2Th 2:5-7 “Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.”
As in the previous verses, many scholars view these scriptures as prophesy of the Rapture or some other great event in the world. The worker of iniquity has been described in various commentaries as a number of things. In John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, Dr. Gill likens “he that letteth (or holds back)” to the emperors of Rome and the “man of sin” referred to in verse three who is to “be revealed in his time” refers to the popes of that day. Again, it is not my intent to find fault with these scholars, but to deal with these scriptures as I seem them applying to us today.
I believe the Bible to be a vital and pertinent treatise to our daily walk with God in His kingdom here. As was stated in my previous writing, I believe Paul’s teaching in the first verses of this chapter relate to us as the church. It is a reminder of our sinful nature and our conviction of that sin by the power of God. It shows how we sat in the “temple of God” as though we were gods ourselves and in complete control of ourselves and the world around us. We remain in that darkness until an experience of grace (the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives) gathers us together unto Him.
Now Paul is affirming to the church that this should not be a surprise, because he did tell them these things while he was present with them. He is stirring up our hearts and minds to remember the gospel we have heard and what that gospel has told us about the work and will of God. Before we could see the sweet deliverance wrought for us in Jesus (that which was withheld) we had to see our sinful nature. God reveals this to us according to His own good time and pleasure.
Where we once thought we were doing pretty good and living a decent life, the gospel of Christ shows us that the mystery of iniquity was already at work in our lives. Being Adam multiplied, we came into this world sinners; not a matter of our works, but a matter of our very character. We could see our sinful condition until it pleased God to show it to us. Once He makes us aware of our sinful nature, we can no longer pretend that we are sufficient in ourselves.
Without the revelation from God of the atonement made for us by His Son, we would despair of life. Our guilt and shame over the mystery of iniquity which was at work in us from conception (Psa 51:5) would be overwhelming. Only in the revelation of the depth of God’s love for us can we find grace to live and to serve Him and each other.
For reasons known only to Him, God restrains us from fully realizing our sinful nature until a time that is pleasing to Him. He then withdraws sufficiently for us to see our wretched and undone state. Being the God of love and mercy, He does not leave us there, but then reveals His Son in us. It is in this revelation that we lose our fear of living and our fear of dying.
May the revelation of God’s love for us, given to us in His Son and manifested in us by His Spirit, make us bold in our service to Him and ground us in His unfailing power!