By Matt Capps
If there is one thing that unsettles men, it is deception. If you have ever been lied to, deceived, or manipulated in any way, I imagine you have felt alarmed and shaken to your core. In a sense, this is justified; deception is born in the pits of hell.
The father of all lies is the defeated one, Satan. Jesus Himself makes it very clear that there is no truth in him (John 8:44). Moreover, one of the ways the evil one seeks to devour the faith and hope of the Church is by spreading deceptive doctrine (1Timothy 4:1). These things are important as we approach Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, when the church has been deceived to believe that the day of the Lord had already come.
The second coming of Christ is a foundational doctrine of the New Testament church. When speaking of Christ’s imminent return, Paul’s aim was to spur the church on through affliction and trials, toward the hope of Christ’s final vindication, where all things are made right.
Imagine if you are counted among the Thessalonian Christians, awaiting the return of Christ for final deliverance from life’s most difficult challenges. Now imagine that you have been deceived to believe that it has already occurred. You would probably ask questions like, Where is the final justice God promised? Where is the vindication of the righteous that Christ secured? Where is the fulfillment of God’s most comforting promises for the suffering believer?
If it were me, I would have been shaken, alarmed, even disheartened. For this reason, Paul urges the church to not “let anyone deceive you in any way” (2Thessalonians 2:3). This exhortation still holds true for us today. Satan has been a liar from the beginning. His aim has always been the same: to pull Christians away from their hope and joy in the promises of Christ. The deception of the church in Thessalonica was not so different from the other forms of deception used by Satan today.
Have you ever been deceived enough to question if God really loves you? Have you ever been deceived enough to question whether or not God hears your prayers, or even cares? Have you ever been tempted to despair over your circumstances? In all of these cases, Satan’s aim is to steal your joy and diminish your hope.
The apostle Paul is clear: Let no one deceive you! Do not let the evil one rob you of your joy and hope in Christ. Deception is a spiritual war waged in the minds and hearts of men and women, fought by assaulting the lies of the enemy with the truth of God. Christian, take up your armor and fight for faith! We learned this from our Lord Jesus. Three times, the enemy tried to tempt Jesus, and three times, He rebuked the enemy with the truths found in Scripture (Matthew 4:1–11).
Do not be deceived, but hold fast to the truth of the gospel. Cling to the truth of His Word.