The coming of the lawless one will be accompanied by the working of Satan, with every kind of power, sign, and false wonder,
I. THE METHODS OF THE MAN OF SIN. "Whose coming is after the working of Satan in all powers and signs and prodigies of lying."
1. The source of all this wonder working activity - Satan. There is more than human depravity at work in this tremendous revelation of evil power. As Satan is a liar and the father of lies, he will stamp falsehood upon the whole system, which he will elaborate with superhuman craft for the misguidance of men.
2. The character of this activity. It is external and internal.
(1) It is externals" in powers and signs and prodigies of lying."
(b) They were not real miracles, as if they had been done by Divine power, but jugglers' tricks or such like startling wonders as might delude "the perishing" into the belief that they were done by Divine power. The signs were to be as false as their author.
(c) Their design was to attest the truth of the doctrine of the man of sin.
(2) It is internal - "in all deceit of unrighteousness" - so as to pass sooner for truth. Guile marks his whole career and unrighteousness is the aim and result. He "speaks lies in hypocrisy;" "by good words and fair speeches he deceives the hearts of the simple" (1 Timothy 4:2; Romans 16:18). The ministers of Satan can as easily transform themselves into ministers of righteousness as Satan himself become an "angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:14, 15).
3. The effects of this wonder working activity. They are confined "to those that are perishing." It is not possible "to deceive the elect" (Mark 13:22). Those who are blinded to the glory of the gospel are in the way of easy deception (2 Corinthians 4:3). It is those on the way to perdition who are so easily deceived.
II. THE RETRIBUTION THAT OVERTAKES THE VICTIMS OF THE MAN OF SIX. "Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." The causes of the success of the man of sin are first described on the side of man and then on the side of God. The whole case is one of just retribution.
1. The sin of the perishing.
(1) The truth was that which brought salvation near, disclosing at once their need of a Saviour and the readiness of Christ to save them.
(2) They did not receive it, though it was offered them, but rejected and despised it.
(3) They rejected it because they had "not the love of the truth." Without this love, the truth will do us no good; it must be received into the heart as well as the head. Augustine prayed, "Lord, make me taste that by love which I taste by knowledge."
2. The Divine retribution for the sin of the perishing. "And for this cause God is sending them an inworking error, that they should believe the lie" of the man of sin. They rejected the truth of God; God will, as a judicial, punitive infliction, send them blindness so that the error of the man of sin will be received as truth. "A terrible combination when both God and Satan are agreed to deceive a man!" There is a double punishment here.
(1) They will actually believe the lie of the man of sin. Sin often in the moral government of God is punished by deeper sin. Those who care nothing for the truth are easily seduced into the worst errors. Men will at last become so perverse as to call "evil good, and good evil."
(2) They will be finally judged for the pleasure they have taken in unrighteousness. "That all may be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." It follows:
(a) That error is not an innocent thing. It has practical issues of the most momentous character.
(b) That it is a fearful perversion of the human soul to take pleasure in what God hates.
(c) That God allows the sin and madness of men to develop themselves to their fullest extent.
(d) That God in this way will be finally justified in their judgment; he "will be justified in his speaking, and shall be clear in his judging" (Psalm 51:4). - T.C.
Even he whose coming is after the working of SatanI. THE SCRIPTURE ACCOUNT OF SATAN.
2. As an angel, preferable to man in understanding and might.
3. As a fallen angel (Jude 1:6).
4. As the prince or chief of infernal spirits (Matthew 9:34; Matthew 12:24; Matthew 25:41; Luke 12:41).As lying under punishment, in reserve to be brought forth at the great day of retribution as a monument of God's hatred of sin.
II. THE INSTANCES OF HIS AGENCY.
1. His introducing sin into the world (2 Corinthians 11:3-13).
2. The temptation of Christ (Matthew 4:1-11).
3. Possession of bodies when Christ was in the world (1 John 3:8; Acts 10:88).
4. The objects against which his force is directed are the dishonour of God and the rum of men.
5. The subjects are good and bad men.
6. The ways in which he acts are two — force and fraud, fiery darts and subtle wiles (Ephesians 6:11-16).
7. He acts on persons and means with diligence, and constancy, and malice, as a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8).
8. Be his activity ever so great, it is restrained and overruled by God, who has all evil spirits under His control.The practical improvement of the subject:
1. We should admire the wisdom and goodness of God in making a discovery of Satan.
2. We should watch against his manifold artifices.
3. We should pray for grace and power to resist him.
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
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