18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us —eternal life.
26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. – 1 John 2:18-27
13:1 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. 2 And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. 4 And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”
5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. 9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear:
10 If anyone is to be taken captive,
to captivity he goes;
if anyone is to be slain with the sword,
with the sword must he be slain.
Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints. – Revelation 13:1-10
9 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”
12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” – Revelation 14:9-14
It is thus that I put to rest the case for blindly obeying any person (or beast) put in authority. It is true that all authority is given by God, and even the beast in Revelation is given authority by God which God will eventually take away in the final battle to end all battles. In John’s letter above, we see in verse 20 and again in verse 27 that through the Holy Spirit a believer has sufficient knowledge in order to exercise their gifts, their discernment and ministry which is always done in love. Love was the central focus of this letter of John’s and so it should be in whatever we do.
In Revelation we see a far different picture of what happens when love is not present. The day will come when the beast of Revelation will make war upon the saints. What will you do? I suspect that Romans 13 will be the passage of choice for enforcing the will of the beast and allow him to soundly defeat and deceive so many who will bear his mark.
The antichrist is basically a counterfeit or a substitute. Promising health, wealth and happiness but delivering bondage, misery and pain. It is easy to see how the institutional church could become a pawn of the beast, if not take on many of the characteristics. I’ve certainly heard enough questionable things from serious institutions which call into question the resurrection of Jesus or His fleshly existence. I’m sure there are false prophets within the structure, the system and the walls of the institution. While I’m sure there are those walking around spreading heresies outside of the system, it’s the ones on the inside who would institutionalize any false teachings or beliefs who are the most dangerous.
Any system which stands in the way of having a relationship with Jesus or becoming more Christ-like would have some of that anti-Christ-like nature, basically getting in the way of love and loving one another. I have heard of and known some various teachings that would like to strap the “whore of Babylon” baggage solely on the Catholic Church, but from where I am now, any religious institution where there is a separate clergy-laity would be fair game for such an accusation.
Just to make sure that I’m not putting too fine a point on it, any believer should be able to baptize other believers, should be able to administer and officiate a communion meal and at any time. In fact, according to Acts, this was taking place all the time and everywhere the church spread. The church expanded and spread to thousands and thousands, not by building bigger and more expansive buildings and ordaining more pastors, but house-to-house and neighborhood by neighborhood. And this is the same way the church is expanding in areas of the world that do not have the opulent wealth that most of my readers enjoy. And one could argue that many who live in atheist or Muslim countries are already in the teeth of the beast for not adhering to the official state religion or the official state regulations.
Many of you have gifts that exceed those who might be leading you and exercising religious authority over you. It’s time you be released and loosed in order to exercise those gifts and talents. God did a wondrous thing in the first century through the movement of the Holy Spirit. I see something similar happening, again. There’s a part of me that wonders if this is a sort of pre-rapture, where people begin to come out of the institutions in search of a closer relationship with other people and with God. I know I’m not the only one who senses this quickening. World events continue to happen, but God is working locally in the hearts and minds of your neighbors, your friends, your family and each of you. Just like the Pharisees in the first century, so too the religious establishment will miss out on this movement of God and will work to condemn it. Afterall, what will happen to these lavish cathedrals and huge worship centers if there is no one who attends who wants to pay the bill? Who will support the clergy? Who will the clergy have authority over if the flock goes running off?
Here’s a lovely comic to brighten your day and give you a chuckle, not to mention something to think about.