Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The People of Lawlessness

Most of the people calling themselves Christians with whom I have been associated all of my life would be considered politically as conservatives. I have heard much talk over the last several years about the wave of liberalism that is sweeping the country. They show frustration that are nation is being subverted before their eyes. They are angry because of the impotence of our national leaders. What they do not see is that they – the so-called church – have become exactly what they claim to despise within their nation.

One of the most terrifying passages of Scripture for the church today should be 2 Thessalonians 2. It speaks of an “apostasy” in which “the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction” (v. 3). We are warned of one “who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God” (v. 4).

Wait! I haven't gotten to the scary part yet. I'm not worried about “that lawless one,” because v. 8 tells us “the Lord will slay [him] with the breath of His mouth and bring [him] to an end by the appearance of His coming.” I'm more concerned about the PEOPLE of lawlessness that have subsequently been produced.

The contemporary church has become the very thing that they claim to hate. They have become spiritual liberals who have traded facts for feelings. Education and edification have been shelved for the more pleasant commodities of emotions and entertainment. What Paul is describing in our text is not just some future event, according to v. 7, “The mystery of lawlessness is already at work!”

Unfortunately, that “mystery” is a mystery no longer. Paul warned, “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, [4] and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). That day has already come. It is “the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world” (1 John 4:3).

“But how can you say that such evil exists within the church? Our preacher only preaches from the Bible!”

This is the answer I fully expect. What church would ever raise her hand and say, “It's us! We're preaching false doctrine!” What congregation is going to admit to having an evil minister or satanic leaders? This is why that 2 Thessalonians 2 passage is so terrifying! The people of lawlessness are completely deluded!

“... they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. [11] For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, [12] in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness” (vs. 10-12).

The problem isn't that they haven't at some point received “the truth,” but that they haven't loved it. David says, “O how I love Your law!” (Psalm 119:97) … “I love Your testimonies” (Psalm 119:119) … “I love Your commandments above gold, yes, above fine gold” (Psalm 119:127) … “Consider how I love Your precepts” (Psalm 119:159) … “I hate and despise falsehood, but I love Your law” (Psalm 119:163) … “Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Psalm 119:165).

This is why I am able to say with certainty that the people of lawlessness are occupying the membership rolls of the modern church, because there is no love of the truth! There are none who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). Today's ministers, leaders and members are like men who have built their spiritual house upon the sand. They are not hearing the word of Christ, nor are they acting upon it (Matthew 7:26). What foolishness!

“Oh, but our church is growing! It must be the Lord!”

Our text spoke of what is occurring among the people of lawlessness. “The activity of Satan” is accompanied “with all power and signs and false wonders, [10] and with all the deception of wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10). This is what Jesus warned us about,“False Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24).

“But I don't see anyone like that in my church!”

Of course you don't! “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light [15] Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

“But how could I have known if they deceived me?”

You allowed yourself to be deceived, because you “did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10). And if someone did try to warn you … if they did point you back to the word of God … if they did plead with you to open your eyes … the “deluding influence” (2 Thessalonians 2:11) was too strong … you “did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12).

“Aren't you taking all of this just a bit too seriously?”

How seriously do you take salvation? Isn't that the topic of our text? “... they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.” If you want to be saved, then you must love the truth as did the Christians of Thessalonica. Paul wrote in his first letter, “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Stop accepting preaching that is more “the word of men” than “the word of God!” Stop following leaders who are not leading you along “the Highway of Holiness” (Isaiah 35:8)! Stop attending congregations whose sole purpose is to entertain you and make you feel good! The people of lawlessness are not your friends, but your enemies!

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! [2] But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. [3] He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. [4] The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away. [5] Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. [6] For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Psalm 1).

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