By Brannon S. Howse
The Scripture: For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.
The Twist: People misuse this scripture to argue that the Holy Spirit will be removed during the tribulation, that when the Church is raptured, the Holy Spirit leaves with the Church, and there’s no Holy Spirit left here on earth.
While the twist is wrong, it is correct to say that in this verse, the Holy Spirit is the One who does the restraining. The misuse comes out of confusion over what it means to say that the Holy Spirit “is taken out of the way.”
How do we know the Holy Spirit cannot be removed during the tribulation? It’s because some people will become believers during that period of time, but people cannot become Christians if there is no Holy Spirit to convict them of sin. Besides, God is everywhere. You cannot remove part of the godhead from the presence of God on earth. God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is omnipresent.
Revelation 7:9 tells us the number of people who become believers in the tribulation is so great that no one will be able to them:
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands.
It’s a great multitude which can’t be numbered, but no one—not a single individual—can become a Christian without the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary for someone to come to salvation.
How do we know this? Among the many scriptures that teach this truth, let’s look at John 3:5-6:
"Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
We discussed this earlier, and you’ll recall that the water references Jewish ceremonial washing, the washing of the soul or the washing of the spirit with the Spirit and the Word. Obviously, washing with the Spirit cannot take place if the Spirit is not present. Titus 3:5 also reinforces the point. The verse says, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”
So what does 2 Thessalonians 2:7 mean about the Holy Spirit being “taken out”? This means the Holy Spirit is going to be taken out of the way. Right now, the Holy Spirit is restraining certain things from happening, but when the Holy Spirit no longer restrains these things, the horrors of the tribulation will be allowed to take place. When the Church is removed by the rapture, Christians, who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, are removed, and the Holy Spirit stops restraining incredibly evil things from occurring. He’s still here on earth, but He’s no longer holding the extremes of evil in check.
Although it’s wrong to say the Holy Spirit leaves with the Church at the rapture, the Church does, in fact, leave, regardless of whether you hold to a pre-tribulation or even a mid-tribulation rapture. Meanwhile, don’t get twisted up in wrong thinking about a day when the Holy Spirit takes a hike. He never will.
Copyright 2014 ©Brannon Howse. This content is for Situation Room members and is not to be duplicated in any form or uploaded to other websites without the express written permission of Brannon Howse or his legally authorized representative.