2 Thessalonians 2 (4)
Pray Psalm 12.1, 2.
Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases!
For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.
They speak idly everyone with his neighbor;
Withflattering lips anda double heart they speak.
Read 2 Thessalonians 2.9-11.
1. What kind of “power, signs, and lying wonders” did Paul have in mind? How were these being used?
2. The antidote to unrighteous deception is the love of the truth. What does Paul mean by that?
There’s a danger, whenever the name Satan is mentioned, of over-spiritualizing things. Those who take up the lifestyle of the lawless oneor the man of lawlessness are enmeshed in the workings of Satan, who seeks to deceive people and keep them from the truth so as to destroy them.
How does he do that? By impressing and enthralling them with all power, signs, and lying wonders. But we should not think merely in “spiritual” terms when we consider these. Satan knows how to use all kinds of tools to capture people for the lie. Power might be political power or military might (think: Roman Empire). Signs could include whatever impresses people enough to make them happy or divert them from the truth. Some forms of entertainment might well qualify (think: Augustine’s denouncement of the gladiatorial games). Lying wonders might refer to those who offer explanations of the world and its existence that deny and reject any role for God, but who make impressive cultural advances nonetheless. Like much of contemporary science and education.
The Lord allows the devil to use such tools in his campaign to deceive people into living the lie. The lie insists that God is irrelevant and we are free to worship what we like – whether material happiness, fleshly indulgence, or just our own thoughts and desires. We are living a lie when anything replaces the sovereign God and His grace and truth as the defining and organizing framework for our lives (cf. Rom. 1.18-32).
When people buy this line, God will send them strong delusionso that they really believe the lie and refuse to acknowledge God and His truth. This might be a description of our modern, “enlightened” world, with its reliance on politics, penchant for war, enthrallment with science and technology and education, and refusal to allow God any meaningful place in the public square.
It looks very much to me like the coming of the lawless one is upon us. Our task is to focus on Jesus’ soon return, knowing that this will bring an end to all lawlessness; continue working out our salvation and seeking the Lord’s Kingdom; and be very careful not to succumb to the lie in any area of our lives.
1. In what ways does the secular worldview represent the lie? How pervasive is that worldview?
2. Christians sometimes make mistakes in their calling by using the wrong tools to achieve their calling to the Kingdom and glory of God. Power, signs, and lying wonders must never be our approach to seeking the Kingdom and glory of God? Why not? What approach has God outlined for us?
3. People who choose not to believe the truth have only the lie to fall back on. Should this be a matter of concern to us? Explain. Is it unfair of God to condemn such people? Why not?
For to believe a lie and not believe the truth is indeed sin, but it comes from the blindness of heart which by a hidden but just judgment of God is also punishment for sin. Augustine (354-430 AD), Against Julian 5.3.12
Shelter me firmly in Your truth, O Lord, and help me to resist the lie wherever I encounter it, as in…
Pray Psalm 12.
Pray for people you know who are trapped in the lie. Seek the Lord to further immerse you in the shelter of His Word.
Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 12 (Hamburg: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)
Help, Lord! The godly cease to be; they who believe in Christ are few.
Falsely the wicked confidently flatter, deceive, and mock Your truth.
Stop, Lord, the lips that utter lies, all those who speak with boasting tongue!
See how Your holy Word they despise, while their own praises they have sung.
Rise up, O Lord, and rescue all Your precious children sore distressed.
Save those who faithfully on You call; grant them deliv’rance, peace, and rest.
Your words are pure and proven true, like silver seven times refined.
You will preserve Your Word ever new, and keep the heart to You inclined.
Proudly the wicked strut and stand; Your indignation builds on high.
Men may exalt their wicked plans, but You will judge them by and by.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).