‘Satan’ is not the most friendly of topics. Even mentioning the name can make people think you’re a little crazy. But to ignore the presence of evil in our world seems a bit ignorant. You don’t have to look further than the news to see that evil is at work in the world. In my view, placing all the blame for this evil merely on people is naïve. There is something more at work. Paul the apostle realized this and addressed this problem when writing to the Thessalonians.
Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1–12. Reflect on 2 Thessalonians 2:9–10:
“The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (ESV).
For Paul, Satan is the enemy of God. Paul predicts that the “man of lawlessness”—who is the epitome of evil manifest in the world—will perform false signs and wonders. Jesus similarly noted:
“For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24 ESV).
For years, various people have pretended to be Jesus and even performed unexplainable tricks to convince people of their power. Thus it is not enough to rely on what we can see to discern truth; we must rely on the truth we know. If a person’s life does not demonstrate self-sacrificial love—if their practices do not align with biblical truth—then they are not of God.
Paul’s words, connected with Jesus’, could suggest that Paul is not be talking about a singular person. He could be using typology (symbolic language) to speak about those who pretend to be ambassadors of God or even Christ himself, but who are truly in league with evil. But why would people go to such efforts to perpetuate falsehoods? Simple answer: power.
A deceived person is willing to act deceptively. The more a person’s mind is twisted, the more likely they are to join ranks with evil ideas and then commit evil actions. In our world, we see this in the form of terror done in the name of religion, righteousness, and holiness. Terror done in the name of God does not represent God at all. Instead, it represents evil (Satan). It is a deception of evil powers that convinces people to commit atrocious acts.
The real and present danger of evil—especially in the form of deception—should make us draw closer to Christ. We should not do so out of fear but out of a desire to know our God deeply, so that we may easily recognize who he is and what does not represent him. It is easy for those who do not truly know God of love to be led astray. But if you know what God is all about, it’s easy to see the truth.
Ultimately, opposing evil comes in the simple choices in life. It is the small acts of obedience to the God of love that is the greatest strength against evil. We must trust God for ultimate justice and show his character to others in love (2 Thessalonians 1:5–6).
How can you show the love of God to someone who is deceived by evil? What are some simple actions you can take today to ground yourself in God’s truth, so that you can better show his loving character to others? Drop me a comment, I would love to hear from you.
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