As it should be, celebrating Memorial Day is traditionally focused on those who gave their lives in defense of our country. These days it might be worthwhile to point out that their fight was not against others because their nationality, language, religion, or ethnic and racial characteristics were different. We didn’t go to war against Japan, for instance, because their culture didn’t reflect a Judeo-Christian worldview. We went to war because they not only attacked our military base, killed our citizens, and invaded our sovereign territory, but also because their approach to governing people represented an existential threat to our entire way of life.
More at Stake ~
We were protecting American lives when we chose to go to war, of course, but there was more at stake. We were also defending those unique distinctives that made us Americans, including the foundation of our method of governance. Unlike those who attacked us, our citizens were guaranteed certain individual rights, privileges, and freedoms that our founding documents declared to be “unalienable”. We had personal freedoms and opportunities unmatched by any nation on earth, and all of it was ensured and protected by a system of laws. We had an operational concept of justice that surpassed anything ever established. Our brave men and women fought and died because losing that meant losing everything.
When our founders set out to develop a justice system to ensure our individual freedoms, they didn’t begin with the notion that our people, or they, were better than other people, quite the contrary. They realized what God declared through the Apostle Paul, who said,
But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, (1 Timothy 1:8–10 NKJV)
There’s a Vital Qualifier ~
The opening statement in that passage is simple, but disturbingly profound. Before listing some of the potential threats that the law defends against, Paul inserted a significant qualifier. The law is good, he said, IF one uses it lawfully. It has often been pointed out that in Adolph Hitler’s systematic extermination of the Jewish population in his country, no German laws were broken. To say that he used the law unlawfully is a monumental understatement. Tragically, Hitler was neither the first nor the last to employ that terrifying tactic.
When the law itself becomes a means to accomplish things that are flagrant violations and total contradictions of everything that laws were designed to prevent, it becomes a weapon with more destructive power against a people than a nuclear bomb. When the ungodly attain the power to use the law unlawfully, a destructive process begins. Freedoms are extinguished, not established. Rights are denied, not defended. Privileges are purged, not protected. The end result is that protective justice no longer exists and widespread anarchy reigns. A nation once defined by natural borders, moral boundaries, and spiritual foundations degenerates into a chaotic mass of frightened, enraged, and confused people mindlessly attacking one another.
Law is good, Paul said, a guarantor of liberty, a protector of life and property, a guardian of opportunity, a rewarder of ambitious undertakings, an insurer of social stability, and a sustainer of moral rectitude. But it is only that, “if” … one uses it lawfully.
A Better Way to Honor ~
Perhaps the best way for us to honor those who sacrificed so much for us would be to enlist in a different kind of army and actively engage in a different kind of warfare. Our whole concept of justice is under attack every day, and the legal system meant to protect our most cherished rights and liberties is being mocked and systematically undermined. As laws are being flagrantly and arrogantly ignored, those dedicated to enforcing them are being maligned, assaulted, and stripped of their authority.
- Stealing under the guise of “protest” has become some kind of twisted version of “reparations”.
- Randomly beating defenseless people is now justifiable because “woke” activists declared them to be an oppressor by virtue of their race, ethnicity, or perceived religious affiliation.
- Mandates to teach curriculum designed to turn our children into shame-ridden pacifists or racially motivated Marxists are multiplying at an alarming rate.
- And beyond the cavalier disregard of laws already enacted and that should be enforced, new ones are being proposed every day that clearly illustrate what it means to use the law unlawfully.
Our growing tendency to tolerate and even normalize anarchy is not surprising when we consider the role it plays as God’s prophetic calendar moves toward its predetermined conclusion.
A Sobering Use of the Term ~
The disruptive and subversive impact of lawlessness displayed with increasing frequency in our country adds current relevance to Paul’s use of the term. In his last letter to the church in Thessalonica, he uses it to describe the mindset and attitude that characterizes God’s eternal enemy. In that context, the role of lawlessness commands our attention:
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:7–9 NKJV)
If the mystery of lawlessness was already at work over 2,000 years ago, we shouldn’t be surprised to find it increasing more and more throughout the world today. The question facing us this Memorial Day is what can we possibly do about it? As always, God has a plan and every one of us has a role to play.
A Good Place to Begin ~
If we’re going to push back against lawlessness, it doesn’t begin with joining a political group or making declarations on social media platforms. The first step is to stop practicing it ourselves. Lawless behavior is not relegated just to things like looting stores, burning buildings, or destroying property. God defines it like this:
Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. (1 John 3:4–5 NKJV)
Pushing back against lawlessness in the land begins by confronting the sins in our own lives, especially those presumptuous ones we’ve tended to excuse. Of the many whose sacrifices we honor this weekend, there’s One whose sacrifice on behalf of all of us, that we cherish and celebrate most. Jesus Christ can forgive our sins and make us an integral part of the one force on earth that can hold lawlessness at bay. May this Memorial Day be the one that sees that force grow more powerfully than ever.
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “The law is good, the Apostle Paul said, IF one uses it lawfully. In Adolph Hitler’s systematic extermination of the Jewish population in his country, no German laws were broken. To say that he used the law unlawfully is a monumental understatement.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet) https://ctt.ec/C334r
- “When the law itself becomes a means to accomplish things that are flagrant violations & total contradictions of everything that laws were designed to prevent, it becomes a weapon with more destructive power against a people than a nuclear bomb.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “When the ungodly attain the power to use the law unlawfully . . . , a nation once defined by natural borders, moral boundaries, and spiritual foundations eventually degenerates into a chaotic mass of frightened, enraged, and confused people mindlessly attacking one another.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Law is good, the Apostle Paul said — a guarantor of liberty, a protector of life & property, guardian of opportunity, rewarder of ambitious undertakings, insurer of social stability, & sustainer of moral rectitude. But only “if” used wisely.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “If we’re going to push back against lawlessness, it doesn’t begin with joining a political group or making declarations on social media platforms. The first step is to stop practicing it ourselves.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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