In this sermon, Pastor Babij continues giving important background information on 2 Peter 3 by further investigating teaching about the day of the Lord in 2 Thessalonians 2:5-10. Specifically, Pastor Babij explains from Thessalonians what will happen once the man of lawlessness, the antichrist, arrives on the world scene. Christians are to find sober encouragement in learning what will take place in the future and not be fearful.
This morning let’s take our Bibles. We’re going to be looking at 2 Peter and then quickly going to 2 Thessalonians this morning, and then looking at again some other passages of Scripture. So have your Bibles ready this morning. I guess all messages are teaching messages in some respects, but some messages are more teaching. And so that’s what’s going to be this morning. So put your thinking caps on. Get your Bibles ready. I want you to think through what’s being said here.
In 2 Peter chapter 3, I mentioned last time in verse number 10 and then verse number 12, it says:
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
And then verse 12 it says:
looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!
Now that’s Peter talking about the end of the tribulation period, where the second coming of Christ takes place. Thessalonians really is talking about the beginning of that period. And so let’s turn over to that passage in 2 Thessalonians. According to some, the Bible, they say, is unclear about end times. Eschatology is the word in theology. It means the study of future things. They say it only devides Christians. Some say let’s just be pan-millennialists and everything will pan out in the end. Of course, eschatological agnosticism appears to have become a fashion in our day. Certainly it will pan out the way God intends, but the fact does not absolve believers of their obligation to study and believe the prophetic Scriptures that describe how it will pan out. See, the Scriptures not only admonish Christians to be watchful whenever they would live on this earth, but even confers a special blessing upon those who carefully study the portions that most completely unveils the climactic grand scheme of God’s plan of history. Revelation chapter 1 verse 3, it says:
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
And then Revelation 22:7 says:
And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.
So the repercussions for not studying future things are far-reaching because once people ignore or dispose of the true meaning of the word of God and the truth contained there, then they can justify just about anything. And without faith in the sufficiency of Scripture and without the foundation of the Old Testament, including the message of the prophets, it will become easier even for believers to believe a lie, to believe what is false. So you have to ask yourself – you know what, as far as the end times, are you ignoring or rejecting or maybe you haven’t learned it yet. You haven’t heard it yet. See a reminder about the verse proceeding verse number 5 of chapter two, where it says:
who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
The sense is the day of the Lord is not present unless first in sequence within that day. There has come out an apostasy, and following the apostasies, beginning the revealing of the man of lawlessness. Therefore, the falling away and the revealing of the man of lawlessness are signs which fall within the early stages of the day of the Lord, after it has begun and not prior to it. So based on these findings, as I mentioned last week, Paul can encourage his readers that the non-occurrence of these signs means the day of the Lord has not yet begun. Even today we’re encouraged to know that the day of the Lord has not yet begun. See, God in Thessalonians promises the believers not wrath but rest, and not judgment but His presence.
In chapter 2 verse number one of 2 Thessalonians, it says:
Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him,
Again talking about the presence of the Lord. So the day of the Lord is first triggered by the rapture of the saints in the air to meet the Lord and be with Him forever, which triggers the start of God’s wrath, identified by the apostasy and the revealing of the man of lawlessness. Consequently the coming of Christ for the church is followed by an extended period of time in which God releases all the judgments within the tribulation period. So God’s children, the church in whom He loves, will be caught up to Himself before the seven year period.
So in the scheme of things in the premillennial eschatology, we see that the church age would come first, which we’re in right now – the age of grace. And then from the church age, we see the rapture of the church. That begins the day of the Lord, the outpouring of God’s wrath. And then that leads to the 7 year tribulation period. And then in the beginning of the 7 year tribulation, at the three and a half year mark, the abomination of desolation, where are the antichrist sits on the throne in Jerusalem and proclaim himself to be God, like it already said there in verse five of 2 Thessalonians. That will lead into a thousand year reign of Christ on the earth, where the saints come back with Him. Then there would be the release of Satan, a rebellion at the end. Where Peter picked it up was the end of the tribulation where there’ll be the great white throne judgment. The old heave and earth are gone, and then there’ll be a new heaven and a new earth. Of course the second coming, the armageddon, the sheep and the goat judgments, the binding of Satan, the resurrection of tribulation in Old Testament saints take place right there at the end of the tribulation.
So saying all that just to say that the church will be caught up before the 7 year tribulation. Now if you just take your Bibles and turned over to 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, notice in verses number 13 through 18 where he says:
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
In other words, in that passage of Scripture, it’s talking about the rapture of the church, the Lord coming for the church and take the church out before the seven-year period starts. So the rapture of the church is the bodily return of the Lord Jesus Christ before the 7 year tribulation, to translate the church from the earth between this event and His glorious return with his saints – that would be the second coming, to reward believers according to their work.
The book of Thessalonians deals with what happens before that time, before the day of the Lord and then into the day of the Lord. He is reassuring the Christians that, listen, the day of the Lord had not come. Even though you got a false letter from Paul, you thought it was from Paul, even though they threw you off track as to what you learned about the day of the Lord, I’m going to remind you again about what I taught you way back then. He said first there’s going to be a defiance, and that defiance is yet to come. It didn’t come yet. The apostasy, that means the falling away from true religion, true faith of the true church. And then of course the man of sin is revealed. The son of destruction, he will be revealed. Before that though, and the reason why it has not happened yet is because Paul is telling us that there’s going to be a delay. The delay is presently in effect. And if you notice in verse number 5, this is what he says to them. He reminds them again of the delay. He says:
Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?
So the apostle Paul reminds the Thessalonian believers that in the past, he instructed them on the end time matters. He didn’t think end time truths should actually be withheld from new converts, and we know that the Thessalonians were new converts. They were converted out of idolatry and paganism. He is saying to them – listen, don’t you remember, which implies a yes answer to them and conveys a kind of a mild rebuke – come on guys, don’t let your memory becomes distorted. At this point the time, stay alert, remain sober minded. Even though you’re going through persecution, you’re not in the day of the Lord. These things have to take place before it comes.
So he tells them that there’s a purpose for the delay too. Notice verse 6 of 2 Thessalonians. It says:
And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed.
So the word “know” in verse 6 is a very telling word here because it is a verb in perfect tense of the Greek. The linguist Molten points out the perfect tense is the most important exegetically of all the Greek tenses. By definition the force of the perfect tense is simply that it describes an event that, completed in the past, has results existing in the present time in relation to the time of the speaker. In other words, Paul’s past instruction has results existing in the present. Now what is that? Well, it says they know something. In verse number 6 – and you know, he’s stressing that to them, you know this very well. You know that what is holding him back, this man of lawlessness, the lawless one who is not Satan but some definite person who is doing the work of Satan. The implication is that this man is hidden but suddenly will be manifested. He will be revealed. He’ll be disclosed. You know that, he’s telling them. So the real purpose for the restraint is a divine purpose. That is, the restraint is that he the man of lawlessness may be revealed in his time, as it says in verse number 6, or at the proper time. Therefore, something presently is being exercise to hold back the unveiling of the man of sin. One commentator said the restraint prevents the premature manifestation of the man of sin as the very embodiment of iniquity.
Now we already learned in 2 Peter that everything’s on schedule. You see that the man of sin can only be revealed when the time is ripe, when history is ripe. The man of lawlessness will only be revealed at a divinely appointed time. That means God is in control of everything, every event that happens. He knows how to control the activities of history. And He knows how to advance and controls evil. Remember, He’s being patient holding it back so people can be saved, so the gospel can go out.
So what do they know? They know that he’s going to be a man. Although they don’t know who he is, but they do know this – they do know what he is going to be like. They do know what holds him back from being revealed. They do know that, and we ought to know that too. We ought to know that because this is going to encourage us. It’s going to comfort us. It’s going to bolster our faith in God’s plan. In a very real way, it’s exciting days for believers. We see a lot of things happening that no one else has ever viewed in history. We read these passages and we say – Wow, this looks like it’s happening right now. Like how close is the Lord? But we got to be ready no matter how long He tarries. We ought to be ready and know these things because these are the very things that are going to make our faith strong if persecution comes our way and they clamp down on believers and the church and they begin to persecute us. What are we going to do? Well we know these passages are here, so we have to do the same thing the Thessalonians are doing and to keep the faith.
So from the prophet Daniel. That’s why I read that this morning again. We can infer that this man will rise from some kind of revived Roman Empire. If you turn with me quickly to Daniel chapter 7. Let me just identify the place in the word of God this information is found and to kind of explain it briefly, because Paul is getting his information from the prophets, specifically from Daniel. He says in verse number 15 of Daniel chapter 7:
As for me, Daniel, my spirit was distressed within me, and the visions in my mind kept alarming me. I approached one of those who were standing by and began asking him the exact meaning of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things.
Now if you just been reading Daniel maybe at some time in your Christian life, at the end of Daniel the prophet is is called to seal up prophecy until the end. Now we come to Thessalonians, we come to Revelation, we come to 2 Peter, we come to the gospels, and we see now God unfolds His plan. He begins to open the curtain and let us look into see not everything but all that we need to know to know what God’s doing, so we can just trust what He’s doing.
So notice in verse 17 the meaning of the four beasts in Daniel 7:17:
These great beasts, which are four in number, are four kings who will arise from the earth.
And then the meaning of the fourth beast in verse 19:
Then I desire to know the exact meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its claws of bronze, and which devoured, crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet,
and then verse 23 of Daniel 7:
Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it.
Now this illustration here from Daniel tells us there’s already been four kingdoms. There’s been the Babylonian kingdom, the Medo Persian kingdom, the Greece kingdom. All these kingdoms have come risen and fallen. And then Rome came, and Rome was the very kingdom that was here when Jesus came the first time. But that kingdom still lives on in a very real way. Now if you look at verse number 20 of Daniel 7, it talks about the meaning of the ten horns:
and the meaning of the ten horns that were on its head and the other horn which came up, and before which three of them fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth uttering great boasts and which was larger in appearance than its associate.
The ten horns actually represent the kings depicted in chapter 2 of Daniel as the ten toes of this image here. The kings who are at the end time will give their authority to the supreme ruler of the revived Roman Empire, which will be antichrist. And that’s why we read Revelation, because what does Revelation say in chapter 17 verse 12:
The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour.
And in verse 13:
These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast. These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is the Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.
It’s interesting from Daniel to consider that unlike the predecessors or the kingdoms that came before – the Babylonian, the Medo Persian, the Greek kingdom and the Roman world empire, the Roman empire was never really destroyed. It fell apart. Rome was simply divided up and part of it eventually melted into the nations of Europe in the world. So the Bible then predicts in the last days the old Roman empire will be reunited in the form of a ten kingdom confederation led by antichrist, led by the little horn. And the feet and the ten toes of iron and clay we see on this image here, that is from chapter 2 and chapter 7 of Daniel. The meaning of the little horn, the fourth beast, is symbolic of Rome. Therefore, the ten horns equal kings coming out of the fourth beast represent a confederation of kings or nations that emanate from the old Roman empire. So that means the final ruler of the last gentile world empire is symbolized as the little horn, and that is antichrist. And right here in verse 24 of Daniel 7, it says:
As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones
Now that’s identifying the character of the antichrist, that he is a man, that he is a king, that he’s different than anyone who’s ever ruled before him. In Daniel chapter 80, he is the king of fierce countenance. In Daniel 9, he’s the prince that will come. In Daniel 10, he is willful king. We know that in Daniel 7 verse 23, he will subdue three kings. That means he will devour the whole earth and tread down and crush it. That means he will be a military genius. And he will do it without war. He will do it without conflict. And also from Daniel, we learned that he’ll be a political genius. He’ll be an intellectual genius. He will be an oratorical genius. Verse 25 – he will speak against the most high. He’ll be a proud man, a blasphemer. He will wear down the saints, it tells us. Without war he’ll wear down the saints. And how will he do that? He’ll do it economically. He’ll do a politically. He’ll do it religiously.
That’s why when you go to Revelation and you come to Revelation 13 and it talks about the mark of the beast – what is the mark of the beast given for? So people can’t sell, buy things. They can’t worship in the way they want. They have to worship him. They can’t move freely about without governmental restrictions. See that’s how he will trample over the saints. He’ll make alterations in times and in law. He will try to change God’s ordained pattern of things. And of course Daniel 7:25 it says:
and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.
That means that’s going to be the significance of years, three and a half years and three and a half years – seven years he will be in power. Verse number 26 says:
But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated it and destroyed forever.
So we already are told in Daniel God wins. all of us who are believers, we’re on the winning side. That should encourage us. That should bolster our faith. No matter what goes on in the world, what happens, what persecution comes, God’s plan is not going to change. This is still going to take place. And I believed, like I said, that the church is going to be taken out before that. So the little horn of Daniel 7 is the coming man of sin, the antichrist who rules 7 years and is destroyed by Christ at His second coming.
Now by way of summary, three key points show that this final form of the fourth kingdom, the Roman empire, will be ruling in the world when Christ comes. So the Daniel 2 and the ten toes on the feet made of iron and clay are extensions of the iron legs, which represent the ancient Roman empire. Daniel 7 and 10, the little horn, the antichrist, are on the head of the fourth beast, which also represents the ancient Roman empire. Now since the original Roman empire never existed in a ten kingdom form, it seems to be picturing a new form of a Roman empire, or the final phase of the empire. The stone, which I didn’t mention, that strikes the statue and destroys it is considered to represent Jesus Christ when He returns. But until then, since antichrist will rule over the world at the time Christ returns, it must mean that this final form of the fourth kingdom is the future kingdom of antichrist that will be forged together out of the nations of the Roman empire.
So that means that in this next image here, we have to realize that the feet of iron and clay. Iron and clay don’t really mixed together. So that means all the nations are trying to mix together. They’re making every effort to adhere together and it will be the antichrist that brings them together. So all that remains is for ten of the nations in the mix to rise to the top and form a western confederacy where the antichrist will rise and rule the world during the tribulation and the great tribulation.
So we we see from Scripture that there’s going to be a three and half years. The beginning of the three and a half years is what the Bible calls the beginning of birth pains, like a woman being pregnant, but she doesn’t have her baby yet. Then in the middle of it, we have the abomination of desolation, where Satan the antichrist sits on the throne and proclaims himself to be God. And then the great tribulation. In the first part of the the tribulation God is breaking the seals.
This image here shows that last part of the revived Roman empire where it comes together in 10 nations or 10 kingdoms. And then this next one shows that of God pouring out his wrath. The first three and a half years is going to be the the seals are broken. And then the last seal is broken and that leads into the trumpet judgments, and that leads then into the larger trumpet leads into the bowl judgment. So we have all these judgments of the day of the Lord being poured out upon the world during the tribulation.
But remember, during that time, what is God doing with Israel? Israel is in the land and he’s bringing Israel back to Himself. Israel, remember, they they think the antichrist is Messiah in the beginning. He makes a deal with them. And then he breaks that covenant with them in the middle and he want them to worship him. But now they already see Christ as their Lord and he begins to persecute them, and that’s going to be taking place too. So the tribulation, I believe, is not for the church. The tribulation is to bring Israel back and graft them back into the olive tree, like it says in Romans and bring them back as His people for those who are going to be saved. And He does that while they’re in the land.
So in saying all that, I said that for this reason – that the Thessalonians knew this and we ought to know this. They knew the character of the antichrist. They knew who he would be. And so saying that, let’s move back to 2 Thessalonians and pick it up in verse number 7 because there’s going to be a time where the restrainer who’s holding back the mystery of lawlessness and holding back the antichrist is going to be removed. Notice in verse 7:
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.
Now, you must agree with this passage that an aggressive force of evil already is operative and evident all around us. Every day we look at the news, we look at our world, we see what’s going on. All we see is a bunch of twisted evil. We see not truth but lies. People are beginning to believe the lies. It was then back then but it’s going to be more so now. But look at the passage – it says the mystery of lawlessness. What does that refer? The term mysterion does not mean something mysterious or unintelligible but rather something formerly unknown but now revealed. And it’s not revealed to everyone. It’s revealed to the church. It’s revealed to us who are in the know because we have the Scriptures. So there is something undiscoverable by mere human search and is only known when God reveals it. And where does God reveal it? He reveals it right here in the word of God for His children to know so they can be comforted, so they can know God’s plan, so they can have faith in what He’s doing and not just look at the world and see the world falling apart all around us, and see how weak and vulnerable it is.
So the lawless one or the lawlessness in verse 7 is not simply referring to disorder or the violation of law, but it is referring to what is behind the lawlessness. Behind the lawlessness is the aim of the devil to overthrow the law of God and establish his own rule. That’s what’s going on in the world. You think all this craziness going on is because everybody’s organized? No, it’s because he’s organized and he’s behind the scene setting the world up so he can establish his own rule. And God’s going to let him do it.
In other words, even though the evil man of sin is not revealed yet, the spirit that will permeate his career is already operational. Even though this lawlessness is working now, it is working under restraint. That means it is not as bad as it will be or it could be. Something is in the way of it fully gushing out, but that will not always be the case. The restrainer will be removed. If you look again at verse number 7, it says:
only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.
Now literally that sounds like this – only the one holding back now till out of the way he becomes. So whatever and whomever is performing the restraining function, it will be taken out of the midst of everything and then there will be manifesting unrestrained monstrous evil that will go to such depths as to defy explanation or description.
So who is the restrainer? Who’s holding back this part of the plan of God? Now all sorts of interpretations have been suggested. Matter of fact, there’s so many it’s even hard to list them. But some say it’s the Roman empire. Some say it’s human government. Some say it’s Satan himself. Some say it’s Elijah. Some say it’s the angel Michael. Some say it’s the preaching of the gospel, and other say other things. But see, the the most important question one must ask and answer at this point is – what is able to hold back the endeavors of Satan? The answer can only be – only a supernatural being can truly hold back the workings of Satan. So the fact that the restrainer will be out of the midst, as it says in our text, seems to speak of one who is now in the midst. Now that seems to point clearly to the Holy Spirit, who is now here in person and is the indweller of the saints. The indwelling spirit will be out of the midst of this present scene when the returning Christ calls His church to Himself. So since the removal of the restrainer takes place before the manifestation of the lawlessness, this identification implies the pre-tribulation rapture, that I believe the church is going to get taken out before the day of the Lord begins.
Now, I need to remind you that it doesn’t say that the Holy Spirit will be taken out, but His restraining influence will be taken out of the way. The difference lies in the meaning between residence and presence. So as a as a member of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit is omnipresent and has always been in the world. We see the holy spirit in Genesis 1:1. He’s there when the world’s being created, and He certainly will continue to be present during the 7 year tribulation period, but it’ll be a different ministry for Him then. Remember at Pentecost, that’s the birth of the church, the Holy Spirit assumes a special relationship to the church as its indweller. In the gospel of John chapter 14, it says:
I will ask the father, and He will give you another Helper,
That’s the Holy Spirit,
that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
That’s the promise. So after the completion of His work with the church and in the church, He will resume the relationship He had with mankind before Pentecost. So when the Holy Spirit, which is the indweller of believers making up the body of Christ, the church removes His residence, not His presence, then and only then can the man of lawlessness be revealed. And consequently the church must be removed before the man of sin is exposed. So the Spirit will be taken out of the way in two senses. Number one, the temple in which He dwells, that is the church, will be removed. And secondly, after the rapture of the church, He will no longer be baptizing people into the body of Christ and using the presence of the church in the world to restrain the forces of godlessness and wickedness and the mystery of iniquity and the man of sin. In other words, the church has to be taken out of here before he can begin to unleash his plan upon the world. Now brethren, not until the church is removed from the earth and the Spirit lifts His all-powerful restraints will the lawless antichrist be revealed.
Now getting back to 2 Thessalonians. There is in that, as Paul lays it out for us here, a deception but also a destruction after the delay. Notice what it says in verse number 8. He goes right to the jugular vein and he says:
Then the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming.
So this is the third mention of the man of lawlessness that is given. The repetition is really stressing the importance of his unveiling. How will the Lord do it? Verse 8 – the Lord will slay him with the breath of His mouth. The breath of God has always been a fierce weapon and recorded in the word of God, like in Psalms where it says:
By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host.
God speaks and it comes into being. God breathes and the antichrist and his mission is done. So the breath of God is the power that precedes from the Lord Jesus and is no match for the antichrist. And of course Jesus destroys with ease this blasphemous individual by the breath of His mouth. This is a picture of Christ’s triumph over the adversary. This is already spoken of in Daniel. This is spoken of all over the place. Jesus is the victory. Jesus wins and you need to be on the winning side. Isaiah tells us in 11:
But with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; and He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.
All the Lord has to say is speak, and it’s done. And how will it be? It will be decisive too. Look at verse number 8 – it will
bring an end by the appearance of His coming;
All the Lord has to do is to show up and it’s done. The visible presence of the Lord Jesus in the world will put an immediate stop to an accelerated diabolical program. Now what is interesting about this passage of scripture is that in verse number 9, it says:
that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,
He puts the destruction of the antichrist in verse 8 and then he mentions in verse number 9 – hey I want to let you know something. The antichrist is really riding on the coattails and picking up the very theme concerning the coming of Christ. That is in a sense why he also has a coming. The same word used for Christ’s coming is used for his coming. There is a working contrast between Christ’s coming and the lawless one’s coming. That means there will be a day in which he makes his appearance on the world scene. His arrival will ultimately be one like he is a special person. He is the answer to everyone’s problem. And then ultimately he’s going to proclaim himself as God. But he doesn’t do it right away. He also comes with a whole bag of tricks to substantiate his claim. These tricks are used to sway his audience towards accepting him for who he says he is.
So the next thing you see that the lawlessness has sway over his audience. Notice in verses number 9 and 10 the lawless one’s power. He has power to sway his subjects. It says in verse number 9:
that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan,
That means the nature of power behind this coming man of lawlessness is the supernatural working and power of Satan himself – satanic power, adversarial power. Therefore, Satan is not only behind the lawless one, but is the source of his power to deceive. So consequently, the man of lawlessness, he will act in harmony and in agreement with the working that is characteristic of Satan himself.
Now just to look at four distinguishable tricks he has in his bag, that Satan is going to mimic and counterfeit the counsels of God and Christ. He will mimic the true and living God by all kinds of counterfeit in miracles, signs, and wonders. Verse number 9 – he’ll have all power. That means he will have an inherent supernatural power to perform miracles. He will have all signs – that by which something is known or distinguished. That means there will be something behind the miracle. Most likely what it’s going to be, it’s going to be pointed to some important characteristic trait of the man of lawlessness to show how capable he is, how important he is, especially for the solution of the world’s problems and the Jewish problem. You know no one’s ever solved the Jewish problem – you realize that right? Well, he’s going to come and give the appearance that he’s going to solve the Jewish problem because he does it without war.
But it’s only, as he says in verse number 9, all false wonders. It’s only lies. It’s only untruths. But remember, Satan can take the truth and twist it. That’s what he does. He takes part of the truth and twists it a little bit and it becomes a lie, right? That’s what he did in the garden. He’s still up to it. He’s going to do it in the tribulation. He’s going to do it so skillfully that he will make a lie sound more true than truth itself. He’s that skilled. I said that he is an incredible orator. He’s able to sway and convince his audience. So the power to perform these signs will direct one’s attention to the authenticity of his claims. And the false wonders will at the same time hold the spectators awestruck so as to produce a desire in them to venerate this end time man. In other words, to worship him. That’s the plan of Satan all along – to get the person’s worship off the true and living God on him, because he’s presenting himself as the Christ, as the true and living God.
And take notice, the man of lawlessness is a counterfeit Christ. What he does follows closely after what Christ has been. In fact, these three words for the miracles of Christ found in Hebrews 2:4 – his power, his signs, his wonders, are all used here to refer to antichrist. But behind them is an energy of Satan. Just as Jesus foretold in Matthew 24:24 – what did He say there? He says that by these wonders he will almost lead astray the very elect. What does it say there:
For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.
He is that good. And if that is not enough, Scripture adds one more thing in his bag of tricks. In verse number 10:
and with all the deception of wickedness
that he will have at his disposal. This is what he is best at. He will know what kind of bait to put on the hook to get people to buy his plan. The man of lawlessness will employ every form of deception that unrighteousness can design and devise. Why does he do it? So he misleads his subject without them even catching on to his crooked manipulations. That’s what he does. And who are his subjects? Look at the end of verse number 10:
for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.
So these deceptive workings of the lawless one, he has a target audience – those who perish, those who remain lost, those who are ruined. See the ruin has begun because the path they followed in conduct and character show themselves to be children of perishing. And the reason for their perishing? The reason for their ruin? The reason for their present lostness? Verse number 10:
because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.
In even in the tribulation, people can be saved. We have the 144,000. We have the two witnesses. We have the angels preaching the gospel. People are getting saved in the tribulation. Even with that, they refuse to believe. They refuse to believe the gospel. They desperately reject the divine offer of salvation. They don’t receive it. They don’t accept it. They don’t take it. They don’t want it. Why? Because they have their trust in the antichrist. They refuse Christian salvation, that is the gospel in contrast with lying and deceit.
So brethren, the purpose of the truth to those who obey it is the salvation of their souls. The only reason why we’re saved if we claim to be saved this morning, the only reason why you’re saved is because you believed in the only remedy for your salvation and that you’ve received the love of the truth. And what’s the love of the truth? That God demonstrates His love that while we were yet sinners, He died for us. We received that. And because we received that, we’re rescued from His wrath and the church is rescued from the wrath to come.
So they’re unwilling. And it implies much more than admiration, whether intellectual or emotional, it’s really that they refused a committal to the truth. To accept the love of truth is therefore to be equivalent to obeying the truth. Do you know, the gospel message is a message to be obeyed. If someone decides not to even think about it or hear it or ignore it, that means you’re just not obeying it. But when God calls us and that irresistible grace comes to us by the Holy Spirit of God and God opens up our eyes and makes us alive, all of a sudden what do we want? We want Christ. That’s all we want. We want the truth, because that is the truth. That’s the love of the truth, and it is found in the person of Christ. God’s solution for sin is firmly fixed in a particular person – that’s the Lord Jesus Christ. Not in an institution or an organization, not in a club or society or fellowship or denominational church. It’s not even in the human priests or a list of do’s and don’ts or set of sacraments to participate in or amount of masses attended or any such thing or even the amount of good works accomplished. No, according to Scripture, it is only in the person of Jesus Christ who is the Savior. And there’s no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. That’s not only then but now.
Having no love for the truth, Desmond Hebert says, they remain ignorant of the magnitude of the gift being offered them. They displayed a criminal indifference toward their eternal welfare, recognizing neither their danger nor their way of escape.
In other words, be diligent to be found in Christ. Be faithful to be found in Christ. What happened at the cross? God piled on the sins of His people to Christ and then pronounce judgment upon His Son as the representative of His people. At the cross, God poured out on His Son the wrath of eternal punishment which your sins and my sins deserved. And God treating His Son as a criminal. Jesus bored the wrath and judgment of the Father on behalf of sinful ungodly unholy people like you and I. And that’s still the message. It will always be the message. There’s no other message for all eternity. That’s the message. We’ll worship the Lamb in the eternal state, the Lamb who shed His blood for His children. That’s what we worship. Now, let’s face it. If God gave us what our sins deserve, there would be nothing but wrath and judgment we would deserve. So if you refuse to receive His only solution, His crucified Son, His death in behalf of sinners, His shed blood, His resurrection, He can do no other than His just character demands, and that’s to send people away from Him into hell. The lake of fire will be the final place.
So God’s solution for men is adequate for all men. It is offered to all people without discrimination. And what is really interesting about this passage of Scripture in the tribulation – what does God do when they reject the love of the truth? Look at verses number 11 and 12 and I’ll close there.
For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
God reveals their heart right there. That’s why we’re not in the age of grace in the tribulation. God sends strong delusion that they believe a lie. They’ll believe what Satan and the antichrist will tell them. So brethren, we have to be very serious and sober that we live our lives faithfully until God’s plan. God’s plan is going to go forward, but make sure you’re in Christ. Make sure that you are found in Christ. As as Peter says:
Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligently to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,
That is what we ought to be doing. Scripture ought to be doing this – making us stronger, making us more confident in the word of God and in the person of Christ. And even excite our soul to know – hey, this world is passing away. We’re at the end of it. Someday very soon, we’re going to be face-to-face with Christ. And so the next thing on God’s program is the rapture of the church and the bema seat judgment, that we’re not going to be judged for our sin. We’re going to judge for the work we’ve done after conversion. So don’t sit there with your arms folded do nothing. You better be working for the Lord, giving your life for the Lord until He comes.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank You again for the word of God is sometimes really hard. It really shoots from the hip. And Lord, it has a strong punch. Lord, thank You for that. Thank You that You’ve given these truths to your church. Not everybody knows these things or even believes these things or holds to them. Some believe that it’s just a fairytale. It’s not. It’s real. Lord, make us faithful believers who are comforted by these words, who are encouraged by these words. And also Lord, help us keep knowing that Your plan is going to take place and these are the things that are going to happen. So Lord, let us be ready. For whether you take us by death or you come, let us be ready. And I pray this this morning in Christ’s name. Amen.