After Paul spoke of a “man of sin” who would bring “unrighteous deception”, he comments: “And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:11). This has long been a mysterious phrase, but we can understand Paul’s point. The Bible in Basic English reads, “And for this cause, God will give them up to the power of deceit and they will put their faith in what is false”.
This phrase describes people who perish because they don’t love the truth. God responds by sending a strong delusion, which is only more of what they already treasured, for the purpose of condemnation. Some may consider God to be mean-spirited in doing this, but the people choose this blindness. God essentially allows them more of their hearts’ desire.
This may seem unfair because God seems to be taking away man’s free moral agency. An example of this would be the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 7:13-14, 22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 34-35). Pharaoh had the opportunity to choose. The account doesn’t begin with God hardening his heart; it begins much earlier, when Pharaoh chose to continue the oppression and affliction of Abraham’s descendants, begun by his predecessor.
It”s similar to the expression “God gave them up” in Romans 1:24, 26. God is loving, merciful, and gracious. But He won’t run after people who are determined to do evil, who exalt the creature over the Creator. You can imagine God metaphorically “turning His back” on people who refuse to come to Him However, the parable of the lost son demonstrates that God will always accept someone back if they’re willing to truly repent (Luke 15:20-24).
What’s your “strong delusion”? Is it the belief that acting unethically in business is the answer? Is it the feeling that you have to use profanity around your friends to be accepted? Is it an attractive man or woman who “gets you”, unlike your current spouse? Is it the overwhelming urge to retaliate when someone has wronged you? The “god of this world” has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe (2 Corinthians 4:4). God won’t intervene to hold them back. Why? Doesn’t God love us? Yes, of course He does, but He’s given us the Word which has every promise and instruction needed for holy living (2 Peter 1:3-4). Don’t give in to the power of deceit. Love truth and obey it.