2Thes 2:7-8 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until it is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed . . . .
Satan is currently free to roam around seeking whom he may devour. (1Pt 5:8) We are all engaged in a spiritual battle against spiritual powers and authorities of darkness and wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:12)
These oppositions to believers all work together for our good, for the trial of our faith is much more precious than gold. (1Pt 1:7) Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. (2Cor 4:17)
We also have the assurance that God will not allow us to be tempted above what we are able, but He will also make a way to escape so that we can bear it. (1Cor 10:13)
The devil – the serpent – is crafty, and needs to be taken seriously as a threat. If so, it helps us to trust God and to obey His word with thanksgiving. As we look through the pages of the history God has given us in the Bible, you see that ‘something’ or ‘someone’ has always acted from within the field and the people of God – and this is very clear in the parables of the Kingdom of Heaven in Mt 13.
From the Garden of Eden already (Gen 3:1-5), the serpent came to place doubt in Eve’s mind about the integrity and goodness of YHVH God. Satan began his work to make man feel that either in him/herself or by his/her own works he can be his own savior (earn his salvation). This glorifies man rather than glorifying Messiah, the Son of God, who alone is the true Savior and the Way to God. The consequences of this lawlessness at work are seen in the Man blaming God, who gave him the woman, who made him disobey God! Rather than taking and accepting personal responsibility for our decisions and sin, we shift the blame to Another, and yet we are deceived into thinking we are justified and worthy of all acceptance.
Not much later, Cain, the first child in history, murdered his younger brother Abel out of envy and hatred without cause. Before the flood, only Noah and his family were left who did not entirely forsake the holiness and righteousness of YHVH. Later on, Esau wanted to do what Cain had done, and murder his brother Jacob, whom God had chosen to be in the line of covenant, and God had to protect Jacob by sending him away.
When the children of Israel were in Egypt, Pharaoh tried to kill all the male children of the Hebrews, but God saved Moses and even had him brought up in Pharaoh’s house! Korach complained and rebelled regarding the priesthood; Balaam sought unrighteous gain even as he prophesied truly the Word of the Lord. Within King David and his descendants, the enemy worked to try to wipe out the royal line of Messiah, which God had promised. Through Ahab and Jezebel, the false but spiritually powerful worship of Baal came into Israel to challenge the faith in the one true God. Hundreds of years after, Haman schemed to destroy all of the Jews in the world, but God worked in His own sovereign wisdom to save the people through whom the Messiah was to come, and to whom He has made many other covenant promises.
When the time came for Messiah to be born, then the Jewish leaders themselves became instruments of this mystery of lawlessness, seeking to prevent Yeshua from living and to put doubt in the minds of the people and of the Gentiles, that they should agree with them that the Word of God through Moses and the Prophets is not truth, that YHVH God is not faithful to His promises He made in covenant.
Then as we continue in reading the New Testament and study history, we see that from within the Church and Christianity, the mystery of lawlessness/iniquity continues till our own day. Once again, so-called Christians have tried to destroy the Jewish people; have persecuted real believers; have cast doubt on whether YHVH God is the same God of both Israel and of the Church and keeps all His covenantal promises; and have allowed things which God forbids and forbidden things which He allows.
WHAT is this mystery of lawlessness? Even though God is in control, He has allowed evil to exist and to have power in our hearts, our minds, in the world. For those within the Church of God, we see it at work by those who speak of Jesus in what seems to be a positive way, but they deny the faith, and the power of the gospel, thus effectively denying the Lord who bought them and making the gospel ineffective. It is another Jesus, another gospel, another spirit at work within the Body of Christ.
WHAT is lawlessness (iniquity)? Sin is lawlessness. (1Jn 3:4) It is not recognizing any law as having authority over oneself or others.
WHY is it important for us to know something about it? Because the enemy wants to deceive the elect, if possible. (Mt 24:24)
HOW does Satan accomplish his successes against believers? He cheapens the righteous standard of grace. (Rom 6:1; Jude 3-4) He continues –as he successfully did in the Garden with Eve, and as he failed to do in the desert with Yeshua — to appeal to the lust of the flesh, of the eyes, and of the pride of life, seeking to lure us away from complete trust and obedience to the love of the truth of God and His word.