So, we are continuing our series today based on the Book of Revelation entitled “The Revelation”—this being the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ in His resurrected and glorified state! So, it is a message containing the good news of Jesus’ ultimate victory, not just the bad news that most have made it out to be. That means that when we read this Book, we don’t need to get stuck in the chapters in the middle that prophesy the negative things that will take place during the end-times. No, we need to understand that Jesus, being the Alpha and the Omega, is the beginning and the end of this Book of Revelation. So, let’s focus on our ultimate destination of victory, not the bumps in the road before we get there.
So, we are now on part six of this teaching and we have covered some important things in the first five parts:
NOW ARISES THE BEAST
So now, let’s move on to chapter 13 in the apostle John’s Book of Revelation where we see something else “arising” (literally, a beast arising from the sea). Now we understand that this “beast” is what is commonly referred to as the antichrist. And, oh, we’ve all heard a lot about this guy, haven’t we? Heck, some of us might have even been a part of those conversations. But the antichrist has certainly been a topic of conversation in a lot of parts of Christendom because people’s desire to identify him or when he is coming has been a hot topic of discussion for some time.
Now the “antichrist” is described by the apostle Paul as “the man of sin” and “the son of perdition” (perdition being a state of eternal condemnation and damnation) (See Second Thessalonians 2:3-4). Paul goes on in this passage to describe the antichrist as the one who “opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped.” Paul even describes him as one who will “sit as God in the temple of God…”
But what the apostle John saw in Revelation chapter 13 was different: He saw some kind of beast rising out of the sea.
Now as it is with the devil himself, the antichrist is not going to come looking like this beast that John saw. As we’ve noted, the things John saw were from a heavenly, spiritual perspective. So, what we will see from this earthly perspective will not appear like this at all. It will be much more deceptive and appealing to those who do not know the truth. You see, the devil himself comes as an angel of light, and his earthly representative will come in like fashion to where the whole world will be deceived, including many Christians.
But that’s just about all I am going to say about him. And the reason why is because I don’t want to glorify and magnify him any more than he already has been.
HOW TO HANDLE THE COUNTERFEIT
You see, I wonder why there is this inordinate desire in people to talk about him. I’m of the opinion, that instead of emphasizing the antichrist, why don’t we focus our attention on being more “Pro-Christ” (which is essentially being Pro-Life because He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life).
You see, the prefix “anti” literally means “against, opposed to, opposite of, or instead.” So, all the antichrist is, is a “Christ counterfeit.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed that the devil loves to copy the original article and use the things of God for his own purposes. And he does the same here with the first beast, known as the antichrist.
But like I have learned through years in banking, the best way for one to recognize a counterfeit is to study the genuine article thoroughly. When I handled money for hours on end, I found that when a counterfeit bill was presented to me that it stuck out like a sore thumb. Now the client who accepted the fake bill didn’t recognize it when someone passed it off on them nor did they recognize it when I told them it was fake. But to the person who handled money all day, a counterfeit bill was obvious.
It is for that reason that I strongly believe Christians should spend the majority of their time studying the truth as opposed to error. I have seen believers spend their time studying this false religion and this bad doctrine in an attempt to become more familiar with it. They do it for noble reasons such as wanting to reach the people who ascribe to those wrong beliefs or so to make sure they don’t fall for those lies. But I am of the persuasion that we need to be doing the opposite—both becoming so familiar with the Word of God and spending time getting to know the Word Himself. The reason is because as it is with recognizing counterfeit currency, the more we know the true, genuine article, the more we will be able to distinguish between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
Speaking of handling money, do you remember how John said in First John 1:1 that he had “handled” the Word of Life. Then he proceeds in his epistle to talk about the spirit of error and how they can be kept from being deceived by the spirit of antichrist. So, the protection from deception of the antichrist spirit is found in having heard, seen, and handled the truth Himself. This is certainly done through studying the truth to show ourselves approved, but it is also in knowing Jesus on a personal and intimate level. If we handle Christ like so we will have a hard time being deceived when the spirit of antichrist is before us.
In fact, it’s not just the anti-christ that we see in the 13th chapter of Revelation: It’s the Anti-Trinity! If you read the entire chapter, you see that the dragon (i.e. the devil) was the one who gave the antichrist his power, throne, and authority (See Revelation 13:2) just like God the Father gave His Christ the same. We even see in verse 3 about how the antichrist apparently will have a mortal, deadly wound to his head (See verse 3) and that wound will be healed. Some take this to mean that he will be raised from the dead, which will cause the world to marvel and follow him. Sounds a lot like Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, doesn’t it? Again, the devil’s plan is to ultimately counterfeit what the Lord God has done!
Then, moving on to verse 11, we see another beast coming out of the earth and this one—known by many as the false prophet—is said to exercise all the authority of the first beast and cause everyone on the earth to worship the antichrist that he is representing. I don’t know about you, but that sounds an awful lot like the Holy Ghost who is said to not do things on his own authority but to represent the Lord Jesus Christ and lead us all to glorify Him. This false prophet also is said to perform all kinds of great signs on the earth for the antichrist similarly to how the Holy Spirit is here with us today to perform various signs, wonders and miracles through the Christ’s church.
So, again, what we see in this chapter is not just the antichrist, we see the anti-trinity: The dragon, who is the devil, being a type of God the Father. The antichrist being a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. And the false prophet being a type of the Holy Spirit. The devil will counterfeit everything that is God.
THE RANK & FILE OF THE KINGDOM OF DARKNESS
We even see this in the rank & file of the kingdom of darkness in Ephesians 6:12 where Paul describes the devil’s structure of authority with his demons. In this verse, we are told— “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Now it is noteworthy that the apostle Paul began by saying that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. Why, you ask? It is because that is exactly what the devil wants us to think—that our warfare is carnal and aim all of our aggression on other physical human beings. If the devil can get you and I to aim our anger at other people and see them as the issue, then we are playing on his turf. This means that we are giving the devil the home-field advantage. No, the truth is that we are really wrestling with the devil’s workers, which is a specific structure, rank and file.
Paul begins by referring to the first class of demonic spirits called “principalities”: The word used for “principalities” is the Greek word arche. This word literally means “first ones, leaders, or preeminent ones from ancient times.” It is where the title “arch angels” comes from, which are the highest-ranking angels in God’s kingdom. So, it would be accurate to say that “principalities” are Satan’s “arch demons.” In other words, they are the highest-ranking demons in his army.
Interestingly enough, Satan is called in Ephesians 2:2, “the prince of the power of the air” and in John 12:31 and 16:11, he is called “the prince of this world.” The word “prince” that is used in these references comes from a derivative of this same word for arche, the word archon—thus showing us that just as Satan is referred to as a ruler or a prince, these principalities have been given a ruling position within the devil’s ranks.
Now the next group of demonic spirits listed are “powers.” The Greek word for “powers” is the word exousia and would better be translated as “authorities.” These are apparently the second level in the ranks of Satan’s army. They are the demonic spirits that were given a certain amount of authority by Satan himself and they exercise that authority over the next two levels of demonic spirits listed.
These two levels of demonic spirits are the classifications of demons that we more regularly deal with in our everyday lives— “the rulers of the darkness of this age” & “spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Let’s quickly look at the third level in Satan’s kingdom— “the rulers of the darkness of this age.” The word “rulers” here comes from the Greek word kosmokrateros, which describes “raw ruling power that has been brought into order and arranged.” So, this particular class of demons has been brought into rank and file and specifically arranged so that their raw power can be best utilized against this “age.” The word “age” describes the “characteristics of a society.” This means that these demonic spirits’ jobs are to influence and inspire society’s philosophies and ideas. Inspire them with what? Paul revealed to us that their job is to flood our society with “darkness!” In other words, “the rulers of the darkness of this age” focus more on a specific generation’s belief system and on a specific society’s philosophies rather than working against us on an individual level. In other words, these demons are working more on this world’s system than they are on us individually.
You see, this is why the devil is called in Second Corinthians 4:4, “the god of this world.” This title reveals to us that what Satan rules over is this world’s system—influencing the population’s general beliefs, ways of thinking and philosophies. And he obviously does this through this particular class of his army— “the rulers of the darkness of this age.”
Now, the fourth and final level of demonic spirits that Paul listed are the ones that we more regularly deal with in our everyday lives. And they are called “spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” First of all, notice that they are called “hosts.” This word “hosts” carries with it the idea that there are a bunch of these particular kinds of demons—denoting a multitude. So, this means that this is likely the most populated classification of demons.
Yes, there are thousands upon thousands of these lowest ranking demon spirits, and Paul says that they are “in the heavenly places.” Now this term “heavenly places” describes the earth’s atmosphere all around us. And the phrase “of wickedness” shows us that they are simply imitating their master…
Now when you study out this word “wickedness” you see that it describes things that are “evil, bad and vile.” Therefore, the desire of these spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places is to influence us into all that is evil, bad, or vile, which would include “sin, ungodliness, oppression, sickness, poverty, etc.” These are the demons that get directly involved in our lives and try to manifest “wickedness” in us, whether it be by trying to influence us to sin and live ungodly or by trying to bind us with some sort of physical, emotional or mental infirmity.
THE POWER OF UNITY
So, when combining both what we’ve seen in Revelation chapter 13 and Ephesians 6:12, we can clearly see that the kingdom of darkness is not disorderly and chaotic. There is actually a lot of organization in the devil’s camp. Therefore, by seeing the order and arrangement that Satan has in his army, we can understand why he has been so effective against mankind. It is because we tend to succumb to one of the devil’s biggest ploys, which is to divide or de-unify us.
Friends, we have countless things that promote division in our world today. Naturally, we have things like political factions and racism. Spiritually, we have our denominations and our doctrines. On the other hand, the devil has had his army working together and thus the reason for his success and our failures. We have far greater power in us than he has and if we could learn to come together and operate in our proper rank and file, we would be unstoppable by the enemy. Amen?
So it is no wonder why Satan fights unity so much! It is because He fears the body of believers who might join together with one common goal. This is why you see church splits. This is why you see division in the community. And this is why you see such an escalation of divorce. It is because his number one goal is to divide! For a house divided against itself cannot stand.
Do you remember when Jesus was accused of casting out demons by Beelzebub (see Mark chapter 3)? What was His response? He said that Satan cannot cast out Satan, for a house divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:25). So, as we have seen, there is order in Satan’s camp. It is not perfect chaos. He has a systematic order in his kingdom because he knows the power of operating in this way. Friends, he has order, and each demon in his kingdom works according to their assignment and their position.
So, let’s quickly turn over to Genesis chapter 11 and see an example of how Satan inspired the event called the Tower of Babel: In this chapter, we see the story of a man called Nimrod, and this man had a plan. He and his people decided they wanted to make a name for themselves. So, they planned to build a tower that would reach to the heavens lest they be scattered across the earth. Well, God saw what they purposed in their heart to do and came down and divided their language because He said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them” (Genesis 11:6). That is a powerful statement!
GOD’S STRUCTURE WORKS!
But again, my point is, we can see that the devil counterfeits everything that is God. Why? Because he knows it works. Yes, the devil knows that God’s structure of authority and His way of operating works! And, church, we need to know it works too!
For example, God basically said something similar that he did in Genesis 11:6 but this time is was out of the mouth of Jesus when He said that nothing shall be impossible for us. And why was there the prospect of this people accomplishing anything and nothing being impossible for them to do? It was because they were one! It was because they all had one language! It was because they had tapped into a spiritual law that when a people become one and they pursue a common goal—with one mind, one mouth, and in one accord—nothing shall be impossible for them.
So, if this is a true principle for Satan and the ungodly, how much more do you reckon this will work for the body of Christ!?! I guarantee you that if it works for them tenfold; it will work for us a hundredfold! And, as a matter of fact, the Lord said it this way—if one can put a thousand to flight, then two can put ten thousand to flight! This is why the Bible tells us that a threefold cord is not easily broken—because when two of us agree on earth concerning anything we ask; God gets involved and all things are possible!
We’ve already seen it work like this in the Book of Acts, haven’t we? Acts 2:1-3 says, “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord and in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues (that’s the only thing you will ever find divided in God’s kingdom), and one sat upon each of them. And then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Friends, when they gathered together in that upper room in one accord, the Holy Spirit—the anointing Himself—came upon each one of this royal priesthood and took ordinary men and women and made them extraordinary! That oil was poured out on them and was mixed with those tongues of fire and they became the light of the world. Hallelujah! They became that golden lampstand filled with oil and with fire at the wick to burn bright in this dark and perverse generation. But how did it all start? As they were in one place and in one accord!
So I encourage you today—do not let the kingdom of darkness bring division into your house, our house, etc. Guard your hearts from those spirits of strife and division that seek to de-unify us from others. It is a ploy of our enemy—he arrays his army in a unified way for the primary purpose of de-unifying us. Don’t let him do it. Don’t give division place. Amen.
YOU ARE MARKED AND SEALED!
Finally, let’s look at what the apostle John saw next in verses 16-18. It was that mark that the antichrist & false prophet caused all of the human population to receive, commonly known as the mark of the beast.
Now this, like the antichrist and many other negative parts of Revelation, have caused a lot of anxiety and fear in the body of Christ. I have even seen movies made about this and in these movies, you see the people actually being given a mark on their foreheads of 666. That is not what the apostle John saw!
While it is true that there will be something that will be required to buy and sell in that day, Revelation 13:17 does not tell us that the mark will be a literal 666; it says to let him who is wise & understanding calculate the number of the beast. That means that the numbers themselves are not that evil, mark of the beast.
Now before we go on a tangent, trying to figure out what this mark is and what the numbers 666 add up to, let me say this—Why would we spend our time trying to figure out the mark of the beast when there is also a mark given to us by God? That’s right! The Bible says that you and I already have a mark—no, not the mark of the beast, but the mark of the Lamb!
You see, according to the following chapter (Revelation 14:1), He puts His seal on the foreheads of those who are His. And as we saw earlier in this series, this seal that the Lord put on the foreheads of His people was a sign that kept them from harm (See Revelation 7:3 & 9:4). So, if one has the seal of God on the forehead, they are kept—from both harm upon their person and from the deception of the enemy. That’s something to get excited about, right there!
Let me give you a good biblical example of this: Second Timothy 2:17-18 tells us— “And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.”
Allow me to take some liberty with this verse in order to make a point: Let’s say it this way— “And their message will spread like cancer. The antichrist and his false prophet are of this sort, who needless to say are so far from the truth and will overthrow the faith of even many of the elect.”
How many of you know that they could have camped on this verse and started wringing their hands worrying about how these false teachers were evidently capable of overthrowing the faith of some through their false teachings like many have feared concerning the antichrist. But what does Second Timothy 2:19 go on to say? “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.’”
Church, that is what we need to focus on when it comes to the antichrist and his mark—the “nevertheless” that says that we stand on the sealed, solid foundation of God! That means that you and I do not have to be moved when the worst of times and greatest deceptions occur—because we stand on that solid foundation that has the following seal— “The Lord knows those who are His” and “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” Amen!
Saints, we have to know that God’s mark on us says He knows us! What a remarkable thing to know that God knows you and I! Praise God! But here is the truth that reiterates what we said earlier—He knows those who know Him. And because he knows us by name and we know His name, He will keep and protect us! Amen!
But the second thing is how we can make sure we have protection from deception—departing from iniquity. You see, sin deals with the action or lack of action that is wrong; iniquity, on the other hand, deals more with the character or nature of the wrong action. In other words, iniquity seems to be the motivating factor behind wrong behavior. Therefore, for us to allow iniquity is to allow more of an opportunity for entering into deception. This is why the heart is to be guarded with all diligence. Amen?
So, when it comes to the great deception that will come in these last days, let me share with you something the Lord told me early in my Christian walk when I was concerned about ever being deceived myself:
Knowing I was called to the ministry, I was concerned as to whether I would teach things that were incorrect, thinking I was teaching the right things. So, I pleaded with the Lord to protect me from ever being deceived. So, the next morning after praying that, I woke up to these words replaying in my spirit— “Second Peter, Second Peter, Second Peter…” After laying there for a bit, I finally realized that the Lord wanted me to get up and read that Book of the Bible. And to make a long story short, He showed me from Second Peter 1:5-8 that all I need to do is walk in the light that I know, and He will always keep me free from deception. In other words, what the Lord was teaching me was that in order to not led astray by error, all I need to do is walk in the truth that He has given me.
Church, there are things we can do to keep ourselves from the great deception to come. But the same truths will keep you and I from the spirit of antichrist that John told us is already in this world (See First John 2:18 & 4:3). So, let’s walk in the light as He is in the light! Let’s handle the Word of Life so that we can discern the counterfeits. It is all based in knowing Jesus—both through an intimate relationship with Him and through the Scriptures. Let’s be Pro-Christ, and we will live Pro-tected.