Second Thessalonians 2:9-12 speaks of a strong delusion God will send in the end times: “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
First, it is clear this strong delusion will take place during the time of the lawless one (2 Thessalonians 2:8), also called the Antichrist or beast elsewhere in Scripture (Revelation 13). He is the one Jesus will kill with “the breath of his mouth” (2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 19:15).
Second, God sending a delusion is only part of the account. Two other aspects are clear. Satan is involved (2 Thessalonians 2:9) and this delusion applies to those “who did not believe the truth” (v. 12). It is incorrect to simply say God tricks these people. Instead, those who are influenced by Satan and do not believe are among those who accept the delusion God will send into the world during this time. God desires for all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4).
Third, this strong delusion will also be during the time when many will rebel against God. Second Thessalonians 2:3 says, “For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed.” The Antichrist will arise and many will join him in rebellion against God.
Fourth, people will be fooled during this time by Satan’s power and false miracles. Second Thessalonians 2:9 states, “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders.” In Revelation 13:3-4 there is another prediction that this will occur. The Antichrist will appear to die or come close to death, yet be healed: “One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?'” Many will be tricked into worshiping the Antichrist as a result.
This strong delusion God will send is something that will serve as part of God’s overall judgment of the earth during the seven-year tribulation period following the rapture of believers to heaven (1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Those who remain on the earth will live under the tyranny of the Antichrist, experience many judgments, and many will believe in the Antichrist and worship him. Yet even today many reject Christ and believe the lies of Satan. God calls us to confess Jesus as Lord and believe in Him as the resurrected Son of God (Romans 10:9). Only then do we experience the changed life Jesus gives and escape the lies of Satan.