We’ve each had a ‘truth realized’ moment. Suddenly, an epiphany dawns. And we experience the full weight of wisdom in a single moment. We think, “I need to always remember this.” Writing to the church at Thessalonica, Paul reminds the Thessalonians of one of these moments.
Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1–12. Reflect on 2 Thessalonians 2:5–7a:
“Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him [that is, the man of lawlessness] now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work” (ESV).
Just prior to this passage, Paul has been explaining what must take place before Jesus’ return: a rebellion against God’s ways (opposition to Christianity) and a “man of lawlessness” claiming to be above all gods and God himself (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4). Paul now tells the Thessalonians that some entity (or entities) is restraining this “man of lawlessness”—for the time being. Paul doesn’t reveal what or whom he is referencing. But Paul does make clear that the ways of the “man of lawlessness” are already at work. There is already a general and evil opposition to God and his ways. It is characterized by deception.
When Paul was with the Christians at Thessalonica (Acts 17:1–9), he explained to them what must take place before Jesus’ return (see 2 Thessalonians 2:1–4; compare 1 Thessalonians 4:13–5:2). But in the midst of his absence, falsehoods had emerged and some in the church had become theologically confused and misled. Some people even falsely believed that Jesus had already returned (2 Thessalonians 2:1–2).
It’s easy to understand how some in the Thessalonians church reached this point. They were experiencing intense persecution (2 Thessalonians 1:4). When the chips are down, it can be difficult to remember our epiphany moments and the truth we’ve been taught. We can even question what we’ve always known to be true.
For truth to be fully understood, we need more than intellectual ascent. Truth is realized in our lives. We need to experience it. But even our experiences with the power of truth can fail us in the midst of great difficulty. We need to regularly renew our faith and remind ourselves of truth. We need to remind ourselves of what Jesus has done and is doing in our world. We need to look beyond current circumstances and ground ourselves in the promises of God.
What are some examples of ‘truth being realized’ in your life? What are some practical steps you can take to regularly and consistently remind yourself of God’s truth and promises? Drop me a comment, I would love to hear from you.
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