The Man of Sin
Who is the man of sin?
Scripture shows him to be one who will rule the world through deception, false miracles, and through the power of his image and of the number of his name (666) until he is destroyed by the brightness of the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul called him “the son of perdition” and “that Wicked” (2 Thess. 2:3,8). In the Book of Revelation, he is called “the beast.” It’s evident that the terms “man of sin” and “the beast” are speaking of the same person because the Bible describes both as follows:
• receiving power from Satan (2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 13:2,4)
• being lawless and wicked (2 Thess. 2:3,7,9; Rev. 16:13,14)
• deceiving with all power, signs, and lying wonders—witchcraft (2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 13:14; 16:14; 19:20)
• being self–exalted to think he is God and is worthy to receive worship (2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 13:4)
• being against the Lord Jesus Christ and His true followers (2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 13:6,7–10,15; 17:14)
• speaking great things and blasphemies (2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 13:5,6)
• being destroyed at the coming of Jesus (2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 19:19,20)
How does the Bible contrast Christ and Antichrist?
Christ came from heaven (John 6:38); Antichrist will ascend out of the bottomless pit (Rev. 11:7).
Christ humbled Himself (Phil. 2:8); Antichrist will exalt himself (2 Thess. 2:4).
Christ was despised and rejected of men (Isa. 53:3); Antichrist will be worshiped by all (Rev. 13:3,4).
Christ is the truth (John 14:6); Antichrist will be a deceiver (2 Thess. 2:8–10).
Christ is sinless (2 Cor. 5:21); Antichrist is referred to as the man of sin (2 Thess. 2:3).
Christ is obedient to God, the Father (John 15:10); Antichrist will blaspheme God, the Father (Rev. 13:6).
Christ loves the Church (Eph. 5:25); Antichrist will war against the Church (Rev. 13:7).
Christ was God incarnate (John 1:1); Antichrist will be Satan incarnate (2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 13:2–4).
Christ was received up into heaven (Mark 16:19); Antichrist will go down into perdition; he will be “cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Rev. 17: 11; 19:20).
Will the Church be present during the reign of the man of sin?
Yes. The Bible plainly declares that:
1. The coming of the Lord, our gathering together unto him, and the Day of Christ are one event that cannot take place “except . . . that man of sin be revealed” (2 Thess. 2:1–3). Here, we see that the man of sin must be revealed before the Church is gathered.
2. The man of sin will not be revealed to the world, but to the Church. The world will be deceived by his lying wonders and will worship him to their own destruction (Rev. 13:3,4,7,8,15–18). See also Matt. 24:24 and 2 Thess. 2:9–12.
On the other hand, by the power of the Holy Spirit, those who love and obey the truth will recognize the man of sin as a deceiver and an Antichrist. They will resist him, his image, and his mark even to the point of losing their own lives. See also John 16:13; 2 Thess. 2:10–14; 1 John 2:20,27; 4:1–4; Rev. 15:2; 20:4.
3. The man of sin will “make war with the saints” (Rev. 13:7). See also Dan. 7:21,22.
4. When Jesus comes to gather His Church, the man of sin will be destroyed “with the brightness of his coming” (2 Thess. 2:8). See also Dan. 7:8–11. This leaves no doubt that the Church will be present during the reign of the man of sin.
Do the phrases in Second Thessalonians 2:6 and 7, “ye know what withholdeth” and “he be taken out of the way,” inform us that the Church or the Holy Spirit must be removed before the man of sin can be revealed?
No, they do not. The Church is the Bride of Christ; therefore, in the Scripture, she is not referred to as “he” (“he be taken out of the way”) but as “she,” “her,” or “herself.” Consider, for example, Revelation 19:7 and 8: “The marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white.” See also Rom. 9:25.
Also, the Holy Spirit will be working through the Church until the end of the world in order to give wisdom in times of persecution (Mark 13:11,19), to seal the Church “unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30), and to empower the Church to witness the gospel (Matt. 24:14; 28:19,20).
Moreover, these phrases (“ye know what withholdeth” and “until he be taken out of the way”) do not refer to the Church or to the Holy Spirit because that would contradict other truths of the passage, particularly what we have already seen in Second Thessalonians 2:1–3: that the Church cannot be gathered until after the man of sin is revealed. Also, such an interpretation would contradict the teaching of verse eight, which shows that the man of sin will be destroyed with the brightness of Christ’s coming to gather the Church. Therefore, the phrases “ye know what withholdeth” and “he be taken out of the way,” do not refer to the Church or to the Holy Spirit.
What, then, is hindering the man of sin from being revealed?
The following scriptures speak of the Lord Jesus as being a restraining force against the powers of Satan, implying that He is presently hindering the man of sin from being revealed:
Jesus said, “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. 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” (Matt. 12:28,29). “When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils” (Luke 11:21,22). See also Matt. 28:18; Luke 10:18,19.
Why will many be deceived by the man of sin?
Many will be deceived because they have not genuinely received Jesus: “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive” (John 5:43).
Deception also comes for many reasons:
When we do not love the truth—“Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:9–12).
When we do not walk in the light of God’s Word—“Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth” (John 12:35). “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22).
When we are unthankful—“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Rom. 1:21,22).
“For man shall be lovers of their own selves . . . unthankful. . . . For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith” (2 Tim. 3:2,6–8).
When we allow pride to fill our hearts—“The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee” (Obad. 3). “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself” (Gal. 6:3).
When we are materialistic—“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17). See also Psa. 49:6; 52:7; 62:10; Pro. 11:28; Matt. 13:22; Luke 21:34; 1 Tim. 6:9,10.
When we allow ourselves to be guided by influences other than the Word of God—Paul wrote, “That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means. . . .” (2 Thess. 2:2,3). Misconceptions about the Second Coming will come through spirit (false spiritual impressions), word (what we’ve heard), or letter (what we’ve read). When we are influenced by feelings, revelations, visions, dreams, prophecies, or similar personal experiences that do not agree with the Word of God, then we know it’s not from the Spirit of God, but from another spirit. The Spirit of God is “the Spirit of truth” (John 16:13); therefore, He will always agree with the Word of God (1 John 5:7). He guides us into all the truth of God’s Word (John 16:13), not into revelations that contradict the Word.
Paul further cautioned us about seducing spirits. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Tim. 4:1). He linked seducing spirits with doctrines of devils as a reason why men depart from the faith. That’s why we should check out all subjective impressions and teachings with the objective truth of the Bible to keep from being deceived.
When we follow miracles and sensationalism instead of truth—The masses will be deceived into making and worshiping an image in honor of the beast because of “those miracles which he [the false prophet] had power to do” (Rev. 13:14). Scripture labels such miracles “lying wonders” (2 Thess. 2:9). Therefore, it is important to seek the truth, not miracles. Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
When we hold to the traditions of men instead of God’s Word—Multitudes are being deceived by this seemingly innocent practice of following the traditions of men that are upheld by their church or denomination. Before his conversion, the apostle Paul was deceived to think he was doing right by “being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of [his] fathers” (Gal. 1:14). After his conversion, however, he realized his ignorance and unbelief (1 Tim. 1:13), denounced the traditions of men (Col. 2:8), and declared that the gospel he preached was “not after man” nor received “of man,” but by the revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:11,12).
Moreover, Paul never taught believers to keep the unscriptural traditions of men but to “keep the ordinances [Greek, traditions]” that he “received of the Lord.” (Compare 1 Cor. 11:2 with 11:23.) These traditions were in accordance with the gospel of the grace of God; therefore, he gave them “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:14–16; 3:6). See Chapter Fourteen.
When we fail to heed our Lord’s warnings to “beware of false prophets” (Matt. 7:15)—“Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ: and shall deceive many. . . . And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. . . . For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matt. 24:4,5,11,24). “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
Doesn’t Acts 2:17 teach that before Jesus returns there will be a great worldwide revival with God pouring out His Spirit on “all flesh”?
Acts 2:17 reads, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” On the basis of this one verse, many claim that a great, worldwide revival will occur before Jesus comes. They stress that God will pour out His Spirit on “all flesh” regardless of one’s spiritual condition. We will see, however, that the term “all flesh” means all who are genuinely saved and obeying God’s Word. We will also see that the New Testament describes worldwide apostasy and deception in the last days rather than worldwide turning to God.
To begin with, the next verse (Acts 2:18) specifically tells us that God will pour out His Spirit upon His servants and handmaidens, that is, upon His sons and daughters. Scripturally, who are God’s sons and daughters? They are those who have become the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26); by receiving Him (John 1:12); by mortifying the deeds of the body through the Spirit and being led by the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:13,14); by doing the will of the Father (Matt. 12:50); and by coming out from among unbelievers and idolaters (2 Cor. 6:17,18).
Moreover, Jesus taught that the unregenerate in heart cannot receive the Holy Spirit. He said to His disciples, “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:15–17). Here Jesus made a distinction: “the world cannot receive” the Spirit of truth, only those who have seen Him and known Him. In other words, to receive the Holy Spirit one must first experience His convicting and regenerating power with the evidence of loving Jesus and keeping His commandments.
Jesus further emphasized this truth, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:21–23).
Peter said that God gives His Spirit to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32). Cornelius and his household are examples of those who received the Holy Spirit after they heard the true gospel, repented of their sins, and believed on the Lord Jesus (Acts 11:14–18). Thus, God’s promise to pour out His Spirit on all flesh refers to all who repent and obey His Word, whether Jew or Gentile, male or female. He has not promised to indiscriminately pour out His Spirit on all.
In addition, the New Testament describes worldwide apostasy and deception in the last days, not world wide revival. In the light of increasing wickedness that is flooding the world through godless educational systems, humanism, witchcraft, rock and roll music, pornography, television, video, and religious apostasy—revival is desperately needed! More than ever, we should be on our faces crying out to God for His truth and mercy to prevail. To see souls genuinely converted to the Lord, we should follow the example of the early church. They continued “steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. . . . And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:42,47). When writing to Timothy, Paul associated the salvation of souls with holy living and continuing in pure doctrine: “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Tim. 4:16).
When God’s conditions for revival are met, He will surely send revival in local situations, but one fails to find scripture to support the claim of worldwide revival in the last days. When foretelling the signs of His coming and of the end of the world, Jesus declared that many shall be offended, that many shall be deceived by false prophets, and that many shall “wax cold” in their love toward Him. The generation that sees His return will experience great tribulation such as the world has never known (Matt. 24:10–12,22,24). Jesus asked, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). The implication is that there will not be worldwide revival.
Similarly, Paul tells us that in the last days:
• There will come “a falling away” (2 Thess. 2:3).
• “Some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Tim. 4:1).
• “Men shall be lovers of their own selves. . . . having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (2 Tim. 3:1–5).
• Men “will not endure sound doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:3).
• “They shall turn away their ears from the truth” (2 Tim. 4:4).
• They “shall be turned unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:4).
• They will be deceived by the man of sin and his “lying wonders,” because “they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thess. 2:3,9,10).
In fact, the deception will be so worldwide that all who “dwell upon the earth shall worship him [the man of sin], whose names are not written in the book of life” (Rev. 13:8). It is obvious, then, that the New Testament describes worldwide apostasy and deception in the last days rather than worldwide turning to God.
Since, as never before, many are claiming to be filled with the Holy Spirit, isn’t there a worldwide revival already in progress?
Not necessarily. Scripture shows that not all who cry “Lord, Lord” are genuinely Spirit–filled believers (Matt. 7:21,22). We have already seen that in the last days, many will have only “a form of godliness” (2 Tim. 3:5). They will profess that they know God, but their conduct will show that they deny Him (Titus 1:16). Moreover they will give attention to seducing, unclean spirits, which are the spirits of devils (1 Tim. 4:1: Rev. 16:13,14).
Just as there is “the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:6), so there are true believers and false believers; true revival movements and false revival movements. Therefore, we are admonished to “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). How are we to try the spirits? Since the Holy Spirit agrees with and will never violate Scripture, we must try the spirits by the Word of God.
When the following unscriptural conditions exist among those who claim to be Spirit–filled, we know that seducing spirits are working, not the Holy Spirit.
1. When church leaders stress that God will pour out His Spirit on “all flesh,” but fail to preach true repentance and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ—Jesus specifically told us to whom He will give His Spirit:
• to those who know the Holy Spirit (John 14:17), which speaks of first experiencing the convicting power of the Spirit and regeneration of heart (John 3:3,5; 16:8; Titus 3:5)
• to those who love Him and keep His commandments (John 14:15,16)
• to those who repent (Acts 2:38)
• to those who believe on Him (John 7:38,39)
• to those who are His sons and daughters (Acts 2:18)
• to those who obey God (Acts 5:32)
2. When anyone else but Jesus is exalted or glorified— The Holy Spirit will never glorify Mary, the saints, or any man or woman, only the Lord Jesus Christ. He Himself said that “the Spirit of truth . . . shall testify of me” (John 15:26) and “shall glorify me” (John 16:14).
3. When there is compromise with sin, the traditions of men, idolatry, false doctrines, and lying wonders— The Bible associates sin with the devil (1 John 3:8); the traditions of men with worshiping God in vain and making His Word void (Mark 7:7,13); idolatry with devils (1 Cor. 10:19–21); false doctrines with seducing spirits (1 Tim. 4:1); and lying wonders with the spirits of devils (Rev. 16:14; 2 Thess. 2:9).
4. When “fun ways” are used to present the gospel such as clowns, skits, comedians, and puppets—The Bible warns believers that foolish talking and jesting should not be once named among us and that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Eph. 5:3–5). Jesus and the apostles did not once use drama to present the gospel even though the theater was popular throughout the ancient world. Moreover, the apostle Paul preached “not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor. 2:4).
When the gospel is preached, God sends His Spirit to save souls and sanctify the Church. With regard to this truth, He specifically commands believers to lay aside all deceit and play–acting. “But the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile [deceit], and hypocrisies [Greek, acting under a feigned part], . . . as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 1:25; 2:1,2).
In addition, deceit and hypocrisy is characteristic of Satan. He is able to transform (Greek, disguise or masquerade) himself into an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). Therefore, play–acting should have no part in presenting the gospel. It gives place for seducing spirits to work deceit in the churches and prepares the way for the man of sin who will pretend that he is God and deceive the nations.
5. When “love and unity through signs and wonders” or “love and unity through the Spirit” are emphasized rather than “unity through the truth and the Spirit”— Scripture shows that the Holy Spirit and the Word of God are inseparable and always agree:
• The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth who guides us into all truth (John 16:13; 1 John 2:27).
• The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God (Eph. 6:17).
• Souls are born again by obeying the truth through the Spirit (1 Pet. 1:22,23).
• They who worship God “must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
• God sends His Spirit when His truth is preached and obeyed (Acts 2:38; 5:32; 11:14–18).
• Those who are filled with the Spirit are zealous for the truth. They love the truth, are led into all truth, obey the truth, and speak the truth (Acts 1:8; 6:10).
Therefore, to emphasize unity through the Spirit and the miraculous without the emphasis on truth is unscriptural and deceitful.
6. When emotionalism, personal prophecies, visions, dreams, personal experiences, and signs and wonders are maximized, but true salvation is minimized— Jesus warned that many who did wonderful works will be rejected at His coming because they did not obey His Word. “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock” (Matt. 7:22–24).
He also taught that the test of genuine salvation is twofold: a practical test of conduct and a doctrinal test.
• A practical test of conduct (John 8:30,42,44)—In His response to Jews who “believed on him” (v. 30) but showed by their conduct that they were not true believers, Jesus said, “If God were your Father, ye would love me: . . . Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
• A doctrinal test (John 8:43,46,47)—These Jews also showed they were not true believers by their resistance to God’s Word. Jesus said to them, “Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. . . . And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” (Practical and doctrinal tests of conversion are further seen in 1 John 1:6; 2:3–6; 3:6–8; 2 John 1:9.) These Jews claimed to be believers, but showed by their conduct and their resistance to God’s Word that they did not have genuine salvation. Likewise, many may claim to be saved and Spirit–filled, but if their conduct is unchristian and they have no desire for God’s Word, they show that their experience is not genuine.
How is the great falling away affecting churches today?
Sadly, many churches lack the spirit of prayer, the fear of the Lord, true revival, and the strong preaching of the Word to lift up a standard of holiness before the people. Having forsaken the Lord, “the fountain of living waters,” they have “hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13). Churches are exchanging:
Separation from the world for conformity to the world
Self–denial for self–indulgence
The joy of the Lord for entertainment
Repentance for “easy believism”
An experience of salvation for mere water baptism
The Word of God for the tradition of men
Their names written in heaven for their names on a church roll
Glorying in the Lord for glorying in men
Holy Spirit revival for fleshly excitement
Glorifying God with praise for glorifying men with applause
The preaching of the Word for films and drama
The wisdom of God for modern psychology
The fear of God for the fear of men
The moral absolutes of God’s Word for secular humanism
The upper room for the supper room
Sound doctrine for love and unity
Quality for quantity (crowds)
Spiritual songs for music with Satan’s beat
The reproach of Christ for acceptance by the world
Standing alone on truth for ecumenical compromise
The power of God for a form of godliness
A spirit of prayer for a spirit of covetousness
A heavenly vision for television
When will the man of sin be destroyed?
The man of sin will be destroyed:
When Jesus returns to gather His Church—“That Wicked . . . whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming” (2 Thess. 2:8).
At the battle of Armageddon—“And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet. . . . These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Rev. 19:20).
At the throne judgment when “the books [are] opened”—“A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame” (Dan. 7:10,11).
At the end of the world—“The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity [this would include the beast and the false prophet]; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:41,42).
Not only will the man of sin be cast into a lake of fire, but those who worship him and his image and receive the mark of his name on their forehead or hand will share a similar fate (Rev. 14:9–11). Because our eternal destinies are at stake, we must receive the love of the truth. Our only hope is to obey the gospel (2 Thess. 2:13), which involves repentance and submission to the will of God. We must also put away all sin and worldliness from our lives (1 John 2:15–17).