The Christian Revelation of Life
2 Thessalonians 2:8
And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth…

1. In "Modern Painters" Ruskin reminds us of the delight we feel in view of a bright distance over a dark horizon. At sunrise, beyond some line of purple hills, we have seen the sky become a great space of light, and though the shadows of night were lingering in the valley we have looked into the dawn.

2. In the Bible we are always looking over a foreground in shadow into a bright distance.

(1) In Old Testament prophecy the waste and tumult of history were seen against the far Messianic glory.

(2) In the New Testament the apostles have learned to see all the wickedness of the world horizoned by the manifestation of the Coming of Christ.

3. In Christian vision, then, two aspects of Christian life and world history should be viewed together.

(1) If we have been compelled to observe the evil of the world we need to look on until we see its darkness beneath the brightness of the Lord's presence.

(2) On the other hand, we must not shrink from any knowledge of the evil of the world. The Good Shepherd will seek the lost sheep, and not wait for the coming dawn.

4. Observe how Jesus always seemed to see both aspects. Sin was an ever present fact to Him, but He saw it all set in the holy love of God; and because of this He could at once condemn sin and rejoice over it.

5. A similar juxtaposition characterizes this chapter. We do not know exactly of what Paul was thinking, but it is clear that he saw the darker foreground, and the bright distance, the mystery of iniquity still working, and the manifestation of the coming of Christ.

I. THE TEXT DISCOVERS THE LAW BY WHICH THE MANIFESTATION OF THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST FOLLOWS THE REVELATION OF THE MAN OF SIN. The revelation of sin is necessary for its judgment. As soon as the man of sin becomes revealed, then follows his destruction. Things have to grow worse in order that they may become better. We can discover this principle when we survey great historic masses of sin. When Babylon's abominations were full, God's judgment brought all her pomp down to hell. So with pagan and mediaeval Rome. The Goth and Vandals were let loose by Providence when the vices of a decayed civilization had filled the cup of wrath; and the Papal corruption was ripe for destruction when Luther sounded his appeal. What availed the voice of some New England divine to check the growing system of slavery in America? Both North and South were making money by letting it alone. But all the while it was growing up under the law of God's judgment. Providence lets wheat and tares grow till the harvest. And when at last that man of sin was fully revealed, the compromises which had restrained the full growth and revelation of slavery being taken away, then came the hour of its destruction.

II. THERE IS ALWAYS, THEREFORE, REASON FOR HOPE WHEN WE SEE SOME EVIL THING COMING OUT OF ITS CONCEALMENT, and making its power felt with a more shameless impudence. Whether it be intemperance, the power of the saloon, or greed, or lust, or monopoly, or anarchy. This law is a reason for hope and courage in all Christian work. Something may have given you a moment's revelation of the mystery of iniquity in your neighbourhood, and discouraged, you are tempted to say What is the use of our feeble endeavour against such powers of evil? Or you may have run against some dead wall of indifference, or custom, or wrong method entrenched in some good institution, and because rebuffed where you expected sympathy you either drop the work or continue with heartlessness. But you have furled to look up until you saw some bit of God's sky at the end of your way. If we are sure we have seen the wrong and harm, we may be sure that it will be manifest in time, and that in time what hinders its revelation will be removed, and then it shall be consumed in the brightness of the Lord's Coming. This is the reason why the men who really have seen evil things, and fought mightily against them, as a rule have been not only the bravest men, the self sacrificing, the martyrs, but also the cheeriest and most hopeful men. It is the indifferent man, he who does not lift a finger to take any burden from men's shoulders, who fears that his country is going to destruction, as it might do for aught he does.

III. THE SAME PRINCIPLE OBTAINS WITH REFERENCE TO OUR INDIVIDUAL SALVATION. Sins one after another come to revelation in our lives, and, as they are revealed will be consumed in some manifestation of Christ. A man goes on in a life that was not satisfactory to his conscience or heart. Something happens to bring that dissatisfaction to revelation. He sees a larger, diviner self rising before his present self, condemning it, and ready to consume it as by the presence of Christ. That is a crisis for any man. And if we disown the man of sin in us, and own the Christ self, we are converted. And every time any sin comes to revelation is God's opportunity of grace. When it Teaches its full measure it may not prove to be a vehement passion, or devouring beast, but only some little meanness, selfishness, etc. But at last we see it as an evil thing, contrary to God. Then let it be consumed in the presence of Christ. "Behold now is the accepted time." And the progress upward is one of ever increasing quickness of perception of evil and power over sin.

IV. Such is the benign law of growth and grace; BUT ITS ALTERNATIVE CANNOT BE ESCAPED. If the man of sin in us is revealed, and we will not let him go, what then? The sin must be punished. God cannot hold heaven safe in one hand, and let the sin of the world escape from the other. The man of sin must be destroyed, and if we cling to it how can God separate us from its fate? We must go where sin goes, if our hearts cleave to the sin. That is so in this world, why should it be different in any ether? All dishonesties go straight and sure towards ruin, and eventually carry the defaulters with them. Hence the urgency of the gospel to us now.

(Newman Smyth, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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:

WEB: Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will kill with the breath of his mouth, and destroy by the manifestation of his coming;

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