What happens to us when we choose not to follow God’s way? I do not mean where we might ultimately end up, i.e. heaven or hell, but what happens here and right now.
Many of us are familiar with the story Jesus told of the wise man and the foolish man (Matthew 7:24-27). The wise man built his house upon the rock, so that when the storm came, it stood firm. The foolish man, on the other hand, built his house upon the sand, and it was destroyed by the storm.
The point that Jesus made was about doing what He taught. This story was told immediately after Jesus had declared that not everyone who called Him “Lord, Lord” would enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who did the will of the Father would. To those who called Him “Lord” but did not obey His words, Jesus renounced them as “workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23, ESV).
That is the state in which we find ourselves when we live contrary to what He has shown us – lawlessness. God’s laws are not just about do’s and don’ts. They are boundaries within which God has designed the best life for us. Step outside them and we are on our own, and chaos will be the result. Live without them and we enter the land of lawlessness.
Today we have the advantage of seeing the consequences of lawlessness in some societies. One example is in the area of sexuality and marriage. God created us male and female, and sex and marriage are between man and woman. Homosexual practices and marrying someone of the same sex ignore these boundaries.
Contemplate the dire consequences of other sexual boundaries being ignored: within families (incest); between adults and children (paedophilia); between humans and animals (bestiality). “Ridiculous,” some might say. “That will never happen here.” But these are not new: they were commonplace during earlier epochs of history, even among those societies considered as“civilised”. Things appear to have come full circle.
Lawlessness is a consequence of ignoring moral absolutes. Moral laws are not the conjecture of human minds about their ideals. We believe they come from a higher moral authority: God who reveals them to us in Scripture. When we do not do what has been divinely revealed to us, we work out our own standards, and end up as “workers of lawlessness”.
Lawlessness is not just a matter of ignoring God’s boundaries. It includes setting up our own “laws”, and justifying them in spite of their contradicting God’s.
To know what is right, we have to start with knowing Who is the right One. Then we hear and study what He reveals about the subject.
That, however, is only the beginning. We have to move on to do what He has said.
During this season when we celebrate our country’s National Day, we are reminded that “righteousness exalts a nation” (Proverbs 14:34). It is not enough to know what is right, like those who came to Jesus declaring “Lord, Lord”. It is doing what He taught that Jesus applauded in the wise man.
We must not forget the rest of that verse: “But sin is a disgrace to any people.” (NASB) Lest our rejection of lawlessness turns into self-righteousness, we should remember that many participants in these acts may actually be powerless victims of sexual violence. Our doing what is right must also include reaching out to these persons.
Because “sin is a disgrace to any people” or society, we Christians have to do more than just be concerned about our personal righteousness. It is the righteousness of the nation that must be our desire as well. That calls for us to do works of righteousness.
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Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup – was elected Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore in 2012. He has been a Methodist pastor for more than 30 years.