by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 7 January 3, 2016 Humble, Texas
11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
1901 ASV Translation:
11 And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie:
12 that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
I. God's Response To Willful Neglect.
A. Paul claims that multitudes "received not" (did not embrace) "the love of the truth" so that they remained "unsaved".
B. Now he reveals God's reaction: He sends them a "working of wandering" so that they believe the lie".
1. So much for the modern distortion of Paul's claims that "God is not willing that any should perish" (2 Peter 3:9) and that "God wishes all men to be saved" (1 Timothy 2:4). Both texts are true within the boundaries of their own context, but neither is properly interpreted by many moderns who ignore the text before us.
2. The fact is that God is here declared to be actively involved in a present process (He "is sending": present tense verb) that underwrites a "faith" in "the lie". The question is, what is God actually "doing"?
a. Paul uses exactly the same word in 2:11 describing God's "sending" that he used in 2:9 describing the satan's production of the man of the lawlessness.
b. This parallel wording is a strong suggestion, along with the present tense of "sending", that God's permission of satan's "restrained successes" is how He is "sending" the "working of wandering".
1) The "working of wandering" is a figure of speech that possesses both the energizing force and the impact of that force within it. There is a potent energy involved and the outcome is that people are lost to the truth and "wander" about in the wastelands of "the lie".
2) This is a doubling down on the identity of "the restrainer": God's Spirit. He alone is able to "restrain" the energies of the satan, but He does so judiciously by forbidding some efforts that would bring the man of the lawlessness onto the stage of history too soon and by permitting some efforts that will bring this man into play in his own season, as determined by God.
3) Thus God's "sending" of an energetic error is current in that He is deciding which of satan's efforts He will permit to succeed and is a condemnation of those led astray by those efforts because the truth is present and available, but the deceived are simply not interested.
c. The intention of "the God" is that those "unbelievers" might "believe" something called "the lie".
1) The bottom line of all of the effectiveness of "righteousness"/"delusion" is what a person believes because of what he loves. All of the actions of both God and the satan in the Scriptures are tied to the twin issues of love and faith. God, because He is God, can, and often does, do things that stand outside of the love/faith issues of human involvement, but always we are commanded to "love" and "believe". Satan, on the other hand, is forcibly restrained by God so that he cannot do much if his delusions are not embraced.
2) The bottom line in our text is both a "value" and a "process". The "value" is identified as a "love for truth". In its absence, the "process", which the Bible calls "faith" is simply a matter of preference because of what one thinks might be his/her best approach to getting what he/she wants. The problems are manifold, but the chiefest is man's ignorance (he is not omniscient) and his inability to reason clearly ("wants" tend to dramatically overrule clear thinking). Given these two problems, satan has little difficulty with man and his "faith".
3) At issue in "preference" is what Paul calls "the lie": that "God" is most fundamentally a capricious user of power without immutable scruples. Man, in his preference for self rule, is automatically suspicious of anyone who can exercise the power to rule and is easily persuaded to accuse "God" of false motives.
II. The Outcome.
A. According to general principles alone, "unbelief", or "believing the lie", would produce an unmitigated disaster. In a cause/effect universe, the sowing of a "seed" will always lead to a "harvest" in harmony with the nature of the seed. The problem is, again, "immutability". There are many unchanging principles arising out of the immutable character of God that govern what happens as a consequence of disregard for those principles.
B. But, in addition to the general principles, Paul adds a deliberate divine input that guarantees the unmitigated disaster.
1. The disaster itself is called "condemnation".
a. The word so rendered is actually "they might be judged".
b. "Condemnation" is actually the strongly implied end result, but that is not what Paul wrote.
c. The significance is that Paul put the emphasis upon the process(es) of "judgment", not the outcome(s). It is one thing to be "condemned"; it is another to be subjected to the process of examination with a view to some outcome. At issue is the fact that the persons will have their "day in court" and it will not be pleasant.
2. The causes are identified.
a. On the one hand, they did not believe in the truth because they had no interest in its implied demands upon them in regard to "love" issues.
b. On the other hand, they were well-pleased with the "unrighteousness", which is just another way of saying that they did not care who gets hurt as long as it is not themselves.
c. In a setting of "the mystery of the lawlessness", it might be anticlimactic to press the idea of "judgment", but the actual fact is that the judgment has been slumbering for millennia under the watchful, but longsuffering, eyes of God, the "avenger" of all that is hurtful. Men are caught up in their own pleasures and attempt to ignore the coming reality of a day when they will be summoned by God into a perfect setting of justice in order to give an answer for their evil commitments.