God could have annihilated the devil and his angels when they revolted against Him in Heaven, but that would not have proven God right and the devil wrong. Likewise, God could have annihilated man—Adam and Eve—when we rebelled against Him in the Garden of Eden, but that would not have proven God right and man wrong. What God has done instead is described by the Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 as “the mystery of iniquity.” The “mystery of iniquity” is found in the fact that God is allowing iniquity (sin) to take place so as to provide both fallen angels and fallen men with enough time and rope to hang themselves.
Whereas most men believe that Satan desires to be a fiend, nothing could be further from the truth. He actually desires, as his revolt against God in Heaven proves (Isaiah 14:12-14), to usurp the throne of God and to be worshiped as God. Although all evil in the world is traceable back to him—the evil one— evil should be seen more as Satan’s failure than his success.
Evil is the inevitable result of anything done apart from God, who alone is “good” (Mark 10:18) and apart from whom no good can be done. Just as darkness is nothing more than the absence of light, evil is nothing more than the absence of God—good. Therefore, God is not the author of evil, but proven by it to be the only source of good, since evil is both inevitable in God’s absence and impossible in His presence.
Just as Satan does not desire to be the fiend behind all evil, but to be worshiped as God and the source of all good, fallen man does not desire to create Hell on earth, but Heaven on earth. Ever since the Tower of Babel fallen man has been attempting to create his own Heaven on earth through a one world government and his own way to Heaven through a one world religion. However, all he has ever been able to do is create Hell on earth and false
religions which have spawned untold evils upon the human race. Try as he may, fallen man cannot do right or good.
In Romans 3:10, the Apostle Paul wrote, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” Then, two verses later, he added, “There is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:12). Despite his good intentions and best efforts, evil is the inevitable result of all fallen man does apart from God. This incontestable scriptural truth has been empirically proven by all of recorded human history. Truly, the blame for evil in the world should be laid at the feet of fallen man rather than at the feet of God. In fact, evil proves that man’s only hope of good or coming to a good end is found in Jesus Christ alone.
As hard as it may be for you to accept, Jesus taught that iniquity is not just being allowed to take place, but “to abound” (Matthew 24:12). It will, according to our Lord, increase over time rather than diminish. The Apostle Paul warned us that “the last days” would be “perilous times” because “evil men [will] wax worse and worse” (2 Timothy 3:1, 13).
As Paul hints at in 2 Thessalonians 2:7, iniquity will increase toward the end of time as the God ordained institutions designed by God to restrain evil in our world are “taken out of the way.” Contrary to popular opinion, the restrainer of evil spoken of by the Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 is not the Holy Spirit of God. Although the Bible clearly teaches that the indwelling Holy Spirit restrains the Christian from sinning, nowhere does it teach that the Holy Spirit restrains sin in the world. In fact, as we’ve already pointed out, Jesus predicted that iniquity would be ever increasing in the world.
The restrainer Paul is referring to in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 is the God ordained institution of government. In particular, Paul is speaking specifically in this verse about the Roman Caesars, who restrained the “man of sin”—the pope of the Roman Catholic church—from appearing and becoming the most powerful figure in the world during the Dark Ages. Until the Caesars ceased to rule and reign over the Roman Empire, the Bishop of Rome could not feign to be Christ’s vicar and viceroy upon the earth. According to Paul, it is the God ordained institution of government that restrains sin in the world by fulfilling its God-given role of protecting the righteous and punishing the evildoer (Romans 13:1 -7).
In Luke 17:26, Jesus said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man.” Now, Christ is unquestionably speaking here of the fact that men will continue right along in their rebellion against God until the day of His return, just as they did in the pre-diluvian world until Noah entered the ark and the flood came. However, I can’t help but believe that there is more to our Savior’s comparison of the days before His coming with the days before the flood than readily meets the eye.
What were the days of Noah like? According to Genesis 6:5, 11, they were days of unrestrained evil and violence. Why? Was it not because they were days that preceded God’s institution of human government? Government was not ordained by God until after the flood. It was in Genesis 9:6 that God ordained human government as a restrainer of evil by giving to it the sword of capital punishment. God handed government the authority to execute the evildoer for crimes of violence in order to prevent the world from reverting back to the unrestrained evil and violence of pre-diluvian times.
If Jesus is implying in this prediction that the earth will revert back to days of unrestrained evil and violence before His return, then, we must ask ourselves how such a thing could happen in today’s civilized world. What was once unimaginable is suddenly plausible and possibly looming. For instance, governments around the world today are actually beginning to reverse their God-ordained role. Rather than protecting the righteous and punishing the evildoer they are actually beginning to punish the righteous and protect the evildoer. Governments everywhere today are granting special rights and protections to evildoers, while at the same time threatening the righteous with the double-edged sword of civil litigation for discrimination and criminal prosecution for hate crimes.
Are we not on the fast track back to days of unrestrained evil and violence when governments begin doing the opposite of what God has ordained them to do? Instead of protecting the righteous and punishing the evildoer, modern-day governments are suppressing the righteous and spurring on the sinner.
The other two divinely ordained institutions designed by God to restrain evil in the world are the home and the church. Both, like government, are being “taken out of the way.” The home is being replaced by the so-called “modern family” and the contemporary church is conforming to today’s politically correct culture rather than serving as its preserver (salt) and conscience (light). Far from transforming society, which is what it ought to do, today’s church is being transformed by society.
The removal of the God-ordained restrainers of evil, the increase of iniquity, and the waxing worse and worse of evil men are most foreboding for the future. Truly, dangerous times have come and dark days are ahead. Still, the Bible teaches us that the “iniquity” and “transgressors” of the earth will soon “come to the full” (Genesis 15:16; Daniel 8:23). The full “measure of sin” will be reached when a final generation “fills up” the “guilt” of its own, as well as all preceding generations (Matthew 23:32; 1 Thessalonians 2:16). It is then that the “grapes” of “the vine of the earth” will be “fully ripe” for the “sickle” and ready to be “thrown into the great winepress of the wrath of God” (Revelation 14:17- 19).
When that day comes, the Apostle Paul teaches us that God will forever be “justified”—proven right about everything—and His Word proven “true” (Romans 3:4). At the same time, all who ever opposed God, both fallen angels and fallen man, will be proven wrong and “liars.” It is against this black backdrop painted by fallen angels and man, whom God is using to prove Himself just and true, that the glory of God will shine ever brighter throughout all eternity.
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