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Source of Lawlessness

lawlessness

by Dennis Pollock

When we look at all the dysfunctional people and families in the world, all the crime and misery, and people behaving terribly, we are tempted to wonder why this must be. As Rodney King so famously asked, "Why can't we all just get along?" But we do not all get along. In fact people have never gotten along very well. Why is this? What is behind this dysfunctional, counterproductive, self-destructive, and damaging behavior that seems to infect the human race?

 Actually this is not a mystery. The Bible explains the whole matter quite thoroughly. Our lawless ways and selfish behavior are not for a lack of good intentions. Nearly all of us mean well. Nobody sets out to become a career criminal or an obnoxious lout.

 Almost every marriage starts out with the best of intentions by both bride and groom. Yet around half of married couples fail to live up to their "until death do you part" vows made so sincerely when love was fresh and the future seemed so rosy. Most of the criminals who commit atrocious crimes never planned to become monsters. Many attended Sunday school, got nervous over first dates, played basketball after school, and hoped to live happy, successful lives. Somehow, some way, something went terribly wrong. 

Disobedience & Unbelief 

A passage from the book of Hebrews reveals a connection between disobedience and unbelief. We read: 

Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.  (Hebrews 3:17-19) 

We see that the ones who disobeyed were described as those who did not believe. If we go back to that Old Testament account which is being referenced here, we find the Hebrew spies who went into the promised land came back with wonderful tales of the "milk and honey" that flowed in the land. It was an exceedingly good land. But ten of the twelve spies counseled against attempting to enter and take possession of that which God had promised them. They fearfully declared, "The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature… and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight." 

Two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, were of a different mind, declaring, "Do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them." As is so often the case the majority ruled – and were dead wrong! Ten voted for rebellion, two for obedience. At first glance it might seem a matter of courage verses cowardice – Joshua and Caleb were courageous men; the others were fearful, sniveling cowards. There may be some truth to this, but in reality this was more than courage.

 Courage is going into battle knowing you are likely to get beat. Most anyone will fight if they strongly believe they will prevail, but few will take on a stronger, tougher opponent, knowing they will likely be crushed into the dust. That takes courage.

 But Joshua and Caleb were eager to engage in the battle because the Lord had told them to go and take the land. And they weren't going in expecting to get beat – they were fully expecting to conquer their enemies, whom God had made "their bread." That isn't so much courage as it is faith. They believed what God had said. The other ten disbelieved, and as Hebrews tells us, they were not able to enter in because of their unbelief. 

Premium on Faith 

Faith

To read the Bible and understand it is to see the tremendous premium God puts on faith. God greatly desires that His creation should believe in Him, in His Son Jesus Christ, and in every word that He has uttered out of His mouth. This is a huge deal to Him! It is so big that we are told "without faith it is impossible to please God." Believing God is the first and foremost work of those who would desire a relationship with their holy Creator. 

Paul writes to the Corinthians: 

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever

Christians are called believers; non-Christians are referred to as unbelievers. When I was nineteen years of age and an agnostic majoring in psychology in college, I did something that totally changed my life: I read the New Testament through. When I started I was reading out of curiosity, but by the time I finished I was believing what I was reading. I came to believe in Jesus Christ of whom it spoke. I believed the epistles of Paul which taught me that salvation was by grace through faith, and that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Somehow, by the work of the Holy Spirit, I was transformed from unbeliever to believer. I have sometimes thought about how my life would have gone had I put down that Bible and never believed a word of it. Of course one can only speculate, but clearly there would be a gigantic difference between the Dennis of today and the Dennis that would exist as an unbeliever. And that difference would be due to one thing: belief (and the Holy Spirit's work in my life as a result of that belief). 

The sinner has but one command – believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. The Jews of Jesus' day were amazed by His miracles, and thought it might be pretty neat if they could do them as well. They asked, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent" (John 6:28,29). Sometimes men and women do various charitable works in an attempt to justify themselves and feel better about their lives. But God is never impressed when such works are done in a state of unbelief. There are many good works commanded to Christians. We are to help the poor, encourage the weak, preach the gospel, share with others, obey authorities, be peacemakers, and so forth. But for the sinner there is but one command: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. 

Of course many who have never been born again protest that they do believe. Yet their lives reflect anything but a vibrant faith in Christ. They routinely lie, they are sexually immoral, and constantly indulge in online pornography. Paul addressed such folks: "They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him." If you accuse them of being atheists, they will protest to the highest heaven. But while their lips speak of faith in God, their lives scream out their unbelief. 

True Believer 

To illustrate this let us consider two men who have just been told by their doctors that they are diabetic. He gives them a pamphlet to read which describes how they must adjust to their condition and the terrible consequences that will befall them if they do not get their blood sugar under control. They go home and read the pamphlet, which warns them of numbness in the feet, sores that won't heal, high blood pressure, possible amputations, kidney failure, and blindness, which are just some of what awaits those who refuse to keep a close watch on their blood sugar. Both men finish the pamphlet and set it down, mulling over what they have just read. Neither has any reason to doubt that the author knows what he is talking about. In one sense, both believe what they have read. But Mr. A goes to his refrigerator and throws out all the desserts and sweets he finds there. Mr. B goes to his refrigerator, takes out a huge chunk of chocolate cake, covers it liberally with Rocky Road ice cream, and sits down to enjoy himself immensely.

 Did both men believe the pamphlet? Not really, at least not in the Biblical sense. Mr. B, the cake-eater, was clearly an unbeliever! And so it is in the matter of believing God and His word. To believe on Christ is to believe with the heart and to be transformed by that heart-belief. There is no way your life can stay the same when you have this kind of faith. In Romans 6 Paul asks and then answers his own question: "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" Real faith will always be followed by good works; real faith will always have life-changing power. And where there is no change of lifestyle, where we "continue in sin that grace may abound," you can be sure that there is no real faith present. 

Continue to Believe 

Even as Christians we never cease needing to believe in God and His word. As children of God we are "believers." We live out our lives believing and acting upon the words that have and do come from the mouth of God. We find in the Scriptures that prayer is to be a vital part of our lives. But our Lord Jesus made it plain that we must do more than pray – we must believe: "Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them" (Mark 11:24). James tells us that if we lack wisdom we are to ask it of God. But we must do more than merely ask: "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord" (James 1:6,7).

 Behind Christians who fail to follow the admonishments of the Scriptures is unbelief. When we constantly worry and fret we are wearing a signboard which shouts out to the world, "I don't believe!" We fail to believe the encouraging words of Jesus, who tells us: "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (Matthew 6:26) When we refuse to give of our finances to the Lord's work our problem is not really one of stinginess; it is unbelief. We fail to believe our Lord who tells us, "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom" (Luke 6:38).

 Many Christians struggle constantly with the idea of having a regular time in their day for prayer and reading God's word. What's the problem? Are they simply lazy?

 Some might think so, but in truth it is not a matter of laziness vs. diligence. It is more a matter of belief vs. unbelief. If any Christian ever becomes utterly and totally convinced that meditating in God's word day and night will cause him to prosper in whatever he does (Psalm 1:3), you wouldn't be able to stop him from reading the Bible. And anyone who becomes completely and passionately consumed with the reality that askers become receivers, seekers become finders, and knockers have doors opened for them by God's divine hand will have a consistent prayer life, without the need of a pastor to shame them into it. Prayer-less people don't need more energy or even more time – just more confidence in the prayer promises of our Lord.

 As we study the Scriptures we find that faith is the currency of heaven. By faith in Jesus Christ we are born again and receive the gift of eternal life. By faith our prayers are answered and wisdom is given. By faith we live ("the just shall live by faith") and in faith we must die ("I have finished the race, I have kept the faith"). If faith is this important, how careful we must be in guarding our faith and building our faith! And how diligent we should be in taking time to soak our minds and spirits in the eternal words of the living God. Let us draw near to our God, living as believers and looking unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.




For a full listing of all devos (written and audio) go to our Devos Catalog Page.

     

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