“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
There is a day approaching when the world will find cause for unrestrained joy. It will be the day that the Lord removes all believers in Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul describes that day in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the lord.”
Jesus mentioned this day years earlier and His words are recorded in John 14:3,”I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
What Jesus and Paul are saying is that there will be a day when there are absolutely no believers in the world. That will be a day of rejoicing for the world but the rejoicing will be short-lived. In the verse at the head of this article Paul tells us that what is restraining evil in the world will be removed. That will be the opportunity for wickedness and evil to blossom unrestrained.
We are not left solely to our imaginations. Paul gives a brief outline of the character of the world in that day. It may appear to have already come but it is not yet the total character and full expression of what it will be. The presence of the Holy Spirit in Christ’s church still restrains wickedness and evil. The preaching of God’s word is contrary to the way the world wants to go and it currently acts as a restraint. The world is finding less opposition than in the past but there is still considerable restraint on wickedness through believers. When those who love Jesus Christ, teach His word and faithfully witness to the risen Christ are removed, those whom the Lord has given over to believe a lie (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12) will have their day. What will the character of the world look like when all godly influence is removed?
Paul gives us a brief description in 2 Timothy 3:1-4. People will love themselves. This means that they will have no concern for anyone but “number one.” They will have a love for money and they will boast in their achievements full of pride. They will give no credit to the grace of God but take all credit to themselves. Children will be disobedient and rebellious toward their parents. People will be unthankful, unholy, unloving unforgiving, slanderers and totally without self discipline. They will be brutal toward each other, hate that which is good, treacherous in relationships, trampling over others and laughing at those they consider weak. Their one great love is themselves and this will be expressed in an insatiable love for pleasure with little or no thought for others or their Creator.
You may say this is a current description of our world. In many ways it is but there is still a restraint. Imagine what it will be like when there is no restraint! The good news in this account of the future world is that Jesus Christ will intervene to fulfill His covenant with Israel and redeem multitudes, both Jew and Gentile, out of this corrupt world.