A FALLING AWAY
2 Thessalonians 2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. (or, “has already arrived.”) 3 ¶ Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
The Greek word here translated, “a falling away,” is the word from which we get our word “apostasy.” That Greek word is found only one other place in the scriptures. In Acts 21:21 it appears as the English words, “to forsake.” So the Apostle Paul is comforting those “shaken in mind,” and “troubled” as they had been falsely informed that the day of Christ had already arrived.
And in order to do so he gives two events which must first take place. He states that first there must come a falling away; not specifically from church attendance, but from the spirituality of true worship. And then he informs them that there must rise up a new type of sinner. He will arise as a “man of sin” unlike previous sinners of the old economy. For as greater light has appeared from the coming of the gospel and the Holy Spirit, upon the accomplished redemption of the Lamb of God, there will be a new type of sinner who sins against this added light.
He will be a “son of perdition,” or “son of destruction, or doom,” like Judas. (See John 17:12) He will not be Judas, but these sinners will be after his pattern. They will presume to walk with the Lord’s people as Judas walked with the Lord and his disciples. They will involve themselves in the current ministry of the church as Judas did. And as Judas walked in the presence of the Light of life, (that is, the Lord – see John 8:12), so these will be sinning against the greater light of the New Testament with its completed redemption. For sinning against greater light brings greater judgment! Luke 12:47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
We can read of this encroaching apostasy, as Satan presents himself, not just as roaring lion, but also as angel of light. 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 2 Corinthians 11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. And in order to discern which one he may be at any given time, you must take careful notice whether the beast has his crowns on his heads, or on his horns. Revelation 12:3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. 13:1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
For when he crowns his heads, he is imitating the Lord Christ, the Head of the church. Then he is an angel of light to deceive. But when he crowns his horns, a symbol of power, he presents himself as the roaring lion coming forth to kill, steal and to destroy. John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:
And our marvelous bibles also give us true historical accounts of this “mystery of iniquity” already at work in the early centuries. For in the Book of the Revelation, chapters two and three, we read of Satan already gaining a foothold in these early churches. In chapter two we read of Christ commending the church at Ephesus for their proper dealings with those that are evil, and with false apostles. But he threatens to ‘unchurch’ them, by removing their candlestick, because of their abandonment of their love to him! So again, the “falling away” is not a reduction of membership, but an abandonment of their spiritual love to Christ! Revelation 2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Then to the Sardis church (Revelation 3:1-6) he states that although they think themselves to be alive and flourishing, they are really dead. For they were looking on the outward appearance of their religious organization, but the Lord was looking on their cold, dead hearts. For he was concerned with the spiritual organism, not the religious organization! He informs them that there are only a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
He then challenges them in Revelation 3:2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
Therefore we clearly see just in these few verses “the man of sin” – the New Testament era hypocrite and apostate – had already obtained membership into these local churches, sitting unashamedly within their numbers, fulfilling the description as listed in our text in 2 Thessalonians 2:4.
And also consider the apostate who was sitting in the church of which the Apostle John wrote in 3rd John. 3 John 9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.
Diotrephes had assumed the place of dominion over all the church, loving the preeminence, showing himself to be god over all the others. But only Christ is to have this place, especially in the true churches. Colossians 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
Therefore anyone seeking to rule over the flock of the Lord is not of the spirit of Christ! The apostles, pastors, and teachers are to be servants of the believers souls, not rulers over their consciences. 1 Peter 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. You must never allow anyone except the Holy Spirit to dominate your conscience!
Luke 9:48 And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great. 22:26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. 22:27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.
This is how you can always tell who is God’s man and who is not. The Devil and his men are always seeking to be exalted, but the Lord and his servants are always seeking to be abased. 1 Peter 5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
The Holy Spirit instructs believers to examine every religious pastor and teacher. When John writes for us to try the spirits, he means to examine those with spiritual gifts, whom he later speaks of regarding “false prophets.” For if their confession is only about themselves, and not about Christ, they are of the spirit of antichrist! 1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
These, “men of sin” like Judas, have the spirit of Satan within them to imitate the true disciple of Christ. Therefore they are antichrist! John 13:21 When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. 25 He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? 26 Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.
Yet this was not outside of the purposes of Almighty God. For he would have Satan’s forces be caught off guard by assuming to have authority even over the very life of the God-man! John 13:30 He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night. Luke 22:53 When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. 1 Corinthians 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
Then in the very next verse of that passage concerning Judas being filled with the spirit of Satan we read of Christ’s Lordship over the entire matter! John 13:31 Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
It was in the darkness prior to creation in which God said, “Let there be light: and there was light.” And there was thick darkness in Egypt before the children of Israel were delivered from that bondage. Exodus 10:21 And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. 22 And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. 23 They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.
And it was in the four hundred years of darkness between the Old and New Testaments when the Light of the world appeared. Matthew 4:15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
And those delivered from sin and having followed the light of life, where themselves darkness. Ephesians 5:8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
And so it shall be in the very end of the ages. 2 Thessalonians 2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
Pastor Gene Breed
April 16, 2021