Matthew 24:12 (The Increase of Lawlessness)

Recall that Jesus is answering His disciples’ request for a sign that would precede His coming in judgment and the destruction of the Jewish temple that would mark the end of the Jewish age, and which also typifies His coming in judgment and the end of our present age.  He has warned that false Christs would appear and appeal to people’s desire for a worldly king that caused them to reject Him.  In conjunction with them, false prophets would also arise to mislead many.  They are those who use sophistry to parse God’s word so that it no longer says what it plainly means in order to remove the sharp edge of His sword that would otherwise wound their carnal flesh that they love.  As a result, when faced with persecution and the tribulation that will arise against those in His kingdom by those in the kingdoms of this world, many will take the bait of the false prophets and fall away from the truth to a worldly faith more pleasing to their flesh.  In what ways do we see this happening today?

What additional sign does Jesus give in Mat 24:12?  What is meant by “lawlessness”?  See 1Jo 3:4 and note that the word is used regularly in the LXX for iniquity, transgression, wickedness, etc…  What is the scriptural opposite of lawlessness?  See 2Co 6:14, Heb 1:9.  How does this help us to understand the nature of Christ’s true salvation?  Cf. Tit 2:14.  What is the significance that in each of the four times this word occurs in Matthew it is used in the context of religious pretenders?  See Mat 7:23, 13:40-41, 23:28, 24:11-12.  What does this teach us about the cause of increasing lawlessness in our world?  Is it just the natural proliferation of evil?  Or is lawlessness actually aided by harlot religion that acts like a catalyst, allowing sin to increase to a far greater extent as men use it to justify their worldly ambitions and hide their sinfulness under a cloak of righteousness?  Notice that in Mat 24:12 the NAS increased is translated by the KJV as abound, and means literally multiplied, as in the exponential growth of populations; cf. Act 6:1,7, 7:17, 12:24, etc…  Consider then the close relationship between Mat 24:11 and Mat 24:12, that lawlessness increases specifically because of the false prophets who arise and mislead many, so that they are the catalyst for the increase of evil.  How does this also help us to understand the religious nature of the “man of lawlessness” who will be revealed as a result of the apostasy that Paul writes will occur before the coming of the Lord?  See 2Th 2:3-8.  As the mystery of godliness (1Ti 3:16) is the true Christ in or with or among a people, giving them a true hope of glory (Col 1:27), what is the mystery of lawlessness that was already at work in the first century (2Th 2:7)?  Is it not a false Christ in or with or among a people, giving them a false hope of glory?

What does Jesus say in Mat 24:12 will be the result of the increase of lawlessness by those who pretend to follow Him?  What does it mean for one’s love to grow cold?  See 2Ti 3:1-5; cf. Jam 4:1-4.  How does this describe the lives of so many professing Christians today?  Does it describe us?  What is the danger of one’s love growing cold in a marriage covenant?  What is the danger of our love growing cold in our covenant relationship with Christ?  See Rev 2:2-5.  In contrast to harlot religion that is driven by the unholy spirit of this world and that increases lawlessness by covering sin with a form of godliness, in what way are those who are led by the Holy Spirit of God a preserving influence of righteousness and truth in the world that restrains lawlessness?  See Mat 5:13, and consider again the great danger of our love growing cold so that we lose that preserving influence.

Consider then the sign that Jesus gives in Mat 24:11-12 that will precede His coming: as a result of the peace and safety message of false prophets lawlessness will increase and the love of most who claim to follow Him will grow cold so that many will fall away from the truth and no longer be the salt and light of the world.  How does this help us to understand what it is that Paul says restrains the man of lawlessness (2Th 2:6-7), and why his being revealed is related to a great apostasy from the faith (2Th 2:3)?  Notice that the restrainer is described both as a force (neuter gender, 2Th 2:6) and a person (masculine gender, 2Th 2:7).  See also Rev 9:13-15, 16:12-16 and consider that the great river Euphrates typifies the life-giving waters of the Holy Spirit that restrains the evil powers of darkness, but when dried up paves the way for their release.  Notice especially from Rev 16:15 the relationship of this to the coming of the Lord.  As in our present context, how does this help us better understand the nature of the Lord’s coming?

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