Apostasy and Lawlessness

We live in interesting and scary times. It seems with each passing day, a once sound Christian institution or leader, capitulates to the secular humanists’ moral and religious revolution, or to put it another way, the postmodern zeitgeist.


In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, the Apostle Paul warned the Thessalonians to not be deceived about the return of the Lord. He said that two things must happen before the Second Coming of Jesus. First, there will be a falling away or apostasy. Second, the man of sin, or the Antichrist, will be revealed. In verse 7, Paul goes on to talk about the mystery of iniquity or lawlessness that is already working in the world.


The Greek word apostasia in verse 3 means a defection from the truth, or a standing away from. The word was used as a revolt staged by a military commander. In the last days, Paul indicates that there will be many people who will depart from the truth. This agrees with what he said in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (KJV): “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

In Matthew 24:12, in the Olivet Discourse, Jesus says, “And because iniquity (lawlessness) shall abound, the love of many shall wax (grow) cold.” Here we have the word lawlessness that was used in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 (mystery of iniquity). It is the Greek word, anomia, which derives from the word anomos, which is found in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 to describe the Wicked or Lawless one, the Antichrist. These words carry the idea of illegality or a violation of the law, or wickedness.

That same word, anomia, or lawlessness, is found again in 1 John 3:4: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law (commits lawlessness): for sin is the transgression of the law (lawlessness).” So, John here equates sin with lawlessness. It is a violation of the law.

The same word pops up again in 2 Corinthians 6:14: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness (lawlessness)? And what communion hath light with darkness?” Here Paul is telling us to have nothing to do with lawlessness. Believers and unbelievers have no fellowship together. He goes on to say in verses 17 and 18, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

Paul uses the word again as he quotes from Psalm 32 in Romans 4:7, “Saying, ‘Blessed are they whose iniquities (lawless deeds) are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.’” Paul also uses the word in Titus 2:14, “Who (Jesus Christ) gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity (lawlessness), and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Here we see the Gospel’s offer of forgiveness of our lawless deeds or sins through faith in the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

As we think about the lawlessness of our age, our minds probably are directed to the normalization of immorality, such as homosexuality. We might think about the increase in violence and disregard for human life. We see the lawlessness increasing in our society almost every day. And this is taking place not just in secular society, but sadly in major Christian denominations and churches. So could this be the falling away or apostasy that Paul was talking about in 2 Thessalonians? Only God knows for sure.

One thing is clear from these passages, though. We are to have nothing to do with sin and lawlessness. We live in a time when even many Christian teachers seem to imply that you can be a Christian and live like the world. But as we see from the verses mentioned above, that is just not the case. Christ wants us to depart from iniquity. We are not to live lawless lives but instead lives of love and light.

In these uncertain times, let us hold to the anchor of God’s Word. We need to develop a love for the truth and hold fast to sound doctrine. We must live pure and blameless in a wicked and lawless world. May we be found ready for the appearing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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