In my earlier post, Martyn Lloyd-Jones showed that there were four different groups spoken of in Revelation 13 that the church had to contend with. The first two, government and false religion, are actually easier to spot than the third group, which he identifies as those who have received the mark of the beast.
Notice…we are also told about certain people who receive the mark of the beast on their forehead or on their right hand…These people are just human beings who in their blindness and ignorance have failed to understand what is happening and make themselves the tools of both these enemies — the secular power and the false religions — but they constitute a definite evil which we have to meet.
This enemy of the church is far more difficult to deal with because on the one hand, it is faceless and not confined to any particular institution. But on the other hand, we all see the faces of those who are members of this group all the time. These people are in your family and neighborhoods that think you are a fanatic for following Jesus. These are the people on Facebook that fire off nothing but cliches when you post something about your beliefs. They are the people at Starbucks who are more concerned about what people think about them, than thinking at all. They are the ones that buy into the lies found in the popular media, because they are far too undiscerning to realize the greater deception that is taking place before their eyes. They believe in political correctness, because it is their new religion. They may even claim to be Christians, but when it comes to what is acceptable in society and what Scripture says, they go with society every time.
These are the people who fall for the empty arguments of atheists and never dive deep enough into a subject to find out the truth. They are the ones who go to the universities, sit under professors and lick up everything they say, simply because they are “professors.” To question or disagree with these people is a sin in their eyes. To doubt their faith or their experience, no matter how misguided, is the ultimate in blasphemy. To them, truth is what they want it to be and it changes daily.
These are the people Paul warned us about in 2 Corinthians 4… but even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should design on them. The god of this age owns these people. It is only by God’s grace that anyone is freed from the tyranny of this group.
Another difficult aspect of this group is that many of them are very nice. We love many of them and they seem like very good people to us. But we must know, that as long as their eyes are blinded to the gospel and the reality of who it is that they belong to, our relationships with them are only temporary and superficial. The reason for this is that the moment the issue of the gospel comes up, they want nothing to do with the true gospel or the Triune God behind the gospel. This is because their flesh is at war with God. Given a choice between siding with us and the world, they will take the world every time and wonder why it is that we do not join them. For us to side with Christ, especially when it means having to undergo persecution for Him, is beyond their comprehension. They will say things like, “Surely God doesn’t want us to suffer? He wants us to be happy, right?” Any believer who has spent 20 minutes in the New Testament knows these statements for the lie they are.
The point is that this group, those with the mark of the beast (not a literal mark, but a mark of unbelief), will always be opposed to the truth of the gospel because they are blinded by Satan. It is only by God’s grace that they can be rescued.
Finally, the last group the Lloyd-Jones writes about from Revelation is the great harlot Babylon.
[The great harlot Babylon] stands, surely, for the seductive power of worldliness, the power of the world to attract us and to draw us away from God and from the LORD Jesus Christ. The very term ‘harlot’ suggests it all and if you read the detailed description in those chapters you will see what a perfect picture it is. Babylon represents a superficial charm that is devilish and foul and ugly and pestilential and yet is so seductive that it deceives God’s people.
This is another one of the forces Satan uses to attack the church and is even more difficult to pin down than those with the mark of the beast. I think the best example of this is the sports world. We think such things are harmless to us, but in the end, Satan uses these things to draw us away from Christ and His word. Our devotion to sports teams is unquestionable, but in reality, it should be questioned. We should not give such devotion, attention, and adoration to that which represents merely a game. Yet, in all the blather that comes about via the press concerning sports, we are actually deluded into thinking sports really matter for something. Sports do not matter.
Sports also exalt man, it is man-glory. I know, the occasional Christian will play sports and point to the heavens when he scores, but is that really true obedience? What about a true Christian who plays sports and actually decides it is more important to honor God’s Fourth Commandment than play on the LORD’s Day? Just by bringing this up, I can already hear the howls of objections. Yet, in playing on Sunday, Christians are willfully breaking God’s Law for all the world to see.
As a side note, we are so conditioned by the great Harlot that we believe the LORD’s day is for our pleasure instead of our benefit. We benefit by resting from commerce and the things of the world. Yet the Harlot has us believing that attending sporting events is perfectly acceptable for the day. In doing so, we are making our servants labor on our behalf, for the players, coaches, staff, parking-lot attendants are all working on our behalf and missing out on the opportunity to worship the LORD. This too is breaking the commandment. We may keep the day for ourselves, but if we are involved in commerce, we break the commandment because others have to work for us to be involved in commerce. Please allow me to point out that the sports industry is commerce.
The point is, all these things are part of the seductiveness of the great Harlot. She lures us in with things like sports, or commerce or other enticing delicacies to the flesh, all in order to draw us away from God’s word. However, as the persecution of Christians continues to climb, we will begin to see who it is that sides with the great Harlot, and who sides with Christ. Just in recent events, we have seen both the NCAA, which is over all college sports, and NASCAR sell out to the worldly views by standing against Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law. The NCAA threatened to remove all future sporting events from the state if the law was not amended. They did not say that in so many words, but that was the implication.
Both organizations made their choice on whom they are following. Since they are not rooted in God’s word, they have no reason to be allied with God’s word. The same is true for all organizations not founded upon God’s word. They will all become, if they are not already, tools of the great Harlot. Even though there are godly people who work within and through both organizations, both organizations are a part of the great Harlot that seeks to lure us away from God’s word. Christians in those organizations who stand for the truth will find out soon enough who it is that the NCAA and NASCAR serve. It is not our LORD, but one who is deceptive and cunning.
The choice we have as believers, as we always have as believers: are we going to stand with God’s word, or the world? As the persecution of Christians continues around the world, we will all come to a point where we will need to make that decision. The beast, false religion, the people with the mark of the beast, and the great Harlot will not leave us alone until we do. And if we stand with the LORD, which is the only right decision to be made, we can certainly expect the wrath of Satan via those entities. However, what we must fear even more, is the wrath of our God, for Satan’s wrath is but for a little while. The One we are to fear is the One who can kill us and cast our souls into hell. Yet, in His love for His people, He brings them home with Him and pours out His wrath on those who never believed.