The coming of the lawless one is 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. 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.”
2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
This is admittedly, one of the most difficult passages in the entire Bible. Paul had taught the Thessalonian church certain things while there that we are not privy to (II Thessalonians 2:5). So we must tread slowly since we don’t know all that he had previously said. That being said, these verses reveal why so many will be deceived before the coming of the Lord. It is because they don’t love the truth.
Most commentators and Bible scholars believe Paul is describing the coming of the Antichrist before the appearing of the Lord Jesus. He calls him the “lawless one” who is apparently being restrained at this time but later will be fully empowered when the restraint is removed. Many Bible teachers and commentators believe Paul’s teaching is a reference to the Rapture of the Church and the removal of believers from the earth. Whatever it is referring to, there is going to be a time (before the coming of the Lord) when that power which restrains evil is removed so all evil and wickedness are on full display. This will lead to full-scale deception of those who are susceptible to error.
Paul goes on to describe those who will be deceived as those who “refuse to love the truth.” Satan will be working powerfully at this time, deceiving men and women with false works of power. Only those who ‘love the truth’ will be protected from deception. This is the only safeguard. We must be those who have a growing love for the truth.
What is the truth of which Paul speaks of in this passage? Elsewhere, the apostle refers to the Gospel as the “word of truth” (Ephesians 1:13, 2 Timothy 2:15). The Gospel is not just the general message that God loves people but the specific message of what God did in Christ for guilty sinners. It is the word of ‘truth,’ not simply a message among many other messages that has some truth in it. That means that it is the truth and every other truth claim is a lie. The Gospel is not just one possible explanation of things among many, but the truth about Who God is, who we are, and what God has done to rectify the situation of a world lost and without hope.
It is critical that we grasp the Gospel as the ‘word of truth,’ especially in a pluralistic age where the idea of absolute truth is negated. Regardless, we cannot give up the certitude that the Gospel is ‘truth’ and not merely one of several possible truth claims out there. And the only way we can do that is by loving the truth so as not to compromise it.
We live in a world where all types of spirituality are acceptable, just as long as no one dares claim their view is the ‘truth.’ Such people are intolerant of other views, and this cannot be allowed. Acceptance of all views is the spirit of the age.
This age is perhaps best described by Pontius Pilate when, in response to Jesus’ claim that he came into the world to bear witness to the truth said with disdain, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). This was not a question of an honest inquirer but the skepticism of a pluralistic world, which refutes the idea that there is such a thing as objective truth to be discovered. The attitude of Pilate is the attitude of this present age. There is no truth to be discovered; only personal opinions masking as truth.
Paul’s words to the Thessalonians here predict that more and more people are going to be deceived in the days to come. The only thing that will protect them in that hour is a “love of the truth.” Do you love the truth?