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Revelation Twenty

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

 

 

   
     

 

 REVELATION TWENTY
by L.R. Shelton, Jr.

 

Chapter 3

Dear friend, as we continue our studies in Revelation 20, we again want to look into the LOOSING OF SATAN, as described in vv. 7-10: “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”


WHY SATAN WILL BE LOOSED
 

Now in these verses, there is revealed the PARTICULAR PURPOSE for which SATAN SHALL BE LOOSED when the thousand years shall be fulfilled: (and remember that this thousand years is not a literal but a symbolic time period, reaching from the first coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to His second coming.) Right before our Lord comes back, Satan shall be loosed for a little season to universally “DECEIVE THE NATIONS” (vs. 8). Just as he was bound at the cross so he might not deceive the nations (vs. 3), here he is loosed that he might deceive them again. As we have previously shown you, this is in agreement with what the apostle Paul teaches in II Thess. 2:11-12: “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” And this loosing of Satan to deceive the nations will be a TOTAL AND UNIVERSAL DECEPTION! Why? So he might gather all the nations together-the number of whom will be as the sand of the sea (Rev. 20:8)-to battle against the saints, the church of the living God, pictured here under the figure of “THE BELOVED CITY, THE NEW JERUSALEM” of Gal. 4:26, Heb. 12:22, Rev. 3:12 and Rev. 21.


Gog and Magog
 

Why does John, by the Holy Spirit, refer to the nations in this battle as Gog and Magog? Gog and Magog were the heathen nations that were in existence 2500 years ago who fought against the nation of Israel, physical battles of great intensity (Ezek. 38- 39). But do not confuse Rev. 20:7-9 with these battles of Ezekiel 38 and 39 as so many do today! These verses have nothing to do with what is promulgated from so many pulpits and over the radio today! They say Rev. 20:7-9 pictures how Russia is going to march on Palestine in the near future; but Russia is not mentioned here, nor is it mentioned any place in the Bible!


You see, John refers to the battles of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel 38 and 39 only because they typify the battle here in Rev. 20 in this way: Just as they were physical battles of such great intensity, the Holy Spirit uses them here in symbolic form to illustrate the greatness of the persecution against the saints who will be living at that time just before our Lord’s return. Just as Gog and Magog were the last attempt to destroy literal Israel before the first coming of Christ, the Gog and Magog of Rev. 20:8 is the last attempt to destroy spiritual Israel, (the church, every living believer) before the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.


My friend, did you know that by using the Gog and Magog of Ezek. 38-39 to show forth a spiritual truth, John is following the same pattern as our Lord and the other writers of the New Testament? Take your New Testament and look up all the references from the Old Testament that are used in the New, and you will find to your amazement as I did, that these Old Testament Scriptures are always used to show forth some great spiritual truth; in other words, all the Old Testament Scriptures that are used in the New Testament are given a spiritual meaning, NEVER a material or physical meaning!


“The Beloved City”
 

Now as we go further into our study of vv. 7-9 of Rev. 20, we see Satan and his forces surrounding the camp of the saints: “And they went up on the breadth of the earth and compassed the camp of the saints about, and THE BELOVED CITY” (vs. 9). Here again we see that “the beloved city” is used symbolically, to describe-not the literal city of Jerusalem here on earth-but the new spiritual Jerusalem upon earth. You see, this beloved city is nothing more or less than a picture of the church of God; and the phrase “compassed the camp of the saints about” is figurative language used to express the enmity of the world against the church of the living God.


The Scriptures Themselves
 

My friend, this is Scriptural truth, verified by the Scriptural use of the term, “Jerusalem”. You see, if I could not find the Scriptures spiritualizing this, then I would be foolish for doing so. But when I come to Scriptures like Gal. 4:22-31 and find the apostle Paul using the Old Testament Scriptures to spiritualize this allegory he was giving of the two Jerusalems, then I’m on good ground in spiritualizing this verse of Scripture in Rev. 20 to show that is typifies the church of the living God. For in Gal. 4 Paul uses Hagar, the bondwoman and servant wife of Abraham, to picture the city of Jerusalem on earth as being in bondage with her children; and Sarah, the free woman who gave birth to the spiritual seed, Isaac, to picture the Jerusalem that is from above and is free. Further, he tells us in vs. 26 that she is “the mother of us all.” So we see that this can only be a spiritual Jerusalem, because no future, material Jerusalem can be the “mother of us all”.
 

Again, in Heb. 12:22 Paul spiritualizes Jerusalem in these words: “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…” And notice that he says, “YE ARE COME.” So this is no future, material city, but a PRESENT SPIRITUAL CITY, which is the church described in Rev. 21 as a bride adorned for her husband.Therefore, it is the saints, the “church of the firstborn” (Heb. 12:23), that Satan comes against in a final attempt to wipe them off the face of the earth, just before Christ returns. As he moves through the nations, governments and false religions, he will play havoc with the church, seeking to utterly destroy them. The days of the martyrs will return; for men, women and children will seal their testimonies with their blood! This will be a time of tribulation, so great that there will be only a few left upon this earth who know Christ in true saving faith.


God’s Answer to Satan


But my friend, Satan cannot and will not utterly destroy the church of the living God, for our Lord said, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). CHRIST IS THE VICTOR AND CONQUEROR, for God’s answer to Satan is found in the last part of our text: “Then fire will come down from God out of heaven and devour them” (Rev. 20:9). All throughout the Book of Revelation this theme prevails: Christ the Victor, and His people with Him in all His triumphs.
 

And dear friend, when you understand that there is but one second coming of our Lord, and that His coming ends it all, then all of the Scriptures in the New Testament are just one blessed pattern woven together; they all speak of the same thing! When He says that fire comes down from heaven to devour them, then we see how II Thess. 1:7-8 falls into place: “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, IN FLAMING FIRE taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” You see, fire will accompany the second coming of our Lord; the testimony of the apostles Paul, John and Peter all agree. For what Peter tells us in II Pet. 3:10 takes place at the same time! “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements SHALL MELT WITH FERVENT HEAT, the earth also and the works that are therein SHALL BE BURNED UP.” Therefore we are told we should look for and hasten unto “the coming of the day of God, wherein THE HEAVENS BEING ON FIRE SHALL BE DISSOLVED and the elements shall melt with FERVENT HEAT” (vs. 12). All of this dovetails together!


Again, we see in II Thess. 2:8 that Christ’s sudden second coming in glory shall destroy the wicked one: “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” Then, according to II Pet. 3:7, He will judge the world of the ungodly; and then He will consummate the redemption of His elect people of all the ages according to II Thess. 1:10. Then shall be fulfilled all the promises of the new heavens and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness (Isa. 65:17; II Pet. 3:13). You see, all of these verses of Scripture dovetail together and all speak of the same identical second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, when all of this will come to pass.


So you don’t need a Philadelphia lawyer to figure out when all of this takes place; it’s just as simple as the Bible makes it, with no confusion; When Christ returns, that is the end, that’s the day of resurrection and that’s the day of judgment. But it’s only when you ask God to erase from your mind the false teaching that Christ’s second coming is in so many stages, that you will find that the whole Word of God agrees! You don’t have to take a portion like II Thess. 2 and say vv. 5-7 belong to the first stage of His coming, and vv. 8-12 belong to the second stage of His coming! or say that the first stage is for His saints, then seven years later it is with His saints, than a millennium, and then the judgment and resurrection of the wicked-oh no! This is confusion! This is of Satan, to confuse the minds of the people, because the Holy Spirit is not the Author of confusion! (I Cor. 14:33).


Satan’s Eternal Doom


It is blessed to me to know that there is coming a day when our Lord is coming to vindicate His name! For Rev. 20:10 declares: “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Finally after his long history of deceiving mankind, beginning with Adam and Eve and continuing to the present time, Satan will meet his doom in the lake of fire! Oh what a deserving fate for one who has brought such terrible misery, woe and terror upon the church of the living God for so many centuries! My friends, this is the deepest hell, for there will be no relief from this torment, it is eternal! There is no pause, no rest, no comfort; the suffering is unending, it is everlasting! The devil shall be tormented day and night without end.

What a picture!


But oh, it is sadder yet to know that every one of you who dies OUTSIDE OF CHRIST shall be with Satan in this awful state according to the words of our blessed Lord Himself in Matt. 25:41: “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into EVERLASTING FIRE, PREPARED FOR THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS.” Oh my dear soul out there today without Christ and without hope, do you hear these words! They are spoken by Him Who now holds out the scepter of grace to all who will bow at His feet in repentance, turning from their sins and wicked ways, laying down their arms of rebellion and seeking His face in believing trust and faith. Again, I tell you in love, TODAY IS THE DAY OF SALVATION, not in some future date; for if you neglect so great salvation, then this same Jesus shall be your Judge! What about it my friend? Are you going to be cast into the everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels? or will you be with Christ for ever and forever? I’ve told you the truth today; I’ve brought before you the truth of God’s Word as to what the end times are going to be, as they are pictured in the Word of God.


HOW SATAN WILL AGAIN DECEIVE THE NATIONS


Now this next statement may surprise you, but did you know that this earth is ripe right now for that little season wherein Satan is to be loosed? I’m not setting dates, for it could be yet another 100 or 1,000 years, but the nations are now ripe for this very thing. So now as I go into the Scriptures with you, I propose to describe our present condition, and show you how Satan will be able to universally deceive the nations, bringing them to persecute and put to death the church of the living God.


Remember what we have told you from II Thess. 2:8-12! It is because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved, that God shall send the nations of the earth a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned. Why? because they believed not the truth when it was preached unto them but had pleasure in unrighteousness. The constraining hand of the Holy Spirit and His grace shall be taken away, as God gives them up to the deceitfulness of sin, letting them follow their own ways. This will be the awful judgment, for they shall be reprobated; so they shall believe Satan’s lie, and easily be led against the saints of God to persecute and put them to death.
 

But in order to fully understand how Satan can deceive the nations once again as he did before the first coming of our Lord, we must first understand man’s natural condition. Follow us very closely now! In the fall of Adam, man, who is a tri-part being, composed of body, soul and spirit (I Thess. 5:23), became lost in his spirit; it was no more in communion with God, so he was a lost soul! His spirit fell to the level of the soul, for according to Heb. 4:12, in the new birth the spirit is raised or “divided asunder” from its immersion in the soul. So man can never be delivered or saved apart from the distinguishing grace of God worked in the heart by the Holy Spirit.
 

This is confirmed in Eph. 2:1 which reads: “And you hath he quickened, who were DEAD in trespasses and sins.” This verse of Scripture shows us that man outside of Christ, is a lost, helpless and hopeless sinner; and verse 3 tells us that he is by nature a child of wrath. But these are truths or doctrines of God’s Word that are hated by men today (and they have always been hated by natural man, no matter how religious he may be); that is why these doctrines are not preached from most pulpits; in fact they are denied in most all religious circles, which makes man a prime object for the deceiving power of Satan.


Now you may ask, “What doctrines are these that men despise?” My friend, actually there are three teachings of God’s Word which, if pressed upon the consciences of men, will make them lash back at you with all the vengeance of their souls. These three truths are: the SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD, the WRATH OF GOD and the TOTAL DEPRAVITY OF MAN, and these are key doctrines of God’s Word! Even professed Christians will come back at you with hatred and bitterness when you press home the Word which declares that God is sovereign in all of His operations, that He alone dictates the terms of salvation and gives it to whomsoever He wills, and that grace is in the hands of a sovereign God! The effect of Scriptures such as Rom. 9:15,16 and 18 which show our sovereign God to be the God of election and predestination, is always the same upon natural man as it was in our Lord’s time (see Luke 4:24-29): “…when they heard these things, they were filled with wrath” (vs. 28).


Further, to say that this sovereign God, the God of the Bible, is a GOD OF WRATH, will bring out the worst in the unsaved. When you press home to the conscience that God has the right, which He exercises to the glory of His justice and the vindication of His holiness, to punish sinners beneath His wrath in hell forever, then you hear this cry: “A loving God would not send a sinner to hell to burn and suffer forever; my God would not do that!” But nowhere does any writer of Scripture under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit try to placate or do away with the justice of God in punishing sinners for their sins! Yet natural man receives not the love of the truth that, he may be saved (II Thess. 2:10), so he’s open to Satan’s deception!

 


Then to be told that he is totally depraved, lost, a helpless and hopeless sinner, without any goodness, righteousness or profitableness to commend him to God, is more than natural man can bear! (and this truth of man’s TOTAL DEPRAVITY is taught all throughout the Word of God.) Well then, what does the Bible mean by “total depravity”, and how will this help us to understand how Satan deceives the hearts of men?


God’s Picture of Man


Dear friend, the Word of God teaches that in the fall of man, he became totally depraved-not in his physical, but in all his mental and moral capacities. In other words, every part of man’s mental and moral nature is corrupted by sin; therefore his depravity is total. For you see, man in his spirit is made up of all those mysterious intangibles: his intellect, volition, emotions, instinct, desire, motives, his urge, disposition and temper, which live not only inseparably with each other, but WITHIN each other, altogether constituting one indivisible thinking mind. And when man died spiritually through the fall of Adam, all that makes up his mental and moral powers became corrupted and set upon a COURSE OF REBELLION AGAINST GOD. Listen to God’s Word! “The carnal mind” (the natural), depraved mind of man) “is ENMITY against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7). These are not my words, they are God’s Words! And I know they’re true, because I know a little of my own heart by the grace of God. Because the natural mind of man is not subject to the law of God, nor can it ever be, that is the reason why God in salvation must give a spiritual heart and a spiritual nature, or no man could ever have communion with God.
 

 

I trust you can understand what I’m saying! I’ve tried to make it simple, that you might understand exactly what total depravity is. Again, this is what the Word of God teaches, for if you will turn to Jer. 17:9, you will find that mans heart by his fall in Adam is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; so he must be given a new heart! (Ezek. 36:26).  In Eph. 4:18 we read that man’s moral and spiritual being has darkened his understanding, and therefore has alienated him from the life of God. In John 3:19, our Lord said that man’s affections by the fall are prostituted so men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. Therefore, for God to save a man, He must enlighten his soul, or otherwise he stays in darkness, under the controlling influence of the spirit of the devil; (for as we have shown you in previous messages, natural man bears the mark of the devil in his mind and in his hand!).
 

 

Further, Rom. 5:6 tells us that man is without spiritual strength and is ungodly, the opposite of God and holiness. Our fall in Adam has polluted the fountain of every man’s spiritual life (Prov. 15:8); therefore “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen. 8:21). Being “shapen in iniquity” and conceived in sin (Psa. 51:5), then man is “a transgressor from the womb” (Isa. 48:8) and goes astray as soon as he is born, speaking lies (Psa. 58:3).  We could go on and on with the Scriptures, showing you that one after another gives us a picture of man being totally depraved in his mental and moral being; and this is his spirit, because it is in his spirit that a man is God conscious. And in the fall of Adam, his spirit fell to the level of his soul, therefore it is in rebellion against God. That is why the natural man has no taste or capacity to enjoy the things of the heavenly spiritual realm. He cannot discern them, because they are spiritually discerned (I Cor. 2:14). He has no love nor desire after them because his affections are prostituted (Jn. 3:19), and because his will is enslaved by the lust of the flesh (Eph. 2:2-3).


So we see that the Word of God does not paint a pretty picture of man outside of the grace of God in Christ; apart from the grace of God, man is in an awful spiritual condition (helpless and hopeless). And when you realize the truth of this, you will be convinced that no man could or ever would be saved apart from the SOVEREIGN GRACE OF GOD worked in that sinner’s heart by the power of God’s Holy Spirit.


The Satanic Spirit of Rebellion


Then as if all this is not bad enough, the Word of God is very clear in II Tim. 2:26 that natural man is under the control of Satan, that is, taken captive by him at his will. That’s why man walks according to the course of this world; he walks according to the prince of the power of the air (Satan himself), the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience, according to Eph. 2:2.  Listen now! Being the depraved creature that he is and controlled or held captive by Satan, natural man manifests the Satanic spirit of rebellion that we see everywhere today. No matter where we turn, man is in rebellion against God, giving vent to all the deep sinful emotions of his natural heart and mind. Therefore when the restraining power of the grace of God and the Spirit of God is held back and Satan is loosed, it will be easy for him to deceive the nations, for he already controls them by his spirit, the spirit of rebellion.
 

Left to himself, natural man is capable of committing the most awful, abominable sins. Do you wonder why men act as they do today! Why does a man lie and steal, hate and kill? Why does a father commit incest with his own young daughter? Why do men commit the most revolting crimes such as killing unborn babies? Why do men and women kill in the most inhuman way? Why do mothers leave their babies in garbage cans and locker rooms? Why do fathers leave their children and wives-and mothers their children and husbands-to go off and forget their responsibilities? Why do men and women drink themselves to death, burn themselves out in the most perverted forms of lust or commit suicide? It is because they are depraved sinners, acting out of a heart of rebellion against God, held captive by Satan, deceiving and being deceived.
 

We are living in a day when God is belittled, cried down, humanized, and minimized because He is dethroned in the minds and hearts of men. The name of our blessed Lord Jesus is rolled in the gutter of man’s depraved thoughts and humanized to such an extent that He is thought of only as a man of history and not the true and living God. And we’re living in a day of hero worship, for man in turn has been preached up, exalted and deified. We are seeing Rom. 1:25 come to pass: Natural man, under the deceiving power of Satan has “changed the truth of God into a lie”, and worships and serves “the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.” The mind of man with all its glorious achievements, has been worshipped, praised, and deified instead of the true Deity of the LORD of heaven in Whose hands our very breath is held!
 

Not only is the MIND of man worshipped, but the BODY is also glorified and served. Especially the female body has been exposed, glorified, and made a national deity by our newspapers, magazines, books, radios, T.V.s and from just about every stage and theater. Our society bows down before her shrine in daily ritual as the heathen nations did before and after the time of our Lord. Everywhere you turn today, in our grocery stores, drug stores, supermarkets, eating places, hotels, motels, newsstands, from the T.V. screens and in the streets, we see and read of the sex-goddess, the sex god, until it is nauseating and sickening. Men and women, to their own shame, have glorified and worshipped the naked body as a thing of beauty, which God says is an abomination in His sight.

 

Our nakedness is our shame! It shows that we are sinners; that’s the reason God made clothes of skins and clothed our first parents in the garden of Eden! So to unclothe our bodies, and to parade them before man to be lusted after and worshipped, is a slap in the face of God which openly says to Him, “I am not a sinner, and I defy you to punish me; I am going to walk as I please, and do as I please; You and Your Word shall not tell me what to do!” And my friend, this is what we see on the streets and read of in our newspapers every day! From the oldest to the youngest, from the pulpit to the gutter, from the place of authority at the seat of government to the poor in the streets, there is open rebellion against God! As in the days of Noah and Lot, so it is today: Man no longer has a sense of morality, but his conscience has been seared as with a hot iron, and he has become nothing but a beast like Nebuchadnezzar, roaming in the field of sin, drinking it up like water, and doing what his depraved heart delights to do!
 

Every medium available today is controlled by Satan to promulgate sin in its raw, disgusting rebellion against God-you know this as well as I do. Magazines, newspapers, radios, televisions, movies and books ALL parade the sensual, the lustful, the devilish and the diabolical; all lift up sin as virtuous. What is it that man hates? It is the law of God! So men say, “throw off all restraint, let yourself go and have a good time; don’t you know it is your right to live as you please and do what you please?” And they portray lying, stealing, robbery, adultery, fornication, whore-mongering, wife-swapping, homosexuality, pornography, drunkenness and even murder as acceptable because it is the letting loose of the man that has been held down these many years by the “old puritanical laws”. Men laugh at, joke about, indulge in and get their fill of sin out of a heart of rebellion against God!


A Foretaste of the Loosing of Satan


My friend, all of this had led to A SOCIETY OF LAWLESSNESS, and our nation is headed straight for hell just as fast as it can get there. We have sowed to the wind, and now are reaping the whirlwind; we have sowed the wind of promiscuity and have reaped the whirlwind of wrecked lives, suicide and wholesale insanity. Justice goes begging in the streets and man has warped and twisted ideas about the rights of others.  Why is all of this happening? It is because God is withdrawing the sweet influences of His Holy Spirit and letting men go, to walk in the ways of their hearts and in the sight of their eyes (Eccl. 11:9) in preparation for the loosing of Satan. (For as we have mentioned in our previous studies, his deception-for which he has been loosed-is so gradual that it is almost imperceptible.) And II Tim. 3:13 tells us that “ Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, DECEIVING AND BEING DECEIVED.” So we should not be surprised at what we find in our society. The pulpit as a whole has repudiated the law of God; and when the law of God is done away with, then every man becomes a law unto himself, and sin reigns.


You see, Satan is stirring up the rebellion that has been in the heart of man all the while into an outward manifestation of hatred against God in causing him to defy the law of God. Rom. 1 gives us the reason this is taking place: “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore GOD GAVE THEM UP to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause GOD GAVE THEM UP unto vile affections…and even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (vv. 21,26,28).


How has man been deceived by Satan? He has turned the truth of God-His holiness, righteousness, justice and sovereignty-into a lie, saying that God does not exist; or, if He does exist, He does not take knowledge of us, so there is no hell, no wrath, no punishment. Thus men, being deceived, go on in their sins, worshipping and serving the creature more than the Creator and bringing upon themselves SWIFT DESTRUCTION (II Pet. 2:1). And these verses of Scripture in Rom. 1 ARE BEING FULFILLED BEFORE OUR VERY EYES TODAY! Everywhere men and women are being given over to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves. We are seeing the days of Noah reproduced in our generation (Lk. 17:26-27); and God’s commentary on them applies to us every imagination of the thoughts of men’s hearts are only evil continually (Gen. 6:5). For “unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled” (Titus 1:15).


Modern Sodom and Gomorrah


But that is not all that is described in Rom. 1. Listen as we continue vs. 26: “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another: men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.” Oh what a sad commentary on the human heart! We have a picture here of modern Sodom and Gomorrah, for this describes the desires and actions of men and women today! We are presently witnessing the overflow of the wickedness of man controlled by Satan and given over by God to a reprobate mind!  We are seeing homosexuality and homosexual sympathizers who have become bolder and bolder today; instead of hiding in the closet as in yesteryear, they have gone public, boasting of their unnatural and ungodly perversion. Is this not reminiscent of the days of Lot?

They are doing the same thing that Isaiah said of ruined Jerusalem and fallen Judah, “THEY DECLARE THEIR SIN AS SODOM, THEY HIDE IT NOT! Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded EVIL unto THEMSELVES!” (Isa. 3:9). Are we not seeing this today? And are not men receiving in their own bodies that recompense of this sin? Of course they are! What about the diseases we are seeing today among homosexuals? Oh my friends, Satan has men blinded to their condition before God! We are in the days of Lot, spiritually speaking, when they did eat and drink, they bought and sold, planted and built, right along with the awful sin of homosexuality. “But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all!” Oh that we would hear God’s Warning: “EVEN THUS SHALL IT BE IN THE DAY WHEN THE SON OF MAN IS REVEALED” (Luke 17:28,30). Dear friend, all of this is that falling away from divine truth described in II Thess. 2:3. And as Satan gradually deceives the nations, the apostasy gets greater and greater, so what we see happening today will get worse.


Our Only Hope
 

But beloved, I cannot leave you without hope in this terrible day when nations and men are being deceived! As the only place of safety was in the ark when the storm of God’s wrath fell in the days of Noah, so the only safe place today when the storm of God’s wrath is about to fall in fury upon us, is the ARK, CHRIST JESUS. HE ALONE IS THE SINNER’S HIDING PLACE. Although my heart is grieved and vexed today because of the exceeding sinfulness of sin manifested all around us, yet it rejoices my heart that in Christ I have a safe hiding place. He came to save the types of sinners we have been describing, dear friend; for God is able to wash even the most defiled soul clean in the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ! This is the hope that is offered in the gospel: Christ will receive sinful men! While the Bible condemns your sin, whatever it may be, He nevertheless is willing to forgive you if you will repent and turn to Him by faith, crying for mercy. You may ask, “On what basis is He able to save me, the rebel?” On the basis of the righteousness of Christ, Who gave Himself without spot to God that He might purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God (Heb. 9:14), cleansing you from the vile and filthy effects of sin, and covering your spiritual nakedness before God. Praise be unto our God that …where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:20-21).


So my friend, your only hope is that God will work in your soul, that by His Spirit He will quicken, or make you alive, in the new birth and reveal unto you the holiness of God as shown in His Word; that He will grant you repentance to the acknowledging of the truth that you are a guilty, lost sinner, and so work in your heart that you become so sick of sin (of having your own way), that you can no longer continue therein. Pray that God will give you the Spirit of holiness, the Spirit of righteousness, that by faith you will close in with the Lord Jesus Christ and see that God’s justice has been satisfied in the shedding of the precious blood of His only begotten Son at Calvary’s cross; and that God can be just in justifying even YOU, based upon the imputed righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ (II Cor. 5:21). God gives and imputes His righteousness only to the account of those who lay down their arms of rebellion, hoist the white flag of surrender, and crown Jesus Christ Lord of their lives, as they look away by faith to Him to save, deliver and have mercy on them in this life and in the life to come!


Satan’s Deception in Religion


Now remember the interpretation of the two beasts of Rev. 13, how Satan operates in two areas to deceive the souls of men: as a roaring lion (his hand in persecution) and as an angel of light (his mind, as he works through imitation). This also corresponds to II Thess. 2:3 in the falling away from divine truth, which we are seeing more and more in religion. You see, it is because God is giving the so-called civilized and Christian nations over to a reprobate mind, that Satan will be able to enter into them as he did Judas in total deception. they will be so deceived, they will receive the “man of sin” who will so turn their hearts away from God that they will revolt in open rebellion against Him and seek to destroy all vestige of Christianity and the worship of the true and living God as revealed unto us in the Lord Jesus Christ. And with the restraining power of the grace of God and Spirit of God held back when Satan is loosed, they will compass the camp of the saints (Rev. 20:7-10) to take vengeance upon them since they cannot get to the holy God Whom they hate.


A False Gospel


The Scriptures in II Thessalonians give us much light upon the true interpretation of vv. 7-10 of Rev. 20, for they tell us what will happen when the man of sin or the wicked one is revealed; and in this I purpose to show you how religion (and that’s what it is, man’s religion, not Christianity) through Satan’s subtlety has fallen away from God in this apostasy. Keep in mind that Satan’s one aim is to deceive and imitate, making the world religious without Christ. Let us again consider vv. 9-12 of II Thess. 2 where we read that the wicked one’s coming is “…after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Look at verse 11 again: “AND FOR THIS CAUSE GOD SHALL SEND THEM STRONG DELUSION, THAT THEY SHOULD BELIEVE A LIE.” God sends upon them a misleading influence, a working of error and a strong delusion to make them believe what is false! And my friend, as I have previously mentioned, this misleading influence, this working of error, is the false doctrine of carnal Christianity that is already working today, and is bringing in the great apostasy that sets the stage for the loosing of Satan when the nations universally, will believe Satan’s lie.
 

Dear friend, let me sound the trumpet loud and clear today, to warn you of this damning influence of the false gospel that is bringing in the great apostasy! For when I set out to interpret the 20th chapter of Revelation, I did not desire to tickle your knowledge-bone with a little eschatological meaning, just to bring you some things about last times. I purposed to bring you the whole counsel of God, that you might be forewarned and instructed in the truth of God’s eternal Word, and that you might not be deceived when Satan is loosed and the whole world follows after him, turning the truth of God into a lie and being damned.  I must warn you that this doctrine of carnal Christianity that is preached today is a false gospel, for it has no power to save, but only to deceive; it deceives poor sinners into believing that all is well with their souls because they have believed something or other (most don’t know what), and they are preached into heaven when they die, no matter what kind of life they have lived! This false gospel is built upon the false foundation of “easy believism”, so it knows nothing of Holy Spirit conviction or of heart-felt repentance; it knows nothing of true saving faith or of the demands of the true gospel of the grace of God. For my friend, the great power of the true gospel of God breaks the power and dominion of sin in the sinner’s life (Rom. 6:14), giving a new heart, new desires and therefore a new life; that is, a holy life (not sinless), holy thoughts and a holy walk by the grace of God before God and man.
 

You see, our Lord described the way that leads to heaven in Matt. 7 as a narrow way with an entrance into it by a strait gate, but this false gospel leads you to believe that there are two roads to heaven and not only one; it makes a second way, which is the road of carnal Christianity, a way that seems right unto a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death! (Prov. 14:12). Beware of this false gospel that presents the easy way and appeals to the flesh, for it is a road that leads to hell; and it is the working of error that is bringing in the great apostasy when Satan is to be loosed for a little season!


So I say, beware of that false gospel which allows a man to stay in his sins and sow to his flesh, and yet gives him a hope for heaven! Beware of that false gospel that sells you an insurance policy against the flames of hell and yet gives you no power over sin! Beware of that false gospel which lets you go on in your same way of fleshly living and makes no demands for the death of your fleshly nature! Beware of that false gospel that gives you religion without life, and profession without possession!
 

Let me tell you a little more about this false gospel! It encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic appeal. It does not seek to slay you, the sinner, before you can receive the new life in Christ. Rather it tells you to receive new life and then if you desire to crown Jesus as Lord by and by and destroy the old life, that’s fine; but you have believed and now all is well, so you will go to heaven no matter what you do! It tries to pour old wine into new wineskins, and it won’t work (Lk. 5:37-38)! But my friend, the old must be torn down before the new can be built (which is what God does in Holy Spirit conviction).
 

Instead of slaying the sinner, this false gospel tries to redirect him into a more clever and jollier way of living which saves his self-respect. It says to the self-assertive, “come and assert yourself for Christ”. To the thrill-seeker it says, “come and enjoy the thrill of Christian fellowship!” Don’t mention sin, don’t mention the sinner, don’t mention that death came by sin; men will get mad at you! So it is not opposed to your flesh; rather it is a friendly pal, and if understood rightly, it is the source of oceans of good, clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets you live without interference; it still lets you live for your own pleasure. Because it makes no demands upon you, it never changes your life! Again I say, beware of this false gospel that makes no demands upon you, but shows you the easy way unto salvation, which is but the shortest route to hell!
 

This false gospel misses completely the whole meaning of the cross, for the cross means death. It never breaks the heart of pride! But my friend, if you are ever saved, your heart of pride will be broken before God, for He will do this under Holy Spirit conviction. You see, the gospel of the grace of God in Christ-which is the power of God unto salvation-demands the death, burial and resurrection of YOU the sinner in the Lord Jesus Christ. It sets forth the cross of Christ as the abrupt, violent end of all that you are by nature, and raises you to new life in Christ with the shackles of sin broken. It brings to an end your pride and ambition and leaves you at the feet of the Lord God of glory, that holy God, crying for mercy in the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel of the grace of God in Christ does not tell you that you are going to have your life redirected, but that you are going to the place of death; that you will take up the cross of Christ and say good-bye to your friends, good-bye to the world, for you’re not coming back the same person. As Heb. 13:13 says, “let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” For there we died to the world! As the Lord Jesus Himself tells us in Luke 14:27, “And whosoever doth not bear this cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple”; and the cross means death!


No Compromise!


Listen to me now! We see from the Scriptures that the gospel of the grace of God in Christ makes no compromise with sin; it demands a coming clean, and coming clear with God or going to hell. It says, “Down sinner, down at the feet of the holy and sovereign God in repentance, fall down at the feet of Christ in faith, looking only unto Him for salvation.” It will not let you cover, defend or excuse any sin, according to Prov. 28:13. All sin must be forsaken; all sin must be renounced; all sin must be repented of; all sin must be hated! My friend, you must die to the world, its pleasures and allurements, and the world will die to you (Gal. 6:14). You must forsake your sin and your way, and then forsake yourself or you will never know Christ in true salvation; for when you die to sin and self, then Christ by His almighty power, the power of the gospel, will raise you to life-new life-and there will be His life abiding in you.
 

You see, it is that misleading influence which is bringing in the great apostasy that allows a midway ground or compromise between the broad and the narrow way. But I must draw that line of demarcation, for when you come to Christ to set you free from the penalty of sin in hell (which is justification), you also come to Him to set you free from the power and dominion of sin in this life (sanctification). My friend, you cannot divide justification from sanctification any more that you can divide the Person of Christ, for He is our Salvation and Hope of glory! You cannot know Him as Savior without knowing Him as Lord, the One Who breaks the power of sin and sets you free! “…for if the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (Jn. 8:36); and that means free from sin! Rom. 6:2 also bears this out, that in salvation we die to sin and its reigning power. My friend, the very nature of faith which embraces the whole Christ demands that justification not be separated from sanctification.


Oh what a subtle trick Satan has pulled on Christendom today, deceiving the vast majority! This is that departing from revealed truth, that misleading influence of II Thess. 2:11, for it is so subtle, those who are deceived by it cannot see they are deceived, and go on thinking it is possible to be saved without the reigning power of sin being broken! They believe a Christian can live a life of sin in the flesh, sowing to the flesh, and yet all is well with his soul because he has made a little decision and is doing the best he can. This false gospel of carnal Christianity has so permeated our churches today that no one ever questions his interest in Christ. No matter how one lives, as long as he’s made a little profession, he’s given a hope of heaven, and some preacher will preach him into heaven when he dies. that’s why I hate to go to funerals, where you are made to think by the preaching that all one has to do to go to heaven is to die!


But this is a lie out of hell! For God’s Word teaches differently! When God saves us in Christ, He gives us His holy nature and His Holy Spirit to indwell us, so that His grace reigns and abounds in our hearts and lives, for He has redeemed us from the inward corruptions and sin that was destroying us. And my friend, this is Scriptural teaching that God does something when He saves us: Christ comes to dwell within us, teaching us by His grace to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world (Tit. 2:12). Something is happening to us: we are being changed and made into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ! God gives us a hatred for sin, and beloved, the world knows it, our wife or husband knows it, our children know it, our friends know it, those we work with know it; and they won’t have to wait until we die for some preacher to tell our loved ones who are left behind that there was another side of us that they knew nothing about, when they preach us into heaven!


Therefore I lift up my voice against this false gospel of carnal Christianity that allows a man to go on and live as he pleases and yet says he’s on his way to heaven just because his name is on the church roll or because he made a little profession when he was twelve or thirteen! Oh no! This is that damning, misleading influence working in our midst today to bring in that great apostasy, preparing the hearts and minds of men, women, young people, boys and girls to receive the “man of sin” spoken of in II Thess. 2:3! I pray that God will give you ears to hear and eyes to see it! This apostasy has been coming in for these past decades, and it is going to reach that stage of THE GREAT APOSTASY when the man of sin will be revealed and there will be no turning back!


Beloved, the doctrine that is leading into this great apostasy more than any other that is promulgated by this false gospel of carnal Christianity, is the denying of the Lordship of Jesus Christ in salvation. To deny this divine truth and declare that a man can have Jesus as Savior without bowing to Him as Lord and crowning Him King of kings and Lord of lords, leaves the poor sinner in a worse fix than he was before, for he is then deceived into believing he is a Christian while he is yet a rebel against the commandments of God’s Word that demand separation from sin and the world. But my friend, if you are ever saved, you will crown Him Lord in this life, or you will never find mercy; for Phil. 2:9-11 says: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him (Christ), and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” You see, if you do not crown Him Lord of your life and find salvation in Him now, you will crown Him Lord at the Great White Throne Judgment; but there will be no salvation or mercy then, for time will have ceased for the salvation of the human soul!


As we have shown you in previous studies, the Scriptures plainly declare that Jesus Christ is reigning now, “angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (I Pet. 3:22), yet there is a flat denial of this today from practically every source. Men have Him reigning in some future date. But to deny His present reign is to deny His bodily resurrection, for it was by His “resurrection from the dead” that He was “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness” (Rom. 1:4), and all power was given unto Him in heaven and in earth (Matt. 28:18). Yet this false gospel of carnal Christianity denies the power of the grace of God to save men from their sins, by saying that men can accept Christ as Savior and yet remain in their sins! In this they deny Christ’s resurrection, for it is by the power of the resurrected Christ (the power of the grace of God in the gospel, Rom. 1:16) that sin will no longer have dominion over us! (Rom. 6:14). By delivering us from the power of sin, our Lord would have us know experientially “what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, WHEN HE RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD” (see Eph. 1:18-23)


Further, the denying of the Lordship of Christ and the bodily resurrection of Christ is also denying the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit in salvation. For this false gospel flatly denies the convicting, convincing and converting power of the Holy Spirit by saying that the sinner is the captain of his own fate and can repent and believe any time he pleases! This flatly denies John 3:5 where we are told that unless a man is born again, or regenerated by the Spirit of God, he cannot enter or see the kingdom of God. But, my friend, only the power of the Holy Spirit can quicken a dead sinner and make him alive in Christ (Eph. 2:1, I Cor. 6:11), for we are told in Jn. 16:7-15 that the Holy Spirit was sent for the express purpose of bringing the poor, helpless sinner to Christ by His power.  You see, the mystery of iniquity doth already work (II Thess. 2:7), for we are seeing that gradual falling away and the preparing of the hearts for the coming great apostasy when the son of perdition, the wicked one, will be revealed.


The Rise of the “Man of Sin”


Now let us look more particularly at II Thess. 2 and again see how this portion of Scripture compares with the verses we are studying in Rev. 20, comparing especially the rise of the man of sin with the loosing of Satan. I trust the Holy Spirit will enable you to grasp the setting of these verses in II Thess. 2, and fix them clearly in your mind, that you may know exactly what is going to happen when the great apostasy sets in and the son of perdition, the lawless one, this man of sin, is revealed. As we read these verses, ponder them carefully and prayerfully, asking the Holy Spirit to give you an open mind and heart to receive the truths they contain; for I desire to rightly divide them and give you a brief verse by verse commentary on them. Listen as we read!


“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. 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; 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. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.”


Dear friend, from an overview of this chapter, we see the apostle Paul setting before the Thessalonians the same truths that prevail throughout the entire New Testament, of the two companies of people: the lost and the saved, the reprobate (those who turned from the truth) and the elect (the chosen), those who receive the strong delusion and those who believe the truth; the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction because they received not the love of the truth, and the vessels of mercy whom God has given His salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. He also contrasts and compares two comings: that of the antichrist and that of Christ, of the man of sin and the Son of man, of the son of perdition and the Son of God, of the mystery of iniquity and the mystery of godliness, of the Wicked one and the Holy One, of the working of Satan and the working of the Lord of glory. Then he closes with an exhortation to stand fast and to hold the traditions which were taught by word and by letter, praying that they would have that good hope through grace that would comfort their hearts and establish them in every good word and work.


I thank and praise my heavenly Father that He by His Spirit gave us this chapter, for it gives us much needed light to interpret these verses we are studying in Rev. 20:7-10. Notice how this loosing of Satan for a little season to deceive the nations coincides with the revealing of the son of perdition in II Thess. 2. You see, in Rev. 20 we are told who will do the deceiving and that is Satan. And here in II Thes. 2 we find who he is going to use, that is, the man of sin, who is also called “the wicked one” or “the son of perdition”. So both Rev. 20 and II Thess. 2 describe the same scene and the same situation. This man will be energized by Satan to lead the world in open rebellion against God and His Christ; he will have all the power of the two beasts of Rev. 13 to carry out the great persecution against the saints of the living God, setting himself up as God, to be worshipped as God. He will be Satan’s man to try to stamp out all vestige of Christianity.


Now we’ve been showing you all along that the apostasy or falling away from divine truth which is seen in the religious world today is ushering in or setting the stage for this son of perdition. We have shown you how men’s hearts and minds have been blinded to their true condition by this false gospel of carnal Christianity that denies almost all the great truths of God’s word. But I especially want you to keep in mind that this falling away has not come in all of a sudden; it has not come overnight, but rather it has been a long, steady decline of Christendom that has been advancing for a long time. Therefore, men’s minds and hearts are being prepared for the sudden rise of the man of sin, the son of perdition, to come on the scene and set himself up as God.  “Well” you ask, “who is this man of sin and where does he come from?” Listen carefully now! You and I must first settle in our minds that he is a man and not an influence or system. For the word “the” before the expression “son of perdition” is a definite article in the Greek and therefore must indicate a person. Next we must understand that he is an END-TIME personage and not someone who has already lived and died; for he is definitely associated with the end time and the second coming of Christ. Listen to how verse 8 of II Thess. 2 describes it: “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” He is to come on the scene at the end of time right before the second coming of Christ.


Satan Personified


Verses 9 and 10 of II Thess. 2 tell us that this man of sin will be as Satan personified, for he comes “After the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish.” He is the son of perdition (spiritual ruin and destruction), in every way like his spiritual father, so the words of our Lord in Jn. 8:44 apply very forcibly to him: “Ye are of your father, the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” So he will be the great lie that will be palmed off on the professing church, setting himself up as god to be worshipped “above all that is called God”, and fulfilling Satan’s desire from the beginning to exalt himself “above the stars of God” (Isa. 14:12-14). For that brief moment of time then, seemingly Satan will be in full sway upon the earth, and the whole unregenerate world-religious and profane-will bow to him, following after him to such an extent that they will persecute all who refuse to worship him, those who are the true children of God!
 

Further, the expressions “the son of perdition” and “he sitteth in the temple as God” (vv. 3,4), strongly indicate that this man of sin will be an apostate, one who comes out of the professing church. How do we know this? Dear friend, the expression “the son of perdition” is used in Scripture to describe only one other man: Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve. Our Lord said to His Father in His High Priestly Prayer in Jn. 17: “Holy Father…those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled” (vs. 12). What He is saying is that He had kept all the Father had given Him to be apostles, in the Father’s name, all but one; and the reason He had not kept Judas was that he was the son of perdition, the son of doom the son of Satan; and that the Scripture might be fulfilled that “one that eateth” with Him would “betray him.” Speaking to his twelve apostles in Jn. 6:70-71, He said, “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.” And again in Jn. 13:18 at the last supper He said, “I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.”

Then vs. 27 of that same chapter tells us that after Judas had received the sop-indicating that he was the one who would betray Christ-”Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him,

That thou doest, do quickly…he then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night” (vs. 30). Judas failed to walk up to the light he had been given, so he plunged himself into utter spiritual darkness. Believing Satan’s lie that Jesus was not the Christ, but an imposter, he went out and was damned! So this man of sin, this antichrist, will be an apostate, like Judas, a religious leader who turns away from the true and living God, coming up out of the professing church. He will be as Satan personified as he deceives the nations and so-called Christian world into believing that he is God and therefore sets himself up to be God.


Now follow me closely as we read verse 4 and look at the other expression that strongly indicates that this man of sin, the antichrist, will come up out of the professing church: “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.” Look particularly at the word “temple”. There are two Greek words that are used for “temple” in the New Testament. One word means the building itself, and the other word means the inner sanctuary. Here in II Thess. 2:4 the word “temple” refers to the inner sanctuary and not to a building! Further, when you trace out this word in the New Testament, you will find that in the teaching of our Lord and in the apostolic teachings in the Epistles, it is used metaphorically, that is, as a figure of something else. In Jn. 2:19-21 our Lord uses this word “temple” (the inner sanctuary), to describe His own physical body. In Eph. 2:21 the apostle Paul uses it to describe the church, the mystical body of Christ. In I Cor. 3:16-17 and II Cor. 6:16, he uses it to describe a local church or an assembly of believers. And in I Cor. 6:19 he uses it to describe the present body of the individual believer; that his body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, or the sanctuary or dwelling place of God. Then in The Revelation, it is used to describe the sanctuary or dwelling place of God.


So since the word “temple” in II Thess. 2:4 is translated from the Greek word meaning inner sanctuary, and since this word is used by our Lord and the apostolic writers in a figurative way, we must believe that this is the way it is used here; and therefore indicates that the man of sin, the son of perdition, will set himself up in the professing church as God and ascribe to himself authority over God’s true people. For it says he exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped. I know that the true believers will not believe him nor will they follow him because our Lord said, “my sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me:…and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand…my Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand…and a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him, for they know not the voice of strangers” (John 10:27-29,5); so therein begins the great persecution, when Satan will try to stamp out the church of the living God.  I trust you are following us! I said he will come up out of the professing church, the church being the sanctuary or dwelling place of God; he will be an apostate; for he will turn away from the living God and turn on the people of God. He will not be a saved man, but an apostate!


Now I do not take opposition with those who believe the Jews will build another temple in Jerusalem and will again have animal sacrifices, and that the antichrist may dwell in this temple when he comes on the scene. This they may do in time; they might do anything! But this will not be by God’s command; for you will not find one verse in the New Testament that God has purposed for the Jews to build another physical temple in jerusalem for His dwelling place, for He has completely fulfilled all types and shadows in the Person of Christ (Heb. 10). For in Christ, Who is the true dwelling place of God, dwelleth the fulness of the Godhead bodily (Col. 2:9); and we are to worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24).


Beloved, the gospel, the truth of God has gone out now for centuries, and the cry has been “repent, leave your sins and sinful ways and turn to Christ, God’s only Substitute for sinners; be washed by faith in His blood so you may stand before God cleansed and forgiven from your sin.” the gospel cry has gone out, “turn from your own righteousnesses which are filthy rags before God (Isa. 64:6), and be clothed in the spotless robe of Christ’s righteousness!” But you have not heard the good news; you don’t want to leave your sins, for you take pleasure in them. You have hardened your heart as Pharaoh; and my friend, when Pharaoh hardened his heart, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Exo. 7:14; 8:15,32; 9:7,12).When the king of Israel hated God’s true prophets, then the Lord permitted him to be deceived by placing a lying spirit in the mouth of the other prophets (II Chron. 18:22). When men continually practice impurity, God gives them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity (Rom. 1:24,26). And when they stubbornly refuse to acknowledge God, He finally gives them up to a reprobate mind and to unclean behavior (Rom. 1:28).


The Great Lie


And this will happen to you, my friend, since you have not heeded the warning to turn in repentance to God, since you have no love of the truth that you might be saved, for this cause God shall judicially blind you and send you a strong delusion (II Thess. 2:10-12) that you should believe the lie of the lawless one, that he is God and should be worshipped! And then you too shall be damned, because you believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness! This is how the lawless one will be able to deceive the nations, their governments and leaders, and the religious leaders of the professing church. They have refused the Truth! And as our Lord said in John 5:43: “I am come in my Fathers name, and ye receive me not; if another shall come in his own name, him you will receive.” And II Thess. 2:9-10 tells us how he will come: His coming is “…after the working of Satan, filled with all power, and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness”! We see this coming, for the great apostasy is being brought in by this false gospel of carnal Christianity, which is deceiving men’s minds and hearts so they will readily accept the antichrist as God, and bow down and worship him.


And beloved, this is coming to pass! so my cry today is that you will hear God’s Word, be warned and turn to Him. Listen to me! God is love; He is not a cruel tyrant who deliberately and with inward delight prepares people for everlasting damnation! On the contrary, He earnestly warns and proclaims the gospel, declaring what will happen if you will believe and what will happen if you do not believe! He urges you to accept the love of the truth; but when you of your own accord and after repeated threatenings and promises, reject His Word and spurn His messages, then and not until then, He hardens you; so you who were not willing to repent, may not be able to repent, but will believe the falsehood that the man of lawlessness is God, the only God, and that every one should obey him. That is the strong delusion; and this time could be upon us very shortly! Oh may God deal with our hearts that each one who does not know Him will be turned unto Him by His grace!


A SUMMARY OF
REVELATION 20:7-10


Dear friend, I trust you have been able to understand the significance of the loosing of Satan for that little season, as he puts forth that last final effort against Christ and His church in his rebellion and enmity against God: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph. 6:12) By seeing the awfulness of the deep depravity of the human heart as it is pictured in the Word of God and in all we see around us, I trust you’ve understood how Satan will be able to deceive the hearts of men and nations, that they will fall down and worship the “man of sin” who will set himself up to be worshipped as God.
 

Then, with this in mind, can you not understand the greatness of the persecution against the true children of God, who will not be deceived and who will not bow down to worship the man of sin? Can you now understand why our Lord asked, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)? For it will seem as if all true Christianity has been wiped out. This fulfills Rev. 11 where, under the figure of the “two witnesses”, THE TRUE CHURCH will seemingly be non-existent and lie dead for 3 1/2 days (a small period of time), while “They that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets (the true church) tormented them that dwelt on the earth” (vs. 20), that is, by the testimony of their holy lives. But just as it seems Satan has the victory, and the camp of the saints is compassed about with the forces of evil, the church will again stand upon her feet! (vs. 11). This is the consummation of the battle of Armageddon which has been fought all down through the ages between the forces of spiritual good and spiritual evil. And at this last “battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Rev. 16:14-16), fire will come down from God out of heaven (Rev. 20:9; II Thess. 1:7-9) at the second coming of Christ and the forces of evil will once for all be destroyed. In that day, in the general resurrection, the whole world shall know that no weapon formed against the church shall prosper, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!


A WORD TO
GOD’S CHILDREN


Dear beloved in Christ, our hope in this dark and perilous day is the resurrection power of God. So let us look to Him and trust Him, for He has declared He will hold us, keep us from falling and present us spotless at the last day (Jude 24). He has promised to come again for us, to take us to be with Him forever, and give us a new body and a new home wherein dwelleth righteousness. He says we have an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us, and that we are “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (I Pet. 1:4- 5). So let us look up, for our redemption draweth nigh! And in all of the sin and confusion that is going on around us, let us remember that today our God is on the throne and has everything under control!

 

(Click Here For Chapter 4 of this series on Revelation Twenty)

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