Lawlessness That Abounds

Neil Girrard

Jesus said, “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.”

The traditions of men have been permitted to obscure the meaning and therefore the impact of this statement by Jesus. For example, the Catholic sect prohibited the use of any language but Latin for reading, teaching and studying the Bible until the 1900s – thus concealing from the average reader many truths that would otherwise have been readily available in his native language. But the 1611 King James version of the English Bible has done much particular damage to this particular verse.

The 1611 rendering uses the word “iniquity” where the 1990 New King James (and nearly every other modern English version) now uses “lawlessness.” When one looks up “iniquity” in an English dictionary, one is bounced back and forth (without resolution) between the adjective “iniquitous” and the noun “iniquity” and given a list of synonyms (“wickedness,” “sin,” “vicious,” etc.) that does little to even approximate the meaning of the original Greek term. After wading through all the above, the core definition Webster’s offers for “iniquity” is “gross injustice” and reveals that the term derives from the Latin “iniquus” which means “uneven” – which is also the source for the milder English cognate (sound alike with similar meaning) “inequity.”

The Greek term, however, is “anomias” [ 458 ] and can be rendered literally as “no law.” This is not to be confused with those people who, like the Gentiles, are not exposed to, surrounded by or nominally subject to law or laws (especially but not limited to Moses’ law) as that idea is clearly expressed in other places in the New Testament. It is not that these people have no laws by which their conduct is to be ordered. Rather it is the individual’s own personal, subjective preferences and choices that are obeyed and not any external, objective source. Put most succinctly, to be anomias (lawless) is to have only one’s own opinions as the basis of life and conduct – the Bible says it as doing what is right in one’s own eyes. In the circles of scholars, this philosophy of life is called relativism (the theory that there are no absolute, universal truths but only subjective, situational, pragmatic theories, strategies and opinions) and it is one of today’s greatest sources of evil though few indeed seem to have the wisdom, discernment or courage to recognize, let alone label it as evil.

This lawlessness or relativism, Jesus said, would have an impact on one’s ability to love – that is, to sacrificially and selflessly attend to the needs, hurts and lacks of others. In other words, because “I” am so concerned with what “I” think is right, what “you” (the other person) are experiencing, feeling, lacking or needing is only, at best, a small blip on my radar screen. “I” am much more concerned about doing what “I” think are good deeds and carrying out my ideas of “Christian ministry” than I care about what God knows that “you” need. “I” – though rarely is this permitted to be this openly expressed, even in the darkest recesses of the mind or soul – care more about perceiving myself as a good person than I care about how “you” live or even if “you” might die. This is what lawlessness or relativism does – it is a fruit, a natural consequence, of believing this deceptive philosophy (relativism) to be truth. Self-absorption always produces interpersonal callousness.

Peeling this onion one layer deeper, we also know that love is a fruit, a natural consequence, of living in union with and obedience to the Spirit of God. Only those who live by the Spirit of God are sons of God and those who do not have the Spirit of God are not His. Modern “churchianity” – in its hunger for the assets of the flock and the personal satisfaction of public approval – waters down the distinctions (clearly presented in the New Testament) between the children of God and the children of the devil and it actively caters to the lawlessness and relativism that is warring against the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives by offering (to all who will come) any variant of “Christianity” which appeals most to each individual. And, within these divisive sects (commonly called “denominations” – even the so-called “non-denominational” denominations), it is not expected that you are to have anything at all to do with those of other sects (denominations) – in some sects, you don’t even have to have anything to do with those in your own sect!

In telling us how it will be at the end of the age when He is to return, Jesus is in effect saying, “Because nearly everyone has been trained from childhood to do whatever seems right to them at any given moment, the ability of most people (who claim to be Mine) to express My love for the world – which is most clearly seen in My willingness and desire to die on the cross to purge out the sins of all who will believe and obey Me – will be virtually nonexistent.” Jesus then goes on to say that the few, the remnant, who persist in finding and doing His will (no matter what the personal cost and until such time as He actually does return) will be saved from experiencing the death of the soul which is the lake of fire reserved for the devil and his angels and all whose names cannot be found in the Lamb’s Book of Life. That is the message Jesus intended to convey and no linguistic subterfuge can prevent His Spirit of truth from revealing it to those who intend to overcome the darkness and deceptions of the end of the age.

Let he who has ears hear.

Matthew 24:12
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