Paul’s Warning a Message for Us Today!
Paul, while in prison, wrote a passionate plea to the brethren in Ephesus. He was warning them to avoid anomia, the systematized error of their day. He was concerned that they were being “tossed to and fro” by the winds of false doctrines. He encouraged them to be mature and walk worthy of their calling. They were to be transformed, no longer walking in the aimless, purposeless and lawless ways of their society. For such ignorant behaviour would continue to alienate them from God. If they returned to their former lawless ways they would become willfully blind to God’s priorities. So it was crucial to avoid anomia, the systematized error or well-crafted deception — that lawless insolence that is the product of sensuality.
Many Warnings to Avoid Anomia
Jude, the brother of Jesus, became the leader of the Jerusalem church after James death. He pleaded with the brethren to “defend the faith.” Why? There were false brethren and church elders who were continuing the old lie. They taught, “God’s grace allows us to live immoral lives.” These people had denied the Lord, by distorting “grace” into an “immoral freedom.” Jude, like Paul, recognized the powerful impact of the doctrine of lawlessness, the systematized error. It would cause the people to reject Christ’s authority to tell them how to live their lives. Jesus was very clear that he had not come to abolish the law of Moses, nor the writings of the prophets. He came to magnify the law and make it honourable.
But for the last 2 millennia Christian churches have allowed the destructive heresy of anomia, lawlessness, to flourish. Both Peter and John also warned of the false teachers who would promise freedom. They would even grant “indulgences” to sin — to break God’s law of liberty and life. Both church leaders cautioned their readers to avoid anomia. Rather the brethren were encouraged to follow God’s commandments because they were not “burdensome.” Only a few decades after Christ’s death and resurrection this heresy of “grace without law” was gaining popularity. It was a direct attempt to disconnect the gospel from its Hebrew roots and all things “Jewish.” Why? In order to make it more acceptable in the Roman world.
“Anomia” in our Century
Fast-forward 2,000 years and the systematized error of anomia is alive and flourishing. In the secular world there is the modern trinity of moral relativism, multiculturalism, and political correctness. It has tried to disconnect the western culture from its biblical roots. In the churches there has been a similar disconnect. Yet all those disciples who wrote to the first century churches warned of false teachers, who would teach a gospel of lawlessness. The warning is for our day too!
But the biblical writers also offered encouragement. It would be our love of the truth that would protect us in a society that was wandering far from God. The truth would restore us to obedience, integrity, and moral courage in difficult times. Our love of God’s teachings, natural law, Moses’ law and Christ’s law, would set us free from sin that leads to death. If we follow the faith of Abraham who obeyed God’s statutes, commandments, and charge, then we will stand strong against the winds of false doctrine. We will be able to avoid the systematized error and please our Lord and teacher.
Paul on Law and Lawlessness