BELIEVING A LIE
2 Thess. 2:: 1-12
In 2 Thess. 2 Paul was speaking of a future generation of Christians who would be deceived and led away into a great falling away from New Testament Christianity. He predicts that they would get involved in an unrighteous deception, “because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved, and for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be condemned who do not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”( 2 Thess. 2:10,11). In this lesson I am not concerned with the religious movement to which Paul alludes. Most Protestants say the Roman Catholic church represents this great falling away from the original New Testament apostolic church, and the Popes of Rome are collectively the man of sin. I believe this falling away has already taken place and is past history. What I want to talk with you about in the passage is that Paul predicted that a future generation of Christians would decide to believe a lie instead of the truth which God had given them. and he goes on to say for not receiving the love of the truth, God would send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” If this happened to a past generation, it can happen to our present generation. Our concern should be not to make the mistake they made and others are making today.
First of all, let's determine the meaning of the shocking statement that God would send unfaithful Christians strong delusion or workings of error that they might believe a lie. The reason assigned to God's actions is that they did not love the truth and did not believe it. These words simply set forth a great principle upon which God has always dealt with mankind. The Bible says that it is impossible for God to lie. Thus the religious lies, delusions and workings of error in the world do not come from God.. They all come from man under the influence of Satan. God does not by any direct communication send delusions into the world. God sends things in other ways than by force. This is God's world, and he oversees and manages it. Many things of a very bad nature He allows to exist, but does not approve of. He does allow religious and other delusions, falsehoods and lies to exist in the world, and will not work a miracle to prevent them. It is in that sense that He sends delusions or workings of error. He will not prevent them by supernatural intervention. If we refuse to believe revealed truth, He will allow us to believe a lie, and that is what happened to Christians who loved in the 500's A.D.
In Romans 8:11, Paul uttered a similar statement when he said of the greater part of the nation of Israel, “God has given them a spirit of sleep, eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear to this very day.” We know this only means that He had given them over to their own determination to be blind to the truth. When people prefer to be spiritually blind God, in effect, says, “So be it I will not use a miracle to stop you.” It is noteworthy in our passage that this warning is preceded by the words, “they received not the love of the truth.” For that reason, and that reason alone, God let them have their own determined way and allowed them to fall away from true Christianity, as foretold by the inspired apostles.. That is the same principle upon which God has always worked with mankind. The Bible in no place teaches that God ever forces a man to sin, then punishes him for the wrongdoing. Neither does He compel man against his will to do right, but has always offered him proper inducements for righteous conduct. Then it is man's responsibility to decide what he will do about it.
There is a very important truth that comes from this passage about God sending delusions to people who do not love and believe what God says in the Bible. Simply stated, it is this: God will not use His supernatural power to build a wall of protection around our minds to prevent us from believing religious lies, all of which originate with Satan. But why does God allow so many lies to exist in the world? Why doesn't He act and do something about it to protect us? .He does not act because He has already acted. The apostle Peter tells us why when he said that God's divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord(2 Peter 1:2,3). This means that anything and everything that disagrees with what is written in the Bible is a lie. God has told us what He wants us to believe and do, and that's enough. That's our protection. In spite of the warning in this passage to beware lest we fall into some delusion and believe a lie, I see little concern in the religious world that such a danger exists.
Secondly, this passage reminds us of a very popular but dangerous idea that is in the world. today. There is a very, very popular idea in the world today that if a person believes a thing to be right, if he sincerely believes that he is right and lives out his sincere convictions, that is all that God requires; and it thought that such a platform will ultimately land him safe in glory. It makes no difference what religious organization of which you may be a member, so long as you are sincere. By the way, they say, we are all headed for the same place. As the thinking goes, there is more than one way to get to heaven. All good and sincere people surely will go to
Heaven. This is a powerful and world wide spiritual belief, and it prevails in all of the some twelve or thirteen religions practiced by mankind. However, our text raises some serious questions about this popular l belief. Is it not possible to sincerely believe a lie? Can we not be sincerely mistaken? Sincerity is a most commendable virtue, but it will not justify us in being deluded, believing and living out a lie in our lives.
2 Thess. 2:11,12 teaches that no confidence whatever should be placed in this belief, even though it is almost universally accepted as a safe course to follow. One of the things that casts great doubt on it is that this belief is not accepted by anyone on any other subject except in matters of religion. When it comes to religion people feel very trustworthy. In Christendom, you can go into most any church building and the preacher opens the Bible and preaches from it. People cannot imagine anyone teaching something that is not true to the Bible. When it comes to religion, most people have no fear whatever of being misinformed, but . religion is the only item in the world that commands such a fearless and unsuspicious confidence by people at large. In the business affairs of life none believe as long as they are sincere everything will turn out all right.
By way of illustration, there might be a highly reputed stock on Wall Street on the verge of going bankrupt. I do not know that, but believing it to be a ound financial investment, I gather up my last dollar and buy that stock. Does the fact that I sincerely believe that stock company to be sound guarantee me against the loss of the money I put therein? Recently, we have heard of thousands of people who have done this and lost their entire life's savings. Sometimes company officials cause people to believe a lie.
If some undependable and designing man seeks and finally wins the hand and heart of a fine young woman, does the fact that she loves him and has confidence in him secure her against misery, mistreatment and the unhappiness that is certain to come from a no-good husband.? A man who is short of money comes to a friend or relative and requests that he go on his note for something he wants to buy. This is often done sincerely believing that when it becomes due the man will pay it. But many times he does not pay, and the person believed a lie. In the month of April, 1912, 2200 people boarded the largest ship that had ever been built It was making its first trip from England to New York. It was claimed that this great ship was constructed in such a way that it was unsinkable, but on the night of April 14,15, it struck an iceberg and sank. Over 1400 people
went to the bottom of the sea. I don't know how many who boarded that great ship believed the claim that it was unsinkable, but those who did believed a lie.
All that we have said adds up to the fact that in all the affairs of this world, the belief of a proposition does not guarantee the safety thereof. It does not apply in the realm of religion, government , science or warfare. The allies pulled a fast one on Hitler. By means of spies, propaganda and false intelligence reports, Hitler was convinced that the allied invasion would be near Calais, France, just directly across from England instead of the Normandy Coast. I was in one of the bombers that flew over Normandy before our troops hit the beaches. Hitler believed a lie, and that was one of the things that made the invasion a success.
Perhaps one of the greatest illustrations that demonstrates that God's people can believe a lie, and be rejected, is found in the Bible. It is recorded in I Kings 13. It is quite a long story, but I will summarize it as briefly as possible. One of the worst Kings of Israel was a man by the name of Jereboam.. He apostatized from the religion God gave the Jews at Mt. Sinai. He made two golden calves and located one at Dan in the north and one in Bethel in the south of Palestine.. For the next 200 years the 10 tribes worshiped the golden calves, and Jereboam served as their first King. Only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin continued to worship God in Jerusalem.
To inaugurate this new idolatrous system of religion in Israel, King Jereboam decided to offer the first sacrifices on this altar at Bethel himself and serve as a priest. Of course, the law of Moses forbad the Kings of Israel to serve as Priests. To condemn this sinful deed, God sent a young prophet from Jerusalem to curse this altar, and he gave this young man these careful directions, “You shall not eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way you came.”. As Jereboam's people were gathered about to watch him offer sacrifices on the altar, the young prophet broke through the crowd and close up to the altar. He addressed the altar itself saying, “O altar, altar, a king will arise in Jerusalem who will execute the priests on this very altar who burn incense on it.” Immediately, that altar split apart by some invisible power and the ashes dumped on the ground. The king's first thought was to seize and punish the man who would dare denounce him. He extended his arm and pointed it at the prophet and said, “Arrest that man; do not let him escape!” Doubtless, he intended to put him to death. The Bible says his hand withered, possibly became
paralyzed, and the arm became stiff and immovable so that he could not draw his hand back. There stood Jereboam with a permanently extended arm and a dried up hand.
Jereboam realized God's hand was in it all and immediately changed his tune. He pleaded with the prophet to intercede with Jehovah on his behalf that his hand might be restored.. The prophet did so, and his arm was made like it was in the beginning. Then Jereboam really surprised this young prophet and made him an offer that was hard to refuse. The king said, “Young man I want you to come with me to my royal palace and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward. I want you to have royal dinner and be my guest..” Tell me, if you had been in that man's position, how would you have treated an invitation like that? Were you ever invited by a King or the president of our nation to come and dine with him? But this young man spurned the invitation and said, “If you gave me half of your house I would not go with you. The Lord God commanded me not to eat or drink in this territory nor return by the same way I came.”
However, there was in Bethel an old prophet, and it is implied that he was a friend of Jereboam. The word of God declares that all true Priests of Israel left the area of the ten tribes and returned to Jerusalem when Jereboam took control. This old prophet had taken his stand for Jereboam and was no longer true to Jehovah. He knew it was wrong for any king to offer sacrifices and serve as a priest, but he did not have the courage and character to oppose Jereboam. When his sons came home and told him what happened to Jereboam and the altar, he was not pleased. This was an insult, not only to Jereboam, but to all who lived in Bethel including himself. So he saddled his donkey and went in search of this prophet from Jerusalem. When he found him he said, “Young man, I want you to come back to my home, share my hospitality and have dinner with me.” The young man told him the same thing he told Jereboam. He said, “I'm sorry but I can't do that. I am under command from Jehovah not to eat or drink, nor return the way I came.”
But this old prophet was so determined to carry out his plot that he framed up a lie, told a story or falsehood. It does not take that many letters to spell it. . The Bible tells us that he told him a lie. Well, that is what it was: “Young man, I also am a prophet of Jehovah, as you are. We belong in the same class, and an angel of God has appeared to me and told me to come and bring you back. He told me to refresh you and give you something to eat and water to drink.” But he lied!. He overcame the king's invitation, but this man was a prophet, a religious man, and he saw
no reason to doubt him. He was overcome and led to disobey God by the plausibility of a lie. When it comes to religious teachers people feel so trustworthy, and this young man was no exception. So the record says the old prophet carried him back and ate and drank in the man' s house.
Ironically, while they were eating, the word of the Lord came to the old prophet who brought him back and caused him to say to the young prophet, “Thus says the Lord : Because you have disobeyed , and have not kept the commandment which the Lord your God commanded you, but you came back, ate bread and drank water, your corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.” The record says that he left the man's house, and a lion met him on the road and killed him. That old prophet buried him there in Bethel.
The special reason for this story being written in the Bible is to impress one and all of the danger of believing a lie. If anyone tells us it is all right to do something which God said we cannot do, do not believe it for it is a lie. If anyone tells us it is not necessary for us to something which God says we must do, do not believe it for it is a lie. There are many lies in the world today, both of a material and spiritual nature. . There are many lies being told about the Bible , Christ, His plan of salvation and His church. Happy is the person who can separate the lies from the truth, and there is but one way that this can be done. I submit to you that there is but one set of men who have ever lived on the earth whom you and I can afford to follow. I refer, of course, to the apostles of Christ and the inspired writers of the Bible. We will be wise to listen to no man per se, nor accept anything from any uninspired teacher which you cannot turn to the book of God and read for yourself.
Now, there are lies that we may believe but will not cause us to lose our souls. Some lies may cause us to lose our money or our reputation, but not necessarily our souls. However, all lies that lead us to sin like it did this young prophet will cause us to lose our souls. Reader, if you are willing to renounce the old life you have been living and turn from the ways of the world, if you are willing to confess Christ openly as the Messiah, the Divine Son of God, if you are willing to take God's word for it and be immersed into the Triune Godhead, contact the nearest Church of Christ and someone will be glad to assist you.