The Spirit of Lawlessness
by Ben Williams
For the mystery of lawlessness is already working within;
(2 Thess. 2:7)
THE term Antinomianism was coined by theologians to label a particular type of interpretation of scripture. That interpretation holds that faith and grace has done away with God's law, and that law is repugnant to the New Testament.
The term, anti-nomianism, is actually an Anglicized form of a Greek word. The prefix "anti," in the Anglicized sense, means "against," or "aversion to." The Greek "nomos" means "law." The Anglicized "nomianism" means "belief in law."
Together, anti-nomianism (the English usage) signifies "aversion to belief in law." And while the term Antinomianism, itself, does not appear in scripture, the Greek counterparts -- anomos ("lawless") and anomia ("lawlessness") -- appear twenty times, deceptively rendered in the KJV as "iniquity," "transgression," "unrighteousness," or "wicked" (see below). Those who authorized the Authorized Version obviously did not want people aware that the New Testament condemns lawlessness.
Most of what has been loosely called "Christianity" (better "Churchianity") for the past several centuries has promoted Antinomianism while cunningly calling it "grace" or "faith." Antinomianists claim that law was replaced by grace under a new and different "dispensation" instated by Jesus. They dismiss God's law as having failed. By implication, they teach that law was a bad idea which had to be corrected under the new dispensation of Christ. In other words, God erred and then later had to correct it.
What could possibly lead man to such an arrogant, ludicrous, blasphemous doctrine? The spirit of lawlessness! That is not to say that everyone who accepts this error has a lawless heart. Many are just deceived. But, the organized campaign to instate this doctrine into the hearts of millions of churchgoers was certainly spawned by the spirit of lawlessness.
The spirit of lawlessness incites man to search for ways to ignore and reject law. This is not an ignorance. It is a preference. Ignorance is quite another thing altogether. Ignorance of law is being unaware of its existence. But, to prefer lawlessness is anarchy, for to reject law is to reject its Maker: Yahweh.
Antinomianism is epidemic today because man has become obsessed with self. Rejection of God and law is the natural result of man becoming obsessed with the power of self. Worshippers of self-power will not voluntarily submit themselves to God's rules or laws. They jealously reserve the option to ignore law and act upon their own impulses and passing lusts. They prefer standards that are transient, situation-oriented, and subject to change at any moment to suit the occasion. In the churches, self-worshippers often dismiss God's laws by claiming that they personally have "spiritual guidance" and have no need of law. Sometimes they use a misinterpretation of 1 Jn. 2:27 to excuse their lawlessness.
This refers to the ability to discern between truth and error, which is a benefit of receiving the holy spirit. It does not suggest that we have no further need of law. The KJV renders the verse so that it seems to suggest just that: "...ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things,..." Again, it appears that those who authorized the Authorized Version prefer that people not believe that God's law is still viable.
With this sentiment having had such success among our people, it appears that the original Edenic message of lawlessness has flourished and found permanent residence in the hearts of churchgoers around the world:
DEIFICATION OF MAN
This leaves man to decide for himself what is right and wrong, and to be his own lawmaker. Whoever knows good and evil has no need of law. In fact, he who knows good and evil can make his own law, and whoever makes law is god. When man becomes a lawmaker he makes himself god. It makes no difference wheter he makes law for a nation, or for himself only. The great lie of Genesis 3:5 is that man should create law, rather than learn of it.
When man is god, law follows man, instead of the other way around. Law becomes transient and capricious; changeable upon demand. For instance, one's convictions against usury could easily be adjusted to suit a new situation if needed. According to man's law, abortion was once an atrocity; but now, under a new Supreme Court ruling, it is legal. The 18th Amendment once made drinking alcohol a crime; the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment and made the drinking of alcohol legal again. That which is a crime one day is no crime the next -- and vice versa. It is not uncommon for men to languish in jail for having committed a "crime" which has since been legalized. The crime for which he is in jail is no longer a crime. One day, driving 65 miles per hour makes you a criminal; the next day it does not. The examples are endless. Congress creates laws faster than we can keep up with them. Thus it goes when men make law.
On the personal level, being your own lawmaker is convenient. In the case where some particular lust overtakes you, driving you to sin, you simply adjust the status of that particular act by legislating a new conviction in your conscience. Anything can be justified in the mind that recognizes no law but its own.
I'M OK, YOU'RE OK
Indulgence is the thing. When man is empowered with the feeling of impunity; when he sees himself above judgment, he can eliminate guilt. Do away with conscience and the law is fatally wounded. Just excuse yourself with an indulgence. Sin (crime) is no problem when you are your own judge and the only one to whom you must answer. It is a great relief, to a sinner, to alleviate from his life the existence of Yahweh. I'm OK; you're OK. What's wrong for you may not be wrong for me. What's right today may not be right tomorrow. Are there any standards in today's society which do not change? Man, as lawmaker, has created chaos.
In the '50's and '60's we often heard the term "situation ethics" to describe the lawless mentality. With the further decline of morality over the past four decades, society has dropped the use of that term. Sadly, the current generation no longer has the ability to relate to the inherent ugliness inferred by the term only four decades ago. Following this pattern, the term "Humanism" has also lost its inherent ugliness.
It seems that modern man thinks he has finally come into his own. Now, in this age of discovery, man has freed himself of God, unplugged his conscience, and discovered he can do whatever he wants. He can change the rules if he wants. He can partake of the forbidden fruit with no recrimination. He can sin and call it "creativity" and "freedom" ... even "grace." Has he come a long way? Not really. In truth he is right back to the scenario of Genesis 3:5. Some things just don't change.
Idioms of our culture are obvious. "Self-assertiveness," "self-awareness," "self-adjustment," "self-actualization," "self, self, self"! Sort of self-explanatory aren't they? It all means self-worship! It all points to the deification of the spirit of man, and the rejection of Yahweh and his law.
Thus, the spirit of man is the spirit of lawlessness. It is true anarchy, and is the natural result of self-worship. Anarchy (rejection of God) starts in childhood and develops through church and public school teachings. It finds its home environment in modern society's commerce and entertainment. It's ultimate pinnacle is reached in Washington D.C., where anarchy is officially established as the Beast who disguises itself as a lamb, but speaks as a dragon (Rev. 13:11). The "mystery of lawlessness" begins in the heart of a child, and matures into the spirit of American Self-Power ... whose image stands in every legislature or state house.
The irony of it is that this same Beast which is the epitome of anarchy, and lawlessness has itself become the American symbol of "law and order."
ANARCHY: THE AMERICAN RELIGION
Self-power is the religion of the people of America today. Democracy is one of its names. Voting is one of its ploys to draw citizens into its crimes and develop general public complicity.
Self-worship is idolatry at its worst, highly evolved and deeply rooted in pride. Self-centeredness begins at youth. Thus we see that the roots of lawlessness extend all the way back to childhood. The foolishness that is bound in the heart of a child (Prov. 22:15), if not driven from him, will without fail lead to lawlessness. The "rod of correction," in its many forms, is essential -- it is NOT an option -- if we are to prevent our children from being lost through lawlessness.
In America, children have been insulated from Jesus' rod of correction. Children who survive the terror of abortion in the womb must face more terrors in the world. Ahead for them is a long future of brutalization and abuse by the T.V. and public schools where they will be demoralized, denuded, and brainwashed so that they no longer can hear the words of truth. Good is bad, right is wrong, light is dark ... and dark is light. Lawlessness is learned in public school ... both by principle and example. The churches lock step with the schools promoting lawlessness, teaching that Jesus came to do away with the law. Children are assaulted with this on every front.
The elements of modern society point toward lawlessness. Now, in the final years of the 20th century, lawlessness -- like a noxious weed -- has taken over the hearts and minds of children and adults alike. It has grown so thick that the seeds of truth are prevented from germinating and competing with the weeds. Very few of us even remember when things weren't this way. Antinomianism is now taken for granted. It is "normal." In fact, people who believe in standards of right and wrong based on God's law are looked upon as hate mongers. Why? Because God's law condemns men for doing wrong things. Condemning anyone for anything -- especially for reasons of immorality -- is called "hate" in this generation. The epidemic of lawlessness has made morality irrelevant. And since there is no way to define morality aside from law, anyone who rejects immoral company today is seen only as a hater ... a mean person who condemns others for no apparent reason.
And then there is the conundrum of modern law terms: "courts of law," "lawmen," and "law enforcement." The gigantic law enforcement growth industry has completely swallowed up and monopolized the concept of "law" in America. "Law" and "lawfullness" is now defined strictly by the police and the courts. Law has become whatever they say it is. The irony here is that these who define "law" in America exist expressly for the purpose of making their creators (central government) immune to law. Since central government is the epitome of anarchy and lawlessness, it follow that America's "law" system defends lawlessness at its pinnacle of expression. Lawlessness and anarchy has been renamed "government" and equated with "law and order." For that concept to work one must mentally reconcile elements that are mutually exclusive. That usually requires a lawyer or a preacher. And with most of the church world attempting to do just that, it is no wonder that America has so much insanity and so many hospitals for the mentally ill.
Contemplating the convolution of the American system can leave you swimmy headed. How on Earth did we get from liberty and common sense to where we are today? It is hard to imagine. But, I must say that the journey undoubtedly started with the churches teaching that God's law was done away in Christ. Lawlessnes, in all its variant manifestations, is always the same spirit.
Antinomianism is fashionable now. Even people who claim to be "Bible believers" follow the fashion. Never mind that "lawlessness" is condemned over and over in God's Word. They've been told that "lawlessness" in the Bible is OK, and it is good to be lawless today. They aren't even afraid to depict our Savior as the ultimate law breaker. Jesus, they say, saved man from sin by destroying the law that defined sin. That is sort of like killing the runner for bringing bad news. Perhaps the ultimate insult is to proclaim lawlessness in the name of God's Son. Churches are temples of insult to both Yahweh and Jesus!
But the plain fact is that the Jesus of the Holy Bible was no law-breaker. He never taught anyone to break or ignore law. On the contrary, He said:
Jesus condemned man's attempt to do away with the commandments. He informed them that anyone who tried to do away with the commandments would be called "least in the Kingdom of Heaven." Yet, churchgoers who proclaim that Jesus actually did just that will proclaim in the same breath that Jesus is the greatest in the kingdom. Does that make sense to you? It doesn't to me!
Jesus forgives sins. Forgiving sin does not destroy law -- it affirms law. Most churchgoers admit that sin is still in the world. But, according to Bible definition there can be no sin without law. For sin to exist there must be law.
The modern wave of law-ignorance has brought with it a flood of freedom-ignorance. Men talk of freedom, but know nothing of it. There are only two ways to relate to freedom. The first is to understand it. The second is to be able to remember its affects upon you. It may be possible for one or two generations to remember the effects of freedom which trickled down to them from former generations. However, if they don't soon come to understand it, their children will eventually neither understand it nor remember it.
To have freedom one must first understand it. To understand freedom, one must first understand law. Freedom cannot be sustained in a society without moral and ethical standards. For moral and ethical standards to exist they require definition. They cannot be defined without principles of law. Like it or not, this is a fact. Churchgoers (claiming to be Christians) will, on one hand, claim that Christianity stands for moral and ethical standards. Then, on the other hand, they will claim that Jesus -- the very founder of Christianity -- did away with law. The notion of lawless morality is oxymoronic.
Many of our generation can remember earlier decades when the average man could still relate to the concept of freedom. It would be inaccurate to say that we were free in the '50's, but at least the memory of relative freedom, experientially, was still with us -- in spite of our general ignorance of its meaning. Many of us would give anything to resurrect a degree of freedom today that would match what we knew in the '50's. Not that this would answer the problems of our people. But it would relieve some of the current oppression, and give us a chance to catch our breath while working toward solving the big problems that have come upon our culture.
This generation has taken the bit in its teeth! It is flying blind in the clouds, without navigational instruments. It neither realizes nor cares that things have not always been this way. People have not always flown blind. Things don't have to be this way. But this generation has no better or higher ambition. The reason is because it is ignorant of that which is better and higher.
JESUS: THE LIGHT OF "THE WORLD"
Those who live in darkness may not understand their predicament. If they have not seen light they may not be able to relate to it and appreciate its advantage over darkness. It is like trying to describe a color to a blind person. It is nearly impossible for him to relate to it. Usually, light must be shined upon man from an outside source before he can relate to it ... even if he cannot yet understand it. That, then, may lead him to search out its meaning.
Some, however, will reject light because they love darkness. A case in point -- the Judean system (called "the world" in the KJV).
The Judean system incorporated a minority of Israelites, and a majority of Edomites, Canaanites, Babylonians, and other non-Israelites. It married Israelite culture with Babylonian culture (Babylon was still revered as their spiritual mother). It incorporated parts of the Bible, and parts of the traditions of Babylon. It was a dark system with a beam of light shining through it. The beam of light was the minority part which represented parts of Holy Scripture that hadn't yet been lost or confused by Judean religion and politics.
To this system came Jesus, the Son of God. He showed that within their own documents and prophecies were teachings which pointed to Him. He shined the light upon them, and a few accepted it. Most didn't.
Eventually, many of the true Israelites accepted the gospel. Some didn't. Most of the non-Israelites (the majority) did not. And the sheep who heard the Shepherd's call were driven out of Judea by religious persecution.
This is also the case with freedom. Very rarely will anyone aspire to seek freedom unless permitted first to taste of it. Without at least a taste, people generally cannot relate to the joy of freedom, or the disadvantage of not having it. Of course politicians and priests always reject light because they need darkness to ply their trade.
JESUS: THE LIGHTHOUSE OF FREEDOM
Shining the light of freedom upon the people, not only to place it in their memory, but to make them understand it, is no easy task. Understanding takes persistence and dedication. To understand freedom, one must first truly believe it is important. The men who think of freedom as an academic topic will never understand it. Freedom can be understood only by men who deal with it in real life. Sometimes men must lose freedom in order to be motivated to learn of it.
Our generation was lazy, and inattentive. We experienced something of freedom, but we didn't understand it. Our parents did not teach us about it. They didn't see the importance. Especially here in the west, the wide-open spaces provided a kind of freedom, and our parents took it for granted. And very few of their generation, or our generation, cared enough to try to learn of it. Even fewer of us were called of God, and FORCED to learn of it. Now, we who can see it have the unenviable task of trying to teach it to people who cannot relate to it, and have no desire for it. God help us!
We have a freedom problem in America. Most everyone will agree with that. Our freedom problem is an outgrowth of lawlessness. And our lawlessness problem is an outgrowth of our most basic idolatry: self-worship.
Mankind's most basic problem (self-worship) was addressed by the word of God, based upon law. But something happened. God's word became powerless to address the problem. Why? Because theologians, bought by politicians, changed it and gave man bad theology. By inserting the wrong premises at the start of their teachings, they made sure that only wrong conclusions would follow. The ability of the Bible to show us truth was cut off because of the conspiracy of church and state. Without truth we cannot be free. Bad theology and bad "Versions" of the Bible are behind all the problems of our people!
As usual, the churches are our adversaries in this. They are our satans! They teach children, from a tender age, that the objective of Christianity is to find an entrance into "Heaven." Some churches teach an alternative to "heaven" by replacing it with another "future kingdom." It serves the same purpose. Whether it is a "heaven" in outer space, or a "future kingdom" falling out of the sky to be set up here on Earth, the theological ramification is the same. It is Futuristic Escapism. The ostensible objective of the churches is to get man a ticket that will permit him to enter through the gates of a future, other-worldly existence. This view completely misses the fact that God communicated with man to instruct him how to live in this life on this planet. The Bible is a plan for living -- not a plan for escaping.
God never gave man a plan to escape. He gave man a plan to occupy. And, as far as the next life goes, that is in God's hands. There is nothing at all man can do to affect it one way or the other. Scripture is clear on that.
If you start your study of the Bible with the premise that God's reason for giving his Word to man was to show him how to escape the Earth and this life, your resulting conclusions will be faulty. Wrong premises produce wrong conclusions. You will find yourself forced to accept the contrived explanations of "experts" who cunningly circumvent the truth and advance their own agendas. With the wrong premise, the Bible will remain a mystery to the reader. Explanations become purely speculative. One is accepted or rejected based solely upon how authoritative the speaker sounds -- not upon proof or reason of any kind. It becomes a confidence game. Deposit your dime and take your choice.
LAW CANNOT JUSTIFY
The theologian sees his opportunity born of the ensuing confusion. "If the objective is to get to heaven, what purpose could the law serve?" the theologian asks.
"Ah ha! There you have it!" he says. "The law cannot justify anyone. Therefore, it cannot get anyone into heaven." And since the church world believes that the objective of all religion, and all scripture, is to get men into heaven, they are left with a peculiar problem. The problem is that law is seen as useless, but nonetheless from God. This presents a palpable conflict. The fact that law was a major factor in the Old Testament is uncontested. It is there. God gave it. Yet it is seen as useless. What can be done with it?
If law could never get men into heaven, then what can the churches do with it? Well, according to them, it seems that God gave Israel law as sort of an experiment to see if it might get men into heaven. Apparently, back then God thought law might have a chance to work. Unfortunately, it failed. God was subsequently forced to admit that his law was a failure, and activate plan B. Thus, He brought Jesus into the picture for the purpose of cleaning up and correcting the mess He had caused by trying to get man into heaven through law.
This farcical church-created scenario plays out as Jesus comes to Jerusalem, where the churches tell us Old Covenant law was still being kept (it really wasn't). Jesus supposedly proclaimed that anyone who wanted to get to heaven had to give up chasing after law, and let the church "save" them through the grace and authority given to it by Jesus. Salvation was through the church, the priest, the church altar, the church baptistery, church membership. Support the church, forget the law, and when you die you take with you the keys to the pearly gates.
The only conclusion left to the millions who had become churchgoers was that law had merely been a mistake. God's intentions had been good, but his plan was a colossal failure. Now, the only thing that can be salvaged from those thirty-nine books, and all the history they represent, are "examples" of how not to get to heaven. Aside from that they are without authority or merit.
The more the theologians discuss this scenario, the higher the insanity index rises. Joining the discussion, in any way, is like attempting to swim in a vortex. The only sensible thing to do is stay out of the water. Or if you are already in the water, get out.
Only by returning to the original premise can the error be addressed. Could it be that the premise was wrong? What if the objective was not really to escape this Earth and "get to heaven"? If the objective was different it would produce a different paradigm: a different way to interpret man's problem, and a different way to approach God's Word.
Therein lies the answer!
If the churches have been starting their people with the wrong basic premise all these years, it is no wonder churchgoers have ended up with wrong conclusions. Therefore, churchgoers need a new premise; a new paradigm.
What if man's challenge is not how to get to heaven, but how to live here ON Earth? In that case we might reason that a loving God would give man principles of law to show him how to live here, on earth, and be blessed.
So, with that thought we can possibly see the correct purpose for law. Law is to help people live ON Earth, rather than escape Earth. If that is true then it would make sense that the New Testament tells us that law was never intended for the purpose of "justifying" (pardoning) man. Law cannot justify anyone. That was never its purpose. The Father pardons man. Jesus, also, pardons man. That is grace. But justification (pardoning) is not a function of law -- thus, Gal. 2:16.
Law defines right and wrong. It doesn't change man's nature. The spirit of God changes man's nature. Law cannot do that, and was never intended for that. Law was given to man, not for the purpose of changing his nature or redeeming him from his sins, but to guide and govern his conscience, which in turn guides and governs his nature ... directing him away from sins. Jesus gives man holy spirit, which redirects his nature by giving him a new conscience. The new conscience governs his nature by discriminating between good and evil; between what is wholesome and what is destructive. Soon, the essence of his nature begins to evolve into a malleable vessel for the Lord's use. It cannot be done without regeneration of the spirit; but neither can it be done without a road map for the new spirit to follow.
CHAOS OR CHRISTMan can either govern his nature, or he can be governed by it. He can let it rule him chaotically and pull him into degradation, or he can use God's plan to govern it and strive toward improvement. God's law gives man the option to rise above natural degradation. It shows him the way to govern his nature and his life so that improvement is possible. It doesn't give man a new nature (conscience) -- only the holy spirit can do that. But God's law gives the new man tools to pursue his good intentions born of his new conscience, so he can put them to work. God's law is man's road map to success and blessing. Thus he is not left to guess how to engage the enemy in his battle against the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (I Jn: 2:16).
It is God's spirit that gives life to man's conscience. But it is law that gives the new conscience a context and a reference: a road map, if you will, whereby it can find its intended way and do its job, guiding the new man in Christ through all the trials of life and its many pitfalls.
The churches have taught millions of religious dupes that the law has been replaced by faith and grace. But the truth is that faith and grace have always worked WITH law -- not against it. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Gen. 6:8, Heb. 11:7). And Abraham was the father of the faithful (Rom. 4:6, Heb 11:8-10).
Grace is not the remedy for law, but for sin. Sin demands judgment. Judgment demands a penalty; a sentence. Grace takes away the sentence -- not the law. We weren't saved from law, but from the "curse" (sentence), which is death. Christ died for our sins.
Without law there can be no sin, and therefore no need for grace. On the other hand, if there is grace there must be sin, and therefore law. Grace and law are mutually dependent, not mutually exclusive.
The "handwriting of ordinances that was against us," which Yahweh nailed to Jesus' cross (Col. 2:14), were the debts of sin that were canceled and justified (pardoned) whereby He reconciled (redeemed) us back to Himself.
Thus, we are not "under the law." "Under the law" means "in debt to the law" -- i.e., having unpaid sentences from past judgments. Rather, we are under (in debt to) grace, for it was grace -- not law -- that forgave and redeemed us.
God saved man by giving him many things: law to guide him, fatih to seek the law, grace to be forgiven for sins. And his greatest gift was Jesus to administer the whole thing and teach us of the glory of God by giving us an example to live by, and holy spirit to motivate us.
With all these wonderful gifts from God, man has no excuse for the way he lives today.
Reprinted from The American Christian, March-April Issue,
(Isaiah 33:22) For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us.
Copyright 1996, 2014, by Gregory Allan; All rights reserved.