Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
–2 Thessalonians 2:1-2
Are you looking for Jesus?
It is natural for those who know Him to watch for Him, and this is an evidence of a firm faith in Christ.
As we have the indwelling presence and counsel of the Holy Spirit, we can rest in the assurance of God concerning the timing of the Lord’s return–we will not miss it–and we need not be concerned if He delays.
Yet, the Lord in His wisdom gives two definite markers that will precede the return of Christ. Until these come to pass, He will not come. Observe them in the following text:
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.
–2 Thessalonians 2:3
Smooth words and flattering speeches are crafted to deceive, so the Lord has given His people two, visible and infallible signs that must precede His return: 1) a falling away from true faith in Christ by many within the body of Christ and 2) the revealing of the man of sin.
What is apostasy [falling away]?
- a departing from sound doctrine and apostolic example
- an embracing of worldly customs and pagan beliefs
Who is the man of sin?
The anti-christ is the son of perdition who brings destruction upon the whole world–through both natural terrors–and spiritual lies that hold men in bondage to Satan and causes them to be cast into hell. Why is he called the “man of sin?” He both sins and authors a religious system of sin in the earth, founded upon the worship of him:
Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
–2 Thessalonians 2:3
This is the desolation recorded in the Book of Daniel and the synoptic gospels [Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11; Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14; Luke 21:20].
And this is the sign of its impending appearance and unfolding influence:
And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
Notice, we [the body of Christ] shall see the anti-christ’s unveiling and witness his horrors–for, as the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through sufferings–so shall we also be made without spot or blemish, as righteous witnesses of the Lord’s grace and truth (Ephesians 5:27; Hebrews 2:10; 1 Peter 1:19):
For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.
Notice, as obedient sons and daughters of God, some are appointed to earthly torments and even death (Revelation 6:9-11), for Christ was so appointed, and we are to be in the same mind:
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
This biblical mind set is contrary to the minds of many who number themselves among the saved today. False teachers have entered among the saints, tempting them to become drunk upon the pleasures of this present world and continually seek after improved lifestyles, supposing that gain is godliness (1 Timothy 6:5). The Bible speaks about the true fruit of such teachings:
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
–1 Thessalonians 5:3
Those who preach lies, instead of preparing the people to endure hardship and affliction, will suffer destruction along with all who follow their pernicious ways:
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
–2 Peter 2:1-3
Judgment begins at the house of God, and these spots in our midst are removed so that the Lord can receive a perfect, holy bride who has proven her faithfulness to Him by embracing ordained sufferings (1 Peter 4:17-19).
Therefore, we see that our focus is not to be upon temporal troubles, but upon Christ, that we are able to endure, as believers prepared before-hand for sufferings by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Consequently, we are to watch for the Lord’s return by walking faith and love, as befitting those who are thankful for their salvation:
But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
–1 Thessalonians 5:4-10
The teachings of those who walk in the true light of the gospel emphasize remaining focused upon the true Christ and submitted to the leadership of His Holy Spirit Who counsels us to redeem the time and prepare ourselves spiritually for the day of adversity, knowing that all of these things will soon come to pass.
In a time when many are heaping to themselves teachers, having itching ears [seeking after those whose teachings affirm the lusts of the flesh, as opposed to the truths and working of the Holy Spirit], it is essential that we all submit ourselves to God and recognize those authentic elders among us whose hearts are for the people, as vessels made wholly fit and prepared by God to serve the people:
Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
–1 Thessalonians 5:11-13
Under the old covenant, the “holy place” is a physical temple: therefore, the prophesied desolation will begin in Jerusalem, as the phrase denotes the official place of worship for the Jews in Jerusalem (Psalm 24:3; Acts 21:28).
However, under the new covenant, the people (as lively stones) are built up as the temple of God for a habitation of the Holy Spirit. Since the time of the apostles, this temple has been under attack.
The divisions that exist and the lies that predominate in the body of Christ today are the consequence of the political leadership of a falsely elevated class of believers who lord over the body of Christ instead of serving God and one another.
Therefore, Christ’s words in Matthew 23:2 remain equally applicable today: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat,” (Matthew 23:2).
Those who are not elders have cast those who are elders out of the church (3 John 1:9-10).