What the Bible says about
(From Forerunner Commentary)
The New Testament contains echoes of the curse found in Amos 8—a famine, not of the word, but of hearing it. Romans 1:18-32 tells of unrighteous men who suppress the truth. Because they are not thankful for what the creation reveals of the Creator, their foolish hearts become darkened. They lose what light, what truth, they have.
God's response to this is similar to His response to Israel. He does not contend with them or force His truth on them. Instead, Paul writes, God gave them up to uncleanness (Romans 1:24). He gave them up to vile passions (Romans 1:26). He gave them over to a debased mind (Romans 1:28). It is as if God gives them exactly what they seek, and they do not realize that it is a curse.
A second example of this principle appears in II Thessalonians 2:9-12, where Paul warns of a future Man of Sin who deceives the spiritually weak:
The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, 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 the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Those who perish do so because they do not receive—in the sense of "welcome"—the love of the truth. Because they do not, God will send them strong delusion, so that they will believe the lie and be condemned. In reality, God is just giving them what they desire anyway. They prefer carnal delusion to spiritual reality, so God obliges them. The unrighteous in Romans 1 desire a worldview without a Creator so they can be sexually liberated. God gives them over to it and lets them reap the awful consequences. The Israelites in the time of Amos did not value God's truth, so He removed it, letting them experience how miserably they fare without it. If they were anything like modern Israelites, they thought of themselves as enlightened and progressive even as their blindness became more complete.
David C. Grabbe
A Subtle Yet Devastating Curse
2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
Every day information concerning politics, economics, social issues, psychology, religion, conspiracy theories, foreign affairs, entertainment and education issues inundates us. How much of it is actually true? How much do we truly need to pay attention to?
The man of sin opposes Christ. He will even claim to be God, and Satan will enable him to work miracles. Just before Christ's return, he will lead evil's greatest challenge ever against all that is good. The focus of the attack will be the destruction of truth. Only those who "receive the love of the truth" will be spared. If one does not have it, he will be deceived, believe the lie, and be condemned. In this context, the lie is probably that this man is God or His main representative on earth, and that they should worship the beast and receive his mark at his word (Revelation 13:11-18).
Before the man of sin appears, Satan must lay some groundwork to prepare for his acceptance. What better way than to throw the world into quarreling and divisive and wearying confusion? People then yearn for some strong and seemingly wise hands to set things straight, so the nations can "catch their breath" and have a span of peaceful calm. In its wake, confusion creates directionless people, with little desire to change the status quo, whose minds are turned in upon themselves in an attempt to keep what they have.
Right now, humanity is being bombarded by religious disinformation ranging from bizarre, do-gooding New Age cults to the militant homosexual, lesbian and feminist attacks aimed at changing old-line Protestant and Catholic groups. Mainly within Protestant circles, the New World Order and other conspiracy theories abound, sometimes tenuously mixed with true prophecies of the Bible. Everywhere there are cries for tolerance of beliefs of every stripe, and in some sectors there are attempts to merge all religions into one.
Within God's church, we have seen a multitude of doctrinal changes alter one large group to the point that it is barely recognizable except by name. Other, smaller groups are badgered by peripheral issues like the calendar, sacred names and conspiracy theories. What we are witnessing are people subtly persuaded into an excessive concern for themselves. This distracts them from the focus God clearly states in Jesus' end-time message: Get ready for the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God.
Every message to every church group in Revelation 2 and 3 concludes with "To him who overcomes." Christ's intent is clear. Our judgment is based upon growth in overcoming flaws involving character defects, evil self-centered attitudes and relationship problems with fellow man.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Flood Is Upon Us!
2 Thessalonians 2:11
This verse states that God "shall send them strong delusion," but this is not the end of the story. God is the ultimate source of this "strong delusion," but God rarely does anything to people that they themselves do not have some part in. In the case of this delusion surrounding the man of sin, the people who "believe the lie" will be predisposed to do so because they do not have "the love of the truth" (verse 10). The "strong delusion" works because the people have set themselves up to fall for it!
Notice also that in verses 9-10, Satan and the "lawless one" also have a part in these deceptions and "lying wonders," so God alone does not cause the delusion. It is a combination of God's will, Satan's and the man of sin's agency, and human, predisposed hostility to God and the truth (Romans 8:7), which can be summarized as "self-delusion." Our part—whether or not we are hostile toward God and His truth—is the only thing we have any control over. If we are trying to overcome our human predisposition against God and actively cultivating a love of the truth, then our chances of avoiding this deception increase dramatically.
2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
From God's perspective, these people had the truth presented to them, and they did not love it. It does not mean that they did not agree with it, but that they did not love it.
When Paul says that God sends a delusion, he means that God quits trying to save them and gives them over to their own desires (see Romans 1:24-26). They placed their delight—their desires—in unrighteousness. We can see that, in this kind of situation, a Christian cannot afford to be neutral.
Is that not what the Laodiceans are shown as being—fence sitting neutrals, lukewarm, neither all the way in the world nor all the way in the church? We will either love the truth of God or not. We are either going to give ourselves over to it or not, even though we may agree with it. Thus, Paul is saying, "Don't be neutral! Love the truth!"
John W. Ritenbaugh
A Place of Safety? (Part 4)
2 Timothy 4:4
Once people reject the truth or decide for themselves what the truth is, what is there? What remains? What does it produce? Fables, myths, manmade wisdom, unsound teaching. It is certainly not the pure truth from God, and so Paul writes, "They turn their ears away from the truth and are turned aside to fables."
"Fables" is a general catchword for anything that is not the truth. When we are not focused on God and the truth He has sent others to preach, we are dabbling in error. What happens when one pours poison into a drink? Is it a good drink any longer? It is poison! Any amount of poison in that drink means it is no longer pure. And any truth that has error mixed within it is an error. That may seem to some like a hard saying, but God wants His truth preached purely. So, we have to be careful, do our best, to feed ourselves the unadulterated truth. Otherwise, we will find ourselves turned away to fables, to myths, to manmade wisdom, to false gospels.
In Romans 1:18-25, the apostle gives a quick summary of what happens when truth and error are mixed. He asserts that the truth is out there. People are without excuse because God's message is readily available. The truth is knowable, but men have suppressed it—in certain places, in part, and in other places, almost fully. What they have mainly done is to add their own "wisdom" to the mix.
They have thus made their own religions. Why? They satisfy them in some way. God just replies, "Okay. If that's the way you want it, go ahead" (Romans 1:24, 26, 28). It is like Jesus' attitude to those who rejected the truth that His disciples preached: "Shake the dust off your skirt and go somewhere else" (Matthew 10:14). He essentially instructs them, "Don't worry about the naysayers. Leave them be. I'll deal with them later. Move on."
The greater point we need to understand is how they did it. These unrighteous people suppressed the truth, adding their own bit of "wisdom" or supposed knowledge or truth—and they immediately became fools because they believed a lie. They thought they could come up with a religion better than the true religion from God. They will answer for it in time.
But we have to be careful the same thing does not happen among ourselves:
The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, 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 the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (II Thessalonians 2:9-12)
This prophecy returns to what Paul said is the foundational reason for false gospels and false teachings. It is what he writes in the last phrase: They took "pleasure in unrighteousness." It lined up with their own lusts. They wanted their itches scratched, and so they believed the lie—Satan's lie.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
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