Last week we saw that the day of the Lord will not come until apostasy comes first.
We were introduced to the man of lawlessness, a man of eminent wickedness who exalts himself over God and even considers himself to be God. All these things Paul talks about relate to the time line of the coming of the Lord. There are certain things taking place right now that must happen before the Lord comes back.
That is what we’ll look at this morning.
I encourage you to read 2 Thes. 2:6-10. You can listen to the accompanying podcast here.
The first thing I want to look at is the present restraints. The man of lawlessness is currently restrained. Restrained comes from the word that means to hold firmly, hold back, or detain. The man of lawlessness is firmly held back from doing all that the wants to do. What does he want to do? 2:4 says he, “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.” His desire is only for personal edification. He wants to confuse and to deceive. He does not want people to know and embrace the Truth. He is presently restrained, by what? The Thessalonians knew what Paul was talking about, but remember that we don’t know everything that Paul taught them while he was in Thessalonica. In his time he’s going to be revealed, but for now, the identity of the man of lawlessness remains a secret. The man of lawlessness might be currently restrained, but there is something going on right now. “The mystery of lawlessness is already at work.” Lawlessness means a violation of the law. It’s not that the law isn’t known or that there isn’t any law. This word means an intentional violation of the Law. This applies to God’s and man’s law.
“The mystery of lawlessness is already at work.” This violation of God’s Law is already going on. It’s happening all around us. Remember according to v. 3, the man won’t be revealed unless apostasy occurs first. Is apostasy occurring now? Yes, but is it what Paul is talking about? Paul takes the time to lay out a timeline for this rebellion, because that’s what it is.
“The mystery of lawlessness is already at work.” Mystery here means secret. There is a secret rebellion going on and the only thing preventing all out open rebellion or apostasy is the restraining influence that is also active. This does not mean that nobody knows what’s going on. It should be fairly obvious to Christians what is happening in the world today. There are wars and rumors of wars. We live in a world where tolerance is required of everything except faith in Jesus Christ. We have people worshiping the created rather than the Creator. We have eliminated God from our schools. We have declared that a living being is simply a mass of tissue. In some venues, we are forbidden from offering prayers in the mighty name of Jesus. Employees at some retail stores are prohibited from wishing people “Merry Christmas.” The secret rebellion against God and His people are already at work, but can you imagine what our world would look like if not for the restraining influence that is present? V. 6 spoke of a “what” that restrains, but in v. 7, it is a “who” that restrains.
Paul speaks of a time in the future. V. 7b speaks about a time that is drawing near in which the restraints against the man of lawlessness will be removed. The restraining action will occur – present tense – until such a time as the restraints are removed. This removal occurs at a certain point in time. After the restraints are removed, we learn what happens in vs. 8-10a. The man lawlessness, the man of sin, the man known for his wickedness will be revealed so that all will recognize who he is and what he stands for. What was done in secret is now out in the open.
The lawless one will come with, “All power and signs and false wonders.” Some will mistake the coming of the Antichrist for the second coming of Christ, but the coming of the Antichrist is like a deceptive imitation of the coming of the Lord. 2 Thes. 1:7 says the, “Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire.” Vs. 3, 6, and 8 tell the lawless one is revealed, but we don’t know from where. Acts 2:22 says that “Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him.” The anti-Christ will come with counterfeit miracles. Matt. 24:24, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.” The miracles of Christ authenticated who He was; the miracles of the Antichrist will deceive. John Stott says, “The coming of Christ and the Antichrist will be personal, visible, and powerful. And tragically the coming of Antichrist will be such a clever parody of the coming of Christ that many will be taken in by the satanic deception.”
All of this leads to the unpardonable sin. It’s not the “big” sins Paul is talking about. Those that perish, perish because, “They did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.” In order to be saved, you must not only know the truth, but you must receive it by faith. Simply knowing the truth is not enough. You must know, receive, and accept the truth. What is the truth? It is the truth that enables a person to be saved. It is the truth as it relates to God and Jesus Christ. John 1:17 says, “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” 1 Tim 2:3-6 says, “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.” But here’s what happened. Rom. 1:25 says, “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.” That’s part of the secret rebellion that is going on right now. More emphasis is placed on creation than on the Creator.
The free gift of salvation is offered up to anyone that will accept it. Eph. 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” It is a gift, but you must accept a gift in order for it to be yours.
There is coming a day when the restraints of lawlessness will be removed. What is done in secret now will be done for all to see and many will be deceived. How about you? Are you someone that will be deceived or do you recognize what is going on all around you?