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Why Does God Send Strong Delusion in the End Times?

2 Thessalonians 2:11-12

Dr. Grant C. Richison


The issue here is, would the God of truth deceive people (Tit 1:1)? There is a point where God allows people to be misled (1 Kgs 22:23). At times, God sends people “a lying spirit” (1 Kgs 22:22), or “delusion” (2 Th 2:11).

Truth is what God is and what He says (His propositions set forth in Scripture); He is the highest definition of truth. Since He is metaphysically ultimate, He is the standard for propositional truth.

God’s delusion of certain people in the prophetic future relates to their previous response to revelation or God’s Word. This is a time when the “lawless one” will make his appearance. He is “lawless” because he Satanically deceives people. At a point in the future Tribulation, people will ultimately come to finally and conclusively reject Christ, especially at His Second Coming. 

These people will perish because they will not accept the love of the truth. There is a point where God gives up people to their negative volition (Ro 1:24-25). The context reveals the problem is with those who “refused to love the truth” (2 Th 2:9-10). In response to this deception, God will send them “strong delusion.” This delusion will lead them to believe lies. God will condemn them for their intransigence and determination to believe a lie. The idea is that God will send strong delusion because they chose not to accept the gospel; they reached a point of ultimate negative volition. They had a choice to believe what God said in His Word, but they rejected His revelation; they do this because they are reprobate in their minds (Ro 1:18). The greatest error man can make is to know the truth and then reject it. The refusal to respond to God’s clear revelation in nature or Scripture will determine their subjection to deception (Ro 1:21-22). These are people determined not to believe (Ro 1:29-32; cf Isa 66:3-4). It is not until people ultimately reject the truth in the end times that God will give them delusion or turn them over to obstinate unbelief. These are those who reject the truth and “believe a lie.”

The Greek for “lie” carries the idea of an absolute character of the “lie” (πιστεύειν, to believe, with a dative object but no governing preposition). This grammar is an unusual way to emphasize the nature of this lie. In the next verse, we have the same grammar with the positive use of faith (πιστεύειν, to believe, with a dative object but no governing preposition). The contrast is between the absolute nature of the lie and the absolute nature of truth. The “lie” in context from Satan’s emissary at Christ’s coming. When it comes to believing ultimate, final lies, God condemns unbelievers for an action previously taken. These people will come to a point of blatant rejection of God’s truth; it will be no mere indifference to the truth. Thus, the context concerns the final lie at the end times.

The essence of a lie is that it takes the place of truth. God’s sending deception is not the same as His actively sending. He will send someone or something that deceives because they have already come to a definite conclusion about the lie. Paul does not name God as the deceiver in this passage. God cannot lie (He 6:18); He acknowledges the deception but not the cause of it. This was true in 1 Kings 22:2-12.

In Romans 1:18-32, the Bible does not present God as actively deceiving; instead, it portrays His judicial standard whereby He turns people over to a negative volition state. Deception in Scripture is attributed to Satan (2 Co 4:3-4), as also stated in the context of 2 Thessalonians 2:11. His demonic emissaries will be the focus of the Tribulation period. When God set forth the truth in 2 Thessalonians, the deceivers blatantly rejected it; that is why God will send deception, that is, He will employ agents of deception, whom unbelievers will have already believed. Once they reached a point where they passed the end of God’s patience, they were finished in God’s economy. There would be no hope beyond this period. It is a judgment against those without Christ.