For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
2Thessalonians 2:11-12 (NASB)
This is a tough passage, not because it is hard to understand; the meaning is abundantly clear. It is tough because it is such a stern warning for what awaits those who insist upon loving the lie and hating the truth; nobody “plays” God for a fool.
Paul has made it quite clear in verses 9-10 that those who fall to Satan’s deceit have done so by their own choice, and let no man suggest that these poor little dears are victims. We know this because the Thessalonians did not allow themselves to fall into this wickedness, for they also had choices to make, and they chose to remain faithful to the truth of God even through persecution; nobody was forced to persecute them and their persecutors did so of their own free will. If you want to be deceived, God will grant you deception.
This is not unique in Scripture. Remember the story of Pharaoh and Moses where Pharaoh kept making the wrong choice and God hardened his heart? Remember when Saul’s stubborn disobedience to God resulted in God sending an evil spirit to trouble him? How about Paul’s discussion in Romans 1 about God giving people over to idolatry and degeneracy because they chose not to have knowledge of God? (Rom. 1:18-22)
I used to tell students that God is pro choice to an audible gasp, and complete the sentence by adding that He expects us to make the right choice. God has granted us the ability to choose our way right to the gates of hell if we want to, but if we do that, there are consequences.
Yep, this is a tough couple of verses, make no mistake, but what would you have God do? I guess He could have made us robots instead of humans with free will, but I’m glad He didn’t do that. However, that isn’t the whole picture, is it? God has done everything to save us from ourselves, and when we accept His grace we are welcomed as children of God with open and loving arms, and He pours out blessing upon blessing. His patience, love and mercy are unfathomable, yet He is still God, and if our response to His grace is our middle finger in His face, we will have problems.
Paul isn’t quite finished just yet however, and good things are coming our way as he concludes this chapter!