Escape from Delusion
Today’s reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2 Thessalonians 3:18
My selection: 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
My reflections: I once heard Pastor Joe Novensen ask, “If you were deceived, would you know it?” The answer is, of course, “No.” The nature of deception is that the one deceived is unaware of his state.
In this passage we can see that there are several factors working to create a deceived person: Satan, God, and the person himself or herself.
What are the characteristics of the person who is deceived? They refuse to love the truth or believe what would bring them to salvation. Often this takes the form of complacency, that is, they see no need to be “saved.” They are not buying this idea that they are sinners, justly deserving the wrath of God. They are not buying that there is a Savior, Jesus Christ, who took upon Himself the sins of His people. The deluded are characterized by taking pleasure in unrighteousness. They break God’s law and find pleasure in it.
The function of Satan is to make this deluded position seem totally reasonable by offering power, false signs, and wonders. He appeals to the person who is easily impressed with success, prestige, wealth, and apparent miraculous signs. Once Satan establishes his position, he can tell any lie and it becomes believable.
God confirms the state of the deluded by strengthening the delusion. God can save the most deluded, if He chooses to do so. He is free. But when He chooses not to save, the deluded one is further confirmed in his state and senses no urgency or danger. He is quite content to remain deluded.
My challenge: How can you tell you are deluded? If you thought you were deluded, you would, presumably, turn away from your erroneous beliefs and seek the truth. But you would be in a “Catch 22.” You don’t believe because you can’t believe. You can’t believe because you don’t believe.
Is there no way out? Yes, the first step is to recognize your delusion. But how?
The hint is found in the observable characteristics of the deluded: they refuse to love the truth and they have pleasure in unrighteousness. The only possible way out for the deluded is to begin to seek to know the truth and to know what God calls unrighteousness. Listen to the preaching of the gospel. Read the Word of God and ask for grace to repent and believe. As my friend, Steve Slater, prayed in his youth before he believed: “God, show me the truth, and give me the courage to follow it.” God answered that prayer for Steve. May He answer it for you, too.
Tomorrow’s reading: 1 Timothy 1:1-6:2