"6: And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
7: For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
8: And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
9: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
10: And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
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."
These verses prophecy what to expect in the end times (the end of things as we know them today.) There is a man of sin coming who will convince the world that there really is no sin. There is also a Restrainer in the world today who prevents him from gaining total control until the time God allows it.
Verse 6: "And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time." The full manifestation of the man of sin is being restrained now, and will continue to be restrained until the appointed time.
The Holy Spirit indwelling the believer fits the description of the restrainer more accurately than any other. As early as Genesis 6:3, the Holy Spirit is spoken of in connection with the restraint of evil. When the Holy Spirit, who indwells the church and the individual believers, leaves the world, the restraint of lawlessness will be gone.
The Holy Spirit can use human government to restrain lawlessness, but government can be lawless and by itself it doesn't restrain opposition to God. In fact, at times some governments oppose God and the Christians. The Church is made up of individual Believers and is indwelt and guided by the Holy Spirit. It is the only power that can effectively check both lawlessness and opposition to God.
This includes social and political lawlessness as well as every other form of opposition to God.
Verse 7: "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way."
Lawlessness is already at work but the man of sin is not yet revealed. When he comes, he will bring about a condition of total lawlessness and opposition to God.
Satan had previously rebelled against God, and in the Garden of Eden he convinced Adam and Eve to do the same. He told them the lie that "ye shall be as God." He told them that eating fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would make them equal with God, their Creator.
People like this are recorded throughout human history: Nimrod, Nebuchadnezzar, and others all bear witness that Satan has tried to bring forth his “man of sin." But in one way or another, God has prevented this every time.
Nebuchadnezzar, who at one time claimed to be God, later , published through-out his realm, and it states he turned to God in faith.
The "mystery of iniquity" refers to the fact that Satan will raise up a man to represent him and he will give him "his power, and his throne, and great authority." He is identified as the Antichrist, the first beast of Revelation 13. God has restrained Satan from prematurely raising up of his representative, "the man of sin."
The "mystery of godliness," in total contrast, is that God was made manifest as the Son of God in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In contrast to the man of sin, the Lord Jesus was invited by God to take His seat at God’s right hand, "expecting till his enemies be made his footstool." (Hebrews 10:13).
We believe that the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Believer today is the restraining influence. Some have difficulty in considering that the restraining power is the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit may be removed from the earth at the Rapture. There never was a time when the Holy Spirit wasn't active in the world, but we need to remember that there was a time when He was sent to the Believers in the world for a specific purpose.
The function of the Holy Spirit as the Restrainer, will, we believe, be over in regard to the Believers of the church age and He will no longer function in that capacity when the Lord comes in the Rapture of the church. Since He is omnipresent, He will still be in the world, convicting people of sin and leading them to saving faith in Christ during the Tribulation period.
There was a time when the Son of God entered the world, and there was the time when Christ went back to heaven. It was at that time the Holy Spirit came with a specific calling. In John 16, it states that He came "to convince the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment, and to guide believers into all the truth." This is His special ministry during this dispensation of God’s grace, and when that is finished, He'll be taken away in the same sense in which He came at Pentecost, and He'll continue to work like He did before Pentecost.
Jesus repeatedly promised that He and the Father would send the Spirit to indwell the church and every believer and the Holy Spirit has dwelt in all Believers since Pentecost. Before Pentecost the Spirit was, at times, known to depart from some. David prayed, “Do not take your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalms 51:llb). The Spirit departed from Saul. After Pentecost the Spirit indwells believers of the Church Age permanently. John 14:16. "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever."
When the church is Raptured, the Holy Spirit will not be taken out of the world, otherwise nobody could be saved during the Tribulation. It will be the termination of His duty as the Restrainer. His function as Restrainer will cease and that will allow Satan and his forces to go to work. At the time of the Rapture, there will be no Believers left on earth to indwell.
The people who are saved during the Tribulation will not be members of the church, but will be Christ’s subjects in His Kingdom during the Millennial reign.
The mystery of iniquity will continue to work in a controlled form until God permits the
manifestation of the Wicked one from verse 8. This will seem like a triumph for Satan,
but Satan's victory is going to be short-lived, about 7 years. When the Lord comes back and following His 1,000 year reign,
Satan, will be thrown into the lake of fire forever, who seemed like the victor for that short time.
Revelation 20:7-10 7: And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
8: And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
9: And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
10: And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."
When Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians, the mystery of lawlessness was already at work but not yet fully manifested. It is still at work in the same state as then, and will be until the Rapture.
Verse 8. "And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:"
The "Wicked" of verse 8 is the Antichrist. There would be many antichrists throughout history, but this clearly indicates one who is given unusual power from Satan, and who will fulfill the prophetical Scriptures relating to this “man of sin” or “lawless one.” The first beast of Revelation 13 is the Antichrist. The second beast is the False Prophet.
Paul didn't tell about the career of the Antichrist in verse 8. He gives us a description of how the Lord will judge the "Wicked one." "The Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming."
It almost sounds as if he will be destroyed as soon as he is revealed, but he will be allowed to conduct the reign of terror described in verses 9-12 for seven years. Then he will be defeated by Christ when He comes to reign for a thousand years.
Verse 9: "Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,"
The coming of the Wicked one, called the Antichrist, is the work of Satan. His career resembles Satan's career because his power comes from Satan. He'll do all kinds of miracles and signs and lying wonders.
All miracles are not of God. The devil and his servants can perform miracles. The magicians of Egypt performed miracles when Moses confronted Pharaoh. The man of lawlessness will also be able to perform them. (Revelation 13: 13-15). A miracle indicates supernatural power but that power doesn't necessarily come from God.
The miracles that Jesus did proved He was the promised Messiah, because they fulfilled prophecy from Scripture. Satan couldn't have done them without harming his own cause because they were of a moral nature.
Verses 9 and 10 give us a description of the works that depict the fullness of Satanic power. In Revelation 13 Satan gave power to the first Beast, the Antichrist, but verse 12 of that chapter shows that this is shared with the second Beast, who is the False Prophet. All their activity is "after the working of Satan."
This shows that power alone isn't proof that a person or work is of God. During the Tribulation, Satan's power will be used for nothing but evil and to deceive people.
In Deuteronomy 13, the Israelites were warned against false prophets or “dreamers of dreams” who would use "a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass." God warned them that they would lead them astray. He permitted this to test their faithfulness to Him.
The expression "lying wonders" means to cause things to happen that appear to be works of God, but in reality are the false works of Satan.
In Acts 2:22, Peter described the works of Christ as this: "a man demonstrated of God to you by deeds of power, and wonders, and signs, which God wrought by him in your midst, even as ye yourselves know." Jesus' works were done with His true power as the Son of God, while those of the man of sin are done to support a lie and their purpose is to keep men from believing the truth of God.
Verse 10: "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved."
In Romans 1, God gave those who didn't want to retain Him in their knowledge up to believe a lie. When time ends, their rejection of God will cause them to feel the full power of His wrath and that will prove that Satan’s claims are false. They "received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved."
The Antichrist will use every form of evil possible to deceive the people. If those who heard the gospel during the Age of Grace had believed, they would have been saved. Instead, they will believe the Antichrist then and be deceived by his miracles and lies.
Verse 11. "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:" God is going to allow man his own free will to choose between Him and Satan. God will "send strong delusion" to those who choose Satan and they'll believe they chose right in choosing Satan above God. In other words, God isn't going to argue, He will just allow them their choice.
The lies of Satan will convince them that no vice will be considered wrong and no one will be ashamed of any lust or immorality of any kind. Sin will not be recognized as sin.
If they reject the truth of God, they will have no defense against Satan. This will result in judgment by God and will result in eternal damnation in the Lake of Fire.
Verse 12. "That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
This verse states that those who hear the gospel in this Age of Grace but don't trust Christ, won't have another opportunity to be saved after the Rapture. It excludes the idea that, after the Church is caught up to heaven, those who have heard God’s Word but didn't believe it will see their mistake and turn to Christ. This Scripture says clearly that "all that believed not the truth might be damned." The word "believed" is also in the past tense meaning that it will be too late then.
These people will not be able to believe that He is the Christ at this time. God, very likely through the Holy Spirit, will actually enable them to believe the lie of the Antichrist when he claims to be God. If they don't believe the Lord Jesus now, they'll believe the Antichrist then. They will be judged because of their unbelief and their love of evil. Instead of receiving "the love of the truth" and being saved, they "had pleasure in unrighteousness."
He has warned men, “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me: if another comes in his own name, him you will receive” (John 5:43).
They rejected Christ when He came in the Name of God, but they will receive the man of sin who will come in his own name and he will demand they worship him as God.
Revelation 7 shows that there will be a great multitude, including both Jews and Gentiles, who will be saved during the Tribulation period.
In view of this verse, it's not certain if these will be from a new generation that will be born after the Rapture, or possibly some who have never heard, or rejected the Gospel previous to the Rapture.
We know that 144,000 Jews will be saved during the Tribulation period and these will preach the gospel to the world. Many Jews and Gentiles will be saved through their ministry.