There are two mysteries at work in the world, the mystery of Christ in man (the new creation rule or law derived from its nature) and the mystery of lawlessness. In other words, two polar opposites exist: the mystery of law and the mystery of lawlessness. Christ in man is God’s law fulfilled—the law of love or liberty expressed; but anyone living outside the scope of Christ inside them is lawless. “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes [who clings to Him in marital fidelity]” (Romans 10:4).
The first mystery, therefore, is the “mystery of the good news” (Ephesians 6:9), otherwise known as “the mystery of Christ” (Colossians 2:2 and 4:3). It is an objective reality offered to “whomsoever will” and a subjective experience only to those who remain faithful to the development of Christ within them until He reigns supreme and mature. It is objective in that it is real even outside the realm of faith but subjective in that it is useless to the individual who does not exercise faith in order to experience it as “the riches of the glory of this mystery...which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
In A. W. Tozer’s preface to his book The Divine Conquest, he called its core argument, “the essential interiority of true religion.” He went on to add that “if we would know the power of the Christian message our nature must be invaded by an Object from beyond it; that That which is external must become internal; that the objective Reality which is God must cross the threshold of our personality and take residence within.” God with us—the definition of “Immanuel”—is the marriage of God to man. That is why adultery is especially heinous and pervasively condemned in Scripture. That is also why faith (a form of the word faithfulness) is a dominant theme in Scripture.
“Do you not know that your bodies are the limbs of Christ? Then shall I take the limbs of Christ and make them the limbs of a whore? Never. Or do you not know that he who clings to a whore is one body with her; for, says scripture, the two shall be one flesh. But he who clings to the Lord is one spirit with him” (1 Corinthians 6:15-17 LATTIMORE). “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined [and be faithfully devoted] to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. THIS MYSTERY [OF TWO BECOMING ONE] IS GREAT; but I am speaking with reference to [the relationship of] Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31-32 AMP).
Too often faith is relegated to a trait not so great as love and something akin to hope. And assuredly, Scripture defines faith in this context but not exactly in the way it is usually interpreted and taught by the church. Real faith—however much it moves mountains by power—is, at its core, not about power but devotion (but ironically a devotion to God who is All-Powerful). The power in faith is incidental; devotion or love is fundamental. Love is greater than faith not because of an intrinsic and essential difference, but because love is faith consummated or glorified. It is possible to have faith without love but impossible to have love without faith. Love subsumes and intensifies faith (as well as hope); love is both faith-FULL and hope-FULL—and still greater! Love is indeed a great mystery; two becoming one is way beyond cognizance and greater than the sum of two parts (especially when one of those parts is an infinite God). It is even emotive and visceral beyond feeble feeling and gut reaction. May we indeed “be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19 NASB).
The second mystery is “The MYSTERY OF LAWLESSNESS [rebellion against divine authority and the coming reign of lawlessness] is already at work; [but it is restrained] only until he who now restrains it [the Holy Spirit] is taken out of the way. Then the lawless one [the Antichrist] will be revealed and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of His mouth and bring him to an end by the appearance of His coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8 AMP). Like never before, the Holy Spirit and His church empowered is being “taken out of the way,” not in wholesale and sudden effect, but in attritional and erosional breakdown as we hinge from one age to another. The great falling away expressed as many hearts waxing cold by fearing what is coming on the earth seems to have spanned most of our lifetimes.
Theologian Matthew Poole (1624-1679), obviously many years prior to our day—and concerning these same verses—said that “Right now, this lawlessness is a mystery—that it is, it can only be seen and understood by revelation. Otherwise it is hidden. It is not open sin and wickedness, but dissembled piety, specious errors, wickedness under a form of godliness cunningly managed that is herein meant.” Surely our day is closer to the rapture of the church and the evil revelation of the lawless one as is clearly the nature of linear time, but as many theologians think, it is a span of time rather than a moment of time that precedes this “twinkling of an eye” rapture moment. Consequently, a form of godliness without power is being exposed in deepening layers in our time; blatant and even militant godlessness is now promoted openly, unashamedly and blasphemously without hardly a whit of conscience pang.
Always a microcosm of a macrocosm occurs in the inner recesses of man; when a church or person becomes devoid of the Spirit that church or person reflects an antichrist spirit (as the world reflects it wholesale in the macrocosm). The deep darkness covering the peoples prefigures all hell breaking loose. Whatever can be shaken is shaken away; whatever is rooted and firm remains. Therefore, whether someone is entrenched in sin or hidden in Christ is being exposed by the dawning fiery light of the manifesting Day of the Lord. The great falling away is happening right before our eyes and the scarcely being saved righteous are reeling like drunkards in the tidal wave demarcation process. Yet the Christ in us hope is also beginning to flame to a high, hot and gloriously bright conflagration. Two mysteries are resolving in the resulting fire. “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is” (1 Corinthians 3:13 KJV).