In the past several blogs I have noted that lawlessness characterizes our society as a result of both abandoning our Christian cultural foundation and also by adopting a secular philosophy and a perspective on psychology that condones and encourages lawlessness. Assigning individuals the right to do their own thing issues them a license for lawlessness. Likewise, conveying to individuals and society that we are accepted unconditionally, and that we should accept ourselves unconditionally, frees us to live lawlessly without concern regarding retribution.
Unfortunately, the church has borrowed the concept of unconditional acceptance from the secular community, assuring believers that God accepts them unconditionally. This position in effect communicates to Christians that they can live lawlessly with God’s affirmation. Anyone attempting to maintain biblical standards within the church is viewed as legalistic and judgmental, the cardinal sins for contemporary evangelicals.
I have also discussed the devastating nature of lawlessness, which is more than just sinful behavior. It encompasses an attitude of an individual that laws no longer apply to him, freeing him from all guilt regardless of how he lives. In other words, the promotion of lawlessness engenders a sociopathic society.
We have asserted that the cure for lawlessness must come from the church. We do not expect secular society to see the error of its way, but the evangelical community with its commitment to Scripture should be convicted of lawless beliefs and practices, place its own house in order, and then function as salt and light for secular society.
What will it take to make this happen? What sort of motivation might produce this result?
Change can result from two different types of motivation. The first, and preferable generator of change is learning. How good it would be if the evangelical church would take seriously the scriptural teaching on God’s directives, His chastening toward those who disobey and His blessing on those who do His will. The Scripture is full of such teaching. Likewise, evangelical leadership needs to expose as false the utterly and obviously unscriptural but popular teaching that God does not require Christians to “perform” in order to be accepted. Virtually hundreds of New Testament passages say otherwise. How wonderful would be if a generation of preachers, teachers, and leaders would rise up to expose the errors that promote lawlessness among evangelicals and begin to exhort God’s people regarding His mandate for righteous living. Again, being motivated by learning, modeling, teaching, encouraging, and applying the teachings of Scripture represents the optimal approach to change.
The other primary motivation for change results from the school of hard knocks. A man gets angry and tells off his boss, he loses his job, he can’t find another one, he struggles to meet his expenses, and he learns that telling off the boss is not a good idea. How much better if he would have learned that lesson by listening to wise counsel rather than having to go through all the trials. But human nature being what it is, all of us have taken a few courses from the school of hard knocks.
Unfortunately, if the church does not receive the motivation for change found in Scripture, it is headed for hard times. I hear some evangelicals refer to the hard times ahead as something of a badge of honor, as if somehow hard times are inevitable and therefore we must steel ourselves for suffering. Rather, if hard times come they will represent a badge of ignorance, an unwillingness to learn from Scripture that resulted in having to learn the hard way.
As we see lawless forces in our society begin to oppress the church, and as we see the church too committed to lawlessness to address sin in secular society, it appears that if the church does not act soon it will have to learn the hard way.
As people who claim to employ the Bible as our ultimate authority, it would be tragic if we failed to check lawlessness within the church and failed to be salt and light to secular society because we paid no attention to the obvious teaching of Scripture.
One might ask, specifically where does Scripture teach against lawlessness? I plan to discuss that topic in the next post.