The Deceiver To Identify
God of All Truth, help me to stand firm and hold fast to the teachings I receive through Your Word.
Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1–17
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
5 Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
It’s dangerous to think we’re immune from deception. Pray that this passage would help you to be alert to the danger.
It’s a surprise to find that Paul insists not on one coming, but two! For before Christ’s return, the “man of lawlessness” will come (3). But the reason Paul does this is simple. Some are clearly going around trying to claim Jesus has already returned (2). If we’re right in thinking this letter comes a matter of months after the first, then it’s striking how quickly false teaching can set in. Perhaps this is one of the consequences of Paul being forced to leave Thessalonica too soon.
Still, Paul had been clear when he was with them all (5): the evil one is a reality—Satan is up to all kinds of tricks—and one of them is to pretend that he, and not Christ, is the one with all the power. With manipulative speeches and fraudulent miracles, people are taken in and so start to worship him instead. John sees something very similar in Revelation 13:3,4.
It is crucial therefore not to be taken in, but to trust that Christ has the power to blow the enemy away when he comes (8), and to stand firm on the Gospel we have believed in (15). Paul did not write this chapter to alarm us but encourage us, to stiffen our resolve.
How can you stand firm for the truth in a world that says there is none? How can you speak the truth in love today?
Father, help me to grow in discernment, and to trust only what I know with confidence is from You (Eph. 4:15).
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