Posts Tagged With: denial

2 Thessalonians 2: Beware the Man of Lawlessness!

There can be no doubt that today’s passage raises lots of questions, most of which you are not about to get an answer to.  Paul discusses the mysterious “man of lawlessness” (2:3), and lots of ink has been spilled on who or what this is or was.  The opinions are myriad and no consensus has arisen; it would take far more time and space than I have to explore this topic completely (one needs only google “man of lawlessness” to see the ridiculous diversity of opinion).  Interpretations of prophecies like these tend to be shaped by the interpreter’s biases and philosophical presuppositions, so I will reveal mine by saying that I imagine Paul was talking about something and someone that made sense in a first century context, likely connected to politics given the cryptic nature of the prophecy.  At the same time, when has there not been someone who “fits the bill” in many ways?  My desire today is only to deconstruct one concern that people some times have when they come to this passage.

Paul describes the man of lawlessness as a deceiver who leads people astray with his lies.  Some grow concerned then that they will be pulled away from God, almost against their better judgment, by the wiles of this man and his trickery.  Let’s unpack this in good sermonic fashion with a nice dose of alliteration:

The presence of the lawless one will be accompanied by the activity of the satan, with full power, with signs, and spurious wonders, with every kind of wicked deceit over those on the way to ruin, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.  For that reason God sends upon them a strong delusion, leading them to believe the lie, so that judgment may come upon all who did not believe the truth but took pleasure in wickedness. (2:9-12)

Long before a person falls victim of the man of lawlessness’s lies, he has put himself in a place to be open to that deceit.  The lawless man only leads those who have decided to follow his leading.  Notice how this passage ends: those who believe the lies of this man had already chosen to take “pleasure in wickedness.”  Their love of debauchery had set them up to be led astray; those who like the dark have many reasons for why it is the best way to live.  From this love of wickedness then came denial and an unwillingness to “believe the truth.”  Only then are they hit with the one-two punch of deceit from the satanic man of lawlessness and delusion from God.  As much as it may not line up with the sensibilities that some of us with high, high views of human freedom, yes, it does seem that God will “harden the hearts” of those who have already chosen by their own choice not to respond to his love and grace.  Only then does judgment and destruction come.

In short, the man of lawlessness, as crafty as he may have been (or will be, given your view on latter-day prophecy), is not capable of turning the devoted against God.  To argue such is to claim there is one who can frustrate the plans of God for our salvation with his superior, evil power.  Surely we do not want to claim such a fallacy!  Christians — especially young ones like the Thessalonians — should always be on guard against influences that can corrupt their hearts and turn them against God.  Notice that sound teaching and traditions help one stand firm against the lawless one’s lies (2:15).  But we need not fret that this will happen against our will nor that of a good and powerful God.

What do you think?

Advertisements
Categories: 2 Thessalonians | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

John 9: Who Has Sinned?

“Healing the Blind Man” by Edy Legrand

Jesus and his disciples come upon a man who had been blind since birth.  He appears to be a well known man in his community (9:8).  A conversation ensues concerning sin and who is at fault for this man’s condition.  However, throughout the chapter who the sinner is becomes a hotly contested question.

Conventional wisdom at the time said people like this were being punished for sin.  Maybe it was the sin of the person afflicted; maybe it was due to the sin of the parents.  The disciples are thinking like this (9:2).  Who is the sinner?  Either the blind man himself or his parents.

Then we hear the Pharisees tell us who they thought had sinned.  Simply put, they thought everyone had sinned, well, except for them.  Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath, so surely he was the sinner (9:16, 24).  When the formerly blind man refuses to agree with them that Jesus was the sinner, they declare him to be a sinner too (9:34).

Ask the formerly blind man and he would tell you that it isn’t likely that Jesus is a sinner (9:25):

God doesn’t listen to sinners. (9:31a)

Could it be that this man who had been blind since birth could actually see the truth more clearly than the religious leaders of his time?

Then Jesus got the last word.  Earlier he made it clear that neither the sin of the blind man nor his parents was the cause of this man’s blindness.  Jesus said he came to bring sight to the blind, while those with sight would be blind.  The Pharisees correctly interpret this as a slight against them.  Jesus, then, says this:

If you were blind you wouldn’t be found guilty of sin.  But now, because you say, “We can see,” your sin remains. (9:41)

Who has sinned?  The Pharisees.  They know better, yet deny him nonetheless.

What did you see in this chapter? 

Categories: John | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mark 14: The Beginning of the End

It seems strange to be reading about the Last Supper, Gethsemane, and the beginning of Jesus’ trials already.  Mark is truly short and to the point.  In his preface to the KNT, N. T. Wright calls the Gospel of Mark a “revolutionary tract” (xiv), and that point has come out to me more so in this reading than ever before.

There is much to comment on in this long chapter.  What stood out the most to me was this wonderful juxtaposition of disappointment and grace:

“You’re all going to desert me,” said Jesus, “because it’s written, ‘I shall attack the shepherd, and then the sheep will scatter.’  But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” (Mark 14:27-28)

Jesus knows his dearest friends will run away instead of stay by his side when the time comes for his arrest and death.  There is that young man (John?) who is only wearing a tunic (?) but he runs away too in the end.  Peter stays a stone’s throw away but utters his fated denials.  Desert him they do.  Still, knowing that they will leave him, Jesus says he will never leave them.  In fact, he will go ahead of them to Galilee to prepare the way.  He will care for them until the end and even after that.  What a wonderful Savior!

Jesus prays while the apostles sleep

Now, jump over to Mark 16:7.  The women come to Jesus’ tomb on Easter Sunday.  Amazed, they meet an angel sitting on the rolled away tombstone.  He told them:

“But go and tell his disciples — including Peter — that he is going ahead of you to Galilee.  You’ll see him there, just like he told you.”

More grace!  The angel singles out Peter to be told specifically that he is welcome in Galilee.  That Jesus is right there waiting for him.  The very same Peter who had denied Jesus three times.

As many of you know, it is typically thought that Mark is writing his gospel in Rome based on the testimony and memories of Peter himself.  As Max Lucado said of this passage, you have to imagine Peter had a big lump in his throat when he told this story.

Praise God for His grace, patience, and kindness to us!  He goes before us today.  

Categories: Mark | Tags: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.