Erle Stanley Gardner, creator of Perry Mason, the fictional criminal defense attorney, had nothing on the apostle Paul. Gardner reported on the great lawyer as he solved all his cases, winning acquittal for his clients at every turn. But Paul, the former Saul of Tarsus, brought the world the story of resolution to what will be the greatest mystery of all time–that wrapped up in the case of the missing millions.
There is some interesting interplay to be found here, believe me. While Perry’s mysteries were to entertain us as he got his innocent clients off the proverbial hook within human courtrooms, Paul’s “mystery” involves us as the subjects of all being guilty in God’s Court of Righteousness. Paul explains how each of us–each human being–can be gotten off that hook, even though we are already proven guilty!
Perry always carefully defined the crime of which his client was accused. We knew the client was innocent…well…because of the very fact that Perry Mason was defending him or her. Paul places the crime of which we–all human beings–are accused within one, simple statement: “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work” (2 Thessalonians 2:7a).
We know that we are all guilty as charged under this “mystery of iniquity” because of Paul’s words that report condemnation by the God of Heaven: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
So, “sin” is at the heart of this “mystery.” That mystery is working in the world today as it has always been active. It is scheduled to get much worse as the Dispensation of Grace (Church Age) nears its end. “But evil men and seducers shall [become] worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13).
So, whereas the fictional Mr. Mason’s clients were presumed innocent, each of us–you and I–is, in fact, guilty as charged. This is because of original sin.
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).
The original man, Adam, partook of the fruit of the forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. That act of rebellion started that mystery called “iniquity” upon planet earth. Apparently that mystery was already present in Lucifer, one of the Lord’s most majestic angels. This is what God says about that long ago mystery:
Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou was perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee (Ezekiel 28:13-17)
This magnificent creature became full of pride (read Isaiah 14:14). He came to the planet prepared for God’s creation called man. Lucifer–now called Satan–did his iniquitous work effectively and continues to do it effectively.
Man is therefore as guilty in the court of God’s righteousness as are the fallen angels (those who rebelled with Lucifer all those eons ago).
Paul the apostle–a mere man, fallen like the rest of us, until he was declared “not guilty”–is only the Supreme’s Court reporter. He tells us of the one and only Attorney who can successfully handle each case involving the mystery of iniquity before the eternal bench of God the Judge.
Here are John the apostle’s words on that Great Advocate:
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2: 1-2)
Our Attorney is far superior to Perry Mason or any earthly attorney. He is Jesus Christ–the very Son of the Supreme Judge–God, the Father. When Jesus defends, it is a guaranteed “Not Guilty” verdict! Our defense rests upon our plea that we believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of our Advocate, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul, the court reporter, says of that plea, a plea each of us must make as we turn our desperate case over to our Attorney, whom we trust completely:
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10: 9-10)
Jesus, the Christ, stands between us and eternal punishment. He is our only hope. And He never fails to win our acquittal.
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5)
Paul expounds on a further “mystery” that will be handled by the Lord Jesus Christ. This eternal legal action will not only keep us from God the Judge’s courtroom of condemnation; the action will get all of Jesus Christ’s clients–those who believe as described above–completely off this condemned planet at some stupendous moment just ahead!
Paul the court reporter tells us of this all-important action:
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:15-16)
He states further:
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)
Thus the case of the missing millions will conclude. Mystery will be solved. Comforting words indeed! Even so, come, Lord Jesus!