This morning I read 2 Thessalonians, which talks about the man of lawlessness and the miracles and wonders he’ll perform. Honestly, it kinda freaked me out.
2 Thessalonians 1-12 1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
5 Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 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. 8 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. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. (NIV)
My main concern? If this were to happen tomorrow, how would I respond to these signs, miracles, and deceptions? How close am I to God? How clearly do I hear His voice? How well do I know His truth?
But before I could spin in worry, God addressed my concerns in verses 15-17, providing very clear instructions on how to stand firm amidst confusion (emphasis mine):
15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
The conclusion of this chapter tells me to do two things:
1) Hold on to sound teaching
2) Rely on God
Sound teaching is found in the Bible. Bible studies and commentaries are great. Books written by dynamic teachers and blog posts sharing personal examples pertaining to a passage can be great supplements. But extraneous works must never substitute the Word of God.
If you want to stand firm, unwavering, grounded in truth, then immerse yourself in truth. Not someone else’s opinion or interpretation of truth, but pure truth as presented in God’s Word.
I’ve seen numerous Christians follow some strange teachings. Likely you have, too. From my experience, one characteristic dominates the decieved–they’ve become more dependent on what man has to say about the Bible than what the Bible might be saying to them.
Here’s what I mean. Let’s say you found a great Bible study. You start using the Bible study, but you’ve only got so much time in your day, so pretty soon the Bible study replaces your morning Bible reading time. What’s happened? You begin to turn to the study for answers instead of God’s Word.
Don’t get me wrong. Studies are great and I believe God gifts writers and leaders to clearly present His truth, but even so, our first responsibility as children of God is to go directly to the source. Begin with the Bible. Rely most on the Bible. Use everything else as a supplement.
The second truth presented in 2 Thessalonians reminds me that most of the battle belongs to God. In verses 16-18 I am told that God will comfort and strengthen me. My ability to stand strong, then, comes from drawing near (and remaining near) to God, allowing His Spirit to permeate every part of my being.