Words of Faith 4-22-19
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
<>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <><
2 Thessalonians 2
 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.  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.  And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.  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,  and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie  and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
In one sense, this is a problematic passage devotionally because it has to do with events that are in the future and which believers will not be present for. We might conclude that there isn't a daily personal application for these scriptures except to learn something of God's plan and the amazing sovereignty of His design. Let's take a look anyway.
This teaching was nothing new to the Thessalonians. Apparently, Paul had taught them about the Day of the Lord when he was with them in Thessalonica. He reminded them of this teaching regarding the "man of lawlessness" and the removal of the "restrainer" who now partially restrains lawlessness. This removal is another event that must take place before the Day of the Lord will begin. The point was to reassure the Thessalonians that they were not in the midst of the Day of the Lord.
Paul did not identify who or what is restraining the man of lawlessness. Something or someone is holding back the culmination of lawlessness. Apparently, the Thessalonians knew who this was. There have been many suggestions and ideas through the ages including the Roman Empire, modern government, and the Church. The language refers to a mystery or a secret power.
Many today have concluded that this is most likely the Holy Spirit Himself. Part of the purpose of this restraint may be to keep the man of sin from being revealed prematurely. This restraint may also be to allow for the Gospel to be preached in the entire world and for people to come to Him.
Peter later wrote, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). The time that the Lord has allowed is limited, but He is patient in His desire for people to hear the truth and come to Him.
But Paul reminded his readers that the secret power of lawlessness was already at work. A movement against divine law directed by Satan is operative now, but it is being restrained somewhat. This restraining will continue until the time appointed for revealing the man of sin and the climax of lawlessness.
The Holy Spirit of God is the only Person with sufficient supernatural power to do this restraining. How does He do it? Through Christians, whom He indwells and through whom He works in society to hold back the swelling tide of lawless living. How will He be taken out of the way? When the church leaves the earth in the Rapture, the Holy Spirit will be taken out of the way in the sense that His unique lawlessness-restraining ministry through God's people will be removed.
It is not hard to recognize that we live in a time when lawlessness is at war with the way of God. After the removal of restraint, the world will plunge headlong into lawlessness, and the man of sin will be revealed. No matter how lawless we may perceive the world to be now, it will undoubtedly get worse.
The name of the man of lawlessness is never given in the Bible, but he will be known by his actions. This influential person will be destroyed by the mere breath of the Lord Jesus. Antichrist may control mankind, but he will be no match for Messiah. Jesus is Lord indeed.
The very breath of the glorified Jesus will obliterate the lawless one like the blast of a fiery furnace, and his work will be destroyed. The shining forth of Christ's presence when He comes to earth will immobilize the Antichrist's program as certainly as the revelation of the glorified Christ on the Damascus Road stopped Saul in his tracks and terminated his program of fighting against God.
So perhaps we should consider these truths:
1) God is in control. He knows exactly what is going on and how things will proceed.
2) There will be increasing lawlessness in our time but there is a restraint on lawlessness and we are part of that plan. We do not restrain lawlessness in our flesh, but rather the Holy Spirit does so as we are surrendered to Him and He lives in us.
3) There is a purpose in this time of restraint as the Gospel is preached and people come to Jesus.
4) The plan of God is not to establish His ultimate Kingdom until after a very difficult tribulation, but He will remove us before that time. This is our blessed hope.
Father God, I marvel at Your wisdom and the design of Your plan. You are the sovereign One over all that is and shall be. Show me how You want me to respond as a part of Your plan. Show me who You want me to share the Truth with. Show me who You want me to love in Your Name. I trust You for today and for all the days that You choose to give me. In Jesus' name.