A Delusion, an Error, and a Lie
There’s an interesting verse, in 2 Thessalonians 2, verse 11, that says; “And for this cause, God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” And the cause, for this “strong delusion” from God, is stated in the previous verse, verse 10; “..because they received not, the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”
If you want to be saved, then you’ve got to love the truth. Because if you don’t love the truth, the scripture says, you’ll be sent a strong delusion. And so I received a question about this, from a member of our congregation. and here’s the question; Why would God send a delusion, to stubborn sinners? Wouldn’t it be better, to continue to leave an open mind, so they can be persuaded?
And that’s a good question, isn’t it? Why would God send someone a strong delusion, so that they would believe a lie, instead of continuing to try to get them to believe the truth? Does that mean that God gives up on some people, because thus far in their lives, they’ve refuse to accept His word? Does that mean that after a certain number of opportunities to accept God’s word, that now He’s going to somehow “cloud your mind”, or “close your mind”, so that you’re no longer able to accept the truth?
There’s another couple of verses that are very similar to 2 Thessalonians 2:11. It says in Romans 1, verse 24; “Wherefore God gave them up, in the lusts of their hearts, unto uncleanness..” Then verse 26 says; “For this cause, God gave them up, unto vile passions..” And then verse 28 says; “And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge.. (they had no love for knowing the truth) ..God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting.”
Three times in those three verses, it says, “God gave them up”. But here’s what we need to understand; When it says, “God gave them up”, it doesn’t mean that God gave up on them. To “give them up” means “to surrender them”. God allows us all to make our own choice. If we have no room for God, in our hearts and in our lives, then He will “surrender us”, and give us over to what we do have room for.
2 Peter 3, verse 9 says that the Lord “is patient towards you, not willing for any to perish, but that all to come to repentance.” God is waiting patiently, so that we CAN come to repentance; He’s not “rescinding ” His offer of salvation, by clouding our minds, so as to make it impossible for us to come to a knowledge of truth, and to repent and be saved.
It’s exactly like God said to the nation of Israel, in Deuteronomy 30, verse 15; “See, I have set before you this day, life and good, and death and evil.” It’s our choice. It’s always been our choice, and it always will be. God will never take that choice away, by “closing your mind” to the truth.
But, that being said, here’s what Jesus said in Mathew 7, verse 6; “Give not, that which is holy, to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before the swine, lest they trample upon them with their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces!”
God’s word, is “that which is holy”. And the gospel is being likened to “pearls”. Some people aren’t even worthy of having the gospel preached to them any longer, because of their attitude towards it, and because of the way that they’ve rejected it, and “trampled it under foot”.
Jesus sent out His apostles, to preach the gospel. And He said to them, in Mathew 10, verse 14; “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, as you go forth, out of that house, or that city, shake off the dust from your feet.”
Do you know what that means? That means, after you’ve done your job, by giving them the opportunity to hear the gospel and to be saved, if their attitude is to reject it, then go on to someone else. You’ve planted the seed. If they refuse to allow it to germinate in their heart, they’ll answer for it, you’ve done what’s right. And if you have the opportunity to try to teach them again, by all means, take that opportunity. But if they are determined to allow themselves to be controlled by unbelief, there’s nothing that you can do about it.
And so Jesus told His apostles, to “shake the dust off from your feet.” That’s a figurative phrase, that means.. You share no part in their guilt. You shake the “dust” so to speak, off of yourself, and let it be on them.
Responsibility and Consequences
Each one of us, is personally responsible to obey the gospel. No one else shares that responsibility with us. And if we do refuse to obey God’s gospel, because we simply have no love for it, an no desire for it, then we also need to understand that there are consequences that go along with that refusal.
And one of those consequences, is that you may never get another chance to obey the gospel. Any time that a person refuses to obey the gospel, they just might be sealing their fate, right then and there. You just don’t know, if your life will afford you another chance or not.
In 2 Corinthians 6, verse 2, we’re told; “..Behold now is the acceptable time, behold NOW is the day of salvation.” Why does the bible say that? It’s because you have no guarantee of having another chance tomorrow! Hebrews 3, verse 15 urges us again; “Today, if you shall hear His voice, harden not your hearts!”
You who are already Christians, might be saying to yourselves; I’ve believed, I’ve repented, I’ve been baptized. I’m just fine, I’m saved. But to you and I, the bible says; “Let him that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall!” 1 Corinthians 10, verse 12. Don’t take heed tomorrow, or the next day. Take heed today!
2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us; “Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith.” Don’t examine yourself tomorrow. Examine yourself today! Maybe you, as a Christian, are somehow, “ignoring” or maybe even “refusing” to obey a particular command of God. I’m not saying that you are, but the bible is saying “examine yourself”, so that you can be sure, so that you can be safe.
And here’s another consequence, of someone neglecting, to develop a love of the truth. “..For this cause.. (because of no love for the truth) ..God will send them strong delusion, that they might believe a lie!”
What is a “strong delusion”? The KJ uses that phrase, “strong delusion”. The NASB uses the phrase, “a deluding influence”. And the original ASV calls it, “a working of error.” What ever you call it, what is it? What does it mean?
The idea being expressed here, is that of someone wandering away from God’s word, because they have been deceived, or “deluded” into believing an error, instead of believing truth. Think about this.. If you don’t have a love for the truth, then you’re not going to be believing the truth. And what’s the only other alternative, to believing the truth? You’re going to believe what’s false. You’re going to believe an error, and a lie.
There is nothing else. There’s either truth, or error. Truth or falsehood. You believe either one or the other.
Now, this error that you’ve been deceived into believing, it has a certain amount of power. A lie can be powerful, and it can “work” within your mind, and within your spirit, and it will cause you to behave in a certain way. And of course if we do not have a love for God’s word, and consequently no respect for God’s word, then we’re going to behave in a manner, contrary to God’s word. It’s a simple as that.
So then, there’s power in error, and in lies, and that power “works” within us. And that’s exactly why the American Standard bible uses the phrase “a working of error”. And that’s why the King James uses the phrase “strong delusion”. It’s because of the power at work in us, when we become deceived. The word “error” and the word “delusion” in this verse, literally means.. “a wandering away from God”.
And the lies and the errors being spoken of here, aren’t the lies of man, but they are specifically the lies of satan. Satan is the “father of lies”.
2 Thessalonians chapter 10, verse 9, speaks of “the working of satan.” And that’s exactly what this “working of error” is. It’s the spirit of satan, “working” in your spirit, causing you to believe his lies, and causing you to wander away from God, and from God’s word.
The Spirit of Satan
The spirit of satan, is the spirit of disobedience to God. It’s the spirit of opposition to God, and of opposition to the truth, and it’s the spirit of deception. Whereas God is the Spirit of truth and honesty, satan is the spirit, of deception, and falsehood, and lies.
Let me read to you, some verses about satan, and about the spirit of satan.
Revelation 12:9 calls satan, “the deceiver of the whole world..”
Jesus said, in John 8:44, “..there is no truth in him”. And He says in verse 45, “..for he is a liar”, and the father thereof.”
Ephesians 2:1 & 2, tells us that satan, is, “the spirit that now works, in the sons of disobedience..”
2 Corinthians 11, verse 3 says; “..the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness..”
1 Peter 5, verse 8 calls satan, “..Your adversary the devil..”
So then, that’s the spirit of satan; It’s the spirit of deception, and of lies, and of craftiness, and of disobedience. The spirit of satan stands in opposition to truth, it’s our adversary. And as Ephesians 2, verse 2 tells us, that sprit is presently “working”, and has always been working, in the “sons of disobedience”. The spirit of satan is the “father of disobedience”, and it is the “father of lies”, and it stands against truth.
Don’t Let the Spirit of Satan Come Upon You
Now let’s go back to 2 Thessalonians, chapter 2, verses 10 & 11; “and with all deceit of unrighteousness, for them that perish, because they received not, the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason, God sendeth them a deluding influence, (or “a working of error”) that they might believe a lie.”
What God is “sending upon them” is the spirit of satan. The spirit of lies, the spirit of opposition to the truth, the spirit of deception, the spirit of disobedience.
The spirit of satan is a “deluding influence”. The spirit of satan is “a working of error”. But the key to understanding this verse, is to understand HOW God sends this “delusion” and this “working of error”. The bible is using the word “sendeth” or “will send”, in a somewhat figurative sense. God does not “directly” send this delusion, into a person’s mind.
It’s very much like the verse in Jeremiah 31:33, in which the Lord says; “I will put My law within them, and in their heart, will I write it.” God does not “directly” put His law within us, and He does not “directly” write it in our hearts.
The “manner” in which God puts His law within us, is through our faith. It’s through our faith, that WE ourselves put God’s law within us, as we obey His law. But the Lord can rightly say that HE will put His law within us, because it’s the Lord, who provides the “means” for us to acquire the faith, which motivates us to obey His law, and therefore “write it in our hearts”.
God “puts His law within us” through our obedient faith. And that’s the only way that His law gets “within us”.
How the Working of Error is Sent
And here is the “manner” in which God “sends” us, “a working of error”. God “sends” us, either truth or delusion, by allowing us to choose for ourselves, which one we will accept. When God said, in Deuteronomy 31:15; “..I set before you today, life and good, and death and evil”, those were the only two choices that He provided.
We either develop a love for God’s word of truth, and out of love, we obey that word, and therefore “put His law within us”; OR, we do NOT love the truth, in which case, the delusional working of error, will be “sent” to us, because that’s the only other choice that exists.
Much the same as darkness, is the result of the absence of light, “a working of error”, and a “strong delusion”, is simply the result, of the absence of a love of the truth. And that is the “manner” in which God “sendeth a deluding influence”.
That “working of error” is out there, and if we fail to love the truth, we will inevitably be receiving that error.
God will never take away, your freedom of choice. But there simply are only two choices. Truth, or error; Truth, or delusion. If we don’t accept the truth, then we’ll be sent the error.