WEEK 29, Day 4, Thursday, 15 July 2021

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Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 15 July 21:

2 Thessalonians 2:3 — “…the man of lawlessness is revealed…”

Who is the antichrist? Is he alive right now? When will he be revealed? There has always been much debate and speculation on the matter, but the Bible clearly reveals that the spirit of ‘antichrist’ is alive and well as was the case in Paul’s day. There have been many ‘antichrists,’ and we are surrounded by antichrists today. Jesus explains that if a person isn’t “with him” in total, that person is against Him, anti-Him, antichrist. If a person doesn’t “gather” with Jesus, that person “scatters.”

The only person who uses the actual word “antichrist” in the Bible is John, and he says, “many antichrists have come. Therefore, we know that it is the last hour…. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son…. and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already…. For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.” (1 John 1, 2, 4) Anyone who denies the complete Gospel is “antichrist.”

Note, that in today’s readings, the word “antichrist” is not used but rather “the man of lawlessness.” We should not miss the point that the primary trait of the one who opposes the will of God is “lawlessness,” along with rebellion, disobedience, and pride. Contrarily, the one who is truly “pro-Christ” is identified by obedience, inspired by genuine love. (Romans 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:14; Titus 2:14; 2 Peter 3:17; 1 John 3:4) Jesus said this, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great…. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Luke 6:46-49; Matthew 7:21-23)

Jesus also uses the word “lawlessness” to describe “religious” people who claim to be followers of Jesus but who do not actually follow Him in obedience to His word. “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up…. Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (Galatians 6:7-9; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11) “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) Worship God in “truth.”

Biblical eschatology (the doctrine of last things) does address things yet to come, but we must remember that the last days began with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as Paul explained in Acts 2 and reiterates in today’s readings. The “mystery of lawlessness is already at work” and must reach its climax before Christ returns. However, we must not live in fear, anxiety, or dismay during these times but rather live in love, joy, and peace, resting in our victory in Christ and the sovereignty of our Lord, boldly proclaiming the truth of the Gospel and the Kingdom of God which is at hand. We must maintain unwavering faith (trusting God in the now) and hope (complete confidence – trusting God with the future), hope in the promise of Christ’s return when, “the Lord Jesus will kill [the lawless one] with the breath of his mouth and bring [him] to nothing by the appearance of his coming.” (2 Thessalonians 2:8]. The lawless one proclaims a false Gospel, a hope and salvation in something other than Jesus, and deceives many who “refuse to love the truth [Jesus is the Truth and only way to the Father and salvation – John 14:6] and so be saved.” (2 Thessalonians 2:10) There are many false gospels being proclaimed today (see 2 Corinthians 11; Galatians 7; 2 Timothy 4:3, 4; Romans 1). However, God has called us in His almighty sovereignty and power to proclaim the Gospel in these end times as His ambassadors (Matthew 28:19-20; 2 Corinthians 5:17-20), and as Jesus prayed passionately to the Father before going to the Cross, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:15-26)

Rejoice that God has given you the opportunity to proclaim His Name during this age, and be relentlessly faithful with the calling you have received – “But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17)

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 15 July 21: Don’t worry about the coming of a particular person who might be the antichrist; rather, challenge the spirit of antichrist that exists all around us by sharing the love of Christ while proclaiming the Gospel.

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