12/13/16 All That Matters

READING: 2 Thessalonians 1-3

Back in the 1970s, many of us worked overtime to determine who the Antichrist would be (the “man of lawlessness” of 2 Thess 2:3). We were certain that Jesus’ return was soon upon us, so the Antichrist must have been alive at the time. I remember many names we offered, but we were so far off base that I’m choosing not list to any of them in this devotion. Instead, let’s just accept that we were all wrong about the name . . . .

What we weren’t wrong about, though, was that the Antichrist would have great power. Here’s how Paul described his power: “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing” (2 Thess 2:9). If the man of lawlessness works like Satan does, we learn something again about the enemy. First, he has incredible, but deceptive, power. He apparently can work signs and wonders on his own, miracles so great that he can lead people to think the Antichrist is God (2 Thess 2:4). Second, he is a liar. We’ve seen this truth throughout the scriptures, but his purpose is even more clear in this text. He lies and works wickedness in order to keep in deception those who are already perishing. They have chosen not to believe the truth, and the combination of their choices, the enemy’s lies, and God’s hardening their hearts in response to their rebellion keeps them in darkness. Their hearts remain blinded by the god of this world (2 Cor 4:3-4).

Frankly, this truth ought to drive us to pray passionately and persistently for non-believers. At the same time, it ought also cause us to pray prayers of gratitude to God, who alone who is our Savior and our Shield against the enemy; as Paul told the Thessalonians, “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one” (2 Thess 3:3). That truth does not mean the enemy won’t attack us, but it does mean that God will guard us against defeat as we trust Him to “direct [our] hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance” (2 Thess 3:5). Even if we suffer like the Thessalonians did, we suffer as victors because the man of lawlessness – and more specifically, the evil one behind his power – is “doomed to destruction” (2 Thess 2:3).

Maybe we didn’t understand all these details in the 1970s, and we don’t fully understand them now. God does, though – and that’s really all that matters.  

ACTION STEPS: 

  • Spend some time thanking God for your victory, even when it seems like evil is winning.
  • Choose five believers you know, and pray for them what Paul prayed for the Thessalonians in 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12. 

PRAYER: “I thank You, Lord, for victory. Let me be an intercessor for others today like Paul was in his ministry.” 

TOMORROW’S READING: 1 Timothy 1-6