Theology and Politics from a Conservative, Biblical Perspective
I recently discussed aspects of 2 Thessalonians 2 in an article titled, “Are We There Yet?” Since I also talked about numerous things in that particular article, I wanted to actually spent a bit more time unpacking a number of verses in 2 Thessalonians 2, zeroing in on the phrase “mystery of iniquity.”
Here’s the link to the video presentation if you’d prefer to watch it instead of reading it here.
When I was a young boy, I enjoyed reading mystery novels or whodunits, as they are more often referred to.
- Hardy Boys mysteries
- Encyclopedia Brown mysteries
- Brains Benton mysteries
All these have one thing in common. Usually a crime of some sort committed
There are also usually enough clues provided so that the careful reader can at least come close to figuring out what happened and solve the crime before the end of the book’s reveal.
What’s the difference between these mystery books and MYSTERIES highlighted in God’s Word?
- Too often, mysteries in God’s Word are unable to be determined by brilliant people simply applying critical thinking skills
- Mysteries in God’s Word are only made known by God’s express revealed wisdom
There are many mysteries in God’s Word that are only revealed to us by holy men of old who spoke as they were moved by God Himself, as Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:21.
We know of the mystery of the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51), the mystery related to Babylon (Revelation 17), the mystery of the Incarnation of Jesus (1 Timothy 3:16), the mystery of the new birth in Christ (Colossians 1:27-28), the mystery of the Bride of Christ, the Church (Ephesians 5:31-32) and others as well.
I want to discuss one particular mystery today – the MYSTERY OF INIQUITY – that Paul deals with in 2 Thessalonians 2. I also believe this particular mystery is seriously undergirding all of global society today and because of it, it is extremely important that we understand that and the ramifications of it.
- Judgment Did Not Happen
In his second letter to the believers at Thessalonica, Paul wastes little time getting to the heart of the matter,
- instructing them,
- reminding them of events,
- that will usher in the final one-world kingdom of MAN (Daniel 2)
Verses 1 and 2 of 2 Thessalonians tell us:
1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. (KJV)
Paul is concerned that the Thessalonian believers were not
- to think Judgment had already happened!
Paul’s did not want them to be duped into thinking the end judgment had already come and they had somehow missed the Rapture!
Paul says it did NOT already happen!
I find it fascinating that even during Paul’s day there were people who were saying they were apostles (when they weren’t), or a few who were impersonating Paul or other apostles and had written letters to these churches with the intent to throw them into confusion.
Paul is emphasizing to the Thessalonians that they had absolutely
- no reason to worry,
- to fear, or
- in any way, to be “shaken in mind”
Because Jesus had not yet returned, the Day of Judgment had also not happened…yet.
Paul continues in verse 3:
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
The son of perdition is a title given to the coming “man of sin,” also known as “man of lawlessness,” the “beast,” and the Antichrist.
Paul does not want any of his readers to be, what? DECEIVED. Deception does a number of things:
- Throws a person into confusion
- Makes them doubt God and His Word
- Creates a path toward sinning
- Brings dishonor to God
Paul wanted the Thessalonians to be above all deception and this was the reason he wrote this second epistle. It is just as much for them 2,000 years ago as it is for us today. We also need to be above any deception when it comes to God and His Word.
Unfortunately, the world, as we know is filled with tremendous deception all around us and that can make it very difficult to sift through all of it so that we only grasp God’s absolute truth.
If we are not reading His Word daily, we are in constant danger of being deceived.
Paul says the Antichrist is on his way and that he – this “man of sin” – must be revealed before the Lord returns to this earth.
Verse 4 is a parenthesis, where Paul explains more about this coming man of sin:
- What he will DO, and
- What he will SAY
Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
What will this man of sin DO?
- Oppose and exalts himself above all things related to God
- He will sit in God’s very Temple
- He will promote himself as God
This coming world ruler is not simply your run-of-the-mill average fallen person who has a sin nature and sins, resulting in being without salvation. This particular man of sin, instead of coming to a point of understanding his depravity before God, actually immerses himself in it until he comes to a point of believing that he IS God!
Verse 5 is simply Paul reminding his readers that he had shared this information with them when they were together last.
Verses 6 and 7 read this way:
And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
The big question here is what is the mystery of iniquity that Paul refers to here?
First, Paul tells us that this “mystery”
- has already been at work in the world,
- was at work in his day, and
- will continue to work until Jesus Christ physically returns!
The Greek word for “mystery” sounds similar to it; musterion
It means: something that lies beyond human awareness and can only be known through revelation.
The mystery of iniquity is something that lies beyond our ability to understand so God must reveal it to us and he does so to an extent through Paul.
No amount of critical thinking, searching, or wishing would help us understand a mystery that God kept hidden.
Paul is saying that this same mystery of iniquity that was at work in his day
…will grow and strengthen over society as time progresses toward the Tribulation.
KEY: The fullest revelation of the mystery of iniquity will become evident when the man of sin rises to rule over the final Gentile kingdom of Daniel 2! He will be the embodiment of this iniquity Paul refers to here.
It is important to understand that this “mystery of iniquity” or “lawlessness” is not
- confusion, or
This particular “mystery” in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 concerns
- the working of lawlessness in the world,
- leading to a worldwide rebellion against God.
- It works in secret right now, but it is working.
- The full revelation of this lawlessness will coincide with the revelation of the Antichrist, mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:8.
- The man of sin’s rise to power will represent
- a climax of lawlessness,
- a satanic movement against the administration of God.
This secret, behind-the-scenes movement is as NOW restrained but waiting to be revealed.
What Paul is saying here is that this coming “iniquity” is really referring to what Satan has been attempting to do since the beginning; that is his desire to
- overthrow God and
- replace God with himself.
This “iniquity” existed before Paul’s day and in Paul’s day and we know from Paul’s words here that it will ramp up and become a larger part of society as the entire globe rushes headlong toward God’s judgment. For seven years prior to God’s judgment, Satan will have succeeded in installing his own spiritual son – the Antichrist – as head of a global kingdom where eventually everyone will be forced to worship the Antichrist or die a martyr’s death.
If we look around at society today, we see this iniquity at work. It is all around us and in fact, with this current health crisis called, “Coronavirus,” we see it more clearly.
Who would’ve thought that only two months ago something would be used to gain tremendous power over global society?
In just two months, society has been
- quarantined, and
- forced to observe “social distancing” measures
- people 6’ apart,
- no handshaking,
- use of sanitizer constantly
- wearing masks,
- stand on the X waiting in line
- promise of a new fast-tracked vaccine
We are being taught that our friends, our neighbors, even our loved ones are “UNCLEAN!” It is THEIR responsibility to prove they are NOT. Even though we do not go around in society declaring “UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN!” the reality is the same. We are treating people as though they are UNCLEAN and we may “get” something from them.
Do you think Jesus would do this? He wasn’t afraid to go up to lepers, was He?
We’re being taught that death is just around the corner if we’re not careful and anyone or everyone could kill you and if you don’t social distance, you’re a monster.
Is Coronavirus real? Of course it is. Is it also being used to force the world toward a one-world government? You better believe it. I’ve never seen something like this happen so quickly.
But God has allowed this as well. Why? Because it brings the world far closer to the coming one-world government and the physical return of Jesus that God told us well more than several thousand years ago in Daniel that would occur in the end.
There is coming a time when Antichrist will rise to rule over the final global government. It will happen. It is happening and there is nothing we can do to stop it.
We are arriving to that end, folks. It is happening and we are being swept along.
III. The Christian’s Approach to This
How do we remain above it all?
What should our demeanor be? I close with several things that I believe are mandated in Scripture and these things are not optional. If you are a Christian, if you are in relationship to Jesus, these are not a choice. You must do them and the reason you must do them is for your benefit and for God’s glory. So what are they?
- Do not fear! Jesus said on many occasions we should not fear!
- Luke 12:4; 22; 32
- We should not be concerned about people/things who can kill the body
- We should not fear that our lives are not noticed by God
- We should not fear because God is FOR us
But HOW to not FEAR?
- Learn to Praise.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
- Circumstances are not to dictate our attitudes.
- We need to deliberately offer Him praise in spite of every circumstance.
- We do not have the option NOT to do so.
- We are to praise Him for the fact that He is with us in all situations, good or bad.
- Bad situations can cause fear, so we must reject that fear.
- The best way to do that is to praise God for His answer and guidance.
- Finally, Trust God.
- Proverbs 3:5 – Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
- We cannot trust God if giving into fear.
- 2 Chronicles 20 tells us about Jehoshaphat
- He initially feared
- He then submitted to God through prayer and submission
- He then asked the Lord to help
- God responded by overcoming Judah’s enemies
Folks, we are living in a time that is causing tremendous fear and frustration for many to most of the people alive today.
This is no time for Christians to fear and not trust our Lord.
This is why God created the Church because it is where believers build one another up. We do this by encouraging our brothers and sisters in Christ. We do this by coming alongside of them and strengthening a believer who might be tempted to give into fear.
Are you in fear today? Do you have a tremendous fear over Coronavirus, loss of job or business?
Take that fear and give it to God through prayer, submission, and praise. This is the avenue to victory in Christ.
This world is fast-approaching the Tribulation, which will end in Jesus’ return following by the judgment of the nations, called the Sheep and the Goats. There is nothing we can do to keep that from happening because it will happen in God’s time and in His way. What we can do is either FEAR what is happening and coming or PRAISE and TRUST God that He will guide and protect us as we walk through this life.
Paul did his best to help his readers understand what was coming and what had not happened yet. His words should also speak to us. We are not in the Tribulation yet. The world has not gotten as evil and wicked as it will when that happens.
Trust God to be GOD in your life.
Theology and Politics from a Conservative, Biblical Perspective
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