2 Thessalonians 2 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Lauren Kwon, Gracepoint Berkeley

Satan is often depicted as the great deceiver, and particularly in the last days, he will be actively at work in steering people away from the truth of the Gospel through all sorts of counterfeit means.  What examples of counterfeit expectations are prevalent in today’s society that steer people away from the truth (e.g. basis of happiness, promise of satisfaction, etc.)?

-Pursue my happiness because I deserve to be happy. Be true to myself. I should love myself. Trust myself, depend on myself.

-No one should impose their beliefs on me. No one should tell me what to do. I alone determine my life.

-Materialism and consumerism. Buy things that make me happy.

-Find happiness in romantic relationships through casual dating. Satisfy our lust, need for security and self-worth by engaging in relationships with people of the opposite gender. Forget marriage and commitment, which seem too archaic and boring for our modern society.

-Take care of myself and my family. Secure my children’s future and make sure they are on the fastrack to acceptance from a top-notch university.

-Life is unpredictable so I need to protect myself and my family financially. I need to make more money, be savvy with my investments, and build walls of protection around myself.

-Build my self-esteem, self-image. Change my image depending on who I need to impress and what I want to obtain.

-Satisfy my ambition by pursuing the highest achievement possible in academics and career. Then I will receive the respect I deserve.

-Life is unpredictable, resources are limited. I have enough problems of my own to worry about. I don’t have any room for anyone else’s problems.

Why is the truth found in the Gospel forfeited so readily today?

The truth found in the gospel is to acknowledge God and live a life of love, sacrifice, and self-denial, taking up my cross daily to follow Jesus. This truth is so readily forfeited today because I live in a world that upholds naturalism, individualism, and exalts and worships the self. The gospel truth dethrones the self and places God back on the throne of our lives. The gospel truth acknowledges the most fundamental truth that God is the Creator of heaven and earth. God created me, breathed life into me, and every day my life is sustained by nothing of my own doing, but everything that God has provided….the air I breathe, my basic needs of water, food, shelter, beauty of creation all around me, relationships with other people, and the proper functioning of my body/mind/heart, my very own life. Instead of giving thanks to God, in today’s society, we have rejected God who created us, we worship created and man-made things, and live to please our own desires and appetites.

As a Christian I forfeit the gospel truth when my life revolves around me, and my Christian commitment wavers depending on my life circumstances. It was easy to make commitments to God when I was young and had little worries.  However, as I get older and experience setbacks, personal moral failures, health problems, difficulties at work, mundane life with child-rearing and endless house chores, disappointments and difficulties in ministry, hurt in relationships, my natural instinct is to try to control my present life and fear the future. My instinct is to hoard my time and energy, use my resources to fix my problems, focus on myself and become anxious and stressed. I start to view Christian life as how God can benefit me and improve my life, instead of how I ought to acknowledge and worship God. I complain and demand God to give me the life that I want, rather than to serve Him with the life He’s given me. I want God to take away problems, pains and hurts rather than to learn through them that God is sovereign and have greater faith. I worry and become anxious as if God cannot be trusted with my life and the lives of people I love. The gospel truth is that I am made for God, and God is worthy of my whole life regardless of the circumstances. And when I acknowledge this truth and live to please God, I actually experience wholeness, peace, and joy.

Another way that the gospel truth is forfeited is when I am confronted of sin in my life and I reject the truth about myself. Instead of humbly acknowledging my sinfulness, examining my own heart and repenting, I become defensive, give other explanations/excuses, blame others, and engage in other ways to deflect the truth. I fluctuate back and forth between feeling justified by my excuses and a sense of self-pity and self-loathing. My sinful pride and ego refuses to die and demands to be soothed and comforted. The result is that the Word of God, correction, and wisdom is rejected.

How can I guard myself so that I will not end up ‘delighting in wickedness’ (v.12)?

v. 10 They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

v. 13 …from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.

I can guard myself by strengthening my belief in and love of the truth by surrounding myself with people who speak the truth to me, not people who tell me what I want to hear and comfort me. I need leaders who are older and wiser in Christian life to guide me and tell me the truth about myself. I need to be committed to hearing this truth and trusting that this is a loving thing they are doing for me by telling me the truth about myself. Instead of deflecting the truth, I commit to reflecting on the truth, examining my heart and values, letting it sink in, and asking God to forgive me and do this sanctifying work of the Spirit in my life.

v. 15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

I can guard myself by standing firm and holding to the teachings passed down to me. How do I listen to messages, Bible studies, prayer meetings, and other teachings I receive? Paul commands the Thessalonians to “hold to the teachings passed on to [them].” Instead of passively listening to messages and forgetting them afterwards, I need to listen with the intention of holding onto them so that I can stand firm in my faith. Paul repeats this command to stand firm many times in his letters because there are many obstacles and it is not easy to do. I live in a society with values that forfeit the gospel truth. I am a sinner and my default is to reject truth that makes me uncomfortable. I am well-trained in mental gymnastics and emotional maneuvers that deflect truth. So, when I listen to the messages and bible studies, I have to be alert. I have to do honest assessment of my life, and apply the messages to my life.

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Submitted by Hyunjung Yu, Gracepoint Berkeley

Some examples of the counterfeits that steer people away from the truth are the fallen standards of morality/rejection of moral standards (nobody’s perfect vs. the truth that I am a sinner), the notion of science/naturalism as superior as absolute (it cannot be trusted unless it’s proven scientifically vs. the truth that there is a spiritual world), people’s disconnect and neglect of the inner world and focusing too much on the exterior world ( I need to focus on my academics, job and goals vs. the truth that I really need is the grace and forgiveness of God)

Why is the truth found in the Gospel forfeited so readily today? The gospel is easily steered away because the society emphasizes and focuses so much on the things that are seen whereas the Gospel’s promise and assurance lies in the unseen and to our generation who are engrossed in the visually-enriched, shallow culture and media, the unseen, non-immediate isn’t really a priority . Another reason is because of foolishness of people living as if death is a far and distant reality in their life and the promises of the Gospel don’t seem that attractive. Even for those who are concerned about the spiritual world and death, they still steer away from the Gospel because living by the Gospel goes against the grain of their desires for wealth, ambition, pleasures etc.  The Gospel is forfeited by believers who want to create a more attractive version of it by watering it down and giving them false hopes that they can gain wealth and pleasures through it.

How can I guard myself so that I will not end up ‘believe the lie’ (v.11) or ‘delighting in wickedness’ (v.12)? 2Thess 2 talks a lot about the power of the lies and counterfeit signs and how believing in them ends up in delighting in wickedness and condemnation. How does one end up being deceived and believing in lies? Is it just because the distractions of the world and the devils schemes (power of the delusion, Satan’s miracles, and the lawless one’s secret power) are so overwhelming that there’s no way to reject these lies? 2Thess 2 says that ultimately people believe in lies(v.11) because they refuse to love and believe the truth (V.10, 12). I think it’s very true in my life as well. I believe in lies when I am too lazy to examine my sinful thoughts and beliefs and lose the chance of repenting and replace them with the thoughts and ways of God. I end up reinforcing these lies when I don’t confess them because of my pride and turn away from people who can correct and instruct me. I become deluded when I reject the truth that is harsh and want to remain in the soothing and comforting thoughts about myself and my life. But on the other hand, there are so many channels/tools through which I can live a life of truth and avoid delighting in wickedness. I have been taught by my leaders and other Christians not to merely accept the expectations, tradition or norms and lies of this world but to always bring biblical discernment to it. If I have the willingness to embrace the truth, I also have the powerful tools like the Word of God, prayer and an abundant source of truth and wisdom in God’s community. I have people whom I can receive help from through confession and correction in avoiding wicked thoughts and deeds. I can also be motivated by the promise and sobering warning in God’s Word that He will reveal all that is lawless and wicked at the proper time and that though the wrong may seem right in this day and age, ultimately He is in control and will make things right.

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One Response to “2 Thessalonians 2 Devotion Sharing”

  1. Andrew C says:

    I got a lot out of reading this sharing.

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