"god versus God"
"The man of lawlessness" has been described in many ways. Let's center upon the facts to get the meaning for us today. Who is he? The Bible does not expressly say, but it does describe him.
god vs God
(2 Thes. 2:1-5)
A. There have been men and a few women who seem to be filled with evil. Some people use the phrase “evil incarnate” to describe them. That’s an interesting phrase – evil incarnate. We speak of Jesus coming as baby as his incarnation or fleshly form. The idea of evil incarnate is the idea of evil taking on fleshly form. I would guess you could think through the annals of history and come up with several names that you would describe as “evil in fleshly form.”
B. Near the end of the first century, the Apostle John would write his account of the ministry of Jesus, several letters and Revelation. In one of his letters, John writes about the “antichrist.” Listen to 1 John 2:18-22.
C. There is no doubt that the Bible is filled with warnings about people who lie about their spiritual life, set themselves up as spiritual guides that are nothing more than wolves in sheep’s clothing, or people who distort the truth for their own gain. Sometimes the language used to describe these people shocking. John calls them liars and antichrists. Paul calls them false prophets and deceivers. In fact, on one occasion Paul actually makes them out to be ministers of Satan. Listen to 2 Cor. 11:12-15.
D. But our text is one of the early letters of Paul. A letter written to a church that he was not able to spend much time with, but did teach about Jesus coming again.
I. Jesus Is Coming
A. Let’s start today with looking at the facts as presented by Paul. READ 2 Thes. 2:1-2.
B. There were some who said that Jesus had already come and that these Christians missed it. Paul says, “WRONG!” When people tell you that what you know to be true from the Bible is false, stop and consider the source before getting too upset. There are people out there that want to shake your faith because they are unbelievers.
C. The plea from Paul is to stick with what you know to be truth. Don’t let your faith be shaken by deception. Peter would warn his readers about these types of people. He says (READ 2 Pet. 2:1-3a). The battle is set up between the false gods and the real God. Paul writes to say the battle has begun. The man of lawlessness, the son of destruction is coming and when he comes, spiritual deception will be his tool. So who is this man of lawlessness, this son of destruction? That is an answer we don’t know. So has he come? Has what Paul said must take place first happened and now we wait until Jesus returns or is there something more that needs to take place?
II. god versus God
A. Before we spend much time verse 4, I want us to be mindful of verse 5. Listen to that verse.
B. Paul made it very clear to them what he meant. While it is not clear to us, they had a greater understanding concerning this deceiver. Paul was telling the Thessalonians that they must give up their nervous, hysterical waiting for the second coming. They misinterpreted his words and were looking for people to tell them what they wanted to believe. They set themselves up to be deceived, and Paul reminds them of what he had already told them.
C. Before Jesus would return there was going to a “rebellion.” Listen to what Paul says (2 Thes. 2:3b-4). I want to draw your attention to a word that Paul uses that we translate “rebellion.” It is the word “apostasy.” In secular Greek it mean “desertion” and was often associated with the idea of treason and rebellion against the lawful ruler. In the Greek version of the OT and in the Apocrypha it was a word used to describe unfaithfulness to God or denial of God.
D. Paul warned in other letters that there was going to come a time when Christians would be caught up in this rebellion. Paul warned the elders from Ephesus that even from among them some would rise speaking “twisted things to draw away the disciples.”
E. We live in a Christian world today where there are many interpretations of religious teachings ab0ut Jesus, how to be saved, and what it means to live faithfully. Whoever Paul was talking about or if Paul was simply talking about the idea of evil incarnate has happened and continues to happen.
F. Within this rebellion arises either a figure or force of evil that Paul refers to as “the man of lawlessness” or “son of destruction.” Who or what Paul means is left a mystery to us. What we know is that this person sets himself up as a god and is in direct competition with the true God. When the Jews wanted to describe such a person they would use the phrase “son of Belial” or “worthless one.”
A. We will look more that ministry of this evil next week. But I want you to leave today understanding that evil is real. There are many who deny that God exists that speak of evil as if it is an entity. This is not Satan himself as our text will unfold, but one who works in accordance with Satan.
B. There are people who so hate God that they will do set themselves up in opposition to Him; some more openly than others. Some use religious deception to draw Christians away from truth. What we need to do is stay strong in what we know. Don’t be afraid of this evil, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
C. Dig deeply into God’s word, put on God’s armor, be a person of prayer and a warrior for truth. We are the victors because Jesus has already won. If we can encourage you to walk worthy of that high calling, then come as we stand and sing.