'The Man Of Lawlessness'
Has the Lord Jesus come back already? This question was in the minds of some believers in Thessalonica, encouraged by false teaching (2 Thessalonians 1-2). Paul wrote to assure the believers that Jesus had not yet returned, and that when He does, they would definitely share in His glory (2 Thessalonians 2:14). In the meantime, they needed to stand firm to the apostles' teaching (2 Thessalonians 2:15). Their ability to live securely in Christ each day depended, in part, on being assured that they would be securely included in His presence forever.
Before Christ returns, Paul said, the 'man of lawlessness' would be revealed. Who is he, and what is his nature? He is not Satan, although he will carry out Satan's work (2 Thessalonians 2:9) of deceiving people by lies until they are destroyed (John 8:44). He is the same as the antichrist (1 John 2: 22). John said that there were many (little) antichrists (1 John 2:18) who were against the Father and the Son. But the antichrist, the 'man of lawlessness', will be a unique personality who thinks he is greater than the true God, demanding worship as well as obedience. He will deceive many.
That person and his cohorts has not yet been revealed. So, our situation is the same as for the Thessalonian church: we are waiting for the return of Christ. However, we already see many who are anti-Christ; they deny the Lordship of Christ and the true identity of God the Father. Such people will increase and their influence will get worse and worse (2 Timothy 3:13). They will despise the Name of Christ and pour their loathing onto believers: but those who stand firm will be saved (Matthew 10:22). These verses are to encourage the church to stand firm (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
Deception is a choice. If we have no secure teaching, we are at risk of believing anything that is convincingly presented. Paul asked the Thessalonians to remember what he had said when he was with them (2 Thessalonians 2:5). One purpose of the apostles was to establish which doctrine is 'sound' and which is not (Titus 1:9). If today's church rejects what the apostles have written, there is no protection against deception. Despite multiple religious, philosophical, cultural and lifestyle influences, the Word of God - as preached by the apostles - remains true (1 Peter 1:25). Our challenge is to accept it and learn to live in line with it or to be deceived. If we choose to swallow lies, we will lose our confidence to live in Christ now, and will fear His return when we will be measured against the apostles' doctrine as contained in God's Word. So, choose not to be deceived by shifting shadows (James 1:16-18).
© Dr Paul Adams