Man is born with an inherent instinct for self-preservation. Science teaches that it is the first law of nature. Self-preservation is an instinctive tendency to ensure one’s safety and survival, at best, and one’s self-seeking and greed, at worst. This instinct is perverted when man abandons his divine nature and violates God’s rightful dominion in his life descending into bestial behaviors of prejudice, hatred, and violence to advance his own desires.
Perhaps as perplexing a demise, and a close kin of self-preservation, is man’s self-deification – the elevation of oneself to the rank of God. This is called authotheism. Autotheism is the ultimate and most persistent sin of the human race. It is rooted in the view that God is nothing more than a conception of the self. Accordingly, each individual is a god unto themselves, creating and directing their own reality, living according to the counsel of their own will and, to put it plainly, worshiping themselves.
This posture of authotheism is not only found among secular humanists or atheists but also among Christians. Self-deification is more subtle and widespread than many assume. It can manifest in simple actions and attitudes where we exalt ourselves to the place that only the Spirit of God should occupy.
Religion is really a form of autotheism. It pays lip service to God, but elevates man to the place of prominence. Today, there are countless ministries who profess God’s name but whose ministries are fundamentally motivated by the spirit of authotheism. The object of their ministry is Adam. When they speak of becoming the “best version of yourself” or developing your “inner self”, what they are ministering to is the corrupted soul of man rather than the regenerated spirit. They speak of maturity in Christ as just another expression for self-actualization. The notions of trials, sufferings and tribulations are often rejected to ensure the comfort and preservation of self. In so many words, what is promoted is man’s self-sufficiency apart from complete surrender to Christ the Head.
Speaking of this condition of self-deification, the Holy Spirit warns:
“the man of sin… opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” (2 Thes. 2:4).
The divine agenda of God in this hour concerns the consecration of His temple from the defilement of self. Dear beloved, we are the temple of God – the dwelling place of His divine nature. It is there that we touch heaven, worship Him in the spirit, assimilate His truth, and reveal His glory. But it is also there that our will, our ways and our carnal imaginations exalt themselves against the knowledge of God.
Despite this, the temple is precious to God. For “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Cor. 3:17). Defilement of the temple originates from within by way of the fleshy nature of man’s Adamic consciousness. Adam has been an uninvited guest who worships and ministers in the temple of God. Jesus warned: “when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place’ (whoever reads, let him understand)” (Mat. 24:15). Six hundred years earlier, Daniel had prophesied regarding the King of the North saying: “forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation” (Dan. 11:31).
The abomination of desolation is the self-ego of our carnal mind that sits in the temple of God posing as the divine orchestrator of our life. He perverts the order of the temple replacing it with the methods and traditions of man. This is the same man which Paul identified as the man who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God and who sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God (2 Thes. 2:4).
I trust that it is abundantly clear that the temple which the man of sin defiles is not some church building or the temple in Jerusalem. In the above text, the word “temple” (Greek: naos) refers not to the temple proper (Greek: hieron) but to the inner sanctuary of the Most Holy place. Metaphorically, it typifies the spiritual temple; the dwelling place of God in the individual and comprising of the saints of all ages joined together in Christ. Therefore, when Adam occupies and dictates your thoughts, your ambitions, your plans, your dreams, your emotions, your attention, your conduct, your attitude, your identity – he is occupying the seat that belongs to God in the temple.
That the man of sin “sits” in the temple of God shows the extent of his self-deification. In the arrangement of the old temple, nowhere else could this man sit than on the mercy seat of the Ark – the seat only ordained for the Lord and where He manifested His divine presence (Psa. 99:1). But the man of sin insolently occupies this position, resisting God and defiling the holy place by posing as the Head of the temple.
However, Jesus also speaks of him as “standing in the holy place” (Mat. 24:15). Standing signifies the act of ministry. It was customary for the high priest to stand and minster in the holy place. But, we read that the man of sin also stands in that place carrying out priestly duties. Adam is an expert imitator. He teaches. He preaches. He prophecies. He heals. He exorcises. He worships. Paul warns that: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception” (2 Thes. 2:9-10).
We see this phenomenon typified in the life of Uzziah, who is a type of the man of sin. Uzziah was so exalted with pride in his Adamic identity that he entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar. Imagine the delusion of the act – trespassing to offer worship to the Lord. But mind you, this is not far-detached from much of what we call ministry and worship today. Uzziah’s action is a picture of the soul-worship of our time, what Paul calls: will-worship, self-imposed worship, and self-made religion (Col. 2:23). The worship of the soul is as diabolical an act as the behavior of Uzziah. The self-prescribed worship of Adam is repulsive in the sight of the Lord. It is the worship of fools. The man who ministers to the Lord out of the wellspring of his soul, the man who seeks the Lord for his own profit, the man who jumps and dances in the guise of worship to gratify his fleshy passions… are but the conducts of the indwelling Uzziah.
Eight priests, valiant men, could not prevent Uzziah from burning incense in the temple. He withstood them. Only when the Lord had stricken Uzziah did he himself hurry to go out of the temple. Only Christ can do away with the lawless one in our temple. Uzziah eventually died a leper and only after his death do we read the accounts of Isaiah’s glorious encounter with the Lord in the temple (Isa. 6). Dear beloved, this trespasser needs to die in each of us. For only in his death will we experience the Lord seated on the throne of our hearts, high and lifted up, reigning, ministering and filling His temple with His glory.
“When you see the abomination”
The revelation of the man of sin is a precursor to his destruction. “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thes. 2:8). The word ‘revealed’ is the Greek ‘apokalupto’. The word is also used in reference to the revelation of Jesus Christ (e.g. Rev. 1:1). Apokalupto means to uncover. The opposite of ‘apokalupto’ is ‘kalupto’ – “to cover up” or “to hinder the knowledge of a thing”. That the lawless one “will be revealed” suggests that he remains veiled, that is, hidden and unknown among some.
This man is an enigma. He remains a mystery, largely undiscerned by the religious masses. In fact, a great deal of what is called ministry today is ministry that protects that man by veiling him. Among majority of the Lord’s people, there is a general unawareness of who their true enemy is. Some contend against Satan and his legion, with fleshly tactics nonetheless. While others acknowledge the carnal mind as the enemy of Christ, although the focus of their ministry, their programs and teachings say otherwise. A revelation of that man remains to take place.
So, of what significance is the revelation of the man of sin? Dear beloved, once the lawless one is revealed, once his identity and devices are exposed in us, we cannot carry on with business as usual. The revelation of this man is like the discovery of Uzziah in the temple. It calls for our undivided attention. Thus, Jesus warns: “when you see the abomination”, let him who reads (i.e. distinguishes, recognizes) understand!
A true revelation of the Adamic nature will lead to a spiritual reorientation. Those who are experiencing this will begin to fervently seek the “spirit of His mouth” – His words that are spirit and life and that cut like a double edge sword (Rev. 1:16). Truly the revelation of the man of sin will cause men to turn on themselves the sword of the spirit. It will cause them to seek the One who comes riding on their earth conquering and to conquer.
This is the effectual working of the inspired Word of God. Dear saint, do not take lightly the power of the logos. Treasure the word that the Lord is speaking into your heart in this hour. For the word that is going forth from God’s mouth will not return to Him void. Therein is power to consume and destroy everything of Adam. Therein is life to quicken us within to discover and apprehend our real self, our true identity as the sons of God. Christ alone is worth and able to clear our heavens of all idols, to free us from our self-deification, to separate us from the carnal traps of religion, and to quicken us to apprehend the manifestation of His indwelling life.
May God purge our hearts and establish us in the life and victory of His Christ!