Christ Versus The Beast
The controversy between God and Satan is not primarily a contest focused on individuals; It is not a contest to see who is more powerful, or who is more popular, it is a contest between two systems of government. Satan’s complaint was not directed against God as a person, but against his system. It’s a question of which system of government is the better way, which system produces the happiest and best results. We have to always remember this.
Satan’s system is based on independence of God and dependence on self. It emphasizes morality through receiving the knowledge of good and evil but without God himself being involved. It is the theory that good information will make people into good people (Gen 3:5). The government of God on the other hand, is based on God imparting his own life (his spirit) to each intelligent being and in this way, producing his own righteous lifestyle in each one. It is not focused on obtaining moral information (rules and commandments), but it is focused on obtaining a righteous life (the spirit of God in Christ).
What Satan presented to the universe was a system of government where each person was to be “free,” from God’s dominion. Satan represented this as a “better way,” and his theory was that since everyone was created good, each person would naturally do what was right if he knew right from wrong. Self-dependence, directed by moral awareness, was the basis of his government.
But God is the only one who is good (Mark 10:18) and because this is so, no one can be good without God. It is impossible to be independent of God and still life a holy life. Satan’s philosophy of government is an impossible dream and was doomed to failure from the very start. But since nobody knew this at the beginning, the universe had to be allowed to discover this fact for itself and this is why Satan has been allowed to continue his rebellion for so long. It is the long process by which the lesson is being deeply embedded in the hearts of all intelligent beings, that nobody can be good without God. The only way to live meaningful lives is to surrender those lives to God.
The government of Sinai
At Mount Sinai God met with the children of Israel and gave them an elaborate set of rules which was to govern every aspect of their lives. These rules not only directed how they were to behave in their personal lives, but it also laid out a system of government and worship which included administrators, as well as religious intermediaries called “priests.” The first head of this system was Moses and when he died he was succeeded by Joshua. From time to time different men would arise who would lead out and govern Israel and these were referred to as, “judges.”
Many religious bodies today, try to establish their organization on principles similar to that which God established in the time of Moses. God made Moses the head of Israel, a governor who had direct communication with God and who had absolute power over the people. He made all the important decisions and nobody was allowed to question his authority. He was assisted by other men who were chosen by God and given a special measure of the spirit so they could help in bearing the responsibility of government. God directed Moses in establishing this system and this fact has led to the conclusion that this was a perfect system of government, this is why so many seek to emulate this pattern. But we should always remember that this system was only a type or a shadow, an illustration of something else.
Moses’ system was not a perfect system of government, it was not God’s ideal even though God had established it, it was only a shadow of the perfect system, it merely illustrated something far greater. The apostle Paul establishes this point in the following verse:
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. (Heb 10:1)
The two agencies
Throughout the Bible, one being appears over and over who fights the battles of God. This person is God’s representative who speaks on his behalf. Sometimes he is referred to as, “the angel of the Lord,” and in several places he is identified as “Michael the archangel,” “the great prince.” In fact, in Revelation 12:7, he is revealed as the one who led the angels of God in the war against Satan and his angels. The New Testament Scriptures reveal that this person is none other than the begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ who was incarnated and became a man in order to bring a final end to Satan’s rebellion. By becoming a man Jesus would finally completely defeat Satan, make it clear that his accusations against God were nothing but malicious lies and in the process, make a way for all men to be delivered from his dominion.
Thou art my battle axe and weapons of war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms; (Jer 51:20)
So although the great battle taking place in the universe is a battle between Satan and God, it is Jesus Christ who fights on behalf of God, he is God’s chosen warrior who speaks and acts on God’s behalf, so the two antagonists are really Jesus and Satan.
Yet when we come to the book of Revelation, the central figure is the beast. Satan is represented as being there, somewhere in the background, but the visible, active enemy of God’s people on earth, is the beast. On the other hand, there is no equivalent, visible representative of God’s people; there is no earthly warrior, no worldly leader, or agency by which God meets the beast in battle.
This fact is highlighted in the judgment scene in Daniel chapter 7. There we see that the decision of the judgment concerns two entities; the beast and Christ. Notice the verdict of the judgment; the decision is, condemnation for the beast and an everlasting kingdom for Christ (Dan 7:9-14). It is clear that the conflict is being presented as being between Christ and the beast. But why is the beast presented as the opposite, the equivalent to Christ?
Let us remember that the beast is an organization, an empire, a worldly kingdom operating and dominating by means of human government, as dictated by human wisdom. It is clear that Satan is directing the beast in the background, but the beast is the visible, active agent in carrying out the work of Satan. There is a clear worldly government directed and controlled by human beings even though it is Satan who is really at work.
Christ does not have such an agency, in his kingdom, there is no worldly government! The Catholic Church is convinced that it is God’s organization, with the Pope being the vicar of Christ, God’s special chosen instrument. Many other denominations such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons, the Seventh day Adventists etc. believe and teach that their governing body such as the General Conference, is God’s mouthpiece on earth. This is one of the great errors which exists in the Christian world – and in the religious world in general. The shortsightedness of men, and their misconception of the gospel always results in them trying to enclose God’s work in a human box.
It is true that God has a movement on earth through which he works. This is the church of Christ which is also referred to as “the body of Christ.” However, this “body of Christ” does not operate on the same principles of government and organization as human governments, and its principles of operation are very different to the government of the beast system.
The false idea is that the main difference between Christ’s Church and the system of the beast is the difference in the rules which govern each system. You will hear it emphasized that the Beast kingdom commands the observance of Sunday, while God commands the observance of the Sabbath. The difference between God’s system and the Beast’s system is represented as being primarily, a contest between different rules. But this is an erroneous view, the real difference is much more significant than that.
To put it simply, the system of Satan’s government is the Beast – a system of government based on rules and human control. The system of God’s government is Christ – a system of government based on the impartation of life and Christ’s control. In other words, Christ’s government is himself, there is no mediator between himself and the people of his kingdom.
Worshiping the Dragon
And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? (Rev 13:4)
In the system of human government, ultimately, it is Satan who is glorified and worshipped. The real antagonist is the devil, the controversy is between Christ and him. Yet again, we see that there is this medium who stands in the middle called the beast. Satan cannot operate in the physical realm without a human agency. He is made visible and his principles of government are displayed through the principles of the beast system. This relationship is not by means of demon-possession as we understand it, it is not that the beast becomes the direct medium of Satan as was the case of the serpent in the Garden of Eden, not at all. What we see here is that the Beast kingdom is Satan’s agent in the sense that it adopts and operates on Satan’s principles of government. It believes in, and establishes a government based on the philosophy of the Devil and in this sense, it is Satan’s kingdom. As men “worship” the beast by submitting to his principles and embracing them, they are in reality worshiping Satan, the dragon.
So it is really Christ’s kingdom versus the kingdom of the beast, but the real issue is the system by which each kingdom is governed and since the beast kingdom operates on the principles of Satan, it is Satan who is really worshiped when men submit to the beast.
Again we need to remember the great difference between Christ’s system of government and Satan’s system of government. Christ governs his people by coming to live inside of each individual by his spirit, and so personally directing and enabling each member of his kingdom. This is the foundational principle of Christ’s system – “Christ in you, the hope of glory!” (Col 1:27). Every other system of government is based on the completely different principle of Satan’s philosophy. This philosophy that created beings are capable of being good and doing good, if they are aware of “good and evil (Gen 3:1-5).” Satan’s kingdom is based on the principle of morality, it is the philosophy that if created beings are required to conform to rules and moral principles, the result will be a society which is stable, happy and prosperous.
Who do you worship?
So this is really the great question before each one of us: Who do you really worship? Is your worship of God directed and controlled by human agents? Do you relate to God in a distant, second-hand way by trying to conform to a set of rules (even if they are good rules)? Is your religious life dominated by a system of government which claims to be God’s agency on earth? If this is your way of life then it is clear that you are building on the principles of the government of Satan and have been caught in the great, universal deception. It is time to turn from the worship of the dragon and to submit to the government of God by allowing Christ himself to become your life, to live in you and to govern you by his spirit.
This is why the message that Christ is our righteousness is the heart of the gospel; this is why it is the answer to all the deceptions and devices of Satan, it is the reason why God’s people must make sure that they allow nothing else to enter into their experience than the reality of “Jesus Christ and him crucified.” He is to be to us, our everything. Through the experience of ‘Christ in you,” God lives and self is put out of the way. There is no need for a government of rules and human control when God is our life, we possess the greatest element of true goodness and God’s will is fulfilled in us.
God help us that we may never again be deceived by religious philosophies and governments based on Satan’s system. May God’s way be exalted, vindicated and justified in us, as we allow Christ to be our all in all.
(Source: Restoration Ministry)