The above text is directing our thoughts to the future. Both letters written to the Thessalonians had to address the subject. Some incorrect teaching had gotten started and Paul had to give some clarifications. It was feared that the Day of the Lord was upon them (i.e. God's judgement of the world and Christ's second coming to rule). That time was not yet happening for two reasons:
1) Christ will first come and gather His church, removing them from the earth (II Thessalonians 2:1-2 cp. I Thessalonians 4:13-18; 5:4-11).
2) A great apostacy must take place and the man of sin / the son of perdition / that Wicked one ("lawless one") must rise to power and deceive the nations (II Thessalonians 2:3-10; I Thessalonians 5:1-3 cp. "antichrist" - I John 2:18; 4:3).
In discussing the rise of the antichrist, Paul said that there is a great restraint on evil in the world (i.e. the presence of Christ's Spirit through the Church - John 16:7-13). "The mystery of iniquity" ("the mystery of lawlessness") is already at work in the world, but "He" (Christ's Spirit through the church) is restraining that secret power until "He" is taken out of the way. Then that Wicked / lawless one shall be revealed (II Thessalonians 2:6-8). [note: the NKJV capitalizes the word "He" in verse 7]
So, now we must discuss this "mystery of iniquity" that is already at work in the world. It is connected to the spirit of antichrist (I John 2:18, 22; 4:1-3; II John 7). How far back can we trace the mystery of iniquity / lawlessness? The Gospel starts in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15). There was one law given - don't eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The serpent poured contempt on that law and enticed Eve to break it, which also lead to Adam's disobedience. So, after Satan had tempted and man had fallen, God revealed His plans and gave promises. He said that there would be enmity / hatred between the serpent (and his seed) and the woman (and her seed). God also said that the seed of the woman (Christ) would bruise the head of the serpent (Satan). In turn, the serpent would only bruise His heel. From that moment on there would be a spiritual war on earth. See Genesis 3:1-15 cp. 4:1-26; 6:5-8; I John 3:4-13; John 15:17-23; 16:33.
Satan's name means "enemy." He is the enemy of God and man. He is dedicated to defiling that which is holy (Isaiah 14:12-17). He is a liar and a murderer (John 8:41-45). From the moment God pronounced judgement against him, Satan tried to destroy "the seed of the woman." Though deceiving and destroying man in general, he was looking for that particular one, whom God said would crush his head. This lead to attacks that focused on the people of Israel - the ones whom God would use to bring us the Scriptures and the Messiah (Romans 9:4-5 cp. Psalm 83:1-5). When the Son of God was manifested on the earth, Satan poured out resistance, stirring up both secular and religious people to attack Him (Psalm 2:1-3; Acts 4:24-28). Satan thought that he could destroy Jesus Christ at the cross. Instead, Satan was defeated when Jesus rose from the dead (I Corinthians 2:6-8; 15:20-25; Romans 1:1-4; Colossians 2:14-15 cp. I John 3:8; Matthew 28:18; Acts 17:30-31; Revelation 1:12-18).
Satan is defeated, but he is not surrendering. He is at work defying and defiling the work of the Gospel. Satan is assaulting the kingdom of Christ, prior to Christ's second coming, in which the Lord will rule the world and ultimately put down all His enemies. Satan is not hopeful of defeating Christ. He is wrathful, like a desperate and bitter criminal who knows that he is about to be captured, tried, convicted, and sentenced for life. See John 12:31-33; Revelation 10:7; 12:7-12; Romans 16:20.
The Mystery of Iniquity means that most people do not understand why there is evil in the world. They create philosophies, like Yin and Yang, saying that evil is just a necessary part of the balance of life. Or, they blame others, including God, religion, government, society in general, or specific people that they don't like. They certainly don't want to take responsibility themselves. They don't understand the mysterious dark kingdom of Satan and the cosmic battle going on between Satan and Christ (Matthew 4:1-11). See II Corinthians 4:3-4; 11:3-4, 13-15; Ephesians 2:1-3 cp. Hebrews 2:14-15; Colossians 1:12-13; Acts 26:18; I John 2:12-17; 5:18-21.
Mystery Babylon is the climax of a world government and world religion that has been developing throughout history by the antichrist spirit that is in the world. The actual antichrist, who is described in II Thessalonians chapter 2, will bring this to a dramatic world-wide effort to turn all men from the worship and service of God and His Christ (I John 2:18; 4:3; II Thessalonians 2:3-4). God shall bring this whole ungodly system to destruction and establish His Son as Lord of all. Please carefully read Revelation chapters 17 - 20.
We must not dwell on evil, but we must also be careful not to be ignorant of Satan's devices and the great war that we are in. Put on the whole armor of God and resist the Devil, being steadfast in the faith! See Revelation 2:24; I Corinthians 2:9-13; II Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 4:26-27; 6:10-18 James 4:6-10; I Peter 5:5-10 cp. Job chapters 1 - 2; II Timothy 4:1; I John 4:1-6.
To be Continued…. The Mystery of Christ and the Church - Ephesians 5:32