The Greek word anomia occurs 13 times in the New Testament and it literally means “lawlessness.” As defined in one major Greek dictionary, anomia means “to behave with complete disregard for the laws or regulations of a society — ‘to live lawlessly, lawlessness, lawless living” (Louw-Nida Lexicon). The spirit behind anomia is not from above, but from below.
There is nothing wholesome about anomia, nothing good, nothing positive. Rather, it is evil and destructive, producing chaos, not order, and resulting in destruction. Paul actually describes the antichrist, who is virtually the living embodiment of the devil, as “the man of lawlessness” (see 2 Thessalonians 2:3). When we see anomia, lawlessness, we know who is behind it.
The spirit of anomia is not the spirit that emboldens someone to do what is right, even when that means going against the grain of society. That is a spirit of courage, a spirit of submission. And rather than emphasizing rebellion, that spirit emphasizes obedience. As Peter said to the religious leaders of his day, “We must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29).
Peter did not spit in the face of the religious authorities who wanted him to stop preaching in Jesus’ name. He did not leave their presence and incite a riot. He did not set buildings on fire. Instead, he and the other apostles said, “With all respect to your authority, when you command us to disobey God, we must disobey you instead. We will always obey our Lord.”
That is the polar opposite of the spirit of lawlessness, a spirit that despises authority and that cultivates chaos. And it is a spirit that is at work throughout America today, leaving a train of destruction in its path. We must firmly resist the spirit of anomia.
Paul wrote these important words in Romans 13, words that we need to put front and center during these times of cultural upheaval.
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.” (Romans 13:1–5)
We all agree that when a government is set on doing evil, as in Nazi Germany, for example, we resist their evil. But that godly resistance to evil is a far cry from the spirit of lawlessness, a spirit that scorns righteous authority and cultivates a spirit of disobedience. A society without proper authority will quickly disintegrate, leading to violence, war and collapse.
Even a family cannot operate without proper authority, and children who are not taught to obey their parents end up suffering for it later in life. God-established parameters are healthy and good. And when the people in authority abuse their privileges, we do not respond with lawlessness. We respond with principled obedience to a higher authority.
Peter described false teachers as “those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority” (2 Peter 2:10). This is a sign of the depth of their corruption.
To say it once more: the spirit that despises authority is from below, not from above.
On Thursday, June 11, I tweeted a link to an article explaining why true Christians could not be Marxists. One of my friends emailed me this in response:
I am very disturbed by believers accommodating movements that are based in anti-biblical world views. It is as if they do not do world view thinking at all. I can underhand why a Christian would or would not support Trump. . . . It is how you evaluate his bad behavior vs. polices etc.
But when it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement and Marxist revolutionary movements, it is so, so off. My reading of history is that every mass movement for change not influenced by the biblical world view leads to greater tyranny. So, the anti-police movement, defund the police movement, does not lead to no police but to a police state tyranny.
Think of the difference between the French revolution and its anti-God ideas vs. the American one, or the anti-slavery movement led by Christian revivalists and even MLK’s civil rights movement. All were biblical worldview influenced. Then think of the slavery that followed the communist revolutions. The death and destruction. How can Christians be so blind?
We are now reaping the whirlwind of what was sown in our universities for the last 60 years. From the universities to media. Only a mass revival beyond what we have ever seen can reverse it.”
Yes, only a great outpouring of the Spirit from above, through the Church, can reverse the growing spirit of anomia from below. Which S/spirit will prevail?