What is more important, I think, is being able to identify the Lawlessness to which he is ascribed (2 Thess. 2:3). This seems to be a topic that is largely untouched by the mainstream church, and much to its own detriment! Biblically speaking, this is not a hard topic to figure out. But I think because of its blinders towards the Law of Yahweh, the modern church cannot see it, and again, much to its peril!
For the student of scripture, they know that Law, as translated in most English bibles, is the translation of the word "Torah" in Hebrew, which more accurately means, "Instruction" rather than "Law". Through certainly the past century, there has been a gradual drifting away from the Law within the church as binding upon believers lives. Gradually people began less and less to see the world upheld and governed by the Laws of God, and more and more of a Gentile understanding that Jesus came to set us free from the Law, because it is a "ministry of death, written on tablets of stone" (2 Cor. 3:7).
This is an example of a Gentile (non-Hebraic) misunderstanding of scriptures. Of course the Law (Torah) is a ministry of death to people, because of our sinful nature and attitudes. We would much rather follow the law of Crawley, "Do as thou wilt..." rather than keep the Law of Yahweh, whose very words are life:
Deuteronomy 30:15-20 15 "See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; 16 in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. 17 "But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. 19 "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, 20 by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them."
So we see from the Torah, in Dt. 30, that Yahweh commands his covenant people, the Israelites, and the sojourners among them, that His word is life! To obey Yahweh's word is life and prosperity, and to deny it, to disobey it, is death and adversity. And so we see the proclaimed Church in the world, proclaiming that we have been set free from the Law by the very one who claimed to be the Word of Elohim in the flesh, the Messiah, Son of David.
But what did Yeshua teach? He taught:
Matthew 5:17-19 17 "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 "Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Yeshua said that He did not come to abolish the Torah, but to fulfill it. And he did fulfill some of it, known as the Spring feasts (mo'edim). But he is still to fulfill the Fall feasts! That is, "until heaven and earth pass away, not the [least part] shall pass from the Torah, till all is accomplished!
Did anyone see if heaven and earth passed away yet? Oh wait, ok, we're all sitting here, the heavens and earth are still all around us. Ok, it didn't pass away. Whew! I'm so relieved! Aren't you? So why then do we think the Torah passed away? Can anyone say Gentile Dummies? Yes, that is what we are, and have been for the past two thousand years! Because in our anti-Semitic bias, we have refused to see it, and we have spurned, and kicked against the word of God, all the while proclaiming a love for God and his people (except the Jews, His people).
For two thousand years, we have had Gentile leaders of a Semitic religion. The Gentiles really did hi-jack Christianity, and morphed it into our anti-Semitic, Greek/Roman/Babylonian form! And so that brings me back around to the theme of the blog, whose identity is more important, the man, or his lawlessness?
I think as a follower of Messiah Yeshua, my brother and king from Judah (yes, he was a Jew, not a Palestinian), that identifying the Lawlessness is far more important, especially when God's word, and obedience to it are life! Didn't Peter say to his rabbi, "To whom shall we go? You have the words of life!" For the orthodox Jew, this has the ring of Torah (Deuternomy 30) to it, and again, a Messianic confession!
The apostle John, the beloved of Yeshua, warned his readers about the spirit of lawlessness in his day:
1 John 2:18-19 18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.
1 John 2:22 22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.
In my Gentile understanding, brought in a Southern Baptist church, I used to think that this meant those who had left the Church, that is, the Protestant Church. Now, understanding that "the secret of Yhwh is for those who fear Him, and to them He makes known His Covenant (Ps. 25:14)," I see that the Jewish apostle was writing of those who were "leaving the Church" of his day, those who were turning away from the sound doctrines of scripture, that is, Torah/Tanak. John tells us that they had/have a spirit of antichrist! He tells us in 3:4 that sin is lawlessness (torah-lessness)!
So today, what do we have in most churches across America? We have the spirit of antichrist, the spirit of lawlessness, where the pastors proclaim confidently and unashamedly to turn people away from the Law of the Most High, through which He will reign again upon His return (cf. Ezek. 40-48).
The Great Deceiver in our midst has already proclaimed that the Cross is to no avail, and it "did not work!" And he is gathering all his children to him already!
So how about you? Are you in a church where they proclaim Jesus set us free from following the Law (Torah)? You should flee from there, get yourself into a congregation of believers who want to keep the instruction of Yahweh, who want to keep His word, His Sabbath, and His Mo'edim, as He proclaims in His word! Are you a pastor preparing people to accept the anti-Messiah, and his doctrine of lawlessness? Even most of America's big-name, celebrity preachers are doing so, leading people astray, they are wolves in sheeps clothing, ravening the sheep.