(Part 5 – continued from same day)
Overthrowing the Lawless One
and his Gospel of Lawlessness
The Lord brought astounding confirmation to us last year of what we believed He’d been showing us, when He spoke that Jesus is full of both grace and Truth (John 1); one to the exclusion of the other is error. Truth without grace produces legalism; grace without Truth produces lawlessness. There’s a ditch on both sides of the road. Though many in the church have erred on the side of truth without grace, the growing problem in recent years is that many in the church are erring on the side of grace without truth. Both are just “religion,” on opposite ends of the spectrum, creating a false sense of knowing Jesus when there is not a true relationship with Him (John 14-15, I John 2-3). Just as we cannot receive Him as Savior, but not as Lord, we also cannot receive only His grace, but reject His Truth. Yet many believe that Jesus’ finished work means there is now no moral law of God (or if there is that we have no moral obligation to follow it – that it’s optional for believers – just “good advice”). Some believe there is no sin (or that it’s not an issue to God since Jesus already paid for it) and that freedom in Christ means we are free to live however we want. In doing so, they deny the Master who bought them, living under their own lordship instead of His (II Peter 2, Jude). God wants us to understand that the future of lawlessness is not desirable; the retirement plan (when this willful lifestyle is unrepented of) is hell (II Peter 3, II Thess 2, Mt 7; 13:24-29, 36-43; Mt 24-25, I Cor 5:5, Gal 5:16-25,Heb 6:7-8, Heb 10:26-31). We cannot call Him Lord yet continue to live under our own lordship and be saved.
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. II Thessalonians 2:8-12
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV
The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:41-42 NKJV
For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? II Corinthians 6:14b-15a
He (Paul) writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. II Peter 3:16-17
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 commands and His will). I John 3:4
As the Lord also emphasized to us last year, Paul said he wasn’t “under the law,” but he also said that he was not lawless; he was bound to the law of Christ (I Cor 9:20-21). The change of priesthood ushered in a change of law (Heb 7:12). God’s law went from external stone tablets to being written on our hearts; it changed from addressing only external action to addressing even what was occurring at the heart level (Mt 5-7). While this made it all the more obvious that none of us can be saved based on our own righteousness, and that we must have a Savior, this does not mean that our Savior freed us to live in the sin that He died to deliver us out of. Rather, He freed us from bondage to the enemy so that we could live for and follow Him (foreshadowed by bringing Israel out of Egypt). True faith in Him produces freedom resulting from being His disciple and keeping His Word. Every “freedom” outside of these boundaries leads us back into captivity (John 8, Romans 6, James 1:21-27). Because He is in us, we are empowered by His Spirit to follow and keep the law of Christ (His teachings, which are all summed up in loving God first and loving others with His love ~ according to His definitions). If we are truly following His Spirit and not the flesh, we will keep the law of Christ as we walk with Him under His Lordship and under His grace (undeserved favor and power to do His will) (Romans 8, Galatians 5, Titus 2:11-15). If the spirit we are being led by is not leading us into holiness, it is not the Holy Spirit (I Cor 6:14-7:1, I Thess 4:1-8). If the spirit we are being led by does not produce a love, hunger, and respect for the full counsel of God’s Word as our final authority, it is not the Spirit of Truth (Jn 17:14-17, II Thess 2:9-17).
Though some claim Jesus’ teachings are no longer for us under the New Covenant, Jesus told us to take them to the whole world, making disciples by teaching all to follow them (Matthew 28:19-20, II John 9-11). His death and resurrection did not invalidate His teachings for us; they proved that He was truly the Son of God and that therefore everything He claimed about Himself and everything He taught was true. As mentioned last year, when we separate the Person of Jesus from the teachings of Jesus (as some suggest we should do), we end up receiving and preaching “another Jesus” (II Cor 11:4). The “gospel” of “lawlessness” (hyper-grace) presents “another Jesus” ~ not the Jesus of the Word. It is a counterfeit gospel with a counterfeit Christ who offers a counterfeit grace received through a counterfeit faith. In order to survive the deception of the last days we must know the Word of the LORD and the LORD of the Word (Jn 8:31-32, Jn 12:44-50, Jn 14:23-26). If we do not, we could be among the many (not only a few) believers who are deceived. (Mt 24, II Tim 3-4:5, II Thess 2:9-15)
The true gospel of the real Jesus is not that freedom in Christ means we are free to live however we want (Rom 8:8-12-13, Gal 5:17). The true message of the real Jesus is one of total exchange. Many today talk only about the parts of the exchange that are to our benefit (He took our sins, sickness, poverty, shame, and all the curse and gives us His righteousness, healing, acceptance, deliverance, provision, and all the blessing). But not very many are willing to talk about the other part of the exchange – that He gave His whole life for us, and when we receive Him, we must give our whole lives to Him. We were bought at a price; our lives are not our own (I Cor 6:19-20). Salvation cost us nothing and there is no way to ever earn it (even one sin in an entire life of obedience would disqualify us), but being His true disciple has a cost, and we must be prepared for it to cost us everything (Mt 10, Mk 8:34-38).
If we are concerned that this message of total commitment to the Lord (who gave everything to rescue us from hell and restore us to Himself) will scare away converts, then we have likely been guilty of presenting a false gospel. Jesus was never afraid to speak truth that might drive away those who were not willing to be fully committed to Him.
to be continued…