The book of Daniel is categorized as a book of prophecy, but it’s partly history as well. Second Thessalonians is categorized as an epistle, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed it’s almost half prophecy. Today I read chapter 2, and the prophetic part captured me, which is perhaps unusual because I tend to look for practical, everyday things in the Bible.
Paul writes about the coming of the “lawless one,” whom Christians often refer to as the Antichrist. Paul calls him “the man of sin, the son of perdition.”
who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
-2 Thessalonians 2:4 (NKJV)
Obviously, the lawless one has not come yet because no one has yet been able to exalt himself above all that is worshiped. People around this globe are still busy worshiping all manner of things. But lawlessness is already at work in this world. If you haven’t noticed, just check the news.
But one day, God will take away all restraints (see 2 Thess. 2:7). And when the Lord GOD stops restraining wickedness, then…
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,
and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,
that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
-2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 (NKJV)
The Lord will remove restraints and Satan will raise up the lawless one. The Antichrist, as we call him, will promise peace and prosperity. Satan will empower him to work amazing signs, perform miracles (maybe even miracles that look “good”), destroy his enemies, and appear to be a mighty man with an incredible unseen force at his disposal.
Think of it: destructive power, maybe healing power, and magical mind-blowing powers, all in one smooth-talking, charismatic man.
Talk about a wow-factor.
This guy will look impressive. But he will also be wicked. No code of ethics. No rudimentary morality. No magnanimity. He’ll promote sin and call it good.
A “man of sin” working “all unrighteous deception.”
People will flock to him. They won’t see the wickedness. Or the danger.
Check out verse 8: “whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and with the brightness of His coming.”
There’s a wow-factor for you. This invincible lawless one will be unable to withstand the Lord’s very breath and the awesome brightness that surrounds the Lord.
The lawless one will be utterly destroyed.
And what of those who followed him? They perish with their leader.
The lawless one’s followers will take pleasure in unrighteousness. They’ll reject the truth because it would hamper their lifestyles.
They will not love the truth that could have saved them. They will prefer the lie.
And God will say, “If the lie is what you want, that’s what I’ll give you.”
This lawless one will bring with him strong delusion, the Scripture says.
Delusion. When someone holds to a belief in spite of evidence that invalidates that belief. It can be associated with mental disorders. It implies a harmful deception.
But this lawless one’s delusion is so strong human reasoning will not be able to see it. Without God Himself helping them, people will be incapable of seeing past this strong delusion.
Those who had the opportunity to receive the truth and instead chose to pretend a lie was true–those people will be helpless.
They won’t even realize it. That’s part of delusion.
You know, I’d hate to drown or burn to death. But you know what creeps me out worse?
The coils of a giant constrictor snake. It strikes without warning. It coils around its victim in a matter of seconds. First the feeling of terror and helplessness. You can’t breath as these dry, cool, unfeeling scales wrap around you. Circulation is cut off. Your organs are dying for oxygen and nourishment. Blood pressure explodes. Your heart arrests, and you die. It takes only a short time, but what a horrifying short time.
That is how I picture the lawless one’s strong delusion.
The victim doesn’t see it coming. Long ago they rejected the truth, so they can’t hope to recognize the lie. It wraps them, squeezes them, keeps squeezing until they die.
There’s one difference between them and the constrictor’s victim. The victims of the delusion don’t even know they need help.
Brothers and sisters, can you fathom the horror? Billions of people deceived by this lawless one, and nothing can save them from impending destruction. Only God could help, but eventually He will leave them to their own devices. And they will be destroyed.
Today, the devil already has thousands of delusions wreaking havoc. But today, God is still working and has not yet withdrawn all restraints.
Oh, should we not pray with tears that God will break down lies? That there may be fewer who reject the truth, fewer who die not knowing they need help?
Friend, if you read this and do not believe in Jesus, will you take an honest look at who He is? Will you dare to read the Bible? Will you dare to ask God to reveal Himself to you? (Perhaps you don’t even believe He exists, but I know from personal experience He will not hide from you if you seek Him honestly.)
Will you dare to look at everything you believe and evaluate it ruthlessly to see if there are gaps in the logic, questions left unanswered, feelings left unresolved? This may be a surprise, but Jesus can satisfy all of that. No logical person wants to be deceived. So take a good, long, hard look. It can’t hurt.
And it might just turn your world upside down. In the best possible way.