are we THERE YET? (Parts 1 and 2)

Scripture Study:  2 Thessalonians 2:1-8

– PART ONE –

The imminence of Christ’s return

Christ’s return has been written about almost exhaustively over the years, so I hesitated about my own investigation regarding this topic found in Paul’s letters to the church in Thessalonica.  The topic has been taken to a point where certain Scriptures are now just ignored and that’s sad.  It’s better to see imminence as a personal thing, which it is!

What is the truth?

From this point on, I’m assuming that Paul spoke the truth when he gave the fact of 2 Thessalonians 2.  And that Peter also spoke the truth when he told his people to look for Jesus, though many things were coming first.

Looking back at 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, we find many truths found nowhere else in the Bible.  It’s the KEY to understanding future events and central to the letter.

The church at Thessalonica found itself, much as we are at times, in a state of confusion over the return of Jesus.  So Paul here begins dealing with a doctrinal error concerning the return of Christ that had crept into the Thessalonian church.

The Day of the LORD!

Paul had instructed the Thessalonians concerning the Day of the Lord when he preached to them in person.  The Day of the Lord is the period of history mentioned repeatedly in the Old Testament in which God will bring JUDGMENT [and Millenial blessing] on the people of the earth in a more direct and really drastic way than ever before (Isa. 13:6, 9; Zeph. 1:14-16).  

With other New Testament revelation concerning this period of time, it’s believed that the Day of the Lord begins after the Rapture of the church, including the Tribulation and the Millenium.

In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he taught them that the day of the Lord would come as a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2).  Misinformation ran rampant regarding this event.  To some, it sounded like the day of the Lord had already come.  After all, the persecution they were experiencing seemed to be what the prophets of old had predicted with great calamities coming on the world in “that day”.  Apparently, the church members in Thessalonica even had received instruction from other teachers that the judgments they were going through were during the Day of the Lord, that is, the Great Tribulation.  But if this was true, how could Paul’s previous instructions, that they would be caught up (1 Thessalonians 4:17) and escape the wrath of God coming on the earth be true?

Paul wrote this section (2 Thessalonians 2:1-8) to clarify the matter:

So the church had not been excluded from the Rapture nor was it the Day of the Lord, for other events must occur before the great gathering of God’s people and the Great Tribulation.  Not only that, but believers will not go through the wrath of God (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

VERSE 1 is an urgent request for them to understand properly the events around the Coming of the Lord.

Paul ow dives into the subject of the return of Jesus on which he has just referred to in his letter (1:5-10).  The brethren are begged to correct the confusion on the return of their Lord and Savior.

There are two phrases in the verse relating to the Second Coming.  The first is “regard to the coming” (NASB); “concerning the coming” (NIV), and the second is “our being gathered to Him”, which refers to the Rapture.  Both phrases are generally interpreted as referring to the coming of Christ.  The parousia (Grk.), or coming, had been used in 1 Thessalonians 2:19 & 4:15; the gathering out of God’s people event.  The gathering together is a reminder of 1 Thessalonians 4:17,  with both those in Christ who have died and those still living, will be “caught up together” to meet the Lord, and will “always be with the Lord.”

Just a side-note here.  I want to point out that “parousia” also is used for Christ’s return after the Tribulation (Matthew 24:37-39).  We still look for and await this great assembly together in the sky!

The Day of the Lord (Vs. 2)

VERSE 2 addresses the alarms that twisted teaching had brought about the cause of their present tribulation.

They were “shaken”, “unsettled”. “alarmed”, “disturbed” by false teaching about being in the Great Tribulation.

They were told that the persecution they were enduring was because the Day of the Lord had arrived!  The “Day of the Lord” was well known from the Old Testament and probably with Paul’s teaching as well.  In the Old Testament, the expression “Day of the Lord” occurs 20 times; “last days” 14 times; and“in that day” 100 plus times.  It will be a time of God’s special intervention in the affairs of the world (Isa. 2:1-2, 9-12; 4:1-2, 12; Joel 2:4-11; 30-32).  God has appointed a DAY that Christ the Lord shall return and remove His holy people, and they will be gathered to Him.

WHAT A GLORIOUS DAY THAT WILL BE!

Following the Rapture, is the period that’s identified as. “THE GREAT TRIBULATION” (see Revelation 7:14)

“The Day of the Lord” refers to a period of unprecedented judgments poured out successively on the earth and done so for a period of seven years.  However, even during that terrible period, God will receive any who turn to Him in faith.  Tragically, most of mankind will curse the God of Heaven rather than turn to Him in faith (Revelation 16:8-21).

I can’t help from thinking that it’s not much different from the situation that’s prevalent today when people are too wrapped up in pursuing their own desires to think of God or their relationship to Him.  For most of mankind, “self” is the center of their lives.

Apparently, the theory that the Thessalonians had accepted. was the day of the Lord had come through three channels: “by spirit, report or letter,” indicating that the day of the Lord had already come.  Because of the sources, the Thessalonians were more inclined to accept it as authoritative truth.

The reference to “spirit” probably indicates that some of this teaching came in the form of prophecy, utterances in public worship, purporting to be given by the Holy Spirit.  In addition to prophecies, there had also been “words”.  That probably means by normal conversation and dialogue.

A third form of the false teaching came in some kind of a “letter”, claiming to have been from Paul, which he denies responsibility for any such “letter.”

“Say it isn’t so!”

The Thessalonian church, in their suffering, were convinced that the tribulation period was already in progress, even though the Lord hadn’t come to gather them to heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:17).  And how about the promises that they wouldn’t see God’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9)?

Paul had taught them, a pretribulational Rapture.  But their confusion arose because they couldn’t distinguish their present troubles from those of the day of the Lord.  And people were telling them of Paul’s apparent backing, that any such deliverance wasn’t going to happen.

So Paul needed to reassure them that they had understood him correctly in his first Epistle.  To accomplish this, Paul proceeds to describe features, obviously not yet present, that will characterize that day’s early stages.

THE APOSTASY OF THE CHURCH;  [V. 3a] Amplified Bible

“Let no one deceive or beguile you in any way, for THAT DAY will not come except the apostasy comes first [unless the predicted great falling away of those who have professed to be Christians has come]”

The antidote to poisonous heresy is a good strong dose of the TRUTH!

So Paul proceeds by referring to three events which must take place BEFORE the judgments of the Day of the Lord took place,

The APOSTASY that Paul is speaking, means a “departure”, and religious apostasy means a departure from God’s TRUTH as revealed in His Word, the Bible.  Paul’s not talking about just any departure, or falling away from the faith, but about a special, particular, and widespread one.  “Apostasy,” doesn’t mean merely disbelieving but rather an aggressive and angry revolt (Hebrews 2:12).  It’s this apostasy that will come before the Day of the Lord.

This APOSTASY is not talking about just a few scattered people, but millions betraying the Scriptures, a dream of liberal churchmen for the establishment of a truly ecumenical church.  That church will be a moral church, teaching doctrine formulated to appease society’s expectations, telling mankind what he wants to hear.  This church will unite all religions under one roof, permitting worship of the Antichrist to be rapidly instituted.  This church is the scarlet whore foretold by John (Rev. 17:1-18).

But the Day of the Lord will not come until this great religious apostasy sweeps the earth!

Can you see it happening today?  Church members said they’ve been saved by the Grace of God BUT…don’t act like they love the Lord.  They have a form of godliness but deny by their action to love God’s people and the sharing of the Gospel of Salvation.  They won’t care for the things that God cares about (Mat. 24:10-11).  If they are not of the Apostasy, they certainly facilitate it!

  • PART TWO –  are we THERE YET?

THE LAWLESS ONE, (Vv. 3b-5)

Another event that must take place before the judgments occur is the revelation of “the man of lawlessness.”

This event will begin the awful DAY OF JUDGMENTS.

His revealing not only includes who he is but also being revealed for what he is, the MAN OF SIN.

He will be fully associated with and characterized by “lawlessness” (Grk., anomias, or “sin,” as some mss. have it).  This person is thus characterized as being opposed to God’s law.  He’s also described as the man doomed to destruction (“the son of perdition,” KJV).  The same spirit that filled Judas Iscariot (John 17:12), making him the son of perdition, also makes Antichrist the “son of perdition.”

Elsewhere in the Bible he’s called the “little horn” (Dan. 7:8); the “prince that shall come” (Dan. 9:27); the “willful king” (Dan. 11:36); the “antichrist who will come” (1 Jn. 2:18).  This man is also called the “beast coming out of the sea” (Rev. 13:1-10).

He is the Antichrist, a pseudo-Christ, hostile to the Savior.

He will be a real human being, not a principle or system or a succession of individuals.  Such a person hasn’t been spotlighted on the scene as of yet.  This person is the ultimate personification of Satan, the culmination of all that is opposed to God.

I don’t believe there’s a need to speculate about who this individual might be, we’re not told, nor is it important that we should know who he is.  He will be revealed at the appropriate time, but his identity will be revealed only after the people of God have been taken out of this world.  This man will be Satan’s showpiece who will usher in the Great Tribulation by his presence.  He will not be revealed until the faithful of the present age are taken into the presence of our Lord at the Rapture.  Jesus is our Savior!

Jesus did say quite plainly in Mark 13:32-33,

2 Thessalonians 2:4 gives us a fuller characterization of this evil person who sets himself up as God.

Revelation 13:5-8 certainly adds to. the picture that the “beast” will tolerate the worship of no one but himself.

So after the “departure” or falling away of the saints in verse 3, Antichrist will demand to be worshipped as God at the temple in Jerusalem.  Is this a literal temple, or is this a metaphor, meaning that he usurps God’s authority?  Both are possible.  The Jewish people are certainly preparing to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.  [seeUpdate on the Building of the Third Temple” at Jewish Voice Ministries – https://www.jewishvoice.org update-building-third-temple]

“Wait a minute,” you’re thinking.  “How can THE TEMPLE BE REBUILT if the Mosque of Omar, the Dome of the Rock, the third most holy site of Islam sits on the very spot where the temple is to be built?”  The Antichrist will say, “Let me solve this sticky issue, the Palestinian problem, the question of Jerusalem.  Jews, you build your temple on the true site of the Temple.  We’ll build a wall to separate it from the Muslim Dome of the Rock Mosque.”  Ezekiel prophesied this very thing (Ezk. 42:20).  In this way, Antichrist will seem to have solved the problem that has troubled and divided Jerusalem for centuries.

Then, in the midst of his popularity, Antichrist will walk into the Temple and demand to be worshipped, “proclaiming that he himself is God” [Ezk. 28:2; Dan. 11:36, 37.].

Paul says to the Thessalonians, “Don’t be quickly unsettled or disturbed or kept excited or alarmed…you are not in the Tribulation.  This is not the Day of the Lord you’re in.  You didn’t miss the Rapture because the man of lawlessness–the “son of perdition”–Antichrist–has not come.”

Though the Lord will come “like a thief in the night”–unexpectantly (1 Thess. 5:1-11), Jesus will not come until certain events take place.  It requires no imagination to suggest that events around us are rushing toward the great finale.  It’s entirely possible that Antichrist has already been born; all that waits for the knowledge of this individual is the Rapture of God’s people and then he will be revealed.  At that time, those awful events that culminate and God’s Word to the earth will be set in motion.  We who are Christians are called to live with confidence in this present age, knowing that we are destined for SALVATION and not wrath.  We are responsible for labor at the task of declaring Christ’s LOVE and warning to all who will receive our word to flee from the coming wrath.

Before you finish reading this Bible study in the form of a blog, it’s possible that Christ the Lord will return!  Whether Jesus comes or whether He delays, we are nevertheless called to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19, 20).

“We must work the work of Him who sent us while it is day.”

We live in the knowledge that time is short; whatever work will be done must be done now, while it’s day.

The Jesus supplemented His explanatory word to encourage us in John 9:4.

Jesus’ words lend to urgency and the need to be busy about His work [“Perhaps Today”, by Michael Stark. Sermon Central.com].

Paul emphasizes that he personally had taught them these prophetic truths in VERSE 5:  “Do you remember”

This teaching was nothing new to the Thessalonians.  Paul had taught them about the Day of the Lord when he was with them in Thessalonia.  He called on them now to recall these previously taught lessons.  Paul didn’t regard prophetic truth as too deep or unimportant or controversial to new Christians.  He believed it was a vital part of the whole counsel of God, so he taught it without hesitation or apology.

WHO IS THE RESTRAINER?  (Vs. 6-7)

Satan has been allowed enormous influence and power, capturing the souls of billions.  Though held back from the full vent of his evil, the power, and energy of wickedness continues to work and build toward the day of the Antichrist’s revealing.  Then and now, the work or energy directed, and this restraining will continue until the time appointed reveals the Man of Sin.  Satan’s desire to take control of the world by the Antichrist will then be allowed.

So then, who is RESTRAINING the satanically empowered movement against God’s law, postponing the revelation of the Man of Sin?

I think the most logical approach to answer that question would be to determine who could possibly hold such power to restrain the powers of Satan.  No mere man could.  So the “one” must also be superhuman.  This places God at the forefront.  Yet, God doesn’t abandon the world when the Antichrist enters the picture.

So the most reasonable explanation as to who holds back the powers of evil is the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is the only Person with enough (supernatural) power to do this “restraining.”

The Greek word, Katechon (“that which withholds”) is used in 2 Thessalonians 2:6 and is gender-neutral; (“what is holding back”), and so object to the idea of this being the Holy Spirit.  But I found that this isn’t a problem for several reasons:  The “neuter” is sometimes used of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-14).  In 2 Thessalonians 2:7, the words are masculine; ho Katechon, the ONE who holds back.

How Does He Do It?

How does the Spirit hold back the supernatural working of evil in the world?

A ministry of the Holy Spirit is to “convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8).  The Holy Spirit works on His own, but the Spirit also indwells the born-again spirit of every true believer.  Through Christians whom He indwells and through whom He works in society, He also is holding back, restraining, the swelling tide of lawlessness throughout the land.  Thus, the true Church and those individuals in it, are also a restraining force of God in the world.

Now when the time for the Antichrist comes, the Holy Spirit will depart.  “He” will be taken out of the way.

This “taking out of the way” (v, 7) of the Restrainer seems to refer to the Rapture of the Church when Jesus comes to gather us, to snatch us up to be with Him.  When the Church leaves the earth as the Bride of Christ in the Rapture, the Holy Spirit will be taken out of the way in the sense that His unique restraining of lawlessness ministry through God’s people will be removed (Gen. 6:3).  When the Church is raptured out of the way, God’s restraint of evil through His Spirit will no longer hold back the forces of darkness.

So the Thessalonians were not in the Great Tribulation because the Rapture hadn’t yet occurred.  The removal of the Restrainer at the time of the Rapture precedes the Day of the Lord.  Paul’s reasoning is thus a strong case for the pretribulational Rapture.

Being Prepared Is A Good Thing

We also should be daily looking for Christ’s return.  Our attention to spiritual matters can be diverted by many things in this world.  However, the Bible tells us to be PREPARED at every moment, for any day may be the Day Jesus comes for His bride, the Church.  Far too many who are called “Christians,” are content to be religious rather than godly.

Keep the words of the Apostle Paul in mind each day in preparation:

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CREDITS:

The Interlinear Bible Of Greek And Hebrew Words.

Dictionary:  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old And New Testament Words.

Photo/Images:  Google Image Search.

Commentary:  Bob Faulkner, Caught Up, But When?, May 20, 2015 – SermonCentral.com; Dr. William D. Poovey, 7 Proofs of the Rapture Before the Tribulation,  April 17, 2015.

Bible Translations used in the text:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); New King James Bible (NKJV); The Interlinear Bible.

 

THE QUESTIONS about WORLDLY ASSOCIATIONS

SCRIPTURE STUDY:  2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Although 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 are often applied to various sorts of alliances (e.g., mixed marriages, improper business associations), Paul’s primary ASSOCIATION was probably churchly. 

The CONTEXT of these verses was the leaning tendency of the church at Corinth to listen to and accept the teachings of FALSE TEACHERS and those masquerading in the gatherings of the saints as APOSTLES of Christ.  These false teachers and apostles continually competed for the affections and allegiance of the Corinthian believers, criticizing and lying about Paul in the process.

Paul alludes to this in 1 Corinthians 4:5, where he said,

“So don’t get ahead of the Master and jump to conclusions with your judgments before all the evidence is in.  When he comes, he will bring out in the open and place in evidence all kinds of things we never even dreamed of–inner motives and purposes and prayers.  Only then will any one of us get to hear the “Well done!” of God”  [The MESSAGE Bible].

In 2 Corinthians 6:3-13, Paul defends his ministry.

Showing that he had sacrificed his personal comforts in order to minister to the Corinthian church, Paul points to something obviously missing from the ministry of the false teachers and false apostles.  The false teachers and apostles were merely after a following, ‘fill them church pews on Sunday mornings’, and undue respect and position.

In 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, Paul urges the saints in Corinth to make a judgment, be discriminating concerning the teachers they heard, for some of these people were not real followers of Jesus.

However, Paul also wanted to drive home the point that they shouldn’t try to live with one foot in the world, and one foot in the teachings of Christ.

What they truly believed would affect how they behaved. 

They couldn’t live for Christ while spiritually straddling the fence.

That Brings Us to THE QUESTIONS –

QUESTION #1.  “How can there be Any PARTNERSHIP with the World?”

2 Corinthians 6:14b. c. (NKJV)

“For what FELLOWSHIP has righteousness with lawlessness? And what COMMUNION has light with darkness?”

It might be worth taking some NOTES here:

  1. The word “fellowship” means, “in partnership, participation.  What is there in common, or how can the one partake with the other?”
  2. The word “unrighteousness” [“wickedness”] refers to “lawlessness”. 
  3. The word “communion” is interesting, in that it “…involves close relationship (Arndt), as in marriage or as in the spiritual relationship with God (c.f. 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Cor. 1:9; 1 John 1:3, 6).

Paul is simply saying here that the child of God cannot be close to God while at the same time living in the ways of the world.

The “Stockholm Syndrome” –

John Suk, author, and church minister writes, “Soldiers of the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst on February 4, 1974.  In return for her release, Patty’s kidnappers demanded that her father, Randolph Hearst, give millions of dollars to the poor.  On April 15, 1974, the FBI identified Patty in a videotape of a bank holdup in San Francisco.  On September 18 of that year, Patty was captured.  She served nearly three years in prison for her crime.  It was said that “Patty Hearst suffered from the Stockholm syndrome.  This condition affects some hostages who are so traumatized by their captivity that they IDENTIFY to their captors.”  The syndrome gets its name from a 1973 bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden, where one hostage fell in love with her captor.  People who then fall prey to the Stockholm syndrome, in essence, sleep with the enemy.”

Many Christians suffer from a “spiritual” kind of Stockholm syndrome.  We find ourselves sleeping with our enemy–the World.

WORLDLINESS is more than a fixation on card playing, dancing, drinking at the local pub after church on Sundays.  True Worldliness is being caught in a sticky web of comments to self.

QUESTION #2.  “How can there be Any PEACE with the World?”

2 Corinthians 6:14-15

The word “Belial” in verse 15 is a synonym for Satan.

Paul stresses the lack of harmony between the children of God and the children of the world with the use of the words, “in common”.  The Greek translation suggests a deep sharing of things–“in common…”  (c.f. its used in Lk. 10:42; Acts 8:21; Col. 1:12)  [Footnote [i].]

QUESTION #3.  “Can there be any PARTICIPATION with the World?

2 Corinthians 6:16 (AMP)

“What agreement [can there be between] a temple of God and idols?  For we are the temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in and with and among them and will walk in and with and among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

The word “AGREEMENT” carries the idea of “…a sympathetic union of mind and a will in a plan mutually agreed to”  [Dictionary.com].

The same idea can be found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

Amos 3:3 (NIV)

[3]  Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?

THE QUENCHING OF WORLDLY ASSOCIATIONS –

Matthew 5:29-3o (NIV)

[29] “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”

[30]  “And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one part of your body than your whole body to go into hell.”

Terminate SIN, don’t toy with it! (2 Cor. 6:17; Eph. 5:11).

Just a NOTE here concerning the TEMPTATION to ignore SIN.  Charles Spurgeon once said:

“What settings are you in when you fall?  Avoid them.  What props do you have that support your sin?  Eliminate them.  What people are you usually with?  Avoid them.”

There are TWO equally damaging LIES that Satan wants us to believe: 

  1. Just once won’t hurt.
  2. Now that you have ruined your life, you’re beyond God’s use and you might as well enjoy the ride (sinning)!

Learn to say no, asking the Holy Spirit to help you.

THE QUEST TO CONQUER WORLDLY ASSOCIATIONS –

LIVING IN THE SPIRIT IS A MUST!!!

1 Corinthians 6:19 

“Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you.  Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God?  You are not on your own”  (AMP).

2 Corinthians 6:16b

“I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people”  (NIV).

Ephesians 5:18b  “…be filled with the Spirit.”

Galatians 5:16

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh”  (NIV).

“LIVING IN THE SPIRIT” doesn’t mean that a prayer thrown out to God after discovering we’ve sinned is being in the Spirit.  It’s a moment by moment experience in our living with complete surrender to God’s Spirit.

My QUEST:  May not a single moment go by in my life that is spent outside the light, love, and joy of God’s presence and not a moment without the entire surrender of my self as a vessel for Him to fill with His Spirit and His Love!

We Must Shine as Lights in the World.

A Christian brother and fellow blogger, Joe Rodriguez, both of us are equally yoked with the burden of shinning the Light of God’s Word.  Joe uses a constant theme in his writings of different Lighthouses found around the world.  I particularly enjoyed reading “A Light Among The Light”, Posted on May 1, 2018 [http://lighthousedevotions.blog/]

JESUS’ sermon on the mount message to the people in Matthew 5:14:  “You are the LIGHT of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”

THE EMPHASIS OF THE LIGHT –

The apostle Paul emphasizes the same LIGHT in his letter to the church at Ephesus.

Ephesians 5:8

“For once you were in darkness, but now you are LIGHT in the Lord; walk as children of LIGHT [lead the lives of those native-born to the Light]”  (AMP).

So, does our WALK backup our TALK?

Here’s where CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT comes in to play.

What is CHARACTER?  

Our Character is best described as “the sum of moral qualities associated with a person and suggests ethical strength and excellence.  It is about doing what is right, regardless of what is convenient or popular.” [Charizma Magazine].

The character of a person is comprised of the core principles and values of who we really are, both inwardly and outwardly, in your behavior and relationships.  That’s not just in Christian assemblies, but wherever you spend your time during the day (e.g. work, social gatherings, grocery stores…).

CHARACTER QUALITIES:

  • Faithfulness,
  • Honesty,
  • Integrity,
  • Trustworthiness,
  • Loyalty,
  • Honor,
  • Dependability,

Even good old-fashioned manners are basic to good character.

But because so few Christians exhibit these traits, there has become a huge credibility gap in society and church today.

Many of our unbelieving associations in observing our everyday CHARACTER consider us a bunch of hypocrites.  We want to win the lost for the LORD…”A LIGHT ON THE HILL” but they won’t listen to us, because they only see the glaring inconsistency between our MESSAGE and our lifestyle.

QUESTION #4 – “Does your Christian TALK square with your Christian WALK?”

Is your HONESTY, your CHARACTER above question?

WE MUST BE LOVERS OF ONE ANOTHER!

John 13:35 (AMP)

“By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples if you love one another” [if you keep on showing love among yourselves].

1 Peter 1:22b. (NIV)

“…love one another deeply, from the heart.”

1 John 4:7 (NIV)

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”

Paul taught that the corrupt ways of the WORLD are totally incompatible with the LIFE that’s in Christ Jesus.

The Apostle has asked the church some searching questions to point out the absurdity of Christians trying to straddle the spiritual fence in their daily lives. 

WHERE DO YOU STAND?

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote:  [i] – John Gill’s Commentary of the Bible

Dictionary:  Dictionary.com – used for this blog.

IMAGES:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); other translations used are noted.

 

 

 

A “Lackawanna” Lifestyle – [Part Two]

Study Verses: 1 John 3:1-9

WHAT “LAWLESSNESS” ISN’T:

I left off in PART ONE– A “Lackawanna” Lifestyle– on Lawlessness; what it is and what it isn’t.  Lawlessness, pure and simply stated is… “open rebellion against God; having no regard of what GOD thinks or says”:

Those who sin are opposed to the law of God, for all sin opposes the law of God ~ 1 John 3:4.

The Amplified Bible says it this way:

Everyone who commits (practices) sin is guilty of lawlessness; for [that is what] sin is, lawlessness (the breaking, violating of God’s law by transgression or neglect–being unrestrained and unregulated by His commandments and His will).

If we’re really saved, we won’t do that–“practice sin”.  We may disobey GOD once in a while, but a true believer won’t practice sin.

“Steel Guitar Blues”

I can remember when I was about 12 years old, I begged my parents for an Electric Steel Guitar.  Not just a ‘plain old guitar’ but a “Steel Guitar”.  So, they decided to grant my request with the following conditions: “We will get you a “used” one first.  Then, after lessons and ‘practicing diligently’, maybe, just maybe we will get you a newer one with a guitar stand.”

7955856818_f2877ed5fd
My First Guitar

My first guitar laid across my lap!  Bummer!!  What will my buddies think?  They won’t think I am playing the ‘genuine’ instrument–without a stand?

If you want to get really good at doing something, you need to practice.  I never liked to “practice”, so the lessons stopped and so did my guitar playing.

If you keep on practicing sin–lawlessness–you will become really good at it.  Do you have an instrument used for sin; laying there on your lap, or if you are really good at it…on a display-stand so everyone can see it?  Do we know someone who says they’re Christian, but keeps on practicing open sin?  John says they aren’t saved!  A true believer can’t do that.

Why not?

John’s 2-part Answer:  1st, we don’t have to sin.

You know that He [GOD] appeared in visible form and became Man to take away [upon Himself] sins, and in Him [JESUS] there is no sin.      (verse 5).

JESUS died on the cross to take away our sins.  And, because He had no sin, He could pay sin’s penalty.  Our sin is gone!

JESUS also took away the power of sin over us.  It may be alive in us, but we’re dead to its power over us:  “No one who abides (LIVES) in Him keeps on sinning.”  (verse 6 (a)).

We don’t have to practice sin anymore.  Why won’t a true believer keep on sinning?  Here comes a terrific Theological Answer to the question:  FIRST, John says… you don’t have to.

There’s a 2nd part of John’s answer–

“No one who [habitually] sins has either seen or known Him [recognized, perceived, or understood Him, or has had an experiential acquaintance  with Him]”  (1 John 3:6 (b)).

A TEENAGER’S DILEMMA:

A group of teenagers were enjoying a party [we’ve probably all been there and could tell some stories!].  Someone in the crowd suggested they all go to a certain “restaurant” and have a really good time!

“I’d rather you took me home”, the girl said to her date.  “My parents don’t approve of that place.”

“Afraid your father will hurt you?”  One of the girls asked sarcastically.

“No, I’m not afraid my father will hurt me.  But I am afraid I might hurt him!”

She understood:  A true child of God knows Father God–

—  They see and know His love.

—  They love God and in loving Him, they don’t want to sin against His love.

Now we have John’s 2-part reason why true believers can’t keep on sinning:

—  1st, they don’t have to.

—  2nd, true believers won’t want to.

When it comes down to practicing righteousness, God’s love HEALED their “Lackawanna”.

GRACE SOMETIMES CAN BE MISTAKEN – (verse 7 (a)):

“Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray”

Some in John’s community were arguing over what God’s GRACE meant–it didn’t matter that they kept on sinning.  John is warning us– That isn’t true!  Choosing to do what’s righteous matters!

HOW? – (verse 7 (b).):

“He who does what is right is righteous, just as Christ is righteous”

Has there been a CHANGE in our lifestyle since we were SAVED?  Or, are we still practicing sin?

John is saying we were we were never SAVED if there is no change!  And even more, we’re supposed to be changing for the better– forever.  The apostle reminds us in the Book of Romans,

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, be be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will”  (Romans 12:2 NIV).

That “renewing” Paul is talking about, isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime event.  It is ongoing–everyday of your life happening.  I think that it is the second most important decision you will ever have to make in life; next to your decision of accepting JESUS as Lord and Savior.

We ought to be making PROGRESS…

WHY?  (verse 8):

“[But] he who commits sin [who practices evildoing] is of the devil [takes his character from the evil one], for the devil has sinned (violated divine law) from the beginning.  The reason the Son of God was made manifest (visible) was to undo (destroy, loosen, and dissolve) the works the devil [has done].”

SATAN (the devil) holds the lost in his power-grip.  A Christian is held by Christ’s POWER.  When a lost person is found–becomes a born-again Christian–Satan’s power is broken.  They don’t have to practice sin any more–and they don’t want to!

JESUS Sets Us Free!

JESUS promised,

[34] “I assure you, most solemnly I tell you,  Whoever commits and practices sin is the slave of sin.  [36] So if the Son liberates you [makes you free men], then you are really and unquestionably free”  (The Gospel of John 8:34, 36 AMP).

If JESUS sets us free from the slavery of practicing sin, we won’t practice sin anymore–no lessons, no instruments available for sinning when we don’t practice.

Just the opposite, we’ll be working hard at becoming more Christ-like.  We’ll love Him too much not to!

GOD PLANTS THE SEED OF JESUS:

“No one born (begotten) of God [deliberately, knowingly and habitually] practices sin, for God’s nature abides in him  [His principle of life, the divine sperm (seed), remains permanently within him]; and he cannot practice sinning because he is born of God”  (verse 9).

In every christian, the SEED is planted.  It’s done at our REBIRTH.  His seed (His holy nature) can’t sin.  And, at our rebirth, we receive a new nature–Christ’s.

His nature can‘t sin because…He can’t.  Whenever we do sin, it’s our old nature sinning.  When we die, our old sinful nature (attached to our sinful physical body) will die too.  It was predestined long ago.

In Christ JESUS, it was put to death at Calvary.  But it’s taking a long time to die.  When JESUS takes us home, all that will be left is our new nature.  The lost (the unsaved) have only the old nature that has never been put to death.  So it still lives to rule and reign in their hearts.  It will have to be JUDGED–THEIR UNRIGHTEOUS SEED IS ALL THEY HAVE.

A Good Tree and its Fruit–

Our study has been focused on 1 John 3:1-9, but I couldn’t stop at verse 9, I had to include verse 10:

“By this it is made clear who take their nature from God and are His children…”

Can there be any doubt on how we live our lives becoming a SALVATION issue?  John isn’t saying it’s our deeds that save us.  BUT, he is saying clearly what JESUS said in Matthew 7:17 and Matthew 12:33:

“Either make the tree sound (healthy and good), and its fruit sound (healthy and good), or make the tree rotten (diseased and bad), and its fruit rotten (diseased and bad); for the tree is… know and recognized and judged by its fruit”  (Matthew 12:33 AMP).

Every Good Tree Bears Good FruitA “good tree” (from the “good seed”) produces good fruit–and a bad tree–bad fruit.  The FRUIT always reveals what kind of tree it is.

When GOD plants His Divine “seed” in us, it produces a desire, even sometimes a passion to SERVE–Obey and Live for Christ.  If we don’t have this desire, we don’t have His “seed” in us.

WHEN JESUS SAVED US…

GOD planted a new seed in us–and it will bring forth fruit–our good works.  And as we mature in Christ, the fruit matures in its appearance; the more evidence there’ll be in our life that we’re SAVED!

According to John, like that expression I heard in the late 1970’s,  “If we were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict us?”

GOD GETS THE GLORY!

It comes down to the bottom line on the ‘fruit bearing’ in our lives.  Are we doing so because of the accolades we will receive from others to our self-glory…or the roses we receive laid at the feet of JESUS?

[39] “And some of the Pharisees from the throng said to Jesus,  Teacher, reprove Your disciples!  [40] He replied, I tell you that if these keep silent, the very stones will cry out”  (Luke 19:39-40).

“So then, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you may do, do all for the honor and glory of God”  (1 Corinthians 10:31).

1 John 3:1-9
1 John 3:1-9

A “Lackawanna” Lifestyle – [Part One]

First John 3:1-9:1johnwordcloud

See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children, and we really are!  But the people who belong to this world don’t know God, so they don’t understand that we are his children.  Yes, dear friends, we are already God’s children, and we can’t imagine what we will be like when Christ returns.  But we do know that when he comes we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.  And all who believe this will keep themselves pure, just as Christ is pure.  Those who sin are opposed to the law of God, for all sin opposes the law of God.  And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, for there is no sin in him.  So if we continue to live in him, we won’t sin either.  But those who keep on sinning have never known him or understood who he is.  Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it is because they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous.  But when people keep on sinning, it show they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning.  But the Son of God came to destroy these works of the Devil.  Those who have been born into God’s family do not sin, because God’s life is in them.  So they can’t keep on sinning, because they have been born of God.

“CHILDREN OF GOD” —

In 1997, the editorial page of a newspaper had a CARTOON tacked on to the column:

In the 1st Frame, a man said,  “I’m tired. I’ll take a pill.”

In the next frame, he said,  “I’m stressed. I’ll take a pill.”

In the 3rd frame, he said,  “I’m depressed. I’ll take a pill.”

And in the next-to last frame,  “I’m overweight. I’ll take a pill.”

In the last frame, he says,  “I’m unethical–is there a pill for that?”

Yes! There is!  The GOS–pill .

The GOSPEL is…the Good News!!

When it comes to obeying God’s law, are we troubled by our “Lackawanna”?  In JESUS Christ, God does more than tell us, “Don’t do that!”  In Christ, God transforms us–fixes that Lackawanna.  That is the Good News!

1.  What is our Motivation?

JESUS IS COMING BACK.  And when He does, we well know, we have to give an account of our lives.  That should motivate us to live today more Godly lives.

1 John 2:28:

Who Are God's Kids?
Who Are God’s Kids?

And now little children, abide (live, remain permanently) in Him, so that when He is made visible, we may have and enjoy perfect confidence (boldness, assurance) and not be ashamed and shrink from Him at His coming (Amplified Bible).

2.  What kind of a Christian life do we live?

Not everyone in “the church” will be happy to see JESUS’ return.  Those who continue or abide in Him will.  They walk in fellowship with Christ.

I don’t know about you, but personally, that fellowship may be strained at times; I become more ‘self-centered’ and less GOD-centered and the fellowship goes out the window.  Even so, I know and recognize ,there is still rest in Christ and His grace.

If we want to– (versus “Lackawanna”), to stand confident and unashamed when JESUS returns, we better stay in close fellowship with Him right now!  In Him, nothing can shame us.

3.  Image is everything–

One day, all of our works will be judged.  ALL our works–everything we’ve done.  And a question to ask ourselves in our busy and hectic lives,  “How closely have I reflected Christ’s image?”  Just keeping it real and personal.

OUR ONLY HOPE:

Our only hope of righteousness comes by continuing in Christ.  As Jesus puts it in John 15:5, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.”

Lucille Ball’s Problem–

When I was growing up, my family would never miss The Lucille Ball Show on our small screen television.  Her misadventures had us all rolling on the floor laughing.

On the day Christ judges our works, if we haven’t abided in Christ, we’ll have Lucille Ball’s problem.  When she got in trouble, Desi Arnaz would tell her,  “Luci, you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do.”

This raises some important questions.  How can we know that we’re continuing (“abiding”) in Christ?  How can we know if we’re saved?  John answers the question:

If you know that He is righteous, you may also know that everyone who does righteously is born of Him  (verse 29).

Christ is righteous!  He never sinned.  He lived a perfect, holy, righteous life.

Only JESUS has ever done that.  How then can we know if we’re SAVED?

Do we look like Him?

Do we do right?

Do we practice righteousness?

By practicing righteousness, we show we really are born of God.  GOD IS RIGHTEOUS.  Everyone born of God increasingly shows His righteousness.

4.  A true Christian pursues, seeks…Christ-likeness.

We try hard to be more like JESUS in our daily living.  And as we are ‘trying’… abiding in Christ, He gives us the POWER to do it!  That’s sanctification–it becomes a life-long process.  In this life of ours, we’ll never get sinless completely.  But we should increasingly “sin less”.

All Christians are in God’s family.  We are related to Christ by blood–His.  As in all families, there should be a trait–a family resemblance. 

Over my, ‘going on 50 years’ of marriage, my wife has said  “Honey, you and your brother and dad’s voice sound exactly alike over the phone”, or “That habit of yours is exactly like your dads.”  Could the reason just be, my brother and I came from the same seed?

John is saying, if we are truly born of Him, we will bear a family resemblance to JESUS; we will practice righteousness.  We’ll still stumble and fall flat on our faces spiritually, but we’ll keep practicing righteousness.  Otherwise, we aren’t true children of God.  If more and more we do right as God does, we show our inherited family likeness.  We show we’re His kids!  His voice (His Word), His habits…His good works.

5.  How Great Is The LOVE…(verse 1)

Literally, John says “See what kind of love the father has lavished on us”.

The Message Bible reads,  “Just look at it–we’re called children of God!  That’s who we really are.  But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously because it has no idea who He is or what He’s up to.”

The world failed to recognize JESUS.  Those living in the world live in darkness and they won’t venture into the light–they hate it!

The more we practice righteousness, the less the world will understand us and we’ll be more like JESUS.  We should fear the world’s approval, not want it!  To be hated by the world isn’t fun.  But it should reassure Christians that God LOVES us, and that’s more important than the world’s hatred.

6.  At times, we might look more like the world than we should–

We might not be as conformed to Christ’s image as we should.  But there is a time coming, when we will perfectly display Christ’s image.

John continues by saying,  “But friends, that’s exactly who we are:  children of God.  And that’s only the beginning…Who knows how we’ll end up!”  (verse 2 (a) -The Message Bible).

WHEN?  When JESUS comes to take us home with Him!

A Great Sculptor’s IMAGE–

Michelangelo's David
Michelangelo’s David

A Great Sculptor sees in stone the image that he wants.  When Michelangelo created the sculpture of David, he chiseled away everything that wasn’t David.

Likewise, God puts JESUS’ image in us–His Spirit lives in us.  And now, God wants to chisel away everything that isn’t Christ.  He is still working on us.  That’s the evidence that we are His true children.

“For we are God’s [own] handiwork  (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus [born anew]…”  (Ephesians 2:10 AMP).

7.  We aren’t finished yet!

When JESUS returns, God will complete whatever is lacking in our conformity to Christ’s likeness.  That’s what Paul was saying:

“He who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return, developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you”  (Philippians 1:6 AMP).

“But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is”  (1 John 3:2 (b)).

8.  How Will We Be Like Him?

—  We’ll be like Him physically:

Our bodies will be changed and we will be made like His glorified resurrected body (John 20:14, 19, 26-29; John 21:1-25).  Some Bible Teachers say, JESUS’ age when resurrected bodily from the earth was 33 years.  So…just possibly, our age in the glorified new body will be 33 years of age.   That’s why the apostle Paul tells us,

“But we are citizens of the state (commonwealth, homeland) which is in heaven, and from it also we earnestly and patiently await [the coming of] the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [as] Savior.    Who will transform and fashion anew the body of our humiliation to conform to and be like the body of His glory and majesty by exerting that power which enables Him even to subject everything to Himself”  (Philippians 3:20-21 Amplified Bible).

—  And we’ll be like Him spiritually:

We will be made perfectly holy!  Our sin nature will be eliminated.  We’ll be able to do all that is righteous and pure.  That’s all we’ll want to do.  And we won’t be tempted any longer.

9.  We will have JESUS’ NATURE:

We, too, will be pure and holy.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to see JESUS or enter Heaven’s glory!

Having the Wonderful Hope in Our Lives–

“And everyone who has this hope [resting] on Him cleanses (purifies) himself just as He is pure  (chaste, undefiled, guiltless)”  (verse 3).

Having the wonderful HOPE that John is speaking to us about, should, change our behavior.  We will be completely righteous like Christ in the future.  THAT should, make us want to be more Christ-like now!  That “wonderful hope” prevents us from venturing into a Lackawanna” lifestyle.

Do we really believe …JESUS is coming back for us?

If so, we’d be getting ready for Him.

If we knew that an important guest was coming to our home, I don’t know about you–but personally, I’d be helping my wife by doing some housecleaning in preparation.

If we really believe JESUS is coming back, we would do some spiritual housecleaning now.  Cleaning out our spiritual closets and not sweeping the ‘dirt’ under the carpet.  Is it time for REPENTANCE (getting rid of the spiritual clutter) or, do you have a “Lackawanna” attitude?

10.  What does the word “lawlessness” mean?

I heard a pastor preach one Sunday, that as believers…”we are no longer under the Law”.  Do I disagree with that decree?  Yes, and No.

“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness”  (verse 4- NIV Bible).

Our youngest daughter when growing up had a personality trait that, how should I say, often frustrated her mom and dad.  One afternoon, I decided to take the family on a ride in the surrounding country; to see if I could find the perfect strawberry stand.  Finally, after a thorough search, we found the perfect spot: fresh berries, reasonably priced, and under the shade of a large tree.  It was a warm Southern California day.

Defiant-ChildWhen I returned to the car, there she was, standing on the backseat of our 1969 Station Wagon.  This was going against the “Standing up on the backseat Thompson Car Law”:  

“Krissy, you need to sit down.”  She began to frown at my command but continued standing.

“Kris, I mean it!  Sit down or…” 

She sat down at the raising of my voice but, when looking in the car’s rear-view mirror, her arms folded and a scowl on her face– she was still standing up on the inside!  That is LAWLESSNESS pure and simple–open rebellion!  My daughter was “made” to obey.  But, her heart still held rebellion.

Lawlessness isn’t occasional sin.  It is… open rebellion against God–having no regard of what God thinks or says.

[Will continue study in PART TWO– A “Lackawanna” Lifestyle?]

That Hidden Principle of Rebellion (PART 1)

Rebellion in the Streets

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!”