"The Ministry of Lawlessness"
As we continue to study this very scary thought, we move into the mission of the man of lawlessness and how God steps in.
The Ministry of Lawlessness
(2 Thes. 2:6-12)
A. When did the heart of Judas become so calloused to the teachings and love of Jesus that Satan could enter it and use Judas to betray Jesus with a kiss? Before you try and answer the question, let me ask you another – Did Jesus know the heart and actions Judas would take when he chose him to be one of the twelve?
B. Evil is alluring. Sin can temporarily satiate the desire within us. Isaiah has a warning to his people, one in which is very profound for us today (Is. 5:18-20).
C. The reading today is scary, and it should be. The consequences of sin are eternal and we need to be confident that we are walking in truth and no a lie. We need to be sure that God’s Spirit is directing our steps and not listening to the prompting of other spirits.
D. John gives a warning to his readers about this very thing. Listen to 1 John 4:1-6. Here is my point, you don’t have to fear the son of Lawlessness and the delusion that comes if you walk in truth. As we examine a very difficult passage, let’s make sure we understand the bigger picture so we don’t get the wrong interpretation of the details.
I. The Ministry of the Lawlessness
A. I want to pull out of the bigger context some phrases to help me understand what is happening. Listen to 2 Thes. 2:7, 9-10.
B. Let’s just start here. This minister of Satan is a work. He was at work in the day of Paul and would be reveal with some type of counterfeit miracles. There were very real demonic powers at work in the days of Paul. I believe there are still demonic powers at work today. Paul cast out demons in Philippi deal with sons of Sceva in Ephesus.
C. The ministry of the lawless one is that of deception. Verse 10 is a very strong statement by Paul. This being seeks to deceive and brings about the spiritual death of many.
D. While we have talked about the ministry of this man unleashed by Satan, we also need to be aware of the people who follow him. Paul’s statement is, “They refused to love the truth and so be saved.”
E. When you examine the passage, it does not appear that these people are Christians, but people who refused to love the truth and be saved. They chose to follow this wicked one and the end result is their own destruction. This outline here is not all that different from what Paul tells the church in Rome. There states (Rom. 1:21). As that text goes one we see in verse 24, 26, 28 that “God gave them up (or over)” to believe what they wanted to believe.
F. Our text uses strong language (2 Thes. 2:11-12). Will God allow you the choice to believe a lie instead of the truth He has revealed to mankind? YES. How does God “send” this strong delusion? I don’t know. We read about Pharaoh’s heart being hard at the beginning of the Exodus story, then as the text continues we read that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. People can argue over Pharaoh and Judas and hold strongly to how God used or allowed their hearts to be so hard that they would reject truth even when it was clearly portrayed before them.
G. I will not answer that debate this day, except to say that I will always trust God over interpretation of God’s wisdom and ways.
II. Retrained and Revealed
A. The opening of our text is just as difficult as the section we just went through. READ 2 Thes. 2:6-8.
B. Paul says this battle is not yet at full power. There was more to come that will reveal the evil of this one who places himself up as God. Paul says there is a reigning in of this deception, but there will come a time when it is open. I don’t know exactly what Paul is referring to. Some feel it the ministry of Paul to Gentiles that is holding this back and after his death the deception will be full blown. Others say it is the Holy Spirit that is holding him at bay, but until what time? Others say it is Satan that is restraining him or evil powers.
C. What I know is that when the battle takes place, the very breath of Jesus will be enough to destroy such a man. I know that God will allow such deception because people are not looking for truth. But I also know that God’s desire is for all men to be saved. This is not about God picking on some people for a lack of understanding, but God exposing the heart of people who opposed to truth. When people who oppose the truth rise up and follow leaders who proclaim that false truth God allows them the choice to believe and also the consequence that comes with that choice.
D. Whatever was restraining this evil leader – be it Rome, Paul, the Holy Spirit or evil – whatever was restraining him will allow the battle to take place and when it does or did, God wins. Satan knows he is fighting a losing battle. He has no problem raising up people who will do his bidding and letting them suffer God’s wrath. Satan is not compassionate even towards his own minions. The fact remains, there is one victory in this world – faith in Jesus Christ.
A. Those who refuse to love truth have condemned themselves. You see, in the end, the very breath of Jesus will destroy the destroyer and deceiver. The man of lawlessness will fail and God will prevail. The battle is on right now and each one of us are in it.
B. Today, I ask you. Do you love truth? Do you hold to what you know is truth and stand so firm that you will not be shaken? Will you face the trials that will come because of the deception that is around us seeking to take you away, but love the truth enough to stand? That is what we must do. We must stand firm.
C. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world. Hold to what you know. Walk in the light and the assurance of your faith. If we can strengthen you in prayer, please come as we stand and sing.