Depart From Iniquity

We know that those who practice the works of the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God.  Galatians 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  When you think of those who practice such things, perhaps you think of the wicked people of this world who have no faith in God and are consumed by their fleshly desires.  But consider what Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”  Here, Jesus is talking about individuals who believed in Him, who taught others about Him, and who did many wonders in His name.  These will be rejected in that day, not because they didn’t believe in Him, but because they did not do the will of His Father in heaven and they practiced iniquity or lawlessness.  Jesus later taught in Matthew 13:41-42 “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”  There will be those in His kingdom, the church, who offend and those who practice lawlessness; His angels will gather them out of His kingdom and cast them into the furnace of fire.

Some churches tolerate those who practice lawlessness.  The church in Corinth tolerated sexual immorality.  1 Corinthians 5:1-2 “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles — that a man has his father’s wife!  And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.”  The church in Pergamos tolerated lawlessness.  Revelation 2:14-15 “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.  Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.”  The church in Thyatira had a similar problem.  Revelation 2:20 “Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.”  Many churches today tolerate lawlessness among their members.  Paul gave instruction to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 “For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore ‘put away from yourselves the evil person.’”

A Christian believer may tolerate lawlessness in his own life.  He may commit sexual immorality.  He may look on a woman to lust after her and commit adultery in his heart (Matthew 5:28).  He may envy other people.  He may get drunk or willfully come under the influence of illegal drugs.  He may hate his neighbor or even his brother.  When confronted with his sin, he may lie about it.  There can be any number of acts of lawlessness that a believer might tolerate in his own life.  He may have the attitude “I know it is wrong, but I’ll go ahead and do it and then get forgiveness later.”  If you are guilty of sin, you need to truly be sorry for your sin and not tolerate lawlessness in yourself.  2 Corinthians 7:10 “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”

Seek for purity and do not tolerate any lawlessness in your life.  Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”  When you truly appreciate the love and grace of God toward you, you will want to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and be zealous for good works. 1 John 3:2-3 “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.  And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”  You should seek to be pure from lawlessness in your life.

I encourage you to have the same heart as David expressed in Psalms 141:3-4 “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.  Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men who work iniquity; and do not let me eat of their delicacies.”  The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:19 “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.’”  My encouragement is for you to depart from all iniquity or lawlessness.