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Iniquity or Lawlessness

It is remarkable how accurate those scholars, commissioned by King James in 1604, were in accomplishing their assigned tasks. Forty-seven leading Biblical scholars of England spent seven years to produce a translation of the mind of God which even today has a profound impact on our culture.

They consistently translated the Greek word anomia as “iniquity,” and such is far from being a wrong translation. However, this Greek word reflects an even richer meaning of anomia. This word is a compound word combining two Greek words literally rendered as “no law.” Truly those who practice iniquity are living outside the law of our Lord. With this in mind, look at the following passages.

Jesus described the events of the Day of Judgment of all mankind as including a discussion between the Lord and those who are lost. Knowing their fate, they seek to convince the Lord they should not be condemned. “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” (Matt. 7:22). Many in our day would view this kind of service to Christ as something to admire—prophesying, casting out demons and doing mighty works in the name of the Lord.

Such was not the way the Judge of all mankind saw their actions. He describes their works as anomia. The King James Version translates this word as “iniquity,” but the literal meaning of this word is lawlessness. Whatever they had done, even though they described it as being done in the name of Jesus, was not His law. It was not authorized by Him. They had no respect for what Jesus had said, and ignoring what He said, they were lawless individuals.

When we read the word iniquity, we tend to think of those whose lives are openly filled with immorality and evil. Look again at that passage in Matthew. They were guilty of iniquity while appearing to be doing His will. What they were doing was iniquity because they were lawless!

When one starts down the road of ignoring the law of God, he has crossed the boundary which separates men from God. Lawlessness in “righteous actions” opens the door to even more lawlessness. Paul described those who became slaves “…of lawlessness (Greek word is anomia) leading to more lawlessness” (Rom. 6:19).

We are told to discern false teachers by their fruits (Matt. 7:15-16). However, do not just look at the mighty works they appear to do. This is seen when just six verses later those works are described as lawlessness (Matt. 7:22). “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father” (Matt.  7:21).