In Adam and Eve, all was lost for the human race. One of the principle deceptions which caused the fall of Eve was the temptation to become like God. (See Genesis 3:5.) This has been one of that ancient serpent’s most successful temptations, and it has sent billions of people to eternal destruction.
To understand the essence of the great apostasy which would have a leader who sits as God in the temple of God, as described by Paul in II Thessalonians 2:4, we must first understand, from the Bible, what prerogatives God has which men and women, or even angels, do not have. For a person to sit as God, in the temple of God, he must assume powers or prerogatives that God has but that men do not have.
First, God has the ultimate right to decide what is right and wrong. God has not only determined, in advance, what right and wrong are, but He considers this subject so important that He has not even entrusted it to man to write down—He has written it down with His own finger in stone, and He has said that He will not change it. (See Psalm 89:34.) “…Whatever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken from it.” Ecclesiastes 3:14. This law is exceedingly broad (Psalm 119:96) so that it is impossible to do anything wrong without breaking it. and it is impossible to practice righteousness without keeping it. The Bible says, “…all Your commandments are righteousness.” Psalm 119:172. All unrighteousness is sin, which is breaking the law (I John 5:17; 3:4.) For this reason the wise man said that the commandments of God comprise the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14.)
In the judgment only one question will be asked, and that question will be, “Did this person keep My law?” (See Revelation 22:14; 14:12.) Obedience proves that the Holy Spirit has regenerated a person’s heart and spirit and that he is walking according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh (Romans 8.) Jesus said that nobody could be saved unless they had been born again of the Holy Spirit (John 3:5.)
Christians submit themselves to human or civil ordinances and laws (I Peter 2:13) as long as the laws do not contradict the law of God, but if the human ordinance contradicts the law of God, then Peter and all his spiritual brethren say, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29.
Concerning the moral law (the Ten Commandments) James 4:12 says that there is only one lawgiver who can save or destroy. There are not two or three lawgivers. The Apostles were never given this authority, and since the apostles were never given this authority, obviously the church does not have this authority, because the church has no authority which was not given to the 12 apostles. Even the angels have not been given authority over the law of God.
The temple of God (II Thessalonians 2:4,) of course, is the church of God. Writing only to the saints and to the faithful in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:1,) Paul says, “…the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:21, 22.
So any person in the professed church of Christ, any “church board,” “church committee,” “diocese,” “conference,” “church congregation,” “church,” or “church organization” that attempts to make a moral requirement, in addition to or in contradiction of the Ten Commandments, has thereby set himself, or themselves, up as God in the temple of God. By that very act they become part of the antichrist.
Lucifer, or Satan, is the true antichrist, but if we attempt to assume one of the prerogatives of God like He did, we become part of antichrist.
God will not give to any angel, man, or group of men the prerogatives that He has reserved for Himself. One of those prerogatives is the right to be the moral lawgiver. The lawgiver is also the Saviour (See James 4:12,) so the lawgiver who gave the Ten Commandments is none other than Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12,) the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
The authority which God would not give to Lucifer, which he did not give to any of the prophets or apostles, which Jesus said was as enduring as heaven and earth (Luke 16:17) will always endure. Human governments and churches must always remember that they will never be able to judge the law; rather the law will judge them. (James 2:8-12.)