Thursday, October 12, 2006

Who is the antichrist? Part 5

From previous discussions on the Bible’s mention of antichrist, it is becoming clear that the Bible does NOT point to one future Mr. Evil. While there may be rulers of a one world government and a worldly religious system who are evil and do promote the spirit of antichrist, the Bible makes it clear that there currently are, and will continue to be, many antichrists in the world. In this posting we’re going to discuss Paul’s mention of a “man of sin” mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. Since this verse is used by millions to confirm one future man who is antichrist, we need to look closely at this piece of Scripture.

We continue from “End Time Delusions”:

Appearances are often deceiving. –Aesop

Paul called antichrist, “the man of sin” (2 Thessalonians 2:3). It is primarily because of this phrase that millions have concluded that the word, “antichrist”, must ultimately apply to only one Mr. Wicked. Apocalyptic Christian films like the Omega Code, A Thief in the Night, Tribulation, Judgment and Megiddo all reflect the same idea. Is it true? Will there be only one man who becomes antichrist? Is this what Paul really meant?

Previously, we discovered that John wrote about “many antichrists” (1 John 2:18), and “that spirit of antichrist” (1 John 4:3). He also revealed that anyone who denies “the doctrine of Christ” (2 John 9) is “a deceiver and an antichrist” (2 John 7). Therefore, the idea of only one Mr. Sinister as the antichrist fails the biblical test. So what did Paul mean when he referred to “the man of sin”? Doesn’t this refer to a single person?

First of all, Paul uses other phrases in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 to describe this same antichrist, such as “the son of perdition” (vs. 3), “the mystery of lawlessness” (vs. 7), and “that Wicked” (vs. 8). In Daniel’s parallel prophecy, this same abominable horror is also called a “little horn” (Daniel 7:8); and in the Book of Revelation it is labeled “the beast” (Revelation 13:2). Almost everyone agrees these words and phrases apply to the same thing. The big question is: Do they all apply to only one evil person as is commonly taught, or do they point to something wider and deeper – to something most prophecy teachers aren’t telling us about?

Notice carefully, Daniel did not say the little horn would be a man, but rather it would have “eyes like the eyes of a man: (Daniel 7:8). Eyes of intelligence. In the Book of Revelation, the same horn is called “the beast”. Here’s a key question: How does Daniel 7 define a beast? There is no need to guess or to pull an interpretation out of a hat. An angelic interpreter explained to Daniel, “….the fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth” (vs. 23). What is a beast? A man? No. A beast is a kingdom! That’s what the angel said.

Let’s go back to Paul’s prophecy. A careful study of 2 Thessalonians 2 actually reveals the utter impossibility of “the man of sin” applying to only one person. First of all, Paul said that in his own day this very same “mystery of lawlessness [was] already at work” (vs. 7). Thus this predicted antichrist was already becoming active in the first century. Paul was also very emphatic that this “mystery” would continue all the way down to the second coming of Jesus Christ (vs. 8). Put the pieces together. How could this refer to only one human being? He would have to be 2,000 years old!

Did Paul ever use this expression, “the man”, in any of his other writings in such a way that it does not refer to one individual? Yes indeed. Paul wrote:

All Scripture is given by inspiration from God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17, emphasis added).

Look carefully. Does the phrase, “the man of God”, in 2 Timothy 3:17 refer to only one holy human who might have a name like Joe, Bill or Frank? No. Instead, it refers to a succession of Godly men throughout history who become “complete” or “perfect” through obeying the Word of God.

In Romans 13:4, Paul also used the phrase, “the minister of God”, to refer to all civil officers throughout history whom God uses to restrain evil. Therefore, if we let Paul’s own writings interpret themselves, his unique phrase “the man of sin” (2 Thessalonians 2:3), need not apply to one supremely wicked person. What might it apply to? In the illuminating light of 2 Timothy 3:17 and Romans 13:4, “the man of sin” can properly apply to a historical succession of other men who follow tradition above the Word of Truth.

This antichrist doctrine of the religious traditions of men versus the Word of God is a topic of the utmost importance. The Bible tells us these antichrists “went out from us” (1 John 2:19), meaning that they appear to be Christians, but are not. They are, in fact, the enemy. How can they deceptively pull people away from the doctrine of Jesus Christ while appearing to be Christ-like? By subtly, over time, instilling false doctrines and man-made religious traditions that are accepted as Biblical, when they are not. This line of reasoning will eventually lead us to the answer of who the “beast out of the sea” of Revelation and the “little horn” of Daniel is.

The question we must all ask ourselves is this…..does the church I attend adhere to Biblical doctrine only? Have man-made religious rituals and traditions crept into our teachings and worship? Do we pray to God and God only? Do we pray in the manner taught by Christ? How can you tell? You must read the Bible and discern. The enemy has deceptively led many of us astray and we do not know it. How? Because we have not read God’s word ourselves.

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