Lawlessness is defined as, being without law; uncontrolled by a law; unbridled; unruly; or unrestrained. (Dictionary.com) In recent weeks many of us watched in absolute amazement as hordes of people epitomized this definition. Rioters and looters burned down buildings, vandalized property, stole vast amounts of goods, assaulted, and even murdered individuals. In a moment of abhorrent irony, these individuals burned down and occupied police precincts. The lawless putting officers of the law on the run! All these things happened in the full view of authorities, yet almost no one was reprimanded or arrested. Innocent people caught in the crossfire calling for help received no aid from those who have sworn an oath to serve and protect. Many stood on the sidelines cheering and encouraging these actions, some even suggesting that people were just “blowing off steam.” The perpetrators of these acts are no doubt pleased with themselves. They were able to score a brand-new pair of sneakers, commit various felonies, and get away scot-free. The authorities who allowed the violence to continue most likely believed that enforcing the law would cause more harm than good, so they did nothing. Both parties are wrong in their assessments. Engaging in and acquiescing to lawlessness is not without repercussions, the laws of lawlessness deem it so. God’s word is replete with warnings about lawlessness. When lawlessness is allowed to thrive, there are inevitable consequences derived from it, consider a few.
We should not expect people to stop doing what is wrong when there are no consequences for refusing to do what is right.Morne William Stephanus
When punishment for wrongdoing is non-existent or slow it emboldens more wrongdoing. Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil, Ecclesiastes 8:11. The universality of this principle is seen in its context, the ultimate judgment of God. Seeing that God’s punishment of wickedness is not immediate, some are emboldened to continue in sin. Foolishly trusting in a pseudo peace, they are willfully ignorant of the fiery penalty that awaits (Cf. Ecclesiastes 8:13). As one commentator wrote, “They see not the smoke of the pit, therefore they dread not the fire.” (Faussett). Jesus made use of this principle to warn against wickedness as we wait for His return (Matthew 24-48-51). On the same subject, Peter wrote that the delay of the second coming will bring mockers who view the patience of the Lord as slackness and are therefore emboldened to continue walking in their evil ways (2 Peter 3:1-10). It happens in the home; it happens in school it happens in the workplace and even the church. When discipline is not enforced people will be encouraged to continue in their wickedness. We should not expect people to stop doing what is wrong when there are no consequences for refusing to do what is right.
Another law of lawlessness relates to its virulent disposition. Unrestrained lawlessness is infectious; it has the propensity to incite lawlessness in others. When people witness flagrant and atrocious wrongdoing go unpunished, they are less likely to follow the law themselves. Why drive the speed limit when people burning down police precincts walk free? Why pay taxes when some are allowed to take over entire city blocks? These are questions that tempt law-abiding individuals, and some will succumb to that temptation. God instituted a law for Israel that prohibited lawlessness from negatively effecting others. If anyone made themselves guilty of encouraging idolatry, the punishment was swift and severe (Deuteronomy 13:6-10). The law had a dual purpose; it punished the wrongdoer and, it discouraged wrongdoing in others. So all Israel shall hear and fear, and not again do such wickedness as this among you, Deuteronomy 13:11. This principle is outlined in several Mosaic statutes (Cf. Deuteronomy 17:13, 19:20 & 21:21). Paul also warned the Corinthian brethren about the same when they refused to discipline a brother living in sin (1 Corinthians 5:6). Their actions would encourage sin in others. Imagine if there was no hell, no punishment for unrighteousness or eternal suffering for those who reject God and His laws. Would the reader remain faithful, if so why? Paul said it best, If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable, 1 Corinthians 15:19. It is an indisputable Divine fact that ought to be realized by our nation’s leaders. Unchecked lawlessness breeds lawlessness.
Also, rampant lawlessness is a failure on the part of the Government. In his treatise to the brethren in Rome, Paul emphatically stated that the system of governance was set up by God. Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God, Romans 13:1. Furthermore, he elaborated on the function of Government. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil, Romans 13:3-4. Governments are supposed to protect the innocent and punish evildoers, this is their civil and Divine mandate. This is the most basic principle of authority yet, our government failed miserably on this occasion. The citizenry should expect and demand the government to act against lawlessness.
Those who allowed, profited from, or supported the lawlessness of the last few weeks must understand one final law of lawlessness. Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him, Jude 1:14-15. The authorities of the day may have failed in their duty but, The Authority over man will not. Justice will come and, lawlessness will be punished!
“Lawlessness.” Dictionary.com, Dictionary.com, www.dictionary.com/browse/lawlessness.
Faussett, A.R. Jamieson, Faussett & Brown Commentary. Ecclesiastes. Computer Software: E-Sword, Version 12.1.0. 2019