They Refused to Love the Truth

2 Thessalonians 2:9–12

Principle for Bible Reading

The Bible is clear that people are perishing in rebellion against God. One of the most important questions we can ask is why people perish, and how we can avoid that fate. In this lab, John Piper looks at the relationship between what we believe and what we love in determining our eternal destiny.

View the outline.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:48)

Why Do People Perish? (01:48–03:05)

By loving the truth — not just by believing the truth — we are saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:10)

  1. The Thessalonians refused to love the truth. (2 Thessalonians 2:10)
  2. Because they did not love the truth, God brings judgment against them. His judgment is belief in false things. (2 Thessalonians 2:11)
  3. They did not even believe in the truth. (2 Thessalonians 2:12)
  4. They took pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:12)

Belief and Love (03:05–05:30)

  1. In 2 Thessalonians 2:12, Paul draws a contrast between not believing in the truth and a pleasure in unrighteousness (“but”). He does not diagnose their lack of faith as a lack of facts, but as a broken love for unrighteousness.
  2. People love the darkness rather than light, and therefore do not come to the light (the truth). (John 3:19)
  3. The deepest problem in the world is that fallen human beings do not love truth. We love what will serve our fallen appetites.

Application (05:30–08:16)

  1. Therefore, we can’t only focus on facts in our ministry. We need to also pray and work against ours and others’ love for sin.
  2. As long as our hearts are still in a love affair with sin, we’ll find every reason to deny the truth.
  3. The same principles in exist in 1 Corinthians 13:6: “Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but in truth.”
  4. Therefore, go deep in your soul and find the real obstacles to belief. They are always deeper than facts. They are, at their root, a love for darkness.

Study Questions

  1. In 2 Thessalonians 2:10, Paul mentions those who are perishing. Based on the immediate context, why are they perishing?
  2. Explain the “but” in 2 Thessalonians 2:12. What two things is Paul contrasting?
  3. How might 2 Thessalonians 2:9–12 affect how you minister to your own heart and to others? What, if anything, would you do differently?
Piper: “The real obstacles to our faith are much deeper than facts. They are our love affairs with darkness.”