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Home: Questions and Answers
Question:

In 2 Thessalonians 2:11 it says God will send sinners a "strong delusion." Why would God have to send a "delusion" if men have no freewill? It appears to indicate that men must have a choice otherwise God would not have to fool them?

Answer:

First, it is important to define what is meant by the term "free will." When I state that men do not have "free will," it does not mean men have no choices. What I am reacting against (and I believe the Bible would confirm my conviction) is the idea of libertarian autonomy. In other words, the classic, philosophical idea that a person's will and reason is separated from any influence by his or her sin nature. The Bible never separates man into compartments, where one compartment would have no influence on any of the others. The scriptures clearly teach that the will and mind of a sinner is woven with his sin nature so that the choices made by the sinner are in one accord with his sin nature.

Moreover, the idea of Total Depravity does not indicate a totality of degree, as if a sinner is as depraved as he or she could be, but the description speaks more to a sinner's orientation. There is a wide spectrum of sinners. For example, a sinner could be a right wing moralist, while another sinner could be involved with producing pornography and exploiting young girls; yet, both sinners are oriented away from God. It is the Lord who restrains the severity of sinners' depravity displaying itself in action, and that restraint is a gracious act of God, because it keeps the sinner from filling up a rather large cup of wrath.

This does not mean that a sinner does not make genuine choices. Sinners make free choices, but those choices will be according to their nature. The Bible defines being fallen into sin as being a God hater, so sinners will make choices that never take into account the sovereignty and lordship of God because they by nature hate God. Those choices are made freely, from their heart, but those choices will be oriented toward ungodliness, or perhaps self-righteousness if the person is a moralist.

Coming to 2 Thessalonians 2:11, the expression "strong delusion" speaks more to God giving sinners up to their utter depravity (similar to Romans 1), so that they will be certain to be condemned, as 2:12 affirms. Basically, God, by giving them strong delusion, is fixing them in their condemnation by removing His grace and leaving them to their sin. In like fashion, God sent a wicked spirit to torment Saul in 1 Samuel. The torment of the wicked spirit only served to stir up Saul's wicked heart so that his internal sin would be manifested outwardly (what we see when he attacked David and behaved irrationally), and thus he is solidified as certainly bearing God's judgment upon him. I believe this is what Paul has in mind when he states that these men will be sent a "strong delusion."


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