are you by now tired of hearing about the all the bad news? I am myself and in PART 2, will present the hope of the ages: The Good News; “Through It All!”