Devotional # 191. 2 Thessalonians 3:5-18

Devotional # 191. 5/23/16. 2 Thessalonians 3:5-18.

 

Intro. One of the reasons I chose to put verses 5-15 together is because of the theme of Christian living. Of course God put it together because of a common theme first but I think it will do us a lot of good not to split it up into different Devotionals. We’ll do things a little differently today and not break it down by verses but instead by teaching: 1. Withdrawal from the Disorderly (vv. 6-7, 13-15), 2. Work, Don’t Gossip (vv. 8-12) and 3. Paul’s Farewell (vv. 16-18).

On a section about how to deal with other Christians Paul fittingly reminds us to accept: 1. direction from Jesus (“the Lord direct your hearts”), 2. “the love of God” and 3. “the patience of Christ” (v. 5). Pay attention to this Devotional if you’re struggling with a relationship of someone in your church or another fellow believer at work, etc.

Withdrawal from the Disorderly (vv. 6-7, 13-15)

In this section we’re told to not hang out with Christians (“brothers”) who don’t follow the Bible (“the tradition…received from us”). But why not and how are we supposed to “withdraw” from them? First, the “why not?” Well, we were told in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 (Devotional # 189) to hold to these “traditions.” And because everything from the apostles (and therefore from God) was good and beneficial for believers lives (Matthew 4:4). Paul ties this to a specific problem the church in Thessalonica was having: people not working but instead gossiping. We’ll talk more about this in a minute but here the reason to withdraw was to show those Christians that what they were doing was unacceptable, to make sure the good weren’t counted as one of the wrong people and also to set a good example to non-Christians who are always watching us to see if Jesus is real and Christianity is true.

Second, how are Christians supposed to “withdraw” from those who are doing wrong? First, in absolute love, as we saw in verse 5. Next, Paul lays it out for us to “not keep company with [them]” (v. 13). Note that we don’t just avoid them whether they notice or not, Paul says the end goal is for them to be “ashamed” (v. 14). Not that we take joy in shaming our brothers and sisters but that they would recognize their mistake and change. Remember the goal is always reconciliation (1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 5:20). Paul couldn’t be more clear that we don’t treat our fellow believers as “enemies” but “admonish as a brother [or sister]” (v. 15).

Work, Don’t Gossip (vv. 8-12)

As I briefly mentioned above Paul is tying the sins of slothfulness and gossip to “walking disorderly” but these are not all that we should “withdraw” from, instead these were issues happening in real time in Thessalonica.

First, why should Christians work? Because any reasonable person recognizes that no one deserves a free ride. If the majority of able bodied people work for a living what makes someone who is fully capable any different? I belong to a generation of entitlement, and it is wrong. Thank goodness I had the Bible to guide me away from that mentality. As Paul says, if you want to eat, you have to work for it (v. 10). In addition to that we are all representatives of Jesus who never took a free ride. If we want to do the right thing then: 1. We should lead other Christians by example as Paul, Silas and Timothy did (vv. 8-9) and 2. We should be a good example to non-Christians also.

Second, let’s define “gossip.” Some people think gossip is lying about someone or something but that’s not true at all. Gossip is telling the truth about something when you should have kept your mouth shut. What determines when you shouldn’t say anything? Usually common sense but if you don’t have that then follow this guide: Would you say it to the person’s face or only behind their back? Would they appreciate it if you told others about their personal issue? Is it helpful? Does it encourage and build up? Does it serve a purpose?

Now that we know what gossip is we should ask how can it hurt others? I’ve been reading a book called Captive In Iran  about two Iranian ladies who were imprisoned a few years ago for being Christians. They tell a story about an elderly woman they called “Mommy” who was always gossiping and trying to stir up trouble, turning prisoners against each other. After many attempts to stop her from this behavior it all came crashing down one day when “Mommy” had encouraged a drug addict to bully other ladies. One of the other prisoners named Tahmasebi had enough and almost killed the bully and then she went to “Mommy” and told her if she gossiped and instigated bullying ever again she would be killed. That night the warden moved “Mommy” onto another floor with all of the murderers (Source 1).

Obviously this story is quite dramatic but don’t fool yourself into thinking your gossip wouldn’t have the same effect on you and everyone around you. Proverbs 6:16-19 says, “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers” (ESV). If nothing else makes you believe that gossiping is wrong and that you should stop let the verse that tells you God hates it, be the one!

Paul’s Farewell (vv. 16-18)

After these specific things (love, patience, withdrawing from disorderly believers, working and not gossiping) and other things from the letter (perseverance in persecutions, God would be glorified in us, our salvation, sanctification, words and work) Paul says, “may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way.” So the title “Lord of peace” is applicable because He will give you “peace” in all things. It’s also interesting that Paul states, “the Lord be with you all” because of the portions of this book (and 1st Thessalonians) where Paul gave us doctrine on the end times (the Rapture, THE apostasy, Antichrist and Final Judgment). For the Christian, Jesus will always be with us, for those who reject Him, He will separate Himself. And that is the worst punishment of all.

 Paul proves that he wrote the letter by signing it and then tells them that he does this for all his letters. This is important for us today because the early church would have been able to spot frauds and the fact that they passed these on (and kept the originals as proof) gives yet another assurance that our New Testament books are true, from God and inerrant (without error).

Lastly, as he usually does, Paul finishes with a closing statement from Jesus. Interestingly Paul doesn’t mention God the Father here but the complete authority of Jesus alone. It is Jesus who gives us “grace” which will be with all of us.

Conclusion. The book of 2nd Thessalonians has been short but good. I gave a little summary above but I believe it is a book that can be read over and over, always giving us new things. We’ll make more connections within it (and especially tying back to 1st Thessalonians) the more we read it. I hope it blessed you as much as it blessed me. Look forward to 1 Timothy next week and have a great day!

 

References.

Source 1: Maryam Rostampour, Marziyeh Amirizadeh, John Perry, Captive In Iran, Tyndale Momentum, pp. 185-186, 2013.

 

 

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Devotional # 190. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-4

Devotional # 190. 5/16/16. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-4.

Intro. Last week we talked about “THE truth” and God’s “calling” us to “salvation” (Devotional # 189). This week we start the final chapter of the last communication we have from Paul to the Thessalonians. We’ll talk about what prayer to ask for and the faithfulness of Jesus. We’ll find these things give us “confidence in the Lord”.

vv. 1-2. It makes sense that Paul, Silas and Timothy, having started this epistle talking about how they pray for the Thessalonians (1:3, 1:11) would here ask the Thessalonians to pray for them. When you truly believe prayer works then you are praying for other Christians and asking them to pray for you. What do Paul and the others request? Is it freedom from a prison cell or for money? No, they ask for:

  1. The word of the Lord”: A. to be shared all over the world (“run swiftly”) and B. for it to be honored and exalted (“glorified”).
  2. God to deliver them from “unreasonable and wicked men.”

We should keep these things in mind; the same things that we struggle with today Paul and his compatriots struggled with in the first century. We need to be praying for an honoring of God’s word, unlike anything this world has ever known. We also need to be praying for an evil retardant. We know that this world will get worse (especially considering the end times studies we’ve had recently) but we don’t know when the Rapture will happen and it is entirely possible for God to give us a great revival prior to the Rapture, so let’s pray for these things.

vv. 3-4. Paul says, “but the Lord is faithful.” Why does he remind us by starting with “but”? Because his last thought was on “wicked men” who do not “have faith.” What a fantastic contrast! Sure, we can become depressed by the wicked people who oppose Jesus in us every day, but Jesus strengthens us. The lack of faith displayed by lost people isn’t just equally combatted by the faithfulness of Jesus, “but the Lord is faithful” in words and actions completely overpowering “the evil one” by “establishing” and “guarding” us. Imagine yourself in battle, you have the best body armor on and no matter what caliber, the bullets can’t break through. Your combat boots are like when you’re at the ocean and the water slowly buries your feet so they can’t be moved. Jesus is protecting and establishing us – nothing can move us because He is faithful!
What should this give us? Confidence. It gave Paul and his guys “confidence in the Lord” that He would keep His word. Paul knew the Thessalonians were currently doing the right things (“that you do”) but it was so important to be committed and never drift away from the faith (“will do”). Yes, it’s important to have a current, steady walk with the Lord but what’s the point if you’re going to falter a year, 10 years, or 20 years from now? I’ve never started a race thinking I was going to lose. Sure, I’ve lost plenty of races but I never started with the assumption that if things got too hard I would just quit. The Christian life is the same way – it’s not an emotional rollercoaster, it’s not a series of spiritual highs from conferences and camps. It’s a slow maturing in the Lord for the rest of our lives. “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” (Galatians 6:9, Devotional # 94). And how can we do this? Because we have “confidence in the Lord” that He will help us persevere. In fact we’re also promised a crown in heaven, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).
Conclusion. Did you notice that Paul and his companions didn’t have any personal requests when they asked their brothers and sisters for prayers? It’s a great idea when you’re one-on-one with another believer to ask for a few personal prayer requests but when we have opportunities for corporate prayer it should be for what will glorify God and hamper the devil. Do not lose heart today, and do not be persuaded to slowly drift away from your walk with the Lord. Be intentional in your relationship because “the Lord is faithful.”

Devotional # 189. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

Devotional # 189. 5/10/16. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17.

Intro. Three weeks ago we started digging into God’s righteous judgment and justice in 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10 (Devotional # 186). Last week we talked about some specifics of the end times and the many “hopes” believers have in the Lord (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; Devotional # 188).

At the end of last week’s Devotional I very briefly asked you about “love” vs. “pleasure”. I was fascinated with the use of the phrase “the love of the truth”, especially in contrast with the “pleasure in unrighteousness” (v. 12). The original text for “love of the truth” is agape (love) aletheia (truth). As we’ve said before (Devotional # 121) agape love is God’s unconditional love (Source 1). The term aletheia is “truth” objectively as ‘absolute truth’ or ‘truth about God’ or ‘the truth from the Bible’ (Source 2). The “pleasure in unrighteousness” in Greek is eudokeo (pleasure) en (in) adikia (unrighteousness). Eudokeo means “seems good to someone” or “to choose or decide” (Source 3). And adikia means injustice or violating the law (Source 4). Paul tells us that everyone who didn’t believe in God’s unconditional love, which is an absolute truth, instead welcomed injustice that they thought “felt right.” For a chapter mostly about the righteousness of God’s justice we really should be paying attention to the truth of God’s love.

This week we’ll talk more about “THE truth”, God’s “calling” us to “salvation” but also our role of believing in Him.

vv. 13-14. Paul starts with “but” noting that he’s about to contrast the discouraging information he has just given in verses 1-12. Along the theme of a Christian’s hope we had last week (Devotional # 188) Paul’s “but” here is telling us there is hope. He talks again about their (Paul, Thomas and Silas’) thankfulness for the brothers and sisters in Thessalonica, the same way he started the letter in verse 1. Why are they thankful? Because the Thessalonians were “called” (v. 14) “for salvation” (v. 13) by two things. What are these two things? This is important because it’s also how we were “called” by God to receive “salvation.”

First, “through sanctification by the Spirit.” Just a couple weeks ago we talked about sanctification meaning purification (Devotional # 180). “Sanctified” also means to be “set apart”; so the Holy Spirit has set us apart by making us pure. For more on sanctification go here.

Second, Paul says, “belief in the truth.” We have two key words here: “belief” and “truth.” The “belief” that a believer (ever wondered why we’re called that?!) is exercising is faith in the Lord, what He says and what He does. The other important word is “the truth.” Not just “truth” (that some people think doesn’t exist) but “THE truth.” In the Greek “THE truth” here is aletheia, the same as the “truth” from verse 12 that I mentioned in the “Intro” above. “The truth” is the one and only, unquestionable, verified reality. The truth of God comes from the true Creator who literally is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Do you remember “THE apostasy” from last week (Devotional # 188)? In many ways “THE truth” is the opposite of “THE apostasy.”

It’s interesting that in a section of Scripture that Calvinists use to show that we are “called” by God (which we obviously are) there is also a portion where the ball is in our court by “belief in the truth” (also true). So, as I’ve said before, Scripture doesn’t allow for hyper-Calvinism or hyper-Arminianism. It is best to be middle of the road. This is another one of God’s contrarieties (not contradictions) where two things that we can’t understand as co-existing (i.e. both God pre-ordaining us to be saved and our acceptance and choice in the matter) do in fact somehow harmonize perfectly.

How “thankful” we should be to know we have been sanctified by the Spirit and given the ability to believe in the truth! As Ephesians 2:8 tells us “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”

v. 15. The Thessalonians are reminded by Paul that they needed to “stand fast” and “hold” to the “traditions they were taught.” They were taught these in two ways: 1. “by word” – in those initial 3 short weeks (Acts 17:2) as well as when Timothy and Silas made the second trip out (Devotional # 185) or by “epistle” – which were both letters we now call 1st & 2nd Thessalonians. We need to pay attention to this because although Paul is not going to instruct any of us personally, the Holy Spirit still does speak through women and men on a regular basis. Be open and willing to hear what the Lord says to you through brothers and sisters. For us, the second should come before the first: we need to heed the “epistles” before listening to a fellow Christian.

Why is this important? Because the Holy Spirit has spoken in times past and kept it, without error (Psalm 12:6, Proverbs 30:5-6, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13), for our doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). This is crucial because anything any human being tells us better line up with Scripture otherwise its wrong. If I’m told the Holy Spirit will make me bark like a dog that’s not a new revelation or a special anointing. How can I be sure? Because I don’t see it in Scripture and if God doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6) and I don’t see it in the Bible then its wrong (not to mention its disorder and God is not a God of chaos according to 1 Corinthians 14:33). What is best for my life is to know the Bible (“epistles”) and encourage and be encouraged by fellow believers who speak “words” that line up with the Scriptures.

vv. 16-17. Paul ends the chapter with the realities of hope and comfort that both our Lord (Master) Jesus and God (“Father”) give us. First, they “loved us”, second they gave us an “everlasting consolation”, third, they gave “hope by grace.” What an amazing time you will have when you meditate on the love of God! The “everlasting consolation” is a special relief that has already started but will continue for eternity. Lastly, that “hope by grace” is a positive outlook on the future, knowing that God has given us what we don’t deserve. For more on grace (and how it’s different from mercy) see Devotional # 98.

I love that this comfort to our “hearts”* will “establish you in every word and work.” It bears the reminder that both the words and works here are given by God. Regarding the “words”, the Bible says that the we shouldn’t worry about what we’re going to say about Jesus because the Holy Spirit will give us the words we should say (Luke 12:12). Regarding the “works” 1 Timothy 6:18 says, “Let them do good, that they be rich in good works...” In both cases it is “our Lord Jesus Christ”, “our God and Father” and the Holy Spirit who gives us the ability to say and do these things. I can’t help but notice that the “word and work” here in verse 17 is similar to the “word” and “epistle” that Paul told us were traditions we should hold on to (v. 15). Certainly the “words” and the “epistle” that Paul produced were not of his own working or authority, instead they comforted his heart and the hearts of many others including us today.

 

*heart – this word is how the Bible describes in what way our soul and spirit are mysteriously tied together.

 

Conclusion. In the same way that Paul produced many great things in “word and work” we are told the Trinity will supply us with the same power. Today we reviewed “THE truth” that gives us hope: an “everlasting consolation” and “hope by grace.” Be encouraged by the “words” and “epistles” as well as the “word and work” that you have today!

 

References.

Source 1: agape, https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G26&t=KJV

Source 2: aletheia, https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G225&t=KJV

Source 3: eudokeo, https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G2106&t=KJV

Source 4: adikia, https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G93&t=KJV

Devotional # 188. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

Devotional # 188. 5/2/16. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12.

Intro. Two weeks ago we started digging into God’s righteous judgment and justice in 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10 (Devotional # 186). Last week we talked about Paul, Silas and Timothy’s prayer for the Thessalonians. It was in three parts: “that (1) our God would count [them] worthy of this calling and (2) fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and (3) the work of faith with power” (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12,  Devotional # 187). Notice the “goodness” of God mentioned, we must remember that as we move through today’s Scripture. In that Devotional I mentioned that this week we would be returning to some specifics of the End times and also that we would see the many ways Christians have hope.

vv. 1-2. Paul returns to telling his brothers and sisters (“brethren”) about the “coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him.” He names two separate events: 1. “The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”, which is the Second Coming of Jesus ending the Great Tribulation, and 2. “our gathering together to Him” which is the Rapture. Do you remember the two charts I gave in Devotional # 181 showing the similarities and differences between the Rapture and the Second Coming? In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 we talked about how “the Day of the Lord” (here “the Day of Christ” is better translated as “the Day of the Lord”) always refers to God’s Judgment (Devotional # 182). Paul’s heart here is to correct the Thessalonians fear and doubts. He had already explained how these things would happen (v. 5) but they had forgotten or been led astray. We need to act as quickly as Paul did when we hear that someone from our family of faith misunderstands Scripture. Notice how loving Paul is in his explanation.

Specific to this section, one commentator says, “this was the event the Thessalonians were anticipating” (Source 1). And it should be the same for us 2016 Christians! When Jesus is at the center of our universe then finally meeting Him in our glorified bodies should be the things we’re looking forward to right now. Our desire to be perfect in the presence of the One who perfected us should partly fuel our hope for the future. Remember the hope that these things give us as Paul mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (Devotional # 181)? But why does this only partly give us hope?

There are different levels of maturity for a Christian. In my mind one of the factors is where we place our hope. The very bottom level, let’s call it “0”, is where non-Christians are. If they have any hope at all it’s in themselves or temporal things. But when someone becomes a Christian they hit “level 1” where they trust Jesus as their Savior. This is a very basic realization that there is in fact hope in eternal life and they will spend it in heaven. From here it can go one of two ways: they can stay at “level 1” but focus on the problems of this life with the hope of eternity in the back of their minds; or they can move to “level 2” where they are encouraged by reading their Bible that they have hope in being raptured by Christ. It seems like many pastors nowadays push the hope of eternity or the hope of the Rapture or both.  And that’s great – those truly are the foundation of a believer’s hope. But there is more to hope in! And this is where, something like a third level would come into play. The Christian is looking forward to the hope of eternity with the Lord in general and the hope of Jesus pulling His Church from the earth prior to the Tribulation (not just an escapist mentality) but now the believer also looks forward to: prophecy being fulfilled, sin ending forever, the Lord’s will completed, people returning to the state God designed them for, communion and fellowship for the totality of the Church with the Lord, Satan and his demons being stopped, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, new heaven, new earth, the New Jerusalem and final righteous justice and judgment given by God (and I’m sure there are more). You see all of these things will happen after the Rapture and they don’t only affect us personally but they affect all of humanity and all of creation.

Please understand the “levels” I just created to explain believer’s hope are just that – something I created to explain the truths of God’s word. I’m not saying these are rungs of a ladder of works or that if you’re at what I described as “level 1” then you’re not good enough. My point is that we all need the reminder that there is so much to hope in the Lord for!

vv. 3-4. Paul gives us an important timeline. He tells us “that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed.” So the Second Coming will not happen until “the man of sin” (also known as “the son of perdition”) comes on the scene. So what does the “the falling away” mean? The original Greek is apostasia which is where we get our word “apostate” and “apostasy” as we have here. It means “to forsake” or “fall away” (Source 2) and, in a religious sense, is used when someone has been part of a church or religion and then leaves it. But here, in verse 3, it is a unique and specific event of “THE apostasy”*. One commentator says that the key to understanding the event of THE apostasy “is to identify the main person, which Paul does, calling him the ‘man of sin’” (Source 1). The “man of sin” is the Antichrist and how he sits as God in the temple can be found in Mark 13:14-20. If you don’t remember going through this in Devotional # 34 then here is a portion:

The Anti-Christ re-builds the temple and puts the “abomination of desolation”, which is an image of himself, in the temple. This was actually prophesied 560 years prior to Jesus, in Daniel 11:31 (Source 2)! Here it says “standing” which indicates that it will be continuously there for 3 ½ years (according to Revelation 12:6). This is interesting because the Jews may have been persuaded that the anti-Christ was the Messiah when he re-builds the temple but when they see him put his image inside they will know he is an imposter. This will be when Romans 10 & 11 (among many others) are fulfilled and Israel accepts Jesus in their hearts and not because of birthright or works of the Law. They (and others) will run to the mountains to hide, if they don’t take off immediately they will be caught and killed. This will be the worst warfare the earth has ever known (Devotional # 34).

Back here in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, we have a clearer understanding of what will happen in these End times. One last thing before we leave this portion: “the apostasy” (“falling away”) that takes place is scary and saddening. If you read 2 Timothy 3:1-5, the apostate people have a “form of godliness“, so they go to church and look like a Christian, but “deny its power“, so they don’t have the Holy Spirit. I was reading in the last book of the Bible recently and thought this applied to what we’re studying. The seventh church that Jesus walks through is “the church of the Laodiceans” in Revelation 3:14-22. This was both a real church in the first century and a prophecy of a future Church age. It is the worldly church that backs Antichrist and the church that Jesus knocks at their door asking to be let in (“I stand at the door and knock“). What?! Why is Jesus outside of the church? Shouldn’t the church have Jesus at its center? Yes! And yet this church that masquerades as “rich, wealthy and needs nothing” is actually “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

 

*THE apostasy:  Some have thought that this was another mention of the Rapture. The problem with that is in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 the catching away is harpazo, which is an act of God, but this apostasia here is an act of man, this is apostate.

5-7. In the midst of the disconcerting news of the future we find more hope as well as important theology. As I mentioned before, Paul says that he has told the Thessalonians about these things in the past. It certainly was important for him to remind them of the timeline of these things so that they didn’t live in fear of having missed the Rapture, but it also showed them, and it shows us, that God is in control. Not only had Paul prophesied that these things would happen in this order but verses 6 & 7 tell us about a “Him” who is “restraining” the Antichrist. Who is this “Him“? It’s the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is currently holding back “the mystery of lawlessness” which “is already at work“. So we see this “mystery” is more than just current sin (“lawlessness“) but in fact it is the demon spirit currently on earth that will inhabit the Antichrist but is being “restrained” by the Holy Spirit. What does this tell us? Several things but first, this gives us hope and faith knowing that God is holding back Satan’s plan. And it’s not like God is a grandpa who loses his grip on the leash of a large dog. It is in the perfect timing of the Father’s plan that He takes the Holy Spirit out of His restraining role. Does this mean the Holy Spirit stops working? No, “the passage says the Holy Spirit will no longer restrain the growth of evil, but that does not mean He will have no ministry whatsoever” (Source 3). Read through the book of Revelation and you will see how much the Holy Spirit continues to work during the end times. What an encouraging thing to know that everything is according to God’s will and that the Holy Spirit continues to work for all eternity!

vv. 8-9. Spoiler alert! Just as quickly as we’re told that the Holy Spirit will allow the Antichrist to take action, we find out that God ultimately destroys him! Paul is saying, ‘don’t worry Thessalonians, Satan and his demons will have a time to tempt people but God will deal harshly with them in perfect righteous justice and judgment.’ Why do they have to be released? Because God gives everyone a choice whether to be saved by Him or trust in themselves and Satan (as we’ll see in vv. 10-12). Let’s look at that next.

vv. 10-12. Verse 10 is the continuation of what Paul started saying about the evil empowered by Satan, worked out by the Antichrist (v. 9) but it gets personal now because humans are mentioned. We’re told that people will be “deceived” but this is because they made a choice to “not receive the love of the truth” (and we see this again in v. 12). They made a choice to reject salvation and “had pleasure in unrighteousness“* because they have made that decision God will confirm their hearts desire by “send[ing] them strong delusion.” This is the same type of thing as we see in Romans 9:14-18, and by context back to Exodus 4-14. The “hardening” of Pharaoh’s heart is mentioned twenty times, ten are used speaking of Pharaoh being the originator (example: Exodus 7:13, “And Pharaoh’s heart grew hard”) and ten are speaking of God being the initiator (example: Exodus 9:12, “But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh”). Even when God is mentioned as hardening his heart there are still times (Exodus 9:12, 9:34) where it says that Pharaoh hardened his heart, implying there would have been the ability to repent. It’s important to understand that the “hardening” is a progression for Pharaoh and for every person. God shows mercy but He also will give a man or woman what they demonstrate time and again they desire. This is the justice and fairness of God’s judgment.

Conclusion. Today we’ve learned more about God’s justice but also the many things the Christian has hope in. We’ve also seen how the hardening of the human heart against God is a progression. We can be praying for our friends, family and strangers that they would trade the hardened heart for the hope we have in Jesus. And, although I didn’t mention it above, I was fascinated with the use of the phrase “the love of the truth”, especially in contrast with the “pleasure in unrighteousness.” What do you think about those phrases? Leave a comment below and maybe we can talk about it next week!

 

References.

Source 1: John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1854.

Source 2: apostasia, https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G646&t=KJV

Source 3: S. Michael Houdmann, http://www.gotquestions.org/Holy-Spirit-tribulation.html