“The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9 ESV).
In 2 Corinthians 12:12, Paul the Apostle wrote the following message to the church in the city of Corinth: “Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.” Much like the apostles who accompanied Jesus during His earthly ministry, Paul verified his apostolic calling through the miraculous works God performed through him, some that included healing the sick (Acts 28:8 cf. Luke 9:1-6). So much like a guidepost that offers direction to a traveler, these miraculous signs pointed the way to Christ, the Savior Paul represented.
This distinction becomes important as we consider the miraculous works ascribed to the man of lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2:9. Unlike the “false signs and wonders” performed by the lawless one, a God-ordained miracle honors the God of the Scriptures and points us towards Christ. A sign, wonder, or miracle that reflects something else is likely to be illegitimate.
The following comments can be helpful as we seek to determine the legitimacy of an alleged miracle…
“…true miracles cause one to think more highly of God, tell the truth, and promote moral behavior. Counterfeit signs from Satan do not do this. They tend to glorify the person ostensibly performing the sign, and they are often associated with error and immoral behavior. They also may not be immediate, instantaneous, or permanent. In short, only God performs true miracles; Satan does counterfeit miracles. This is precisely what the Bible calls them in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 when Paul writes that, ‘The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders.’ Of course, unless one is discerning, such signs can be deceptive and may be mistaken for miracles (Matt. 24:24).” (1)
“This evil man will use ‘counterfeit power and signs and miracles’ to deceive and draw a following. Miracles from God can help strengthen our faith and lead people to Christ, but all miracles are not necessarily from God. Christ’s miracles were significant, not just because of their power, but because of their purpose—to help, to heal, and to point us to God. The man of lawlessness will have power to do amazing things, but his power will be from Satan. He will use this power to destroy and to lead people away from God and toward himself. If any so-called religious personality draws attention only to himself or herself, his or her work is not from God.” (2)
(1) Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist Copyright© 2004 [p.213]
(2) Life Application Study Bible Copyright © 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1996, 2004 by Tyndale House Publishers Inc., all rights reserved. [2 Thessalonians 2:9]