I know the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit will be removed in the last days, but is the increasing lawlessness a sign that the Holy Spirit is releasing His grip already?
The Bible teaches that lawlessness and ungodliness will increase in the last days, but the Bible never suggests that this trend is the result of the Holy Spirit “releasing His grip” on the world. The Lord is always 100% in control of all that happens in Creation, and the rise of lawlessness is according to His eternal purposes.
On the other hand, the Bible does teach that the Holy Spirit is a “restrainer” but only in a very particular sense:
2Th. 2:5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?
2Th. 2:6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed.
2Th. 2:7 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 Holy Spirit is restraining the appearance of the antichrist. This is not a restraint on evil itself but only on the revealing of the antichrist. Until the Holy Spirit is removed with the church at the resurrection (i.e., the rapture), the antichrist’s identity cannot be known. The Holy Spirit is restraining Satan’s ability to bring forth an antichrist to rule the world. Only in the sense is the Holy Spirit a restrainer.
The rise of lawlessness is a trend that must happen even as the Holy Spirit is present and working on the earth, and this rise is according to God’s purposes in bringing about the end of this age. For a more detailed explanation of these matters, we recommend you listen to our in-depth teaching through the book of Revelation.