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.2 Thessalonians 2:7(NASB)
The word 'mystery' in the Bible, is not talking about some mystifying enigma or something that is esoteric or eerie. A mystery in Scripture is a truth that has been hidden from previous generations and is only made known to the people of God, by direct, divine revelation, and at God's appointed time.
There are many New Testament mysteries that were hidden from Old Testament saints - truths that were to be revealed to the people of God, through Paul, and the other New Testament writers, during the 'Dispensation of the Grace of God' - the Church Age.
Paul spoke of many mysteries, including, 'The Mystery of Christ and the Church', 'The Mystery of the Gospel', 'The Mystery of Godliness', 'The Mystery of the Rapture', 'The Mystery of the Kingdom' and 'The Mystery of Christ in you the Hope of Glory'. In 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2, Paul explains about the Mystery of Lawlessness, "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 mystery of lawlessness was at work in the days of the early Church and it continues to be manifested today. However, then as now, evil and lawlessness is currently being held back and suppressed, by the One Who restrains evil - the Holy Spirit. But a day is fast approaching when the Restrainer of evil will be removed and unrestrained lawlessness will be loosed upon the earth.
The mystery of lawlessness was already well established in the days of Paul, and lawlessness continues to work its poison into the fabric of today's modern society. Nevertheless, it is largely hidden by governments, nations, communities, and individuals under a veiled pretense of a shrouded morality. It is lurking in broken legal systems and biased justice departments, and it pays lip-service to a form of godliness that is divorced from truth of Scripture and the fruit of righteousness.
Down through the centuries, insurrections, anarchy, rebellion, and lawless behaviour has been working to tarnish every individual, every society, every nation, every culture, and every age, but God in His grace has always restricted the level of evil in the world. And during this current dispensation the Holy Spirit, Who indwells all Church-age saints, is restraining evil, through the prayers, praises, and presence of believers, who are called to be salt and light in a dark and putrefying world of sin and lawlessness.
The restraining work of the Holy Spirit, which is often carried out through the lives and witness of believers, will be halted, when the Church is removed at the close of this current dispensation. The Power that restrains evil will be 'unplugged' as soon as the Rapture takes place. Then the intensity of insurrections, anarchy, rebellion, and lawlessness will spiral to hitherto unreached heights, as the floodgates of evil are flung wide open for seven years, during the coming time of Great Tribulation.
Oh, the Holy Spirit, Who is omnipresent, will still be on earth to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgement, for He is omnipresent... but His specific work of restraining evil, through the prayers and praises of Church age saints will come to an end at the Rapture. And once the Restrainer is taken out of the way, the man of sin will be revealed. Once the Church is raptured, lawlessness will become unfettered and the floodgates of evil will be flung wide open.
It is at this point that the lawless one is revealed. It is when the Restrainer is removed, that the Day of the Lord will be ready to begin. It is after the Rapture that the antichrist comes onto the scene, and he will confirm a covenant on earth which will usher in the seven-year Tribulation and unrestrained evil will be unleashed in a God-hating, Christ-rejecting, sinful world. Morality and principles will crumble as anarchy becomes commonplace.
Knowing this, we need to ask ourselves what sort of people should we be? What sort of direction should our lives take? Surely we should be careful to make ourselves ready for the return of Christ and at the same time, we should be holy in all our conversation and conduct, as we look for the any-day return of the Lord. But also, we should do all we can to share the good news of the Gospel of Grace to those who are yet unsaved - for the Gospel of Christ is the power of salvation to all who believe.
May God give each one of us the opportunity to tell others that Jesus died for our sin, was buried and rose again from the dead, and that all who believe on His name, will be rescued from the wrath to come, as lawlessness engulfs the earth in the coming time of Great Tribulation.
Heavenly Father, thank You for warning us of what is to come and thank You that we are saved by grace and not appointed to wrath - when unrestrained lawlessness will be unleashed, when the Restrainer - the Holy Spirit, is taken out of the way. Thank You for the privilege of being Your witnesses on earth, so that the world may know that Jesus is Lord and that faith in Him brings salvation of the soul and life everlasting, to all who believe. Teach me to be more like You and guide me in the difficult days in which we live. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.