In 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 we are warned by the Apostle Paul that, during the end times, we should not be taken in by ‘the lie.’ What is this lie and does it apply to us?
‘The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.’
I believe ‘the lie’ is not just the lie of evolution or the lie of global warming, or the lie of the false teachers or the lie of materialistic success. It is more likely to be the overall lie of which the above are just symptoms.
The ‘lie’ is, I believe, the ‘ME’ philosophy – me first, my right to prosperity and happiness, my interests predominate in all things. This lie is nothing new, but it has become much more pervasive in our society and in the Church since the second world war.
The result of this lie is the self-promotion of people based on the underlying presumption that we are our own God – that we are responsible for our own happiness, prosperity and success and therefore we don’t have to rely on or serve the real God any more. We do our own thing and – bingo – who needs a God? In fact many in the New Age and even the Church promote this type of thinking – Benny Hinn and others even preach ‘We are little gods.’
So, what happens? God ‘gives them over’ to their own wilful blindness as in Romans 1:24-25, and as a result they ‘all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness’.
It is very interesting here to notice that the direct opposite behaviour to ‘believing the truth’ is ‘delighting in wickedness’. The one leads to the other because the truth has moral implications and demands a moral reaction. The key to the source of the problem is evil, not innocent human error or poor decision-making.
We can see the logical progression in Paul’s argument:
1. First they ‘delight in wickedness’, or make a deliberate choice to engage in sin.
2. Second, they refuse to believe in God’s love which is the truth because it is not possible to love evil and truth at the same time.
3. Then they are deceived due to worldly and Satanic influence.
4. God then sends them a strong delusion, giving them over to the lie they want to believe, just like the Pharaoh of the Jewish exodus who hardened his heart against God before God confirmed his decision of hatred and eventually hardened the Pharaoh’s heart. (Exodus 9:12)
5. The final awful conclusion is that they are condemned and suffer in God’s ultimate judgment.
This is an extremely solemn teaching. John Stott says:
‘It tell us that the downward, slippery path begins with a love of evil, and then leads successively to a rejection of truth, the deception from the devil, the judicial hardening of God, and final condemnation. The only way to be protected from being deceived is to love goodness and truth.’
In the context of the last days, the ‘lie’, whatever forms it takes, will not fool Christians who walk with the Lord. Even if, before we are raptured, various magicians, miracle-workers, false prophets, charismatic politicians, Islamic Mahdis or false ‘saviours’ arise, we should not be taken in. Jesus told His disciples:
‘So if anyone tells you, ‘There He is, out in the desert,’ do not go out: or, ‘Here He is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.’ (Matthew 24:26).
When Jesus returns at the Second Coming His appearance will be visible to everyone. ‘For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.’ (Matt. 24:27).
Finally comes God’s time of retribution, in which the Lord Jesus will defeat the Antichrist, and those who have believed the ‘lie’ – the Antichrist-inspired lie denying God His rightful place in our lives – will be condemned. As John Stott said:
‘This is God’s program, History is not a random series of meaningless events. It is rather a succession of periods and happenings which are under the sovereign rule of God, who is the God of history.’
And we must stand firm in the Lord and His salvation, rejecting the lie by which most of the world has been taken in.