Revealing the Lawless One
In our The Wedding of Christ to His Bride magazine, I describe how Satan, the “lawless one” of 2 Thessalonians 2:3, sets himself up in the hearts and minds of people (God’s temple) to be worshiped by getting people to believe that God’s law functions like human law—imposed rules requiring imposed punishments. This falsehood about God’s law results in people believing that God is the source of inflicted pain, suffering, torment, and death as punishment for sin—instead of believing that the Father is like Jesus revealed Him to be, our compassionate, loving, self-sacrificing Creator and Savior, the one who would rather let us kill Him than to use His power to stop us. Billions have falsely believed that God is the one from whom we need protection.
All of this false theology about a god who needs payment, blood, or some other action done to him to stop him from hurting us is the fruit of believing the lie that God’s law works like human law, which displaces God’s design law, the protocols reality operates upon, from our hearts and minds and advances lawlessness.
But Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13, 14 NIV84).
There is only one true God, the one who created all life to operate in harmony with His design law—love, truth, freedom. The way to life requires that we are restored back into harmony with God, that His living law is written upon our hearts and minds (Hebrews 8:10), which occurs when we are won back to trust in God through what Jesus has done. This is the narrow gate, one God, one faith, one truth, one law, one way to live that is healthy. But while there is only one path of truth, the pathways of lies, false gods, idols, ways to corrupt, pervert, mislead, and displace/replace the law of God in people’s hearts and minds are many. Within Christianity, the primary means to displace God’s law has been through the idea that it functions like imposed human law.
But recently, I have realized that Satan advances his lawlessness in other ways. These insights came to me as I was reading 2 Thessalonians 2:1–12. Below are these verses with my comments (in red) describing those other ways that, in addition to the imposed-law lie, the enemy replaces God in our hearts and minds, thereby setting himself up in God’s temple and advancing his lawlessness.
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him … [don’t] let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, [As people reject the truth about God, the natural result is that their hearts and minds become hardened. Their consciences are seared, their reason is corrupted, their lusts are inflamed, their characters become more selfish, and villainy, exploitation, deceit, and the willingness to harm others to get one’s way become ever more common. This occurs because God is the God of love, and love requires true freedom. If we insist on rejecting God, He withdraws Himself, telling His angels to step back and leave people so that they experience what they have insisted on—life without God’s grace, mercy, sustaining power, and protection. And the fruit of living outside of God’s law is revealed: increasing chaos, disorder, anarchy, crime, abuse, destruction, and death. We are seeing all of this in the world today. As godless evolutionism has become the predominant belief system in the modern world, society has not entered an age of enlightenment, but it has become ever more debased—for those with eyes to see, the man of lawlessness is being revealed.] the man doomed to destruction. [Satan is doomed to destruction because God’s laws are the protocols upon which life is designed to operate, and the only outcome for refusing to live in harmony with God’s law is pain and death. It’s the same as saying, “Those who jump off the Empire State Building are doomed to destruction,” or “Those who tie a plastic bag over their head are doomed to destruction.” Deviating from the law that God built life to operate upon leaves only one possible outcome—destruction.] He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. [Satan does not seek to sit upon a throne in a building made out of gold and silver. He seeks to be enthroned in the hearts and minds of intelligent beings as the one they believe, trust, adore, admire, love, and worship. He seeks to be the controlling power within every human being. Thus, the temple that he sets himself up in is not a building in heaven or a human construction on a mount in Jerusalem—it is the spirit temple, the place where God designed us to enthrone Him as the only one worthy of our worship and trust. Satan enthrones himself into the hearts and minds of Christians via the view that God is like a Roman Caesar—a rule-maker who enforces made-up rules with inflicted punishments. But Satan also enthrones himself into the hearts and minds of people by displacing the belief in God altogether and getting billions to believe that there is no god, to believe in scientism/naturalism or the Big Bang, or some other mindless, thoughtless, loveless “force” whose principles are “me-first,” survival of the fittest, kill or be killed. In this fallen world, whoever can get the most wealth, power, control is the god of this age.] Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. [Elsewhere, John describes how God sends His angels to hold back the four winds of strife to prevent the winds from harming the world (Revelation 7:1–3). God has been holding back satanic forces for the purpose of giving time for the gospel to go forward, to free hearts and minds from sin, fear, guilt, shame, and selfishness. But as people persist in rebellion against God, as they refuse His mercy, reject His love, despise His grace, and deny that He exists, they harden their hearts, sear their consciences, warp their reason, and destroy the faculties that are sensitive to the Spirit of God; they eventually come to the point that no amount of truth or love will have any saving impact upon them. When that happens, God leaves them to themselves to reap what they have sown into their own lives (Galatians 6:7, 8). And as billions of people harden their hearts in this way, the Holy Spirit, who dwells in human hearts and minds, slowly withdraws, which gives satanic forces ever more freedom to act. The four angels loosen their hold, and more chaos, suffering, abuse, and destruction occurs. The man of lawlessness is being revealed.] For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. [Satan has been fighting against God on planet Earth since Adam sinned, and God has been holding back his destructive power to keep open the avenue of grace and mercy. (See Job 1 and 2 Kings 6:16, 17.) Here Paul describes how one day, in our day, God’s restraining power is taken out of the way when enough humans on this planet permanently harden against God and refuse His protective presence.] And then the lawless one will be revealed, [We are seeing this today! We have seen what happened in Europe during the Middle and Dark Ages when the imposed-law lie about God took root, when the lawless one set himself up in the hearts of people as a dictator god whose law required inflicted punishments for not adhering to his false religious rules—loss of liberty, crusades, inquisitions, burning people at the stake. There was no freedom of speech—if you criticized the church, you were a heretic and the state punished you; there was no freedom of assembly—if you sought to worship God differently than the state church, you were persecuted; there was no freedom of information—Bibles were restricted from the people, and religious propaganda was passed off as truth. And today, as the lawless one sets himself up in God’s temple through the god of humanism, scientism, evolutionism, communism, we see the exact same fruit we saw in the Dark Ages—loss of freedom, coercion, propaganda, and abuse. Restrictions on worship—a Canadian pastor was arrested, fined, and imprisoned for opening his church; restrictions on speech—government censorship against ideas that disagree with its climate or vax narrative; restrictions on travel and assembly; using the power of the state to intimidate and control. God is permitting this to happen to reveal, give evidence, expose, what happens when we deviate from His design laws—the man of lawlessness is being revealed.] whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. But Satan and all who side with him will be destroyed by the brightness of Christ’s coming. [If you would like to read more about how this happens, see our blog The Truth About Hell.] 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, [As chaos increases, as the world devolves into more fear, violence, disorder, and desperation, Satan will one day appear claiming to be our savior. He is a supernatural being with powers we do not possess, and he will perform various feats, signs, and miracles to convince us; why? Because he has no truth and must deceive through magic, enthralling people with wonders that their god of humanism and scientism cannot explain. But God warned long ago that if anyone arises and performs signs and miracles but doesn’t have the truth, doesn’t advance the truth about God, doesn’t have the character of love and freedom that Jesus demonstrated, they are not to be believed (Deuteronomy 13:1–3).] and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. [We see this today when all the various forms of evil being touted as good—school officials lying to parents, advancing agendas that put young girls at risk from biological males who demand to use female bathrooms, or teaching small children lies like there is no such thing as male or female, and so many more godless philosophies of this age.] They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. [The reason the wicked perish is not because God hates them or wants them to perish. It is because they refuse the truth; they refuse the Remedy; they refuse the cure to their terminal sin condition, and the only possible result is ruin and death.] For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie [How does God do this? Via His design law of liberty. God does not use divine power to inflict delusion on a person who wants to know the truth. No! If one rejects truth, the only thing left for them to believe is a lie. The unavoidable, natural result of persistently rejecting truth is for the mind to solidify into lies, and when lies become fixed beyond the point that they can be corrected by truth, that is the definition of being delusional. And God gives every person the freedom to choose to do this—He always upholds His law of liberty that allows people to do this to themselves.] and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. [They are condemned by their own choices to refuse truth and thus be healed, just as Jesus said, “By your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:37 NIV84).]
Yes, the man of lawlessness is being revealed. Now is the time for the people of God, for those who love the truth, to reject the lies of the lawless one—whether those are the Dark Ages imposed-law lies of an imperial dictator god or the modern lies of godless evolutionism—and with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength to enthrone Jesus and His Father of love into our hearts as the only God worthy of our worship, to worship Him who made the heavens, earth, sea, and fountains of water. The time in human history has come for people to decide, to choose, to judge God to be just like Jesus revealed Him to be—truly worthy of our trust!