HOUSMAIL HM#067 - PAUL’S “MAN OF SIN”(2 Thess 2:3-12) 25 November 2000
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that MAN OF SIN be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess 2:3-12, KJV)
In centuries gone by, almost all Protestants knew the identity of the “man of sin”, and it would not have been necessary to write this short paper! As late as the first half of this 20th century, almost any layman or Sunday school student, could have told us what had been passed down from Protestant leaders such as Martin Luther, John Bunyan, John Huss, John Wycliffe, John Calvin, William Tyndale, John Knox, John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards --- that the “man of sin” was a symbol for the Papacy and the Roman Church system!
However, over the last few decades, this remarkable prophecy by the Apostle Paul has been much abused by many authors of popular books, who have lost the vision of the persecuted Church of past ages.
Our purpose here is to briefly review the Bible evidence so well known to the Church in earlier times.
1. A “LESSON FOR THE DAY” IN OLD ENGLISH
Did you notice that word “letteth” in verse 7 above? When the KJV was translated, this old English word meant exactly the opposite of our current usage. It did NOT mean “permit”, but “withhold” or “restrain”!
The expected influences were already at work in Paul’s day! But something was preventing the final revealing of the “man of sin”. It could not happen until that restraining influence was removed.
2. THE EARLY CHURCH WRITERS
Of course they are not always reliable sources for correct theology! However it is worth noting that the prevailing view amongst Anti-Nicene writers seems to have been that PAGAN ROME was both the iron legs of Nebuchanezzar’s “dream image”, (Dan 2:33) and the fourth beast of Daniels’ remarkable prophecy of world history future to his time. (Dan 7:7) They wrote that the Pagan Roman Empire of their time, was to be understood as the restraining influence described by Paul in 2 Thess 2:6. And they predicted that when ROME lost its power, the “man of sin” would be revealed.
3. THE MAN OF SIN REVEALED ..... PROCLAIMING
HIMSELF TO BE GOD
So it actually came to pass! And we who look backwards into history, with the advantage of 20/20 hindsight, can easily fill in many additional details which the Ante-Nicene writers could only guess at.
As the Roman Empire declined, the Church gained the ascendancy more and more, until eventually a Church leader emerged who at one time actually bore the title “LORD GOD THE POPE”, and still to this day, uses another title “VICAR OF CHRIST”. (WHICH MEANS EXACTLY THE SAME AS THE GREEK “ANTICHRIST”!) By this he claims to exercise the authority of God over all men!
And in defiance of Jesus ((Matt 23:9) he also usurps the title “FATHER” for himself and his priests!
4. THE TITLE “MAN OF SIN”
The RSV translates this as the “man of lawlessness”. Small wonder! In this Church system, almost EVERY commandment left by Jesus in the Sermon On The Mount, has been reversed! Just a few examples:
* Instead of settling out of court, giving coat as well as cloak, suffering themselves to beHowever these things are but symptoms of another spiritual disease! Church teaching about forgiveness of sin majors in regular “confession”, but fails completely to come to grips with the real meaning of “repentance”. By this means, men and women are encouraged to believe that they can continue to practice sin and then call a priest to receive absolution in the last moment before death!
defrauded, men fight on for “justice”, with Church approval.
* Instead of remaining married “until death do us part”, the Church condones divorce under
another name (“annulment” they call it!) by finding obscure reasons to say that divorce is
not needed, because the marriage was never valid!
* Instead of teaching its followers that all oaths arise out of evil (Matt 5:36) the Church
* Instead of teaching men to love their enemies, bless them, and do good to them, the Church
has condoned countless wars where Christians on both sides have fought to kill each other.
And remember the Crusades? These were “holy wars” where “Christian” warriors were
promised “spiritual rewards” in return for fighting the battles of the Church.
THAT is truly “spiritual lawlessness”! And it has flowed on into many other “daughter” Churches in one form or another!
5. TAKING HIS SEAT IN THE TEMPLE OF GOD
The “temple” where this religious leader has usurped the place of God, is clearly a symbol for “the Church”.
6. PRETENDED SIGNS AND WONDERS
Of course the Church has lots of these! There are relics that “heal”, statues that weep, trees that grow money instead of fruit, medals that protect from harm, idols and long dead saints that answer prayers, etc., etc
But the greatest of all pretended miracles must surely be that regular “transubstantiation miracle”, performed by priests at the mass, when they turn bread into flesh which still looks and tastes like bread, and wine into blood that still looks and tastes like wine! Believing THAT visibly obvious lie is what THEY call “faith”!
7. PLEASURE IN UNRIGHTEOUSNESS
Perhaps the most important warning of all in Paul’s prophecy is the cause of the DELUSION that God sends on those who allow themselves to be deceived by the man of sin. It comes on those who continue to take pleasure in their sins, instead of responding to the Gospel call to repentance!
Of course there are many different “theological lies”that accompany “false Gospels”. Some of them lose sight altogether of the Gospel of the Kingdom. But can we identify the most serious and damaging lie of all, that many of these people believe? Yes we can!
It is that they can make an inadequate repentance from sin, continue in sin, and still inherit the promises of God!
8. BELIEVING THE LIE!
The following question is NOT intended to offend my many “futurist” good friends! But it does have to be asked ..... as I also ask it prayerfully of myself for my own “historicist” understanding of Paul’s prophecy.
Could it possibly be true that this loss of the true identity of “THE MAN OF SIN” is itself part of the STRONG DELUSION sent by God? The LIE, which men prefer to believe, when they fall under the influence of other deceptive teaching which also has its origin with the man of sin?