The lies we tell our kids – 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, Part 4

We live in an era of conspiracy theories. A comedian said that he hears people say that not a single conspiracy theory is true, and that we can trust the government.  But, he said, the government is like a parent to the people, and how many of you parents tell your kids the truth all the time?  He said, “I lie to my kids constantly.”  He’s kidding of course, but his point is well-taken.  Think about the lies we tell our kids.

“Santa Claus is coming soon, so you better be on your best behavior.”

“You can be anything you want to be.”

One person online admitted, “The most creative lies I tell as a parent come from when my kids discover their artwork in the trash can.”

As we continue our Advent study of 2 Thessalonians, Paul has been talking about a lie that the Thessalonians heard. Someone, impersonating Paul, wrote them a letter claiming they missed out on Jesus’ return. In 2 Thessalonians 2, Paul is responding to that lie, saying that Jesus didn’t return, because the Lawless One had not been revealed. In verse 9, Paul writes that the Lawless One’s advent or arrival, his coming, will be according to the working of Satan in power, and with miracles and wonders, but they will be lies.  Paul is not saying that these works will be fake, necessarily.  Paul is not talking about a magician who does not have any real power.  Instead the manifestation of Satan’s wickedness, through the lawless one, will be real.  But the powerful deeds the lawless one does are meant to deceive people to trust in the lies of Satan rather than trusting in the truth of God and righteousness.

That is Paul’s point in verse 10, “Do not be deceived by evil.  Instead salvation is only by loving the truth.”  As if to drive this point home, Paul writes in verses 11-12, God allows people to be deceived.  The way the NIV translates this makes it sound like God is doing a horrible thing, that God himself is deceiving people.  We know, though, that God is not a deceiver or a tempter, as James clearly writes in James 1.  So what is Paul trying to say here?  It seems that Paul is probably talking about God as allowing deception.  God allows there be sin in the world.  He allows there to be an evil one in the world, and that evil one is a deceiver.

At the same time, God has actively sent truth into the world.  So Paul’s great concern in these 12 verses is that the Thessalonian Christians pursue the truth, believe the truth and act on the truth, and that they are not deceived.

Paul assures them that Jesus has not returned.  Paul did not write them the letter claiming that Jesus has returned.  Furthermore, they need not fear because even if the lawless one arrives in their lifetime, Jesus is easily able to defeat him.  So love the truth.  Do not be deceived.  Do not fear.

Like the comedian above mentioned, at least some conspiracy theories are likely based in truth.  We can be deceived and not know it, which is the whole point of deception! Consider this Dove video. 

Advertisers lie to us a lot.  In fact, advertising lies are so prevalent and so damaging, especially to young girls who see the images and grow an expectation that they have to look like the women in the images.  Except that those women don’t exist!  There is a movement to legally require printed disclaimers on art that has been modified. 

A legal disclaimer is great, but are there other ways we Christians can avoid being deceived? We’ll talk about that in the next post.

Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash

Published by joelkime

I love my wife, Michelle, and our four kids and two daughters-in-law. I serve at Faith Church and love our church family. I teach a course online from time to time, and in my free time I love to read and exercise, especially running,

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