Except for His Restraint (1)
Our Lawless Age (13)
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 2 Thessalonians 2:7
There is only one explanation for why our society and other societies like it have not torn themselves apart in the pursuit of pleasure: God is graciously restraining them. As bad as things are in our society, as sad and disgusting as are the various ills which have become the norm in our day as a result of the pursuit of pleasure, things could actually be much worse. As even so great a servant of God as King David showed, when a man (or a society) becomes a law unto himself, hey will permit nothing to keep him from his pleasure. Adultery, conspiracy, murder, deceit, cover-up–all these and more can be justified for the sake of mere pleasure.
And don’t we see this practically every day? Don’t we see men abandoning wives and families because they’ve “found a new love”? Don’t we see people–even our national government–running up debt we’ll never be able to repay simply to provide ourselves or our constituents with something we or they feel like we want or deserve? And don’t we see sex and fun held out as the acme of human fulfillment, the goal of human life, the indicator of personal and national success?
But if God Himself were not restraining this nation and its people, the situation would actually be far worse. How is God restraining the libidinous passions of a pleasure-hungry people? In four ways. Let’s consider the first two here, each of which relates to the Law of God.
First, the Law of God continues to inform the statutes of our nation, even as people vilify the Law of God and insist on its irrelevance for our daily lives. Unlike the Founders of this nation, who inscribed large chunks of the Law of God in their colonial law codes, people today want nothing of it. However, they do want legal protection against theft, murder, violence, and deceitful business practices–all of which, and much more, have their origins in the Law of God. Were it not for the lingering benefits of the Law of God, nothing would be sacred, and no one would be safe.
Second, God restrains the pleasure-seeking passions of our contemporaries through their own consciences. He has written the works of the Law on the conscience of every person (Rom. 2:14, 15), and for many people, that Law, though unacknowledged, still works to bring guilt, shame, and a sense of taboo in many areas of their lives.
God is restraining wickedness by the memory of His Law. But God will not always strive with rebellious human beings (Gen. 6:3).
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In the Gates is a devotional series on the Law of God by Rev. T.M. Moore, editor of the Worldview Church. He serves as dean of the Centurions Program of the Wilberforce Forum and principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He is the author or editor of twenty books, and has contributed chapters to four others. His essays, reviews, articles, papers, and poetry have appeared in dozens of national and international journals, and on a wide range of websites. His most recent books are The Ailbe Psalter and The Ground for Christian Ethics (Waxed Tablet).
Scripture quotations in this article are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, (c) copyright 2001, 2007 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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