2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:…
Sceptics never tire in quoting this text, to prove, if they can, that God sends delusions to deceive mankind, and that men are doomed to everlasting perdition for what they could not avoid, simply because the Almighty so willed it. But the infidel's interpretation of the passage has been read into it by himself. Its real teaching is eternally true. There are four points in it to be considered by us.
I. THE CLASS OF MEN REFERRED TO.
1. They "believed not the truth." There is a rejection of the truth which arises from ignorance, and some excuse is to be made for it. But there is also a wilful rejection of the truth. Men close there eyes to the light, and grope in the darkness by their own free choice. Reason is made blind to give eyes to prejudice and passion, and excuses are invented, not so much to justify their conduct to others, as to salve their own consciences. In this way they smother the truth, until they come thoroughly to reject it.
2. They "had pleasure in unrighteousness;" or, better rendered, "were well pleased in the unrighteousness." They not only practised unrighteous acts, but they took pleasure in doing them. Regardless of the law of God, which is the standard of righteousness and the basis of morality, they revelled in sinful delights.
II. THE DELUSION TO WHICH THEY WERE SUBJECT. The Greek term translated "delusion" is literally "the inworking of error." The expression is a very important one, and shows the source and mode of operation of the error. The whole thing is internal, and is opposed to the inworking of the Holy Spirit. Men pursue an evil course until they come to believe it to be right. Look at that fine boy who is just leaving his home for the workshop or the college. He has been brought up in a pure family, surrounded by all that is good and pious. But the first day in his new surroundings words fall on his ears which horrify him; these, or similar, he will hear again and again, until they cease to affect him. Then, and at a later stage, he will himself indulge in coarseness and profanity with the rest, and perhaps become the very blackest of all that black company. The inworking of sin and error will destroy conscience, and that most fearful of all states be reached in which no remorse be experienced, but rather pride in sin. Man very largely moulds his own character, and with it his beliefs; and very often, alas if he comes to "believe a lie," and his doing so is entirely his own fault.
III. THIS DELUSION, OR INWORKING OF ERROR, IS SENT BY GOD. Does error, then, come from God? No; but He abandons men to it when they have wilfully and persistently broken the law of righteousness, just as they fall into disease of body when a natural law has been violated.
IV. THE PURPOSE OF THE INWORKING OF ERROR. "That they might be damned." This seems a most terrible doctrine, and hundreds have cavilled at it to the danger of their own souls. "Condemned" is certainly a milder word, but with very much the same meaning. - He that believeth not is condemned already." But the original word is better rendered in the Revised Version — "judged." The Judge of all the earth will do right; but that very right may involve most fearful consequences. If the inworking of error goes on till the judgment comes, it will be an awful calamity to that man in whom it occurs. When the Divine judgment is passed there can be no dissentient voice, no sympathizers with the condemned, and even the heart of the criminal himself will bear testimony to the righteousness of the sentence.
(G. Sexton, LL. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: