Counterfeit Spirit

Revelation 13:11-18

Is easy to be disheartened when considering present world, current culture. Much that is right, to be thankful for, here in our country. Much that is wrong and displeasing to God, too. Seems especially true of upcoming generations.

“Where have America’s young men gone? According to Erik Hurst, an economist from the University of Chicago, they haven’t gone anywhere—they’re just plugged in. In a recent interview, Hurst says that his research indicates that young men with less than a four-year degree (according to virtually all data, that’s an increasing number) are spending their days unemployed and unmarried, but not un-amused. “The hours that they are not working have been replaced almost one-for-one with leisure time,” Hurst reports. “Seventy-five percent of this new leisure time falls into one category: video games. The average low-skilled, unemployed man in this group plays video games an average of twelve, and sometimes upwards of thirty hours per week.” Samuel James, http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2016/08/americas-lost-boys

Then there is Pokemon Go, where people work “hard to rid the streets of tiny, furry monsters that only they can see and gather valuable points that can be used for… nothing”. Brendan Smith And if dealing with reality is too hard, some professional somewhere will gladly give you numerous ways to avoid or redefine reality. As I pondered these things, wondered “have we lost our minds?” Another question followed quickly: “how could we possibly make it any easier for Satan to do his job?” When you spend countless hours each day immersed in fantasy and make-believe, is nearly impossible to discern counterfeit from genuine. And the issue is far more pervasive than just among young men, is spreading rapidly.

Good reminder that is much more to reality than only what we can see and hear. Is a whole other dimension, spiritual one, teeming with activity. John’s vision of “beast coming up out of the earth” adds to our basis for comprehending what is really going on. This beast represents third member of unholy trinity – dragon, beast, false prophet – and as we will see tries to counterfeit the Holy Spirit. In our text, given description of appearance and purpose; told how he validates his authority, his method, his work of persecution, and his identity.

A. appearance and purpose v.11-12

looks like a lamb

identifies with Christ – is false representation, same as dragon and first beast; appearance encourages all who encounter him to relax, trust, overlook danger

speaks like a dragon

see unholy counterfeit trinity later – Rev. 16:13And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.”

this creature in our text clearly a false prophet – what he speaks contradicts how he appears; speaks only message of the dragon, deceptive lies

not merely deceptive, words are highly destructive – destroys life (abortion), reputation (politics), dignity (evolution), respect (entertainment)

exercises authority

is second-hand authority, has its immediate source in the beast who received from the dragon – is Satan’s authority, broad yet strictly limited, that false prophet exercises

so who is it orchestrating things from behind the scenes in feminist movement, many areas of politics and government, news and entertainment and marketing – Satan and his agents

whoever and whatever encourages people to seek guidance, help, pleasure, satisfaction in other than God is motivated by loyalty to Satan (many times unwittingly)

false prophet uses every channel possible by which knowledge is propagated to push his lies, shaping ideas and beliefs

directs worship

#1 goal of false prophet to cause every living thing to give worship to beast who is image of the dragon… iow, Satan

mimics Holy Spirit – speaking on behalf of another, directing worship to Son and Father

John 16:13-15“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”

B. validation and method v.13-15a

performs signs like true prophet

certainly not first time Satan has done this: Exodus account – Aaron’s rod => serpent, so the magicians; water into blood, likewise; frogs on the land also

Simon the sorcerer, slave girl in Philippi examples of those who received power to do signs and wonders that amaze people

true prophets had similar validations of their divine mandate: Elijah called down fire from heaven on his enemies; OT prophets, NT apostles performed countless signs and wonders

in every case, purpose of true prophets and apostles to show glory of God, cause people to worship true God

things that wow people most today: technology, special effects, power displayed in sci-fi and fantasy, not real power displayed by Creator of universe

deceives like beast and dragon

purpose to deceive people into giving worship to dragon – even to point of creating image of false savior: “the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived”

who would possibly do that in advanced enlightened culture like ours?? is what takes place whenever God of Bible gets redefined

“my God loves everyone regardless of how they live”; “Jesus accepts me just the way I am” – church after church where is not God of the Bible, Christ of the Bible who is worshiped

not only false religions/cults, they’re easy to spot; others who add something – Jesus plus, or take away – God can’t know, do – just as dangerous and deceptive

mimics Holy Spirit performing signs, mocks Holy Spirit illuminating truth

copies OT prophets, outpouring of Spirit on day of Pentecost for purpose of deceiving the lost into giving worship to Satan

pretends that information equals knowledge, that knowledge is power, but without regard for truth – in fact, will distort truth to promote own agenda

world today on information overload, drowning in sea of data, largely oblivious to truth according to God and his word

C. basis of persecution v.15b-17

worship of the beast

which equals worship of the dragon – those who give greatest accolades to manmade things, who look first to earthly authority or bureaucracy to meet their needs, who think and believe and prioritize the way media or entertainment dictates

those who fail to do so risk losing freedom, livelihood, friends, property, maybe even life, e.g as healthcare decisions get more invasive

mark of ownership and loyalty

is it implanted ID chip? bar code? some other technological gizmo used for identification? only if servants of God have similar seal on their foreheads – see Rev. 7:3; 9:4

mark on hand or forehead same basic principle as Deut. 6:6-9 turn there and read; repeated 11:18-21

means to think and believe according to principles/truths of God’s word, demonstrate that worldview in action

mimics mark of Holy-Spirit-ownership

child of God has been sealed by Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13) and shows by life who owns them; same is true of one sealed by Satan

D. identity v.18

representing the world, its philosophy, its lostness

The repetition of six three times seems to indicate what might be called the “completeness of sinful incompleteness” found in the beast. The beast epitomizes imperfection, while appearing to achieve divine perfection. Three sixes parody the divine Trinity of three sevens. …The reason for using sixes instead of sevens to describe the beast in v. 18 is because of the repeated emphasis in vv. 3-14 upon the beast as a counterfeit Christ and the second beast as a counterfeit prophet.” G K Beale

requires wisdom to distinguish Biblical worldview from all the rest, maintain identity as belonging to Christ

God will supply understanding through his word by his Spirit to fill minds and hearts with his truth, and recognize untruth promoted by world and Satan

Satan may try to fake the resurrection but doesn’t attempt the cross. The cross was his undoing, is our hope. More good news: Christ has power and authority to remove mark of the Beast and replace it with his own mark – “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit”

When Cross of Christ fills our view, see ourselves as God sees us, see Savior as only one who can supply and satisfy… nothing else will satisfy. All else pales in significance next to relationship with Christ and service to him. Don’t be fooled by counterfeit trinity. Stay near the cross. Be like apostle Paul – not embarrassed by cross, not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.

 

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