Love in Times of Lawlessness

Love in Times of Lawlessness
Robert Wurtz II

And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
(Matthew 24:10–12 KJV)

But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. (Jude 20, 21)

We live in a time when it is becoming politically incorrect to enforce law and order in society. Strait out of the pages of the limited wars of Korea and Vietnam, we are fastly moving towards a philosophy of limited law enforcement. That is, in order to prevent a wider escalation of “conflict”, law enforcement agencies are reluctant to bring criminal combatants into compliance with basic civilized behavior. The result is a growing disorder and lawlessness that is spreading all over the nation. 

What happens when anarchy is in vogue? The Lord Jesus told us in this sobering prophecy; And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold (Matthew 24:12). I have given this prophecy much thought over the years. Why would iniquity effect people’s love? The answer is simple. The word iniquity means to be “lawless,” “without moral law,” or “without the laws of God.” Consider the implications of that. 

Few things cause as much resentment and hostility as does lawlessness. How can a society exist without enforcing laws that govern civilized behavior? History demonstrates a perpetual disdain for lawless people. This is why we have prisons. Nevertheless, when lawlessness rules the day we are at risk of being hardened and callused. What happens when our love starts growing cold? 

Understanding Moral Law

The whole moral law can be summed up with one saying; thou  shalt love thy neighbor  as thyself (Galatians 5:14). The laws of men were given, in one sense, to enforce an environment of general respect for others. The laws of God created a society that whether people truly loved each other or not, they somewhat treated them like they did. In both cases, it was not a matter of feeling, but a matter of institutional law. If someone broke the law, there was a penalty. This greatly reduced the number of hard-core offenses that had the capacity to incite hatred (challenge love). Penalties were to serve as a deterrent to destructive offenses against one’s neighbor. 

Nevertheless, what are we to do in a society that systematically removes the laws of God from the culture? What happens when basic civil law is trampled under foot? The offenses pile up until people hate one another. The flagrant disregard for civil codes, flowing from an already immoral culture, promotes behaviors that cause intense human suffering and bitterness. Hence, the love of many will wax cold. 

Loving in a culture of lawlessness

Understand that when iniquity abounds — offenses abound. In modern times we are watching the world morally disintegrate. Things that used to be illegal are now promoted on television. Immoral sexual practice, extreme physical violence, flagrant disregard for common sense and justice, all come together to try and forge people into agents of bitterness and hate. Christians are not exempt.

When injustice and gross immorality rule the day we are provoked. It was said of Lot when he lived in Sodom, that he was vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds (2 Peter 2:7, 8). Here we have two Greek words for “vexed” — one meaning to wear down and the other to torment. The first word “vexed” is the root katapaneo (kataponou/menon) and is only here and Acts 7:24 where Moses killed the Egyptian that was “oppressing” the Israelite. The Rev. translates it “sorely distressed.” The second word for “vexed” is ebasanizen (ebä-sä-nē’-zen) from the root basanizo (bä-sä-nē’-zō) meaning to “test metals”. It is in the imperfect active (kept on vexing). Their nonsense and immorality kept putting Lot to the test. 

What are we to do when we are “worn down and tormented” by the iniquity (unlawful behavior) of our times? Lot left Sodom, but Paul said that in order for us to get away from the evil — we would need to go out of the world itself (1 Corinthians 5:10). So we are here. What can we do?

Keeping Yourselves in the Love of God

Jude first tells us that we need to build up ourselves in our most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit. This means we are to pray no matter how our circumstances press against us. Lot didn’t seem to do a whole Lot of praying in Sodom; but we cannot afford to allow our love to wax cold under the deluge of madness and sin that is progressing in our times. When the enemy opens up a volley upon our soul we must take to God in Spirit-filled prayer. We need to pray until we touch God and He anoints us to pray. 

The old-timers use to speak of the Spirit of prayer coming upon a person. This is when God enables us to pray in a way  we could not ordinarily pray. Secondly Jude says, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. We have to keep our eyes focused on eternity. We have to look unto Jesus the author and the finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame. Jesus was full of love and compassion and He loved to the very end. This is our test. Can we love like that? Surely we can if we will allow God to love through us. The love of God has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). We can allow that love to flow like a river from our bellies.

Finally, sandwiched in the middle of these two admonitions we have this profound directive, Keep yourselves in the love of God. This is the objective. We have to do it. None can do it for us. We have to make that determination. God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. We have to remember from where God brought us and look upon sinners through eyes of compassion. When you don’t feel like loving, love anyway. Pray until you can love. Rebuke the thoughts that would come into your mind to challenge your love. Satan would like nothing more than to place our love in the “freezer of offense and bitterness” until we were as cold as ice. But Jesus didn’t say that the love of all people would wax cold, but the love of many. May we move in a determination in this crisis, evil hour, that we will be numbered among the few that stoked a fiery love. No one can do it for us. As Jude admonishes us, Keep yourselves in the love of God.     

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