2 Thessalonians 2:7-9
2 Th 2:7 (KJB)
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
Iniquity - Lawlessness
Now - At this moment
Letteth - Hinders or restrains
Way - Midst
Even though Satan had been bound at the cross and his house was being plundered by the true Gospel, Paul knew that the full revealing of Satan would be right before the Lord returns, yet, here he is stating that the mystery of lawlessness was already at work.
(Mat 12:29 KJV) Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.
When the Lord Jesus Christ went to the cross and was resurrected and went back to Heaven, and then sent the Holy Spirit, now the evangelizing of the world began, which meant that Satan could not stop anyone from becoming saved and he was losing people from his kingdom every day, just as he is today. In Matthew 12:29, he was considered the strong man but since he was bound, he no longer had the strength to stop anyone from becoming saved.
Now the Apostle John confirms exactly what Paul was teaching concerning the fact that evil was already at work in the world.
(1 John 4:3 KJV) And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
When we look at 1 John 4:3, we see that it speaks of the spirit of antichrist. The term “antichrist” means “against Christ.” It does not mean that there is an evil power equal to Christ who is fighting against Him. Christ is eternal God and there is no being in the universe which equals His power. Therefore, the spirit of antichrist is that of a created being and that is why he is restrained by God’s power until the time of the end and this includes Satan himself who is a created being. His power does not match the power of God but he has been allowed, for the purposes of God, to maintain a powerful evil influence in this world. 1 John 4:3 states the spirit of antichrist was already in existence at the time of Paul. Satan had influenced his people to fight against the true Gospel back in Paul’s time as well as right down through the ages. At the time of Paul, Satan’s influence was not to the point of pervading Christianity with false gospels. The churches, although there were problems, were still obedient to the Lord and sought to do right and if you study church history, you will see the church was pretty stable into the nineteenth century when it seemed that God was beginning to remove His hand of restraint as we saw with the wide acceptance of Darwin’s theory of evolution in 1859.
At the time of Paul, Satan was still being restrained by God and was unable to prevent anyone from becoming saved especially since the true Gospel was now making inroads into the world. We see this great missionary effort into the nineteenth century with the great missionary movement and Satan was still unable to stop those from becoming saved who God had named. The spirit of antichrist was not yet allowed to be loosed out of his prison and then in the twentieth century, world missions was still alive and well but now there was a shift in method of getting the Gospel out to the world. With the introduction of local radio, shortwave radio, television and at the end of the twentieth century, the Internet, the gospel was still able to go forth, however, the gospel message was changed because of the attacks on the true Bible by textual criticism, the introduction of pre-tribulationalism in 1830 by trance channeling, free will beliefs that man can “make” Christ their Savior, this belief is akin to man becoming God’s God, simply because you can tell Him want to do. It sounds a lot like man in his temple as God thinking He can command God. I wonder how many Christians ever ponder that. Then there is amalgamating psychology, sociology, and other man-centered disciplines, etc. No longer was the pure Gospel being preached, it was now mixed with worldly teachings which exalt man. Today we have a watered down version of the Gospel which can’t even be found in the modern bible versions. Since God has removed His hand of restraint, Christianity has become weaker and more confused but this is to separate the wheat from the tares. Those who stay upon the Scriptures will not be moved no matter how watered down and invisible the gospel becomes. The watered down, invisible Gospel is another proof that Satan has been loosed prior to our day.
2 Th 2:8 (KJB)
And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
Brightness - Manifestation or appearing
Once God has removed His hand of restraint and allowed the false Gospels and false teachings to pervade Christianity, then that shows the revealing of Satan, that he has been loosed. If Satan was still restrained, then the Gospel would still be preached in a pure fashion rather than an adulterated one. Now that Satan has been loosed and is out to destroy the body of believers through apostasy and deception, his time will be very short, simply because the Lord stated that he would shorten those days.
(Mat 24:21-22 KJV) For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. {22} And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
What we have seen is that in Paul’s time, Satan was restrained and could not prevent anyone from being saved. This is because the true Gospel had been going out into the world and God saves through His word. Now what is the great tribulation that is in view that the Christians will face right before the return of the Lord? The tribulation is that the Christians in our day will be hard pressed to find a church or ministry which is teaching the unadulterated Gospel. The Gospel has been so harshly attacked that it seems to have lost its sting. It went from the Gospel of “thus saith the Lord” to the Gospel of “God loves you and you have your best life now.” It is like trying to sandpaper a piece of wood with a tissue. Did you ever wonder why many preachers who preach a false gospel do not seem to fear the fact that they are teaching wrongly? It is because Satan has given them a false confidence and has seared their conscience toward God thus removing any fear of God.
How many times have you shaken your head when listening to some preacher or teacher? That is because if you are truly saved, your spirit does not identify with false teachings. Why? (John 16:13 KJV) Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. The Spirit of truth will guide you into all truth and on the other hand will identify false teachings so you will not become snared by them.
There is another evidence of the loosing of Satan in our day and that is the exponential rise in sin. Sin has become very bold and no longer lurks in the darkness but is out in the open and accepted by the world. There was a time when homosexuality was kept hidden but now they are doing sex acts right in the streets and the law does not arrest them.
Since Satan has been revealed as the one who is behind the false gospels and false teachings of our day, what will happen to him is that when the Lord returns Satan will be consumed and destroyed to never again harass the body of believers.
(Rev 20:9-10 KJV) And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. {10} And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
2 Th 2:9 (KJB)
Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
Lying wonders - Wonders of falsehood
Previously we saw that the man of sin was tied to false teachings such as those found in the charismatic movement with accompanying signs and wonders. Not only are signs and wonder found within Christianity but within false religions also. One name that comes to mind was a man named Sai Baba who had over 20 million followers in India and had the ability to make things appear and disappear in his hands. He was empowered by Satan with false signs and lying wonders. His devotees thought him to be divine, in another words, in the temple of God claiming he was God. All the lying signs and wonders will be done away with. Many in the charismatic movement like Rodney Howard Brown who introduced the holy laughing movement where people would laugh and bark like dogs. Where do we read in Scripture that true Christians will bark like a dog? Nowhere, because this is a lying wonder of Satan. Then comes tongues which has pervaded the majority of churches and the tongues of today are just gibberish. (1 Cor 14:22 KJV) Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. Tongues are not a sign for those who believe, that is, those who are saved, but for those who are unsaved. So basically this verse is speaking about deception in all forms, to keep in darkness those who are unsaved and to divert the Christian from the true Gospel.