Michael Youssef - End of History and You - Part 4
Last week, I told you what the Apostle Paul said about the man of lawlessness, the antichrist described in the first five verses of chapter 2. Here, beginning at verse 6 of chapter 2, he continues to talk about his appearance, the appearance of the man of lawlessness. Verse 6, chapter 2: "And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so until he is taken out of the way. 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.
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed in the truth but delighted in wickedness". The image that was going through my mind as I was studying this passage of Scripture, and the question is, how do you restrain a dangerous animal? You put him on a leash or a chain, right?
Growing up in the Middle East, the only dogs that I was introduced to and exposed to are wild dogs or guard dogs. They are attack dogs. And we had some at our house, not in the house, but outside the house. None of us, no one could ever come near them except my father. I could never understand that. He is the only one who could get to them early in the morning and tie them in a chain so that people can come and go. He's the only one who could go up there late at night and set them loose. What they did to an intruder once is an image that I will never forget, and that is why, during the day, they had to be restrained. They had to be tied down. That is why, during the day, they have to be held back. Otherwise, no one can come and go.
Verse 6 of 2 Thessalonians 2, the Apostle Paul indeed wanna give us this word picture like I've seen in real life, how God is the one who restraining the antichrist. The word "restrain" means "to hold back, or to hold down, or to suppress". And through the years, there have been speculations about who is that, or what force that is suppressing, holding back, restraining the antichrist. Lots of views from good and godly scholars, and they have a good reason for this variation because in one stage, when they talk about the force that is restraining the antichrist, it's in the neuter. When they talk about the person behind that force, it's in the masculine. I'm gonna explain that to you in a minute, that it's really much simpler than you realize. There are some who believe that the restrainer that Paul is talking about is the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that as the preaching of the gospel is going on around the world, as long as it's this happening, the antichrist is held in check.
And they use Matthew 24, where Jesus said that: "'This gospel of the kingdom must be preached to the end of the earth, then the end will come.'" There are others who have said that the restrainer is the nation of Israel. Others have said the restrainer is the influence of the church on society as a salt and light, keeping evil in check. Others have said that the archangel Michael from Daniel chapter 10 is the one who's restraining the antichrist. But then, in the Epistle according to Jude, verse 9, the archangel Michael couldn't restrain Satan. He said, "The Lord rebuke thee"! So, all of these explanations of who the restrainer, who's restraining the antichrist from appearing, they all might be interesting, but human restrainers can never, never restrain the antichrist. I'm gonna tell you why. Because he is gonna have Satan's power. He's not gonna have his own power. He's gonna have Satan's power in operation.
Humans preach the gospel. Humans make up the nation of Israel. Humans make up the church. But regardless of who the humans are, they are no match for Satan. They are no match for Satan's power because Satan is a supernatural being. Certainly not the church. For one thing, the church has not been able to restrain evil within its walls. You don't believe me? Think of how the lives of many people inside the churches are so messed up. The only power that can restrain Satan and his boy, the antichrist, is God's power. He is the only one who can restrain Satan and his puppet. He's the only one who says to Satan, "Satan, you can come thus far, but no further". He is the one, the only one, who can say to Satan, "Satan, you can sift Peter as wheat, but you cannot harm him. Satan, you can test Job, but you cannot destroy him".
God is the only one who says, "You must stay within your boundaries that I have placed you in". He is the only one who can say to Satan, "Satan, you must stay in the cage that I've built for you". It is true that Satan does not like to be part of God's timetable. Of course Satan hates to be restrained by God's sovereign power and might. Of course Satan would love to reveal his puppet, the antichrist, the false Messiah. Of course he would love to do that. Satan loves to usurp and steal the glory of God. But don't ever forget that Jesus' foot is on Satan's neck right now, amen. Listen to what Job said to God in 42:2. He said: "'I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.'" Thus, the man of lawlessness will only appear on God's timetable, not Satan's. God will allow him to appear after he got all of his redeemed through the gate of salvation.
Paul said in verse 7, he said: "The secret power of lawlessness is already at work". You have to have spiritual eyes, enlightened eyes, to be able to see it. Those who are living in wickedness, they cannot see it. To them, it's a mystery. They show up on television after things like September 11 and say, "Where was God"? They see evil in the world and say, "Where is God"? Because to them, evil and lawlessness, the spirit of lawlessness that is operating in the world today is a mystery. They don't understand it. And that is why those of us who have spiritual eyes must be able to say, "We know where God was".
Those of who know the truth, who can see it, see it clearly, see lawlessness and the spirit of lawlessness operating. Lawlessness is operating in the government. Lawlessness is operating in the schools. Lawlessness is operating in many a home. Lawlessness is the lying spirits that invading our society. It is the hypocrisy and the doubletalk that has become so common among politicians. It is the immorality of all kinds that has invaded millions of homes. False religions that are now accepted as the truth. We see it, we see it. You have to spiritual eyes to see it. Oh, but when the man of lawlessness finally is revealed, let me tell you, the lawlessness that we see today is going to look like a Sunday school picnic in comparison. "He who restrains". Now it's in the masculine. "He who restrains".
So, what is Paul saying to us? When he talks about the force, the restraining force itself, it's in the neuter gender. But when he talks about the person behind that force, he gives us a masculine gender, which can only be an indication that he is referring to the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit of God is the supernatural spirit that holds Satan in check. The Holy Spirit of God is the supernatural spirit who restrains wickedness from running wild. The Holy Spirit of God is the supernatural power that says in Genesis 6:3: "'My Spirit will not strive with man forever.'"
The Holy Spirit of God is the supernatural spirit of which Stephen referred to when he was dying in Acts 7:51 as: "The one whom the wicked have resisted". He is the supernatural power in John 16:8 who opposes evil in the world. He is the supernatural power who, "Convicts the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment". And that is the why the phrase, "When he's taken away or removed..." You notice, it did not say, "When he disappears". Because the Holy Spirit of God is sovereign. He's omnipresent, he cannot disappear. The Holy Spirit is a sovereign, omnipresent. He cannot disappear. But his influence is gonna be removed. His restraining work is gonna be taken away. His convicting power is gonna be removed. His power to hold back evil is gonna be pulled away. But I wanna hurry up and get to verse 8. Praise God for verse 8. It says: "The Lord Jesus will overthrow him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming".
Here's the good news. There is no long, drawn-out battle. There is no long period of struggle. There is no protracted war. Victory will be quick and instantaneous. Victory will be swift and fast. Victory will be immediate, and I can't wait. But here's the question. The question remain, and any thinking person would read the Scripture. The question is, how can millions, I oughtta say, "Billions," of people gonna be deceived by this evil genius? How are they gonna be deceived? How are they gonna bow to this evil genius? How is this gonna happen? But the answer is right in verses 9 to 12, right here. Verses 9 to 12, they give us the answer.
You see, the antichrist will have great powers, and it's gonna be given to him by Satan himself. And Paul uses a Greek word here "Energeia," from which we get the word "energy". And normally, this is a word that is reserved for God's power and God's activities and God's energy. But Satan will try to imitate God's power. Satan will enable his puppet, the antichrist, to perform miracles. He's gonna enable him to do counterfeit signs and wonders, to perform deceptive illusions, so much so that people are gonna bow to him. They're gonna bow to him, and they're gonna worship him and think he's the Christ. And many will be taken by his deception. Verse 10, the reason many people will believe the lie of the antichrist is: "Because they refused to believe the truth about Jesus".
In fact, in Matthew 24:24, the Lord Jesus said that: "'Only the elect,'" only the elect, "are not gonna be deceived". But he's even gonna try to deceive them. He said, "If possible". But of course, not gonna be possible, because we're held in Jesus' hand, and he cannot take us away from him. Hear me right, please, this is serious stuff. Those who do not stand for the truth of Christ will fall for the lie of the antichrist. Those who are not anchored in Christ alone by faith alone through grace alone are gonna buy into the ploy of the antichrist. Those whose faith is only in the spectacular and the wonder, but not in Christ and his cross alone, they will be wowed by the illusion of the antichrist.
Those who do not love the truth, stand for the truth, obey the truth, and even willing to die for the truth, they will fall for satanic deception. Those who have decided for themselves what they want to believe, how they're gonna live, which way to do what to do and how to do it, and they've rejected the truth of Jesus, they will be mesmerized by the trickery, by the fake miracles of the antichrist. I pray, God, not a single person at the sound of my voice will be in that camp. Verse 11: "For this reason," what reason? "For this reason," the reason their refusal to believe that salvation is only through Jesus Christ and his cross. "For this reason God will send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie". He's gonna send them a powerful spirit of delusion.
I know some of you are having heart palpitation right now about this verse. I mean, I can see it. "Uhh, that's not fair. What do you mean God is gonna send them a spirit of delusion to delude them? That is not right. That is not fair. How can God do that? How come he send them a spirit of delusion"? Well, before you get uppity, please calm down. Let me explain something to you, okay? There is a biblical principle that runs from Genesis to Revelation, a powerful principle. You must understand it in your head and in your heart and live by it.
You say, "What is that principle"? The principle is this, when a person is adamant about rejecting God, and rejecting his plan of salvation, and rejecting his one and only Son, when that person is adamant and hardened his or her heart, God says, "I give you more of what you want". I'm gonna show you from the Word of God. Cain refused to repent, despite the fact that God gave him opportunity after opportunity. He said, "Okay, you will wander the earth". Pharaoh hardened his heart toward God. Do you know there is ten times he had crocodile tears and false repentance? And every time he reneges, and then he goes back and hardened his heart even further.
And the Bible said, "And God hardened his heart". He gives you more of what you want. You thirst for God? He's gonna quench that thirst. You hunger for God? He's gonna fill you. You ask for faith? He will increase it. You harden your heart, he gives you more of what you want. God gives you more of what you want. Let's say it together: "God gives you more of what you want". In Romans chapter 1, three times in one chapter, three times, three times it says: "For this reason God gave them up". "For this reason God gave them up". "For this reason God gave them up". What reason? Rebellious spirit, unrepentant hearts, willful disobedience. The opposite of believing the truth is delighting in wickedness.
That's the bottom line. Why? Because when you believe the truth and the truth permeates your heart and your mind and your life, the truth has moral implication. Truth will bring conviction and transformation. Truth makes moral demands on our lives. And the root problems, my beloved friends, is not an error here and an error there, but it is evil. That's the core problem. And believe it or not, the Apostle Paul gives us grim logic for evil. It's grim, it's terrible, but it's logical nonetheless, and I wanna show it to you from the Scripture. The first step, these people will delight in wickedness and deliberately choose it. Second downward step, refuse to love the truth.
And, beloved, listen to me. It is impossible for anyone to love the truth and love evil all at the same time. It is impossibility. You have to love one and hate the other. The third downward step is Satan gets in and he deceives them. The fourth downward step is that God himself send them a strong delusion, gives them over to their evil desires. And finally, the fifth step in this perverse logic is that they are condemned for eternity. As I said, this is very serious stuff. Don't take it lightly. Don't shrug it off. Whether you're watching or you're here in this room, see, it begins by loving evil. That leads to the rejection of the truth, which brings about the devil's deception, which culminates in God's hardening of the heart, and it ends in eternal condemnation.
The only protection from all of this is to love the truth, live by the truth, walk in the truth. And that is why Jesus said, "I am the truth". Any other way is not the truth. So, let me conclude where I began. From my little world growing up as a boy to the global cosmos and what God is gonna do in history is, in my own experience to the world, we live now in the daytime. And in the daytime, God has the antichrist and the man of lawlessness on a chain. He's barking, he's trying to pull that chain, but he is still on a chain. Just as my father chained that wild animal, God is restraining the antichrist. This is the time for restraining of evil by God the Holy Spirit. This is the time for repentance and turning to the Lord. This is the daytime, which anyone comes to the Lord Jesus Christ and repent of his or her sin is able to be accepted and receive eternal life.