“And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:11).
2 Thessalonians 2:11 undoubtedly represents a challenging portion of Scripture for many. For instance, it may be difficult to understand how the Biblical God of truth and honesty could actually send a delusion upon a group of human beings.
To address that question, we should note this passage begins by saying, “Therefore” (ESV), “Consequently” (NET), or “…for this cause” (KJV). This tells us that God is acting in response to something. That “something” was given to us in the previous verse: “…they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10). To ensure we do not miss the point, the next verse will go on to reiterate it: “…all those will be judged guilty who did not believe the truth, but enjoyed doing evil” (NCV).
With this in mind, we can say that God does not indiscriminately trick, fool, or delude these individuals. Instead, we’re told that God will send a delusion upon a select group of people based upon the actions they have taken. Perhaps the best way to understand this concept is through the use of a comparison.
Let’s say a business manager directs a subordinate to carry out a task. When that task is completed, the manager can rightly say, “I took care of that responsibility” to those who are higher up the company’s chain of command. While the manager was not directly involved in completing that task, he or she was the one who made it happen.
The same is true for the highest-ranking official on a ship of any kind. The highest-ranking official is ultimately responsible for anything that takes place under his or her command even if he or she wasn’t directly involved with every operation.
In a similar manner, God possesses this same type of accountability, albeit on a far greater scale. Thus we can say God sends this delusion in the sense that He permits, allows, or makes it happen. A better known example occurs in the Biblical book of Job where God allowed Satan to inflict great pain upon Job. Satan was directly responsible for afflicting Job but only because God was responsible for allowing it.
Much like a vaccination that helps protect against a deadly disease, those who love and accept the truth develop an internal resistance to deluded beliefs. Therefore, we can say that one of the best ways to avoid the potential for delusion is to prayerfully ensure we “…receive the love of the truth.”