Those of us who are Christians with discerning hearts and spirits are aware that lawlessness is on growing/ There are spirits of anarchy, chaos, and rebellion that seem to have been given free reign over the land. And we are all aware that it won't be long before the Man of Lawlessness, as prophesied in the Bible, appears on the scene and is revealed. In 2 Thessalonians 2, we learn that this son of destruction will oppose the worship of any other god besides himself; and indeed, will exalt himself above the One True God, seating himself in the temple of God [in Jerusalem], and proclaiming himself to be God. We can take courage, though, because the Bible tells us that the appearance of this imposter is a sign that the Lord Jesus will soon appear and kill him with the breath of His mouth!
But how has this blasphemous and profane man found his way upon the world stage? Again, the Bible gives us the answer ... "by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved." As Christians, we know that Satan has the ability to fool and deceive many into rejecting the salvation that Jesus offers. But surely that warning to "those who are perishing" can't apply to us who call ourselves saved and believers! Or can it? Remember, that Jesus, Himself, in Matthew, Chapter 24, refers to the prophecy of Daniel that there will be an abomination in the House of the Lord when a usurper stands in the Holy Place. This will be a future Man of Lawlessness who perverts the sanctity of God's House. Jesus goes on to warn that there will be great persecution against His followers, and "false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect." But how can that happen? How could people who consider themselves strong believers possibly be so deceived? We find the answer in 2 Thessalonians 2 ... "Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
Surely, that only refers to those who persistently reject Jesus as the Son of God, denying His redemptive death on the Cross for our sins and denying His resurrection to eternal life. But I would ask you to consider this ... again, I want to emphasize God's Immutable (Never-Changing) Nature. As tired as you may be of hearing it, He truly is the same as He was yesterday, is today, and will be tomorrow. So, we must recognize that God lets us know throughout the Bible that Judgment is part of His character and nature. The Book of Psalms is full of descriptors of His Judgment: It is true; it is in all the earth; He has established His throne for Judgment; and He will most assuredly execute His Judgment.
But there is another topic that surrounds this theme of "Judgment", and it can be found in both the Old and New Testaments. In Ezekiel, Chapter 9, God shows the prophet a vision of an effectual slaughter of the people of Israel for the abominations they have committed against Him. Ezekiel sees God commanding an angel to put a mark on the foreheads of those who mourned over the sinfulness and kept themselves apart from it. Then come the devastating words of the Lord: Utterly slay old men, young men, maidens, little children, and women, but do not touch any man on whom is the mark; and you shall start from My sanctuary. It is quite apparent that God's Judgment is swift and terrible, and His Judgment begins with His sanctuary. We, my friends, are His sanctuary today! We, as individuals and the corporate "Church" are His dwelling place on the earth. But soon, there will be a man who will arise, and being full of deception, he will perform great signs and wonders, so that he will be able to deceive even the elect -- if it is possible.
How can it be possible to deceive the elect? Let's start with 1 Peter 4:17, which says, For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? Note that Peter says "for those who do not obey the gospel of God". Not "believe" but "obey" the gospel of God! First of all, the gospel of God includes all the good news of His nature, His character, His mercy, His love, and His laws. Can today's Church honestly say that they have obeyed His statues and His instruction to us? Have we followed His strict mandates for how He desires we worship, honor, and obey Him? Or have we followed our own hearts and compromised with the world so His House looks less like Him and more like what pleases us?
And has the modern church considered which gospel Peter is talking about? Is it the gospel of Salvation or the gospel of the Kingdom? Oh, we understand the gospel of Salvation pretty well and most of us will say we have obeyed its tenets. But remember, there are strong warnings to those who refused to "love the truth", thereby allowing themselves to be deceived and deluded. What is the truth? Yes, Jesus came to die for our sins, but He came for so much more!
He came to re-establish His Father's kingdom on earth and to share the good news that the dominion of the earth could be ours again. Yes, His death gives us the choice to choose eternal life through faith in Him, but that salvation is just the first step. We cannot even see [or understand] what the Kingdom of God on earth is to be until we've been saved, and we cannot enter [or be a part of] the Kingdom [as citizens of heaven on earth] until we've been saved. Jesus, Himself, states that in John 3:1-5. Yet so much of "the Church" hasn't embraced and "loved this truth". Furthermore, we are commanded to take back dominion of the earth by healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead, and spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom to all earth's inhabitants. Those actions can [and should] be done by every Christian in order to defeat Satan's kingdom.
We are not to simply receive our salvation and live out the rest of our lives waiting to die and go to Heaven! I believe our refusal to obey these commandments, once we have acknowledged their truth, are grounds for condemnation at the throne of God... "each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire" (1 Corinthians 3:13-15). God desires more FOR us than our salvation. And He desires more FROM us -- that we enter His Kingdom, do all that He commands us on earth, and receive our inheritance in Heaven. That is the "bigger truth" of our faith.
So, back to this "strong delusion" from God. What might it look like? First, let's establish what the ancient writers would have meant by using that word delusion. It's interesting that in the Hebrew, the word can describe "a tyrant", which would certainly be indicative of the Man of Lawlessness. In the Greek, the word means fraudulent; a straying from orthodoxy or piety; wrong opinion; a forsaking of the right path (whether in doctrine or in morals); a wrong opinion or error in morals or religion. So, does the Bible give us any clues as to what this delusion could look like and how people could [and will] fall for it? We just need to look to the Book of Revelation to see the vision...
This important and last Book of the Bible holds the key to answering our questions. It speaks in Chapters 12 and13 of several "players" in this great delusion. We have a dragon, who is Satan. And we see a beast, who was given the dragon's power, throne and authority. This is the Anti-Christ. We have another beast with two horns "like a lamb", who is the False Prophet. Hopefully, you are seeing that Satan is counterfeiting God's true hierarchy. Jesus, is of course the True Lamb, who shares in the Father's power, throne and authority. He was considered a great prophet in His day and proven to be the true Messiah. The beast, who is "like a lamb", will be a False Prophet [in the manner of John the Baptist}, who will be declared to be "like Elijah" [just as John was] and who is commissioned to make way for the appearance of the False Messiah [just as John made way for the true Messiah]. It is the False Prophet who will do great and miraculous signs and wonders [counterfeiting those of Jesus] and who will establish a one-world religion, with the objective of bringing about the crowning of the False Messiah. His call for a "universal church", blending all religions into one, will be a tempting message to those in the world who are tired of the persecution, strife and chaos that will be rife in the world. He will speak of "love" and "peace", which will be comforting words to ears that are desperate to hear them... especially Christians!
But we must not be deceived! We must hold fast to Jesus' warning that "false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect." In fact, He tells us that many will fall away, betray one another, and hate one another. And again, Satan will counterfeit God's moves. In Ezekiel 9, God placed a mark on the foreheads of those who remained righteous and followed His precepts, keeping themselves separate from those who followed evil. Satan will cause a mark to be placed on the right hand or the forehead of those willing to go along with the False Prophet's enticing agenda. And just like God, Satan will destroy those who do not have the mark.
I cannot stress enough how important it is that the Household of God be aware of what is coming! We cannot bury out heads in the sand and pretend that what the Bible prophesies will not happen. What is spoken of in Ezekiel, 1 Corinthians, 2 Thessalonians, and the Book of Revelation will take place! There will be a fiery test of the quality of one's faith. In other words, there will be a process of judgment that leads to a decision [by God], resulting from His investigation. Those who are sealed with the mark of true faith will be exempt from the Judgment. Make no mistake ... there is a Man of Lawlessness waiting in the wings, and there is a strong delusion coming from God to separate the truly righteous from the pretenders. I pray the foundation of your life has been laid with the fullness of Jesus's truth and Gospels. May the true Church expose the deception of the Enemy and guide the faithful through the delusion that will cause many to fall away from their faith. To God be the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever and ever! Amen!
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1 Samuel 15:23 For rebellion is as [serious as] the sin of divination (fortune-telling), And disobedience is as [serious as] false religion and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you as king.”