In Matthew 24:12, the context of a statement by Christ is the time indicating Christ’s coming and the end of the age. There are two points that immediately stand out with this statement. First, we can know as a fact that lawlessness will increase. Second, love will grow cold as a result.
We can easily acknowledge the first by observation of the world around us. That lawlessness is increasing is an absolute fact. Lawlessness is defined as, “illegality, that is, violation of law or (generally) wickedness.” Many statistics and examples could be listed here; however, we are very aware of the truth of lawlessness increasing.
God makes it plain that Christ’s statement stems from God’s people rejecting Him: “There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land … Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being a priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children … Because they have ceased obeying the Lord” (Hosea 4:1,6,10). Without law, there can only be lawlessness.
God serves as the foundation for objective truth and objective moral value. Without those as a foundation, mankind can only fall back on his own evaluation of what is good and right. That evaluation will exclude God and His law and leads to where we are today.
Our challenge is to prevent this lawless society from causing us to let our love grow cold. It can if we are not protective of the love that flows from a deep connection with God. God is love and “… everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7). A possible outcome for God’s people living in a lawless society could be that our works, “… are neither cold nor hot. …” (Revelation 3:15). Lukewarmness describes a spiritual condition that can develop when we lose the clarity of what Christ’s sacrifice means to us in terms of a personal relationship with our Father.
Through Christ we have access to the source of love – a source which we must tap by our diligent use of God’s Spirit. Paul stresses to the Philippian members (and hence to us) the need for their love to grow: “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11). Notice the end time element – “till the day of Christ”. The end result is a clear vision of God and His plan.
The Apostle Peter said much the same thing when he wrote: “… who through [Christ] believe in God (the Father) who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:21-22). Obeying the truth with minds that can approve things that are excellent will enhance our ability to love.
As we move deeper into the time Christ warns us about regarding His coming and the end of the age, we need the ability to lift our heads above the everyday breakdown of our environment and see the bigger picture. “Where there is no prophetic vision (revelation), the people cast off restraint (lawlessness will abound); but happy is he who keeps the law” (Proverbs 29:18).
Christ gave us the big picture. It should motivate us all the more to keep God’s law and to love one another fervently with a pure heart.