Rev. Gritters is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Byron Center, Michigan.

One sign of the end that ought to jump right out of the news into our faces is the sign of lawlessness. When Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24that iniquity would abound, He said, “lawlessnesswould abound.” Paul emphasizes the lawlessness of the last days when he says that the Antichrist is called the “man of sin,” literally, the “man of lawlessness” (II Thess. 2:3), and adds that the Antichrist will be produced by the “mystery of iniquity”—again, of “lawlessness” (vs. 7). The very thing we see today in our country and in all the world, Jesus and His apostle said would be a sign of the end.

Are your eyes open?

Our age is a lawless age, our generation a lawless people. It is not that people do not know the law, but that they hold the law in contempt. They violate the law because they acknowledge no law but their own. The law is laughed at.

Behind this contempt for the law is contempt for the Lawgiver. The law is the will of God; the authority behind the law is the authority of our sovereign God. The heart of the law is “Love God”; and the essence of lawlessness is, “I hate God.” That is lawlessness at its heart.

Daniel prophesies that the head of Antichrist’s empire will seek to “change times and laws.” He shall not only despise law or even ignore law, but actually change it into the very opposite. And because the spirit of Antichrist is always present, lawlessness is present and increasing.

This is not so difficult to see.

When the government protects children who dishonor their parents (getting abortions and purchasing birth control medicine without their consent), but punishes parents who discipline their children, it shows itself to be a lawless government. When our government teaches the opposite of God’s Word regarding the origin of the universe, and refuses to allow God’s Word to be heard, it shows itself to be a lawless government. And when our own government, beginning already in January of 1973 with the Roe vs. Wade decision, allows the murder of unborn infants, and at the same time refuses to execute lawless citizens, it removes all doubt. Ours is a lawless government.

When the government is lawless, it breeds a lawless generation of citizens. Students rebel against their teachers and against the government itself. Wives rebel against husbands, employees against employers. And citizens rise up against the government that feeds them. All of this is the bitter fruit of the lawlessness that began with our first parents when they revolted against God in the garden of Eden: “We will decide for ourselves what is good and right.”

Nor is the family immune to lawless behavior. “For every cause” husbands and wives are telling their lawyers to go to work on their marriage. Now, marriage is no longer needed for sex; one needs only to be “ready” for it, whatever that means. The law of God in the seventh commandment is despised. I think of the rampage the homosexuals are on across the land, “leaving the natural use of the woman” and burning “in their lust one towards another” (Rom. 1:26). Justly, they receive “in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet” (Rom. 1:27). Children are abandoned by their parents so that the awful question of the prophet, “can a mother forget her sucking child?” must be answered with an equally horrifying, “Yes, and frequently.” The institution of marriage and the family is set on its ear by our lawless generation.

But this is not even the worst.

Matthew 24‘s prophecy of iniquity abounding refers tothe church. Jesus had an eye on the woeful condition of the church, whose love waxed cold. You see, only those who “loved” can “wax cold” in love.

The church is lawless today al; most beyond imagination. Failing to preach about the authority of God vested in the government and elder and school-teacher, the church has the gall to teach that rebellion is proper, and the audacity to fly the flag of Christ over its deviltry. A few years back, the leader of one of the largest Protestant denominations in our country said, ‘When a government fails to provide justice, peace or freedom for all its citizens, it is distorting true order; then Christians should . . . seek to bring the needed change, even at the cost of disobeying the government.” That is lawlessness.

Deeper yet is the church’s failure to preach that the standard, the authority, for all law is the Word of God. Now the Scripture is outdated (stopped being applicable some years ago). Now the Bible is not to be taken literally (“in six days,” you say?). The law is man; the standard, science; the goal, pleasure.

With overwhelming grief the believer weeps who loves God’s law.

“Because iniquity abounds, the love of many shall wax cold.” Another translation might be, “Because lawlessness abounds, the love of many shall be blown cold.” The love of man for God, for Christ, for the Scripture, for the neighbor, is chilled by an icy wind blowing through the churches.

This is a result of lawlessness, and not the other way around. Jesus did not say, “Because love waxes cold, lawlessness will abound.” It is not true that first love cools, and then there is lawlessness. That may happen, but that is not what Jesus said. Because lawlessness fills the church today, love for God, God’s Christ, God’s Word, and God’s people, waxes cold.

That’s practical, especially for you young people.

Some think that, they can be lawless in the church, without worry. Claiming they will be able to rekindle the love of God in their hearts, or that lawlessness does nothing to quench their love for God, they are reckless in their lives. They are mistaken! The man who lives in lawlessness will also find that inevitable result—his love cools.

I say, that is practical for young people. Young people, young adults, please do not think that you can “sow your wild oats” for a few years until there is a good reason to become responsible, make confession of faith, and live a godly life of love for God. Let the Word of God warn you here: there is no guarantee that your lawlessness will not blow an icy wind on your heart so that there is no love of God, and you will never find your way back!

Lawless behavior also cools your love for your neighbor. Has your behavior been lawless in your dating relationships? Think about it, very, very carefully. What we sow, we also reap. If we sow the wind, we reap the whirlwind of a dreadful chilling of love.

Many shall wax cold in love. A majority of church-goers will practice lawlessness with the “Lawless One.” And the love of the majority of churchgoers will be blown cold with an icy wind that rages through the church. This is Jesus’ testimony.

This gives us a different picture of the end times than some would paint. This is different from the view of the end times that looks for the world to become better and better and for the size of the church to be swelled through the conversion of multitudes and even nations. No, the world is always the world, exhausting the resources of sin. The church becomes smaller and smaller. Many will be deceived by false doctrine; many will follow after the Antichrist; many will be offended because of persecution; the love of many will wax cold because of iniquity.

This is possible in some because their love was never true love. They are baptized in the church, brought up in the ways of God, even confess their faith. Others join the church because it is fashionable, or because their future spouse is a member. But because they abound in iniquity, what love they thought they had for God and for the church is blown cold. The end of them is damnation, for only those that endure to the end shall be saved.

In others, love waxes cold but will not be lost. Children of God cannot perish; but the flame of their love for God and their neighbor grows so dim, one would think there was no life there. But God is faithful to take them to glory. Still, the horror in that case, often, is that their children are cut off. They are not taught the love of God. There is no love for God in them. They perish.

Young people, endure to the end! You are called to stand opposed to the lawless world. Be those who keep the law of God, the law that calls you to love Him and love your neighbor. In the maelstrom of this wicked world, stand strong against the current. Guard against the entrance of iniquity in your life and in your circle of friends. Talk about it. Pray fervently for strength.

In that way, the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ preserves you unto the end, the very end. By the grace of God, nothing will be able to separate you from the love of God! And your love for Him and for your neighbor will flame on brightly into eternity.

Questions for Discussion:

1. What are some further examples of the world or the church “changing times and seasons,” that is, turning laws inside out?

2. Discuss some ways that young people are tempted to be lawless. How can this be combatted?

3. What is the Christian young person’s duty toward the lawlessness of our government and society? What is his duty toward the lawlessness in the church? Make sure your answers are based on the Bible.

4. In connection with the quotation from the church leader where he called the people to disobey the government, discuss Romans 13.

5. Discuss the Psalmist’s (paraphrased in The Psalter) expression, “with overwhelming grief I weep.” In what context was this said? Does it apply today?

6. Discuss how lawless behavior in dating can affect a dating relationship (see the reference to that in the article).