THE CHURCH OF APOLLYON
by Bill Burkett
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into
the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my
Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day,
Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy
name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many
wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never
knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Matthew 7:21-23
This is an amazing discourse by the Lord describing what fits the description of a modern Pentecostal or Charismatic church. I limit it to Pentecost because they believed in the miraculous and fit the Charismatic template. This description Jesus gives of this church reveals not only the apostate church and its fate in judgment but it also acquaints us with the glorified Jesus and how he will deal with churches and their leaders who failed to teach God’s word in truth. According to what this church claimed they were an emotional church that attributed glory to God invoking Jesus name in all they did. They claimed miracles and said they prophesied and had done many wonderful works. It sure sounds like a love cult mega church to me! Note that the Lord did not refute their claims but instantly made it clear why they were rejected and cast off.
A wise minister of the word would do well to go on his knees and read these verses and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to his heart where he stands with God in light of these verses and be ready to make any changes in his life and ministry where he might be failing God. The limelight is a hard thing for a charismatic personality to give up but when the Holy Spirit reveals to us the self deception we have been living under, it is not difficult to repent and be set free from the demons of pragmatism, expedience and relativism. Eve only had one snake talking to her but in these last days there are many ssssssnakes coming out of the darkness of this jungle world to contradict God’s commandments. I might add here that in the beginning it was the issue of God’s commandments that Satan attacked and caused Eve to question. God’s commandments are still the issue with the snake. When he demonizes God’s commandments he is demonizing God! Most Christians who have not had the proper doctrinal teaching in their churches have never had it explained to them that God’s love and God’s commandments are synonymous thinking they are diametric, opposites. This concept of love leaves the Christian opposing God’s commandments (Oh, Satan is so clever!) breaking his biblical Spirit connection with God and taking on a an antinomian attitude toward obedience to the commandment. The entire Bible is replete with teaching on the synonymous nature of God’s law and love. There are so many of these teachings given by Christ and the apostles that it is senseless to leave references to prove this point. I will just refer the reader to John’s first epistle for starters. The most blatant error of an apostate church is their claim that they do not preach doctrine. What splendid idiocy that statement is! To make that statement IS a doctrine, in fact.
Jesus not only rejected this Apollyon church in Matthew 7:21-23 but then said, I never knew you. I place the emphasis on the word, never. My, there are going to be some big surprises in the judgment! Now let us look at the two key words that tell us why they were cast out of his presence.
THE FIRST KEY WORD: INIQUITY
“Away from me, ye workers of iniquity.” The first key word in Jesus’ condemnation of this church is the word anomia, translated as iniquity. This word iniquity usually refers to all sorts of wickedness. But here it is anomia, to be lawless. This church did not teach the moral message of the Bible and apparently slandered the commandment and the moral teaching of the Bible as being legalistic and diametric to the love of God. They preached and taught a mush god religion that was foreign to the apostle’s doctrine. Anomia is not to be confused with anti-nomia (against law); this is a-nomia. Antinomia means to be against the moral laws of God. The difference between anomia (neutral, indifferent to, or without morality) and anti-nomia would be the difference between amoral and immoral. Amoral just doesn’t give a hoot about holiness or the godly life. The immoral opposes moral principle and is against it. But those who disdain the righteousness of the moral law and relegate it to the trash heap of legalism are usually guilty too of speaking cynically of Christians who regard and follow the commandment as being legalists. In the judgment they will stare into the eyes of fire in unbelief as they are cast out of his presence with the voice of thunder deafening their ears.
Amorality” is more insidious than “immorality,” because it is too good to go to hell and too bad to go to heaven. It’s hard to condemn those who praise the Lord, prophesy and has mission projects over the world feeding the hungry. And, just as hard to commend when they have a lifestyle of immodesty, adulterous marriages, obsessed with the foul sports industry and tell dirty stories – not to mention married couples who buy X-rated movies and sit up at night watching them. I was a marriage counselor for seventeen years giving seminars across America in the Bible churches and never imagined what was going on in some of our evangelical families. The condition of moral indifference and insensitivities has become rampant in liberal and Charismatic churches. Fortunately, there are many who live above the multitude.
This word anomia used here means non-law, or no-law. They had faith and works, but they had no interest in the biblical doctrines of moral transformation and the teaching of moral perfection – making changes to conform to the fulness of Christ. Ephesians 4:13. They were amoral and anti-doctrine. They gave little and no time or attention to the governing content and instruction of the bible. more than 90% of the bible content teaches the legal aspects of justification, the perfecting of holiness in the fear of God and government in one form or another. They taught love without law and trifled with the word of God when it came to matters of obedience and making moral changes in their lives.
The moral law is God’s revelation of his own divine nature and character. It is a part of conversion and the granite upon which the church is established. It is part of the new nature we receive at the cross and must be nurtured and strengthened. It defines the cross and sin and the genuineness of Christianity. God’s law contains what are the only defining absolutes of divine order and the only description of his love. Go thou and learn what that meaneth.
8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Only God’s law contains the moral elements that identify the true redemptive experience! (See Psalm 19:7; Jeremiah 9:13; John 14:15; 15:14.) Anomia, translated iniquity in this text, reflects the idea of the state of being lawless. It indicates by the Lord’s vehement casting off of these “praisers” that they held his moral commandments in contempt, utterly ignoring them and apparently opposed to teaching them for fear of losing the people and not being able to pay the bills. (Read Matthew 5:21-48)
Jesus told us, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” The word anomia describes Christians who were apparently once justified and fell into the errors of a condition-less evangelicalism. They exempted the body from being brought under the sanctifying principles of purity. Romans 12:1. They had faith in Christ, but placed no importance on the one thousand and fifty commandments given to the New Covenant church in the writings of the New Testament instructing us how to please God. For this reason (they were lawless) . . . they were lost! They had no experience of personal intimacy with the Lord. They had cast off the commandments and listened to their carnal teachers instead of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit because it accommodated their carnal preferences until they had become a law unto themselves.
“This definition of sin sets forth its essential character as the rejection of the law or will of God and the substitution of the will of self.” (See W.E. Vine Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words: Lawless, Iniquity.)
I was walking to the elevator in a hotel with a young pastor and we were discussing a doctrinal matter. I made the comment that as ministers God has entrusted us to carefully teach the moral principles of holiness. Very casually he said, “Oh, brother, I just get people saved and then the Holy Ghost does the rest.” The church he was pastor of was handed to him by a godly man who had retired. It went from glory to ungodliness and then he left it in ruin. As ministers of the gospel we will receive the greater condemnation if we fail to carry out Paul’s stern words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16!
So, these being rejected in judgment confessed an espousal and loyalty to Christ personally, but cast off His moral law. Note how that they repeated the words, “In thy name”; “In they name”; “In they name!” Reject the Word of sanctification and you have rejected the blood, the very efficacy of the cross! There is more fuzzy thinking on the doctrine of moral obligation to the word of God that we are to regard and apply than perhaps any other doctrine. We had better begin to wake up to the fact that Jesus will be rejecting lawless Christians at the judgment seat and make a serious study of the matter (See James 2:12; law of liberty).
W. E. Vine says of this word anomia, “not a law of compulsion enforced from without, but meeting with ready obedience through the desire and delight of the renewed being who is subject to it; into it he looks and in its teaching he delights.”
Calvary provides me with the holy inner presence of the Spirit of Christ that loves the law of the Lord. Now it is dwelling in my heart in the form of moral desire – now I delight in moral excellence – the spirit of the moral law (love) is in me. If that love for perfection, to be holy, for moral excellence, is not in me, then the written law exposes me as not possessing agape (1 John 1:3-5; Romans 8:4; John 14:15, 21, 23-24).
THE SECOND KEY WORD: KNEW
“I never knew you.” Ginosko is the particular Greek word Jesus uses here. The two most used to translate into our English word, knew are orda and ginosk. Orda means to know as merely a matter of knowledge. But ginosk means to know personally and intimately. So, you may know (orda) who the president of Argentina is because you have seen his photo and read about him in the news. But you don’t know (ginosk) him personally as a friend.
There are fifteen different Greek words translated as “know” or “knew” in English. Let us see where this word is used in other passages to get the full impact of what Jesus said.
“And Joseph knew (Ginosko) her not (Mary) until she had brought forth the first born” (Matthew 1:25).
“But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew (Ginosko) all men” (John 2:24).
To get the full impact of how strong this word ginosk is, Matthew uses this word to describe the intimate relationship between a man and a woman when they consummate the marriage in the love act. Jesus said to this apostate Apollyon church, “I was never intimate or close to you.” The church is the bride of Christ and Jesus loves the church, but these people had put something very important out of their message! They had believed the lie of the Devil that obedience to the moral law and to teach that moral law and conform to that moral law was a vital element of the gospel and included in his redemptive purpose.
This is also referred to as experimental knowledge as opposed to non-experimental knowledge. Ginosko is used in terms of the knowers’ approval of the known. We see this in the above scriptures, as well as many others which space does not allow us to list. Young’s Analytical (Lexical) Concordance to the Bible (Look under “know,” not “knew.”) is a good source to extend this study.
Paraphrased, Jesus literally said to these apostates who cast out demons and prophesied, “Away from me, you lawless ones! I was never intimate with you.”