July 12, 2022
“Don’t you remember that when I was still with you I told you about the man of lawlessness? And you currently know what restrains him, so that he will be revealed in his time.”
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“Don’t you remember that when I was still with you I told you about the man of lawlessness? And you currently know what restrains him, so that he will be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; but the one now restraining will do so until he is out of the way, then the lawless one will be revealed.” 2 Thessalonians 2:5-8a
Paul spoke of his administration in the earlier epistles to reveal the “mystery of the gospel.” That mystery can be summarized as follows: Gentiles get in, too. That is, Messiah’s grace is offered freely to all who will believe by faith, regardless of ethnicity. No longer a mystery, today’s “Church-at-large” is comprised of mostly Gentiles.
The gospel’s mystery is still mysterious in most Jewish synagogues, but hopefully not for long!
So, what is the “mystery of lawlessness”? The mystery of lawlessness is the polar opposite of the “promise of lawlessness.” Lawlessness promises liberty without accountability. “If it feels good, do it.” On the surface, that’s a great idea…but when lawlessness is promised to EVERYONE, every man becomes a law unto himself. The result is anarchy.
“Anarchy!” It’s a great punk rock slogan, but if you’ve ever been in the midst of full-on civil unrest, you’ll wish you’d never been born. One 4th of July in downtown Memphis, I watched patriotic revelry turn to pure anarchy as rival gang members squared off. In a moment’s spark, thousands of citizens were running for their lives.
The mystery of lawlessness is that the absence of law promotes terror and anxiety, not freedom. A lawless society does not find balance. Rather, it implodes and resounds with waves of selfishness. Our present “post-modern” culture is defined by the trend against absolutes. Well, it doesn’t get more absolute than a law! So, as professing followers of Jesus distance themselves from God’s Word as the ultimate authority, they are actually promoting lawlessness with the promise of more religious freedom. They are obviously ignorant of the “mystery” of lawlessness, which will produce the opposite effect they are hoping for. They are setting the stage for the day of antichrist, softening the Church-at-large.
Antichrist will promise to completely abolish the law, like a false light peering past the curtain of the Holy Spirit. But when fully revealed, lawlessness will have led the world into enslavement to the ultimate self-worshipper, Satan.
Jesus said, “I came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.” Matthew 5:17. Jesus freed the believer from the law’s penalty by fulfilling the Torah through His death on the cross, as evidenced by His resurrection. Yet, the law remains fully intact. How else would people be held accountable? True liberty can only be obtained by the fulfillment of the law, not the removal of it.