The Divine Restraint

“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8)

“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work;” And those who’s eye can see and have minds that divide the truth can know the truth of the mystery, as it unfolds and is revealed. I have been blessed to have grown up in the United States, a nation of law and order, but now it has become a lawless desolation. Many thump their heads and place tongue in cheek and wonder why. I say it is because we have forsaken God. We have removed His Word from our society and ourselves from His house. Each election cycle we have our politicians who promise change and return to their office and effect the status quo. The chief executive who swore an oath to upon the laws picks and chooses which he will enforce and which he will bend. We have one running for the office of the President who in all likelihood will be indicted for crimes against the state before Election Day. That is crimes against the people of the United States. Who then do we look to for guidance.

We have become a nation based upon law formed by public opinion meaning the standard wavers with the flow of the wind. No one knows what is right and what is truth, as we believe that truth is determined by what we think. If we were that smart, then utopia would have been achieved many years ago. We wonder why there is little respect for life when we destroy human life while it harbors in the sanctity of the womb. No wonder the children cannot see the difference between killing before birth or after birth. We have lost the standard of God’s enduring Word and are floundering in the abyss of lawlessness.

We are in the age of apostasy and I believe the Divine Restraint is soon to be withdrawn and the man of lawlessness is soon to advance upon the world stage. “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3) Today we are still in the Church age, the age of God’s grace, but when the Divine Restraint is removed the world will be in the age of the Anti-Christ and the world will face the seven year tribulation and there will be no refuge. The question is who now is restraining the Anti-Christ?

There are three options that we will look at over the next few minutes. Some believe that it will be the Forth Kingdom revealed to us in the Book of Daniel in chapters 2 and 7. Others say that the Government of man will restrain the evil in the world from overcoming all decency and order. Others say that it is God Himself through His Holy Spirit. Let us together explore these options.

The first kingdom was Babylon which was destroyed by the second the Medo-Persians. Then came Alexander the Great leading the Greek empire and they destroyed the Medo-Persians. After the Greeks came the rise of Rome which was never defeated. The fourth kingdom is in power today and will revolve into a ten nation world government. The problem with this forth kingdom restraining the man of lawlessness is that the Anti-Christ will be empowered by Satan and no institution of man can stand against him. Also as we read in chapter seven of Daniel a little horn will grow from the ten and destroy the three that oppose it. Then the little horn which is unable to be defeated will rule the whole world. The forth kingdom ruled by the Anti-Christ will not defeat itself.

Presently human government is restraining lawlessness to some extent. One problem is that there are some governments that promote sinful behavior. Our own nation with recent Supreme Court rulings is becoming one of them. None the less as the end time approaches the nations of the world will form a one world order. Ten nations will join together and command authority over all. This is the revived Rome that will rule the world. There are those who believe that three of the kingdoms will be the restraint against the man of lawlessness. But as we read in Daniel these three kings will be destroyed by the Anti-Christ. “After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. “While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it; and behold, this horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth uttering great boasts.” (Daniel 7:7-8) The forth kingdom will be ruled by the Anti-Christ, the man of lawlessness.

Only the Holy Spirit can restrain and defeat Satan and the Anti-Christ. This explains the apostasy that is growing in the world today. As the masses forsake God fewer know the Holy Spirit. But the follower of Christ does know the Holy Spirit. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (John 16:13) “That is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (John 14:17)

The Christian is indwelled by the Holy Spirit. This is the very power of God living in and through the life of a believer in Jesus Christ. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that guides his every step, prepares the path before, convicts of sin, and is able to convict the sinner of the truth of God’s Word that He would be drawn to Jesus Christ for his salvation. It is the Holy Spirit that operates on the Word of God written upon the heart of the believer. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) The Christian walks in faith and is empowered by the Spirit of God. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

The Holy Spirit not only restrains the sin of the believer, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” (Galatians 5:16-17), but is the power that restrains sin in the world. “Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” (Genesis 6:3) This is the power within the Christian if he would have the faith to use it. “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

It is the Holy Spirit that is the restraint of the lawless one the Anti-Christ and when the Holy Spirit is removed all hell will be let loose upon the world. The Holy Spirit indwells the believer in Jesus Christ His Church the body of Christ. When the Lord calls His Church out and meets them in the heavens the anti-Christ is unrestrained and will be set loose. The Christian prays each day, “Thy Kingdom Come.” “And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thessalonians 1:10)

When the Anti-Christ and Israel covenant together this is the beginning of the tribulation. “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” (Daniel 9:27) For the first three and a half years it will be unbearable and for the last three and a half years it will be unspeakable.

For those who find themselves left behind there is still a path to salvation with the Lord. God is not wishing any to perish but it will not be an easy road for the power of the world will seek your destruction. With what will be happening in that day your death would be a more merciful escape. My advice is it is better to die for the Lord’s sake and be with Him than to bear the mark of the beast. “I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:14)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, August 30, 2015

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