Christ Will Not Come Again Until The Great Falling Away…
1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.
Paul warns the disciples of Christ to not be alarmed or unsettled by alleged teachings of the apostles that the second coming of Christ has already occurred. There were people who were spreading false rumors that Jesus had already come, and that the faithful disciples had been left behind. Paul was putting an end to these rumors, and sought to help any who had heard these rumors that they were not true, and to assure them that any such teaching did not come from them.
Remember the Rebellion
And here we see a very interesting sign that will precede the coming of our Lord – the great rebellion must first take place. Paul is very care to remind us that before Jesus comes in the clouds, with a shout at the last trump of God, there will first be a great rebellion. The people of God will abandon Him.
This seems to be odd, because once the Holy Spirit sets up residence in us, we would think that He would continue to witness to us about Jesus. But for some reason, there will be a great number of people who will give up their faith. Jesus warns about letting our love grow cold in the great Mount of Olives discourse in Matthew chapter 24:
9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Paul gives us a more in-depth look at what the rebellion will look like in 2 Timothy 3:1-9:
1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God- 9 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.
Paul is not talking about people who do not profess faith in Christ – these are people who claim to be believers – Christians! But by their very actions, they demonstrate that they are not disciples of Christ, nor do they indicate that they love God. If they did, they would obey His commands and submit to the Holy Spirit:
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Christ will not come until the rebellion first appears. Love is the primary characteristic of God that is prized above all. Remember to guard your heart, and grow in love, even when everyone else around you is abandoning their faith. Remain faithful unto death. And when the Son of man returns, let Him find faith on Earth.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Am I growing in love in the midst of the increase of lawlessness in the world?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You have given me the gift of eternal life in Your Son through His shed blood. Help me to find peace in my heart as the world becomes increasingly filled with lawlessness and injustice. Help me to cling to You and Your word through the most difficult of times. See me through the valley of the shadow of death, and help me to be prepared that the lamp of my body, my eyes, would be filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit, fully prepared for the return of the groom, Jesus Christ, when we least expect Him. Grow in me the love that You have for all of us, that I would properly bear Your image before men. Guard my tongue and my heart that I would not sin against You. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.