Robert Jeffress - Religion Gone Wrong
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". There's no doubt that we are living in an increasingly atheistic world. In fact, many politicians would like nothing more than to eliminate Christianity from America's history. But even as many turn their backs on God, the Bible teaches that one day, the world will be united under a new false system of belief. And today, we're going to see how that false religion, symbolized by the harlot in Revelation chapter 17, will signal the earth's coming destruction. My message is titled "Religion Gone Wrong," on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
This world can unravel very, very quickly. And although it hasn't unraveled yet, one day, it is going to unravel completely. And that will set the stage for the world dictator, the world leader we know as Antichrist, who will precede the return of Jesus Christ himself. And that's where we are today in our study of the Book of Revelation. If you have your Bibles, I want you to turn to the book of the Revelation. In chapter 16, we're at the brink of the return of Christ, that's described in chapter 19. But in chapter 17 and 18, John is going to describe something else he saw that was related to the Antichrist. And he does so using the term Babylon, Babylon. He's going to talk to us about Babylon.
Now, Babylon is central, not only in the Book of Revelation, but in the Bible. In the Book of Revelation, 50 out of 404 verses deal with the judgment of Babylon. What is Babylon? Well, when we talk about Babylon, we're not just referring to the city, we're referring to a system, and in this case, it represents the empire over which Antichrist will rule. Now, there are two aspects to the Antichrist empire. There is religious Babylon, as we'll look at today, it is a false religious system that will aid Antichrist in his rise to power. But then there's a political and economic system of Babylon, that we'll look at next time in chapter 18.
But let's look at this religious system called Babylon, over which the Antichrist will preside. This false religious system is described as a harlot. Look at verses 1 and 2 of chapter 17. Then, one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls, and one of those angels spoke to me saying, "Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot, who sits on many waters". Now you know what a harlot is. A prostitute. Somebody who seduces people for money. A harlot. And this is a harlot John is looking at, who sits on many waters. That is, she presides over many people, of many different nations.
Now, it's interesting in the Bible, the Israelites are called, referred to as God's wife. Israel was so-called married to God, and when Israel chased after other Gods, God accused her of adultery, because she went after other Gods, other lovers, so to speak. But here, those who follow after these false religions are not accused of adultery, they were accused of engaging in prostitution. Now, when we get to verse 3, we're actually going to see this harlot in great detail. Verses 1 and 2, John was invited to see the harlot.
Now look at what he saw, verse 3, and the angel carried me away, John said, in the spirit, into a wilderness, we don't know if the spirit actually took him to Saudi Arabia, or to the Sahara desert, or if this was a spiritual experience, but wherever it was, the angel took John into the wilderness, and he saw this vision of a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads, and 10 horns. But that's a description of the beast. We'll see in a moment who that beast is. I'll give you a heads up, it's the Antichrist, the world leader. But first of all, John's going to describe this woman who were sitting on the beast himself.
Look at the image of the harlot, how it's described. The woman was clothed in purple, that denotes royalty, and scarlet, that's luxury, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand, a gold cup full of abominations, and of the unclean things of her immorality. This woman was beautifully dressed. She had a golden cup, we'll see what was in that cup in just a moment. This harlot sits on top of the Antichrist. She uses him, he uses her. And notice the name of the harlot, verse 5, and on her forehead, a name was written, a mystery, "Babylon the great, the mother of harlots, and of the abominations of the earth".
You have to understand a little history here, in the first century, when John wrote, if you went to a brothel, the prostitutes would wear a band around their head, and on that band would be their name. You not only knew what they were, you knew who they were. Well, this image, this harlot, she has a name on her forehead. That name is Babylon the great, the mother of harlots. This woman is not just one of the other prostitutes. She is the madame of the brothel. She is the chief prostitute. She is not just another false religion. She is the mother of all false religions. Her name is Babylon. She, the false religious system, will work with the Antichrist to persecute those who become Christians during the Great Tribulation. That is the image that we see of the harlot.
Now we'll talk about her judgment in just a little bit, but let's look at verse 7. He, first of all, deals with the judgment of the beast itself, the judgment of the beast. Now we're going to read a lot about beasts, in the Book of Revelation. Remember there are three beasts. They're part of the Satanic Trinity. I have it on your outline. The beast of the abyss, that's Satan, who is the power behind all of it. There's the beast out of the sea, that's the Antichrist, the final world dictator, a human leader. And then there's the beast out of the earth, the false prophet, who assists the Antichrist.
Now notice what he says in verse 7, and the angel said to me, "Why do you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the 10 horns. The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss, and go to destruction". You'll see this used repeatedly, he was, he is not, and he's about to be, what is that talking about?
Remember, the Antichrist comes to power at the beginning of the Great Tribulation, Revelation 6. He's assisted by this false religious system. They work together, but early on, he appears to be assassinated. A mortal head wound, people will think he has died, but he will be miraculously, or at least it will appear, be resurrected. It's a counterfeit resurrection, Satan counterfeits every truth, including the resurrection of Jesus. But when this beast is resurrectioned this leader, people all over the earth will go crazy, and follow him because of the miracle he's presumably had performed his own resurrection.
That's what it's talking about here, verse 8, and those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life, from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not, and will come. Now, look at the seven heads of this beast. Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are the seven mountains on which the woman sits, and they are seven kings, five are fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must remain a little while.
Remember, John is writing in 90 AD. These seven heads represent the seven world empires. Five of them have already occurred, and disappeared from the earth, what are those five? Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece. They were already in the dustbin of history, by the time John wrote this, five have already fallen. One is, that's Rome, Rome was currently the world power when John wrote these words. And the other, the seventh, has not yet come. That's the kingdom of the Antichrist, that is yet to come. And when he comes, he must remain the little while. The beast, which was, and is not, is himself also an eighth, but he's also one of the seven, and he goes to destruction.
Well, how could he be the leader of the seventh kingdom, and the final eighth kingdom? Remember what I said? While he is in charge of that final kingdom, he will appear to die, and then he'll be resurrected and he'll come back in an even stronger form, in the eighth and final kingdom. That's the seven heads that were on the beast.
Now let's look the 10 horns. The 10 horns, which you saw, are 10 kings, who have not yet received the kingdom, but they receive authority as with kings, with the beast, for one hour. And they have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast. Apparently, the Antichrist will have 10 assistants, if you will, governors who rule over various aspects of the Antichrist kingdom. People often ask, "Well, where is the United States of America in all of this"? If we're even still existing at that time, we're probably one of these 10, one of these 10 nations, that have lost all individual national distinction. We're just a part of this group, this 10 nation confederacy, over which Antichrist rules.
You see the beginning of that, you've seen it for decades now. You have the World Health Organization, the World Council on Churches, the World Bank. There's this attempt at globalism, to lose all national distinctions. By the time this happens, America will no longer have a constitution that we follow. There'll be no longer any freedom of worship. There'll be no freedom of speech. There'll be no freedom of commerce. All of those things will have been usurped by the leader of this global enterprise, the Antichrist himself.
Now, look at the defeat of the beast, verse 14. And these, that is the kings of the earth, will wage war against the Lamb, Jesus, and the Lamb will overcome them, because he is Lord of lords, and King of kings. And those who are with him are called the chosen and the faithful. John is fast forwarding to chapter 19. He said these 10 kings, they're going to assemble together at Armageddon. They're going to wage war against the Antichrist, but suddenly, the Lord will appear in heaven. We will appear with him, and the Lamb will overcome them. That is the defeat of the beast.
Now, let's look at the defeat of the harlot. That's the final thing John saw, in verses 15 and 18. And he said to me, "The water which you see, where the harlot sits, these are the people and multitudes of nations and tongues. And the 10 horns, which you saw in the beast, these will hate the harlot, and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh, and will burn her up with fire". Halfway through this Great Tribulation, the Antichrist, after using the harlot for his own purposes, we'll discard her and destroy her. He will decide he no longer needs the church, this false religious system. He has all the power he needs. And so he will turn on the church, this false church, and completely destroy her.
And why will the kings do that? Verse 17, for God has put it in their hearts to execute his purpose, by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled. Isn't it interesting? The reason the 10 pagan kings destroy the harlot is because God puts it in their heart to do so.
Can I just remind you, God is able to work in the hearts of non-Christians, just like he is the hearts of Christians. Don't think that that mate of yours has to be a Christian for God to use them in a positive way. They have to be a Christian to go to heaven, but God can still speak to that ungodly husband. He can speak through ungodly rulers. God's purpose will be accomplished. And you see that even in these final days. God will use false religion, in a sense, to accomplish his ultimate purpose. False religion will play a key role in the final seven years of earth's history. But false religion is all around us today, as well.
In fact, in 1 John 4:1, remember the warning, beloved don't believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. How can you keep from being seduced by false religion? How can you know if a religion is really from God or not? John gives us three tests, three questions to ask about any religion. First of all, what does that religion teach about Jesus? What does it teach about Jesus? Look at verses 2 and 3 of 1 John 4, by this you know the Spirit of God, every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is from God. And every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the Antichrist, of which you've heard that it is coming. And it's now already in the world.
To believe, to confess that Jesus is Lord means to believe Jesus is the unique Son of God, who came to earth in human form, who died on the cross for the redemption of our sins, who was buried and rose again on the third day, who ascended into heaven, and is coming back one day, to reclaim this earth for himself. That's the Jesus you have to believe in, in order to be saved. What does the religion teach about Jesus? Secondly, ask yourself the question, what does this religion believe about salvation?
Paul said, even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a Gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, that person is to be accursed. Paul was writing to the Galatians. They were falling for a doctrine that said, "Oh yes, faith in Christ is important, but it's not enough. You need to have faith in Christ plus be circumcised. Faith in God and keep the Ten Commandments. Faith in God and be, whatever, whatever". It is, faith, and. What did he say about that kind of religion? Paul said if anybody tells you that kind of message, let that person be anathema, literally accursed, literally damned forever. Anybody who adds to Christianity, it's faith in Christ, and something else, is teaching a false truth.
What does that faith teach about salvation? And finally, ask yourself what results does this religion produce? You know, in 2 Timothy 3:5, Paul described a form of Godliness, they hold to a form of Godliness, although they have denied its power. He said avoid men such as these. You know, my concern for a church like First Baptist of Dallas, that has 152 years of standing on the truth of God's word, is that we can know God's word backward and forward. We can identify the harlot in Revelation 17. We understand the importance of Israel in Bible prophecy. We can give you the 10 reasons that the virgin birth is important. We can spout off all of these things, but we still can't forgive those who wrong us. We still can't overcome sin in our life. We still can't overcome racism, hating somebody because of the color of their skin. That religion is just as wrong and hollow as the other religions I mentioned.
True faith in Christ will result in a transformed life, through the power of the Holy Spirit. And if that transformation isn't taking place in your life, then your religion is just as worthless as the other religions. John is telling us avoid all kinds of false religions, avoid any faith that denies the person of Christ, that denies the provision, the only provision of God for salvation, and denies the power of the Holy Spirit, to transform a life.