A Strong Delusion from God
“Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”- 2 Thessalonians 2:11–12
“Do I love the truth?” In light of the Bible’s teaching on truth and salvation, we should be asking ourselves this question on a regular basis. After all, when we do not love the truth, we will be deceived. Paul makes this point in 2 Thessalonians 2:9–10 in his discussion of the man of lawlessness, the final Antichrist or at least one who embodies the spirit of antichrist. When this man of lawlessness comes, his “false signs and wonders” will deceive those who are perishing in their sin, those whom Paul says refuse “to love the truth and so be saved.” If we will not love the truth, we will not savingly embrace the truth, and if we do not savingly embrace the truth, eternal condemnation is our end.
Thus, we see that knowing the truth is insufficient. Even demons know the truth (James 2:19), but they do not love the truth or the One who is truth incarnate, Jesus Christ our Lord (John 14:6). Love of truth is essential, and today’s passage tells us that if we do not love the truth, the Lord will give us over to untruth. He will send “a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false” (2 Thess. 2:11). Paul is speaking of those who follow the man of lawlessness, the one who manifests the spirit of antichrist, who must come before Jesus returns. Yet, as the spirit of antichrist is already now in the world (1 John 4:3), Paul’s words apply to all who reject the Lord and do not love the truth even if they never see the man of lawlessness.
Let us recognize, then, the dreadful judgment of God who will give us what we want if we do not love the truth. Our Creator does not withhold from the reprobate what they want but, in fact, gives them what they desire—deception and delusion—which bears fruit in their further sin and condemnation. Augustine of Hippo comments: “From a hidden judgment of God comes perversity of heart, with the result that refusal to hear the truth leads to commission of sin, and this sin is also punishment for preceding sin. For to believe a lie and not believe the truth is indeed sin, but it comes from the blindness of heart which by a hidden but just judgment of God is also punishment for sin.”
On the other hand, belief in falsehood cannot persist forever in those who love God and His truth. If we love the truth, the Lord will in fact deepen our understanding of the truth (Matt. 13:10–17). John Calvin comments that false doctrines “have no power except among those who do not love God with a sincere heart.”
Since the fall, none of us by nature—except Christ—can love the truth. Only if the Lord gives us a new heart and mind in His sovereign act of regeneration will we love the truth (John 3:1–8). And once we have been given the love of truth, we should ask the Lord regularly to increase our love of the truth. Let us do so this day, praying that God will sustain our love for His Word and His truth and allow it to grow.
Passages for Further Study
1 Kings 22:1–40