This article is from the Running FAQ, by Ozzie Gontang with numerous contributions by others.
It is a misconception that a lining is an aid to breathability. It isn't.
It won't make any improvement. As an extra layer of insulation, it will
make condensation inside the jacket MORE likely. What it does is improve
the comfort factor by putting a layer between you and any condensation
which may form on the shiny underside of your coating or membrane. 2-layer
Gore-Tex would be just too fragile without a loose lining to protect it. In
other instances, it's used to mask what's going on (or rather, not) at the
point of greatest resistance!
A mesh lining can achieve the same effect with less resistance to the
passage of water vapour - looks nice too, even if it is a bit of a pain
with Velcro - but the best functional designs will still employ a smooth
lining fabric down the arms to avoid drag over your fleece. But if the mesh
is to do the same job for a poor breathable coating or membrane as a close
weave lining fabric, it has to be made from an absorbent or wicking fibre,
otherwise, there's not much point in having the lining at all.