We live in an age that is characterized by the word ‘lawlessness.’

56,700 persons were murdered in 1989.

6,744 children were abandoned by their parents in that same year.

A step-father holds his two-year-old head first in the toilet and beats it to death because it dirtied its diaper.

Not only adults, but even teenagers walk around with knives and guns, wounding and killing at the slightest provocation.

Drunks and drug addicts form a threat to society on the highways, on the streets, and even in our homes.  No one’s life is safe anymore anywhere.

The prisons are crowded beyond capacity mainly be second offenders, who were released before they had served out their previous sentence.

Corruption abounds in the legislative as well as in the executive branches of the government.

Home life, with the family gathered together in intimate fellowship, is a thing of the past.

Scripture refers to this as the lawlessness that will characterize the last days.

Jesus is speaking of the end of the ages when He says: “And because iniquity (there the work ‘lawlessness’ is used in the Greek) shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”  Matt. 24:12.

Paul warns us in II Thess. 3:3-8:  “Let no man deceive you by any means:  For the day (of Christ’s return) shall not come, except there be a falling away first, and that man of sin (the lawless one, according to the original) be revealed, the son of perdition:  who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped:  so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.  For the mystery of iniquity (the same word, lawlessness) doth already work:  only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.  And then shall that wicked (that lawless one) be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.”

Notice that the antichrist is twice referred to in this passage as the Lawless one, and the days before the coming of the Lord are referred to as a time of lawlessness.

A strong evidence of this total disregard for God’s law is seen in the fact that there is not as much as a semblance of repentance.  We read in Rev. 9:20, 21, “And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood, which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:  neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.”

It is true that a disregard for God’s law has been practiced by the entire fallen human race since the fall in paradise.  The apostle John writes in I John 3:4, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth the law (the word is—is guilty of lawlessness); for sin is transgression of the law (lawlessness).”

This lawlessness develops throughout the history of the world.  God, in His righteous judgment, visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of those who hate Him, Ex. 20:5.  The world becomes increasingly hardened in her sin.  Therefore, the voice of conscience still speaks, and there is still a show or pretense of sorrow (II Cor. 7:10), but this is entirely lacking as history draws to its close and the world is ripened for judgment.

We read, for example, that Pharaoh had moments of weakness, when he wanted to compromise with God, allowing Israel to leave Egypt under his conditions.  But finally the hardening process reaches a point where he drives Moses from before his face, refusing ever to see him again.  Then the time of Israel’s deliverance has come.

Likewise in the life of Ahab.  When Elijah assures him of God’s just punishment upon him for slaying Naboth and stealing his vineyard, Ahab walks in sackcloth and ashes before the people in a pretense of humility and repentance.  At that moment the measure of his iniquity is not yet full.  But soon after he went to war, in spite of the divine warning that he would die.

So also throughout history the measure of iniquity in a world of lawlessness is filling up, and now is almost full.  God sends such plagues as the recent epidemic of Aids.  How obviously this is aimed at a very concrete sin.  Yet no one repents.  No one puts forth an effort to root out the cause of this dread disease, but every effort is put forth to find a cure or a preventive from spreading any farther.  The lawless ones continue in their vile lusts.

From the lowest slums to the highest echelons of society the sin of covetousness prevails as the root of all evil.  Where law and order are trampled underfoot chaos and total ruin must follow.  In many other respects, but also in this respect the world is driving herself to a dead-end road, to complete disaster.

Years ago Dr. Schilder from the Netherlands compared the world of the last day to a tavern at five o’clock in the morning, where the air is filled with the stench of liquor and smoke, where profligates are staggering to leave in utter confusion or otherwise lie under the table in drunken stupor.  There may be something to that comparison.

God will prove Himself just in His righteous judgment.  Matt. 13:41, “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them that do iniquity (lawlessness).”

See also Matt. 7:23, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (lawlessness).”

The wonder of grace is that we as God’s people are delivered from the bondage of lawlessness and corruption.

That is possible, first of all, because Christ took the burden of our sin and guilt upon Himself.  Mark 15:28, “and the Scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And He was numbered with the transgressors (lawless ones).”

Also in Titus 2:14 we read, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity (lawlessness) and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous in good works.”

Our deliverance is possible, in the second place, because of the work of God’s grace in our hearts, changing us from sinful rebels to obedient sons and daughters of the Most High.  In Rom. 4:7 we are told, as a quote from Psalm 32:1, “Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities (lawless deeds) are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.”

Paul warns us in II Timothy 3:1-5, that these last days are perilous times for the church of God.  Among the many sins of these days he mentions: “Men shall be lovers of their own selves…lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:  from such turn away.”

It is our privilege, but also our high calling: “Be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers:  for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness (lawlessness)? and what communion hath light with darkness?  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.”