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Loved not the truth

Loved not the truth

2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 (ESV) 9 The coming of the lawless one [the Antichrist] is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

In 2 Thessalonians Paul is addressing the fact that the end times will be marked by the coming of the Antichrist. He goes on to say that he will be empowered by Satan. Empowered to create false signs and wonders.

The intent of these false signs and wonders is to lure those into wicked deception. Notice, this isn’t just error. It is wicked deception. Look at who is deceived to see the wickedness.

Those who are perishing… perishing here is in the active sense. These are people who haven’t yet perished in a spiritual sense, but are perish-ing. And the next sentence tells us why.

Because they refused to love the truth… let’s think about that for a second. He didn’t say, they didn’t believe the truth. He said, they didn’t love it. And more importantly they refused to love it. This is the wickedness. Willful rebellion.

The implication here is not that they didn’t know the truth. They did know it. In order to consciously refuse the truth we must first be confronted by it.  So they knew it… they simply didn’t love it and refused to be governed by it.

In John 17 Jesus is praying for His disciples in what is referred to as “The High Priestly Prayer”. Jesus goes on to explain that He is not of the world and as such the world hated Him. He points out that in much the same way the world will hate you. He goes on to ask the Father to “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:17 (ESV).

Oftentimes we reject a message or a word because it’s not what we want to hear. But that places us in a dangerous place. The question should never be, “do I like it” or “do I agree with it”. The question should only be “is it true?”

Jesus tells us in His prayer that His word is true, and will sanctify us. Do we love that? Do we find our joy in the fact that God is going to make me happy and successful in a worldly sense? Or do we find joy in the fact that God is going to sanctify me in His word? That He is going to give me a new heart not rooted in this world and the cares thereof? Do we love this truth? Do we love His words?

Paul goes on to state that:

2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 (ESV) 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

What we see here is the giving over to our heart’s desire. God says, you didn’t love my truth, you consciously refused to love my truth, therefore I will allow you to remain in the deception you preferred. What’s happening here is a progression of being confronted with the truth, refusing to love it and thereby obey it, because we prefer to have pleasure in our unrighteous pursuits. So much so that we harden our heart to the truth and God removes the conviction allowing us to remain in blindness. Deceived willfully.

We see this same behavior taking place in Moses encounter with the Pharaoh. We also see it in Romans 1:28 when Paul says that because they refused to recognize God as the ultimate authority (and thereby rejected His truth), He gave them over to a reprobate or debased mind. That is, He removed His conviction from them, and as such allowed them to become hardened in their own deception.

We sometimes think that deception is a product of bad teaching. That somehow false teachers create deceived people. But the Bible teaches that people who reject the truth because they prefer to be affirmed in their own unrighteousness seek out false teachers to console them in their rebellion. So in a very real sense deceived people create a platform for false teachers. Not the other way around. This is what Paul is saying here.

So what are we to do? How do we combat the deception within ourselves? By surrendering to His word. By acknowledging God as God and therefore having authority. By not setting this world up as our home and setting our hearts thoroughly on His kingdom to come.

How do we combat this as teachers and sharers of His word? Paul actually tells Timothy how.

2 Timothy 4:1-4 (ESV) 1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

Paul tells Timothy, your job is simply to be faithful to God’s word. To study it, to reprove others when necessary. To rebuke when needed, not compromising or capitulating for the sake of being well liked. To exhort, or to encourage, in patience, knowing that only God can change hearts. Your job is simply to be faithful to what He has said.

But even if we do all this right, Paul says, just understand that there will be a time when those who have hardened their hearts to the truth, will seek out teachers to affirm them in their rebellion. This is the  idea of “with itching ears, accumulating teachers to suit their passions”.

So we need to be careful not to harden our hearts to the truth of His word because we don’t like it. We need to recognize that it’s not my disobedience to His word that is the greatest danger. The greatest danger is a heart that doesn’t love His word because it denies us that which we long for most. This world.

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