The Counterfeit Christ – 24
What is a counterfeit? It’s something that is fake that tries to pass for something that is real. It is a cheap imitation. (Mission trip to NYC…going to China town…people opening up a back wall of their store full of counterfeit purses.) (Can you tell the difference in these air Jordans? Counterfeits look real, and it can be hard to figure out what is the real thing or not. But counterfeits never hold up like the real thing.)
Tonight, we are going to see a counterfeit that is going to rise at the end of days, a counterfeit Christ…the antichrist. “The word antichrist does not appear a single time in Revelation. In the Apocalypse he is called “the beast.” Elsewhere in Scripture he is called the little horn (Dan 7:8), the prince (ruler) who is to come (Dan 9:26), the lawless one or man of sin (2 Thess 2:3-8), and the antichrist (1 John 2:18, 22; 2 John 7). The word antichrist means “one who is against Christ” or “one who is in the place of Christ.” Both are true. The beast is an antimessiah. He is in a war against Christ even as he attempts to replace the true Christ.”
As we work our way through this passage tonight, we’re going to see different ways that Satan, through the antichrist, seeks to be a counterfeit messiah and bring about a counterfeit kingdom. Like always, we’re going to major on the majors and minor on the minors. We could speculate all day long on who we think the antichrist will be. I don’t think that’s what God wants us to do. I agree with Danny Akin on this who says this text isn’t written so we will speculate as to who the antichrist is, but he says “I think God’s design is to instruct us now and in every generation concerning what antichrists do and how they work as they are empowered and deployed by that dragon (13:2), Satan himself.” “Satan is a powerful deceiver, and we need to be able to tell the difference between the real Jesus and the fake Jesus that Satan will use to deceive the world.”
Part of this counterfeit we see tonight is even seen in the major end times players we see come out in this chapter. Satan is there on the beach, the antichrist beast is the focus of verse 1-10, and the false prophet beast is the focus of verses 11-18. Akin says, “Joined at the hip with the dragon, they constitute nothing less than a counterfeit trinity! Satan counterfeits God the father. Antichrist counterfeits God the Son. The false prophet counterfeits God the Holy Spirit.”
So, I want to ask you right off the bat, “Are you certain that your idea of who Jesus is matches who he is in reality? How do you know that Satan has not deceived you into following some imitation of Jesus?”
We see the beast immediately rise out of the sea. The sea was often associated with evil in the ancient world. It has been referred to as “the reservoir of chaos.” We see right off the bat just how evil he is, not only rising out of the sea, but with blasphemous names on its heads, visibly mocking the one true God.
Satan seeks to advance his kingdom. Later in Revelation, in chapter 17, the beast’s seven heads and ten horns will be interpreted as seven kings and ten kings (vs 10, 12). How the antichrist is described here comes from the way he is described in the Old Testament book of Daniel, chapter 7. In Daniel 7:17, it says, “These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth.” And in Daniel 7:24, it says, “As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise…” Just as Jesus seeks to bring about his kingdom, Satan seeks to bring about his. And he does it through people. People are led astray by people. People we view as important and popular and powerful. You do that with people you know. I’m sure you’ve done something stupid because someone told you. They had power over you and so you followed them.
Satan seeks to advance his kingdom through people. We see that at play just this week. If you haven’t seen the Grammy’s, you probably have at least seen the news or memes going around. The performance by Sam Smith of his song “Unholy,” was literally worshiping Satan on the biggest stage in the world. And that’s not an exaggeration. CBS even said before the show, “We are ready to worship!” It’s not even subtle anymore. Satan’s kingdom is coming on earth. And because it’s popular, and it’s from people of power, many blindly follow it. It’s not just individuals that people follow, but Satan uses the government to bring about his kingdom as well. Many say the ten horns refer to powerful governments of the past.
Satan seeks to advance his kingdom through governments. Most of the time when someone speculates about who the antichrist will be, they think he is a government leader. Corrupt and evil governments do the bidding of Satan. Many people thought Hitler was the antichrist. He systematically had 6 million Jews killed, and five million others. When we think of pure evil, Hitler is usually at the top of that list. Listen to this, to further make our point not just about Satan advancing his kingdom through individuals, but through governments. Since 1973, when Roe V. Wade was instituted, and abortion was legalized in America, over 63 million babies have been murdered. About how many Jews were killed per year during the Holocaust, that many babies have been killed in America per year, ever since 1973. Praise God Roe v. Wade was overturned! But abortion is still legal in most states. Only 13 states have a full ban. And people who are against abortion are considered evil by our culture.
What’s even worse than Satan using individuals and governments to advance his kingdom here on earth is his deception in deceiving people into hell.
Satan promotes a counterfeit gospel. “In verse 3 we see him counterfeiting the resurrection of the Son. In verse 4 we see him counterfeiting the worship of God.” The beast will seemingly be killed and come back to life. Many people will think he is the messiah. The resurrection of Jesus is the core of our faith. Without it, our faith is useless and we are still in our sins (1 Cor 15:17). I saw a video this week of a college student saying they would believe in the resurrection if they were shown the medical records of Jesus. They knew full well that they didn’t keep medical records back then. They were saying essentially that no evidence would be enough to persuade them, even all the evidence we have of the empty tomb and appearances of Jesus after his death. But there will be medical records for the antichrist. He will be pronounced dead, and his medical records will show that he came back to life. Many will believe. It says because of this, “the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast.” And their following of the beast led to them worshiping Satan and the beast rather than the one true God. And that’s the current reality of many in our world today.
Satan will be given power, but for a limited time. The most beautiful picture of heaven, in my mind, is in Revelation 5. There we see people from every tribe and people and language and nation worshiping God. Here, in these verses, are some of the most heart wrenching, in complete contrast to what we see in heaven. People from every tribe and people and language and nation are worshiping the antichrist. Remember, horrible things have happened on the earth up to this point. Many people have died. There are clear signs that the end of days is at hand, and people will be thinking spiritually. They will be open to believing like never before. You know, it’s in times of hardship where people are the most prone to believe, because they know they can’t help themselves, so they cry out for someone who has power to help them. And the antichrist has power. He is overcoming Christians, who seem to the world to be the evil ones. And he has authority over the whole world. In this time of widespread turmoil, he promises peace and provision. He promises a way that leads to life amidst all the death that surrounds them.
But remember, he is a counterfeit Christ. He seems to have power, but the only power he has is given to him by God. It says, he was “allowed” to make war on the saints, and authority was “given” to him. God is still the one in control. The antichrist’s reign will only last 3.5 years. All authority he has is given to him temporarily by the one who has all authority. But most people follow those who seem to have power, and we see that play out here at the end.
Many people will follow Satan. Verse 8 tells us that “all who dwell on the earth will worship [the beast].” Everybody worships somebody and something. Who do you worship? Many people worship themselves. They set themselves up as God. They follow their desires and seek to make their kingdom come, thinking that is the path to fulfillment and happiness. That’s what you’ve been sold. You’ve been deceived by Satan. You’ve been told over and over again that your desires are all that matters and you should abandon all to follow your desires. And you know what it’s led to? It’s led to your generation being the most depressed generation in history. Studies also show that those without religious affiliation are far more likely to have mental health issues than those who follow a higher authority.
The truth is that if you abandon all to follow Jesus, you will have life, but if you abandon all to follow your desires, you will have destruction (Matt 7:13-14). Satan has many people, and maybe many of you, right where he wants you…deceived and following him. But not all will follow Satan and the antichrist, even in the end.
True followers of Jesus will not follow Satan. Everyone whose name is not written in the Lamb’s book of life will worship the beast. But those who truly belong to Jesus will not worship him. Those who follow and worship the true Christ, not the counterfeit, will not be deceived. And this is written so that you will persevere. You will keep following Jesus no matter what.
If you believe the truth, you are not deceived. And you won’t be deceived. Do you believe the truth? Do you believe that Jesus died, and was raised back to life? Do you believe that faith in Jesus is the only way to life, both here and now and forever in heaven? Do you follow Jesus? Do you forsake all your desires to follow him, or do you follow your desires? Even if everyone is against you and the ways of Christ seem to have no authority and power, do you still follow Jesus? He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Satan promises all those things but always falls short. He is a counterfeit. Believe in and follow the real thing, the real Messiah, Jesus. And keep following him.
 Daniel L. Akin, Exalting Jesus in Revelation, Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary (Nashville: B&H, 2016), 219.
 Akin, Exalting Jesus in Revelation, 221.
 James M. Hamilton, Jr., Revelation, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 257.
 Akin, Exalting Jesus in Revelation, 221.
 Hamilton, Jr., Revelation, 258.
 Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation, Revised Edition (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1997), 244.
 John MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 (Chicago: Moody, 2000), 43.
 Akin, Exalting Jesus in Revelation, 222.