2 Thessalonians 2:11—How can God send a lie for people to believe and yet not allow liars in heaven?

Problem: Paul wrote, “And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie” (2 Thes. 2:11). But Revelation 21:8 says, “the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” But it seems inconsistent for God to condemn liars and yet send such a strong delusion that people should believe a lie.

Solution: God does not send a lie but simply confirms those who do not wish to believe the truth. God is not responsible (i.e., culpable) for those who go to hell. For it is because of their rejection of the Gospel that they eventually end up there, not because of God’s negligence. The context of this passage reveals that man has already rejected the Gospel of Christ. Paul says that when the Antichrist comes, he will come with signs and false wonders with all deception of wickedness (2 Thes. 2:8–10). These things happen for “those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (v. 10). When God sends the deluding influence, Paul says He does so in order “that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (v. 12). They have chosen to reject God rather than to accept His provision of salvation. God is not sending the lie to trick people, but He sends delusions to reveal human depravity in which they choose evil over good.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.