Ray of Hope Shining on the Face of a Child

A daily devotion for March 24th

The Restraining One

And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.

2 Thessalonians 2:6-8

The Man of lawlessness cannot be revealed until some restraining power is taken out of the way. What is that restraining power? Paul says, You know what it is. There is no need to tell them; they already know! How did they know? Paul had probably told them when he was with them. But even if he had not, I feel they would have known.

Every true Christian knows what it is that restrains evil. Even today, I could ask any young Christian the question, Since Christ has come into your life, have you found anything that restrains evil in you? From long experience I know that the answer would be, Oh, yes, everything is different. I no longer have the same desires now that the Lord has come into my life. This answer conveys that the Holy Spirit has come in; God himself dwells within him.

In the letter to the Galatians, Paul teaches us that the desires of our flesh are opposed to the desires of the Spirit, and the Spirit's desires are opposed by the flesh, in order to prevent you from doing what you would (Galatians 5:17b RSV). There is a mighty power at work that restrains evil in believers, and, through believers, it is at work restraining evil in the world. That is why Jesus said, You are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13a). Believers are the salt that preserves this world from decay and corruption by means of the Holy Spirit. That is why many of the commentators agree that this refers to the Holy Spirit in the church.

Paul goes on to say there is a mystery of evil at work in our world. He calls it the mystery of lawlessness which is already at work. It is the strange secret of universal evil. Even secular prophets are puzzled by it. What is it about our race that makes it so difficult to correct the conditions that destroy it? Why is drug trafficking so impossible to stop when it is clearly evident what terrible things it does to people? Why do alcoholics return again and again to their habit when they see it destroying their homes and families? It is a mystery. Why is it that as centuries go by, we have made zero progress in curing human wickedness? We are still wrestling with the problem just as people wrestled with it five thousand years before Christ. We do not make any progress in this area.

For years I have been trying to get across to Christians what tremendous power they could exercise in the world today, if only they knew who they were. And likewise, what tremendous evil they permit in the world when they refuse to live as God wants them to live. When the church through whom the Spirit works to restrain sin is removed, then begins the work of the Lawless One.

Father, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit, and how he alone restrains evil in my life and in the world as your people abide in you.

Life Application

Do you understand the power and presence of the Holy Spirit within you?

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages

The Man who Claims to be God

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