"THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS"
The Man Of Sin (2:3-12)
INTRODUCTION 1. In correcting misconceptions about the Lord's return, Paul wrote that two events must occur before the Lord returns... a. The falling away must come - 2Th 2:3 b. The man of sin is revealed - 2Th 3:3 2. Our previous lesson focused on the falling away, and how... a. The apostasy of many was foretold by the apostles - cf. 1Ti 4: 1-3; 2Pe 2:1-2 b. The history of the church gives evidence of a departure from the faith - cf. 1Jn 2:18-19 c. We must be diligent lest we too fall away - cf. He 2:1-3 3. We now direct our attention to what is said about "the man of sin"... a. Who will be revealed before Christ comes b. Who will be destroyed when Christ is revealed [As we examine our text (2Th 2:3-12), let's first consider what we can about...] I. THE DESCRIPTION OF THE MAN OF SIN A. WHAT THE SCRIPTURES REVEAL... 1. His perverse character - 2Th 2:3 a. A man of "lawlessness" - having no regard for God's law b. A son of "perdition" - one begotten for destruction 2. His God-defying activity - 2Th 2:4 a. He opposes and exalts himself 1) Above all that is called God 2) Above all that is worshiped (including Jesus) b. He sits as God in the temple (the church?) c. He shows himself that he is God! 3. His present restraint and future revealing - 2Th 2:5-8 a. He was being restrained at the time Paul wrote 1) The Thessalonians knew what was restraining him 2) For Paul had told them when he was with them b. Even so, the "mystery of lawlessness" was already at work 1) His lawless influence was already spreading 2) But it was hidden (still a mystery), to be revealed only when that which restrains was removed c. He would be revealed when the restraining force was removed 4. His relation to Satan - 2Th 2:9-10 a. His coming will be according to the working of Satan b. His coming will be with all power, signs, lying wonders c. He will exercise unrighteous deception among those who are perishing -- Who or what is this "man of sin, the son of perdition"? B. WHAT SOME HAVE SUGGESTED... 1. One view is that the man of sin is one particular individual a. Who will arise with great power and deceive many just before Christ returns b. Who is the "antichrist" spoken of by John in 1Jn 2:18 -- This view is held by pre-millenialists, and some amillenialists (e.g., William Hendricksen, Edward J. Young, Anthony Hoekema) 2. Another view is that the man of sin is a series of individuals a. Perhaps a successive line of men with the same general character b. In this sense many have applied it to the Roman papacy 1) This was first suggested by a pope himself! a) Gregory the Great (550-604 A.D.) said that whoever arrogates to himself the tile of "universal priest" is a forerunner of antichrist (cf. Hendricksen) b) It was not long before patriarchs of Rome began to claim such distinction 2) Many Protestants view the papacy as the "man of sin" (e.g., Luther, Barnes) a) Noting the similarity between what is said about the man of sin, and what the Roman papacy became b) Suggesting that either the Holy Spirit or the Roman empire was what was "restraining" the lawlessness that was just beginning and would eventually lead to the apostasy and revelation of the man of sin -- In the absence of any particular individual to arise so far, I am prone to think the latter view may be the correct one [While there may be some question as to the actual identity of the man of sin, there is no doubt what unfortunate souls will be misled by his influence...] II. THE DECEPTION BY THE MAN OF SIN A. THOSE WHO WILL FOLLOW THE MAN OF SIN... 1. Those who are perishing will be the ones deceived - 2Th 2: 10-12 a. Those who do not have a love for the truth, that they might be saved b. Those who do not believe the truth c. Those who have pleasure in unrighteousness -- People whose priority is pleasure-seeking rather than truth- seeking will be prime candidates for deception! 2. Those who believe the lie will be strengthened in their delusion - 2Th 2:11-12 a. God Himself will send a strong delusion! b. Since they do not have a love for the truth, He will strengthen their love for a lie! 1) As he hardened Pharaoh to resist Moses - cf. Exo 9:12-21 2) And the Israelites, who resisted the gospel - cf. Ro 11: 7-25 -- The delusion will not be against their will, but will harden or strengthen them in their desire to follow error B. THOSE WHO WILL RESIST THE MAN OF SIN... 1. Will be those who have a love for the truth - cf. 2Th 2:10 2. Will be those who believe the truth - cf. 2Th 2:12 3. Will this be true of us? a. Do we love the truth? b. Do we even know the truth? c. Do we take the time to learn the truth (i.e., study the Bible)? d. Do we place our trust in the Bible (i.e., believe and obey it)? -- Our attitude and treatment of God's Word will determine whether we will be susceptible to deception by the man of sin [We cannot afford to be complacent with truth if we do not want to be misled by the man of sin! Finally, those who love and believe the truth of Christ can take comfort in knowing what is said regarding...] III. THE DESTRUCTION OF THE MAN OF SIN A. THE DECISIVE NATURE OF HIS DEFEAT... 1. He will be consumed and destroyed by the Lord - 2Th 2:8 2. His end will be similar to that of those who know not God and obey not the gospel of Christ - cf. 2Th 1:7-9 B. THE TIMING OF HIS DEFEAT... 1. This will happen at the coming of the Lord - 2Th 2:8 2. The Lord will destroy the man of sin with the brightness of His coming! - 2Th 2:8 3. Just as the Lord will destroy Satan at His coming - cf. Re 20:10 CONCLUSION 1. As with many prophetic passages, there has been a lot of foolish speculation... a. In every generation, attempts have been made to identify the man of sin b. In the 20th century alone, from Kaiser to Hitler to Hussein, etc. c. Many have spoken, confident in their identification, only to be proven wrong with time 2. What is important, indeed necessary, is that we be ready for whatever comes... a. Whether the man of sin proves to be a specific individual b. Or whether the man of sin is indeed a series of individuals, such as the papacy 3. How shall we be ready for whatever comes? a. Have a strong love for the truth b. Believe in the truth c. Obey the gospel of Jesus Christ -- Only then can we be confident that we are in a right relationship with the Lord Is your love and faith in the truth sufficient not to be misled by the man of sin, or is your love for unrighteousness setting you up to be deceived even more?