The picture that is presented in 2 Thess.2 is an exceedingly solemn one. There we learn that the mystery of iniquity which was at work even in the days of the apostle Paul and which has been hindered from coming to complete fruition will yet head up in the appearing of the Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition. The coming of this Devil-Man will be |after the working of Satan will all power and signs and lying wonders and will all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish.| Then it will be that the Devil is allowed |free rein.| Then it is that, through the Anit-christ, Satan will deceive the whole world. There will be many on earth at that time who in former days had listened unmoved to the preaching of the Gospel and had treated with scorn or indifference its gracious offers. hence, |because they loved not the truth, that they might be saved ** God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie that they all might be damned who believed not the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.|
We have said above that 2 Thess.2 pictures a time when the Devil will be allowed |free rein.| This will be the season when all his diabolical scheming will attain its full development in the manifestation of the Son of Perdition. Today it is otherwise. In this Dispensation, satan is held in check, and his plans are not permitted to fully materialize. Today it is impossible for the Man of Sin to appear on the stage of this world as the above passage clearly intimates. Says the apostle, |Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know that which restraineth, to the end that he may be revealed in his own season. For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work: only there is one that restraineth now until He be taken out of the way| (2 Thess.2:5-7, R.V.).
The |mystery of lawlessness| (in contrast to |the mystery of godliness,| i.e. |God manifest in the flesh| -- 1 Tim.3:16) will terminate in the Satanic parody of the Divine incarnation -- the bringing forth by Satan of the Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition. This Man of Sin will be revealed |in his own season.| That |season has not yet arrived. The reference is to the Great Tribulation period. There are two entities which are now preventing the appearing of the Anti-christ. They are referred to in 2 Thess.2 as |that which restraineth| and there is |One that restraineth now until He be taken out of the way.| The former is the Church which is the body of Christ; the latter is the Holy Spirit Himself. The Church which is indwelt and energized by the Holy Spirit is now hindering and preventing the full development of the Mystery of Lawlessness and the consequent appearing of the Lawless One. Not until the whole of the Church and the Holy Spirit leave this earth(|until He be taken out of the way|) can the Man of Sin appear.
Here then is a simple but conclusive argument which all should be able to grasp. Passing by the question of -- How would it be possible for the Holy Spirit to be |taken our of the way| while many of those whom He indwells are left behind on the earth -- we would point out the obvious fact that no part of the Church can be left behind on earth at the Return of Christ into the air, or, otherwise, there would still be a hindrance to the consummating of the Mystery of Lawlessness. Christ declared that His disciples were |the salt of the earth.| They are God's preservative. They are His instrument for preventing everything on earth going to utter decay and rottenness. But in the Tribulation period everything on earth will have gone to utter corruption as is clear from the words of our Lord -- |For wheresoever the carcass is, there will be eagles be gathered together| (Matt.24:28) -- a prophetic utterance which will receive its fulfillment at the very season of which we are now treating. We are told that in the days which immediately preceded the Flood |All flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth| (Gen.6:12) and our Lord declared, |But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be| (Matt.24:37) i.e. -- His coming back to the earth: the conditions which He will find prevailing here at that time.
We repeat, at the Rapture and during the Tribulation period everything on earth will be morally and spiritually rotten. Even God's judgments at that time will have no other effect than to cause earth's-dwellers to |blaspheme God| (Rev.16:11 etc.). Hence, is it not evident that the whole of the salt(except that which has |lost its savor,| i.e., formal professors) must have first been removed: that the church and the Holy Spirit which now make impossible this total corruption must first be |taken out of the way|!