Why is it that we face the prospect of disobeying the Lord? Why do we sometimes face great difficulty in obeying God? Why do we suffer emotionally and even physically when we are obeying the Lord? And, why do we sometimes feel like we have been overcome? There is some force out there that does not want us to live in peace, joy and comfort. It tries its best to vilify our trust in the Lord. It always lurks around us. It works to confuse our beliefs concerning God, His promises and works. It is firm on forcing us to make decisions by creating unwarranted anxiousness. Fear and hopelessness can enter us are by it. It has everything in it that the Lord God does not intend or will for us. The apostle Paul was quite aware of it. His life in God’s realm taught him of it. He has seen its vileness and treachery through His wisdom. And God gave him the right to share his knowledge of it with the believers. “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way” (2 Thess. 2:7).
One thing we must all be aware of is that the mystery of lawlessness is present around us. It is the force out there in the world. If it makes us fall, we suffer the consequences. If we are restraining from it, we still suffer, but for the reward of righteousness. We can let it rule us by fearing it and make unwise decisions. Or, we can hold ourselves back from it and enjoy peace, joy and comfort from the Lord. When it is working, either we work with it or against it. This decides the kind of people we are and become. But the Lord wants all believers to become like Him. So, he desires we hold back from it. Lawlessness is defined simply as lawless deeds. They are ever present before us and if not careful, can appear in us. It is because of them we face the prospect of disobeying the Lord, find it difficult to obey God, suffer and feel as if overcome. Lawlessness has a mystery to it, since its appearance cannot be easily understood, but its working nature can be deciphered by faith. Its ways and timing too cannot be perfectly predicted. What we can know by faith is that it is dangerous to our way of life. It is because of such knowledge that we should and could hold back. Then, it will have no power or affect over us.
Lawlessness is the way to the deadly apostasy (defection). It is of Satan, without doubt. But, it can surprise us, attack and try to smear its filth over us. It is by the deeds or the working of those in whom it dwells. These are usually thought of to be the worldly, but the real culprits with it are those who move among the believers as the believing. Their deeds are wrought in the power of the world. They do deeds like the world, but with greater deceptiveness. Without strong faith they are difficult to identify and so, can cause greater harm. They are easily supposed to be of Christ, since they profess to know God and are able to offer valid reasons for their deeds. But, the first thing they do is alter the truth of the gospel with clever interpretation and speech. They create room to maneuver in and with the world. Abiding by them robs us the joy in the Lord. For this reason, it is utterly important we are always on our toes. This means,
- To have a faith that is strongly rooted in the Lord
- To test ourselves to see if we are continuing in faith
- To frequently ask the Lord to increase our faith; this provides to the increase of our understanding of Him.
When faith is strong, we restrain from lawlessness until we are taken out of the way, i.e. taken out of its way when the Lord ends our time on earth. For lawlessness will continue and will be allowed to continue its mystery until the appearance of the Lord. But, we will be taken out of its way to receive the rest God prepared indicating that our task on earth is done. So, having known we ought to restrain from lawlessness throughout our life, we do it by strong faith. Strong faith is acquired by listening to the Spirit of Jesus. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 3:22). The Spirit is given to us that we understand the will of God and Christ from the Word. He is there to take away fear from us and give us confidence to thrive in life in the Lord. He builds our faith from the Word by establishing the things God destined for us. As we see Him working, it becomes all the more evident we are in the truth. He cautions us, reproves and encourages us for pleasing God. We meticulously decipher lawlessness. Its mystery is countered by His wisdom.
So, practice listening to the Spirit. You can do it by daily reading the Word with prayer. He will teach you great and unknown things for a faithful life. Here is a metaphor to understand how this works. “Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything” (Gal. 4:1). Until we enter heaven, we are all like children that need to be taught, led, supported and strengthened. We should never stray from this fact. We are heirs of the promise through faith in Christ. All that is God’s is ours, but the time for it will come. Therefore, we ought to be obedient to God in all aspects of our life just as a slave is to his master. Obedience is displayed by listening to the Spirit and acting on His guidance. When our whole mind is set on this, the mystery of lawlessness will fail to affect us or make its abode in us. There are wonderful outcomes to having a teachable spirit, i.e. having an ear to listen to the Spirit.
- Our faith will grow making us immovable in the Lord. “But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).We are not only set to live eternally with Jesus, but since we live in the truth, we keep receiving the love of God through Christ.
- We acquire the mind of boy Jesus. “And He said to them, ‘Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?’” (Luke 2:49). Jesus’ focus from a very young age was on doing the will of the Father. Being in the Father’s house occupies us to restrain from lawlessness.
- Our life can only be better, but not worse. “Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation” (Matt. 12:45). O, what a terrible danger we avoid! Our joy, peace and comfort remain.
- The Lord’s hand will not be against us. “Hear this, O elders, and listen, all inhabitants of the land. Has anything like this happened in your days or in your fathers’ days?” (Joel 1:2). If we suffer loss for His name, it is not the result of lawlessness. And we will be replenished with better and worthy things by His mighty hand.