A spot refers to a blemish. A blemish or spot is a retained sin. Please understand that I’m not referring to things that affect one’s salvation, but those things which affect our faith walk; those things that touch our soul.
As an example, a besetting sin is unforgiveness. Unforgiveness keeps us in bondage to the past: it makes us a continual victim; it causes us to live in victimhood.
Another type of besetting sin is self-condemnation. These voices are created when others condemn us, and we stand in active or passive agreement. Self-condemnation shapes our self-image, it changes how we experience life.
Finally, a besetting sin is a hurt we do not let go of, we bring with us on a routine basis. An example is a grief: it is living in the past and allowing the past to define and shape our future.
Old Self Wrinkles
Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him
The second thing that Jesus is looking for in His Bride, is for Her to be without a wrinkle. Wrinkles show up on old people. The wrinkle being referred to here is the “old man” that we are to leave behind after being born again.
As a normal course of life, we learn bad habits, things, and behaviors from the world, and we tend to retain those evil practices. As new creatures in Christ, we are to rid ourselves of those destructive behaviors by dying to ourselves, by putting them under the cross, and leaving them behind.
Self Condemnation & Trauma-Bonding
These two things, wrinkles, and blemishes have a great potential to remain with us day-to-day. When we hold on to these things, we place ourselves under self-condemnation and bondage to the past. In doing so, we carry the weight of our sin when it should be released to the cross.
Even when taking these failures to our Father, and asking forgiveness, we sometimes continue to live in these self-condemning places.
These types of self-condemnations are just as bad as carrying the harmful burdens of others. When we improperly sympathize and empathize with the trauma of others, we can trauma-bond with the hurts of others. This means we carry the pain of others, making it our own when we never should.
This does not mean we never empathize with others, but it does mean there are times for weeping, and times for rejoicing (Romans 12:15, Ecclesiastes 3:1).
Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.
There’s a gulf between “believing” something and “knowing” something.
A 6th grader may believe in Algebra, Geometry, Calculus, or Biology, but they don’t have knowledge of any of them, they have no formal training. So if a 6th can make the jump to believing that a particular equation or fact is truthful in Calculus or Biology, it is likely because they trust that someone is sincere, not because they have acquired the knowledge to test such a thing.
Is Believing in God Faith?
If by “believing in God,” we are asserting that we believe God exists, then it depends upon your definition of faith. For there is a secular definition, and a proper definition.
The world has coopted “faith” and constructed its definition. So much so, that when discussed even by Christians, faith continues to carry its nebulous and ephemeral qualities.
If, on the other hand, by “believe in God,” we mean “put our faith in God,” then that’s only possible for us after we “believe His Word,” which is only possible after we “believe He is.” So it’s a stairstep process: one step leads to another.
An Example of Faith
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for the one who comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He proves to be One who rewards those who seek Him
For example, my neighbor Joe says he will mow my lawn, and I believe he can: he has all the equipment and the time to do the job. But I don’t trust that he will. He has made promises in the past but has never followed through and done the job. So then, what’s the difference between belief and faith? Belief understands and knows that something is possible. But trust assesses the quality of a claim on various factors, such as experience.
Belief + Trust = Faith
Thus, faith is a combination of belief and trust. Therefore, we can say that I believe my neighbor can mow the lawn, but I do not trust him to perform the job: consequently, I have no *FAITH* in that my neighbor will mow my lawn.
Faith is a combination of belief and trust, but it is always applied to an actor. In other words, faith appreciates the qualities of confidence and trust as applied to a person, process, or thing. If any of those factors fail, then faith is not present.
If we say “I have faith,” but we fail to have a person or thing to place it, and we don’t have tangible experience in which belief and trust are based, then what we have is empty faith: we have nothing but a one-legged stool. That is what I call “empty faith” or perhaps, “empty hope.”
Hope + Business != Progress
Never speak to your Director or CEO and use the word “hope” regarding a project or deliverable. You’ll quickly learn to delete that word from your vocabulary – so, you should do that now (you’re welcome).
Hope, in the business world, means there is no basis to make a qualified judgment: there is no contract in place, there are no commitments established. Hope, in that context, suggests there is only a wishful expectation that the desired opportunity will arise. Hope, to a business, has no foundation; it is based on barren wishes and ignorant beliefs.
Scripturally speaking – and might I suggest from a Kingdom perspective – hope is opposed to something empty and without form or function. If you investigate the Kingdom definition and application of hope, you’ll find it is directly tied to the proper definition and usage of faith.
Faith and Science
... God has allotted to each a measure of faith ...
We all have the ability to form beliefs and trust. When we combine those two things and correctly apply them, we create and use faith.
When a scientist makes an observation, the next thing that might arise is the postulation of a theory or hypothesis. In either case, what should shortly follow thereafter is a series of tests to prove or disprove the idea. In other words, scientists form a belief system regarding a matter and then test the idea in order to form trust in the belief system. We call that “proving” the hypothesis.
Whether or not the test confirms or denies the idea doesn’t matter. In either case, the test either builds or reduces trust in the belief system. The stronger the trust becomes, the more the belief system is confirmed.
Belief + Trust ⟺ Science
But let’s step back a bit. Where is the belief formed? In the mind of the scientist. Where is the trust placed? In at least three things: (1) the quality of execution of the test, and (2) the ability of the observer to (a) interpret the qualities of the belief, and (b) to correctly interpret the results of the tests.
While the qualities of a test can be questioned and changed, the scientist should ensure that the equipment and the procedure employed in the test were designed and implemented correctly. However, trusting in these qualities is simply another way of asserting that the scientist believes in the abilities of the tester and the fabricator and trusts the motives of both, that they were pure and unbiased. As an analogy, I believe that Joe wants to mow my lawn, has the ability to mow my lawn, and will mow my lawn.
While there is nary a scientist who would dare to make such an intellectual ascent, there is no doubt that science is comprised entirely of the activities to formulate well-designed belief systems supported by well-executed proofs. When those things are properly combined, a faith is formed.
The Secular Definition
The secular problem with faith is that the kingdom of unrighteousness has redefined faith to its liking. In other words, the world has constructed its definition of faith and declared that there is no other. In certain circumstances.
This is not a new phenomenon. The term fascism was once clearly associated with Marxism, but when the need arose, it was redefined and repurposed to be rooted in right-wing ideologies. Thus, when certain segments of society needed an Ad Hominen crutch, they repurposed and redefined fascism to accuse others of what they themselves were doing. A similar thing happened in the pharmaceutical industry. When opponents to certain vaccine policies appeared, the industry created the term “anti-vaccine,” defining it as a belief system devoid of truth and reasonableness. It was quickly spun into an Ad Hominem attack, which is precisely how the term is used today.
All of that to say, the proper definition of any term can be corrupted. To the world, hope is less than wishful thinking; and faith barely conjures anything more.
But faith, to the world, is different. If one is referring to a person or business as being faithful, then we all know what that means, and completely accept it as fully qualified in and of itself. Such behavior of changing the definition of a word to meet one’s objective is intellectually dishonest. It is no less than a socially acceptable expression of cognitive dissonance.
Faith is not what the world tells you it is. If we’re going to use a word to describe something, then define it from the context in which it was originally derived.
“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands…”
Theologians have speculated ad nauseam what could cause such punishment. They usually suggest that it’s a failure to kowtow to the Beast, to convert to his religion. Then, they point fingers at religions known for such behaviors today.
IMO, that’s because they don’t understand worship. They have taught us to wrongly segregate worship to an action derived from a hymnal or location of activity most routinely put into use on Sunday mornings.
Worship is much simpler than that. It is a way of living, a fundamental philosophy that drives expected behavior.
but they mixed among the nations and learned their deeds; they served their idols, which were a snare to them.
Here’s a thought. Consider the segregation currently being acted against the recently declared unclean: it is literally happening around the world. Medical concentration camps are being erected and put into use – for a disease that is 99% survivable – for which there are proven, non-vax remedies which themselves have been demonized by those we elected to protect us.
Where does it end? Does it ever end?
I’ll suggest that it does not end. We’ve crossed a threshold; we’re sliding down the slippery slope prepared by those who came before.
In our canon of law, we have a remedy for those considered a threat to society.
It’s called capital punishment.
The segue is this: the threat of capital punishment is the ultimate form of making philosophically compliant citizens. It is the ultimate behavior modification for keeping model citizens – who just want their normal lives back – safe from others who choose a different path, who would suggest for themselves my body, my choice.
You probably think I’m a bit loony. I don’t blame you.
However, if you had told me 10, 20, or 30 years ago that Germany would in 2021 AGAIN define unclean citizens and AGAIN segregate them from society, or if you had asserted that Australia would lock the same kinds of people in concentration camps, I would have called you nuts too.
“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,” whether they be the gods of your officials who oppose freedom, or the gods of the Marxists, in whose land you dwell. “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
I get it: we like to think we’ve acknowledged Him as the leader, provider, and in control. We want to believe we are all yielded to Him and what not.
But the proverb falls flat when we choose another path and choose sin, or perhaps when we choose our desires rather than His best for us. In those times, is He the pilot in charge of our Plane we call Life? Is He really leading us into disobedience?
It is better for all of us when we discard childish notions and proverbs and live by His word:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your Life will be like tomorrow, for you are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
Who are these people who say, “we will live and also do this or that.”
Those are people who take ownership of their decisions and actions (they know how to direct their Plane), but they also know how to ask and receive guidance from Air Traffic Control and fly according to the rules. These people are flying their Planes in the correct manner and direction because they’ve already been down the road of learning, planning, conferring, and taking action for which they are responsible.
How many times have we asked God, “do I go to the grocery store ‘A,’ ‘B,’ or ‘C’?” Or perhaps, “do I buy gas here, or over there?” If we’re not having that kind of intimate relationship, if we don’t even know how to get a “yes” or “no” between this or that grocery store, how can we say, “God is my pilot?”
It is better to take responsibility for our Plane, acknowledging that we have our hands on the controls, rather than to abscond responsibility and point angry fingers at our Holy Father when things happen that we don’t like.
In a similar manner that America was divided during the Civil War, there will be a separation between the North and the South, the East from the West, the breadbasket of America singled out from others.
The lines of conflict will not so easily be drawn or discerned as they were in times past. In some places, it will be state against state, or border against border. in other places it will be city against rural, counties against states.
The enemy is sowing the seeds of this discord, and it is being allowed for God’s purposes. This judgment of God will separate, as all judgment does, but it is not the punishment of God.
I will go away and return to My place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; In their distress they will search for Me.
Once complete, true repentance will occur. The wounds will heal.
When America reunites, she will be stronger than she has ever been in the past.
The Evangelicals got it wrong. And they’ve been doing it wrong since their beginnings.
We are quickly approaching a point where the door on repentance from dead works is closing. Mind you, I am not referring to repentance from sin, towards faith in God resulting in salvation by grace, but those things that are displeasing to God.
Dead works include the following things-
Believing that God doesn’t see, doesn’t hear: believing we can do what we want with impunity.
Failing stand for righteousness.
Abandoning the fatherless: the murder of the innocent.
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. (Ps. 82:3)
Choose you this day
A division is quickly coming and the lines are being drawn. A day is coming where there will no longer be a place for those who would ride the middle of the fence or give comfort and aid to the enemies of righteousness.
But if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served, which were beyond the Euphrates River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)
This is what the Lord of armies, the God of Israel says: ‘Behold, I am going to bring on this city and all its towns the entire disaster that I have declared against it, because they have stiffened their necks so as not to listen to My words.’ (Jeremiah 19:15)
People who refuse to comply with vaccine mandates are increasingly putting themselves in positions where they cannot buy or sell – in one way or another.
Satan is not creative
Satan does not create things out of whole cloth: he mimics the things of God, to give them a semblance of truth. I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying, “the best lies have an element of truth mixed in.”
Consider this Godly prerequisite:
You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.”
These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart … You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.”
As I suggested in a previous blog, the things that we allow to be impressed upon our heart and soul are ultimately those things we work out of our existence as a form of worship.
Philosophy and Religion are tightly coupled
Philosophy adherents maintain a belief and trust in a system, and they work out their philosophy with their hands – as a sign so to speak. Such “working out” may take the form of religious services, or it may take the form of musings through lectures, papers, and books.
Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it.’
Hence, when one is being forced to worship an ungodly philosophy of the state, then you’re being forced to worship the beast.
Life and Liberty
Denying people their constitutionally protected liberties and lives without due process is an ungodly, criminal philosophy. We may rightly suggest that denying someone the right to work when there are other, perhaps less desirable opportunities, hardly rises to any qualification of denying one protected liberties.
But we all know, this one example is but the tip of the iceberg.
The issue of how to “motivate” vaccine compliance has generated increasing interest, with commentators such as Mike Cernovich writing: ‘Government won’t force you to take vaccine. Amazon will. Airlines will. Banks will. You won’t be able to buy, sell, or trade without the vaccine.‘
And He went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
But the last person I ever expected to explain how and why this failure worked toward the benefit of Beast of Revelation, in a practical manner, is John McArthur.
By way of introduction to the context of his message, I’ll recount an experience I had many years ago.
A former 3-Letter-Agency lawyer, who was on my retainer at the time, told me “never answer any question or speak to any person from the Government without the presence and council of your lawyer. Whatever you say, can and will be used against you. And once you’ve said something, it cannot be retracted. Only your lawyer can retract a statement they make on your behalf” (paraphrased)
I would therefore suggest that today – in the cultural climate of 2021 – when someone says, “I’m from the Government and I’m here to help,” they’re lying.
John McArthur explains why very nicely, and he explains, in a round-about way, how we have misapplied scripture and the gospel for way, way too long.
And those who bow down on the housetops to the host of heaven, And those who bow down and swear to the LORD and yet swear by Milcom, and those who have turned back from following the LORD, And those who have not sought the LORD or inquired of Him.
Be silent before the Lord GOD! For the day of the LORD is near, For the LORD has prepared a sacrifice, He has consecrated His guests.
Then it will come about on the day of the LORD’S sacrifice That I will punish the princes, the king’s sons And all who clothe themselves with foreign garments.
And I will punish on that day all who leap on the temple threshold, Who fill the house of their lord with violence and deceit.
“On that day,” declares the LORD, “There will be the sound of a cry from the Fish Gate, A wail from the Second Quarter, And a loud crash from the hills.
“Wail, O inhabitants of the Mortar, for all the people of Canaan will be silenced; All who weigh out silver will be cut off.
“It will come about at that time That I will search Jerusalem with lamps, And I will punish the men Who are stagnant in spirit, Who say in their hearts, ‘The LORD will not do good or evil!’
“Moreover, their wealth will become plunder and their houses desolate; Yes, they will build houses but not inhabit them, and plant vineyards but not drink their wine.”
Near is the great day of the LORD, Near and coming very quickly; Listen, the day of the LORD! In it the warrior cries out bitterly.
A day of wrath is that day, A day of trouble and distress, A day of destruction and desolation, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness,
A day of trumpet and battle cry Against the fortified cities And the high corner towers.
I will bring distress on men So that they will walk like the blind, Because they have sinned against the LORD; And their blood will be poured out like dust And their flesh like dung.
Neither their silver nor their gold Will be able to deliver them On the day of the LORD’S wrath; And all the earth will be devoured In the fire of His jealousy, For He will make a complete end, Indeed a terrifying one, Of all the inhabitants of the earth.
Yes: we need another opinion regarding the mark of the beast.
But I suspect you’ll find this one a bit more palatable. I will not be talking about barcodes, RFID chips, or any other such elementary things. Instead, we’ll leave those details to the ones who don’t do much beyond converting surface material into foundations, who look for present-day evidence for clues to what might be coming in the future.
I’m going to take a more historical view of the material.
Where does the idea come from?
It comes from the book of Revelation; written by John in the first century.
Who Was it Written To?
That’s an easy answer:
John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,
Revelation 1:4 NASB
Who Were the People of the Seven Churches of Asia?
That’s a bit more difficult to answer, but let’s consider who they were not.
They were not people who had a copy of the New Testament as we know it today.
Their Bible was the Hebrew Bible, or what we commonly refer to today as the Old Testament. While that seems self-evident, it’s an important detail widely overlooked by those who would create eschatological interpretations of the Book of Revelation. It’s why you hear more about the physical characteristics of the Mark of the Beast than what the Seven Churches would have understood it to be.
What does the Book of Revelation say about the mark?
And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause all who do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. And he causes all, the small and the great, the rich and the poor, and the free and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, and he decrees that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.
No, you shouldn’t. You should be looking for something else. The language of the letters and the book of Revelation is specific to the context and culture of the Seven Churches – specifically, the people of that era.
Due to who they were, when they lived, and the context of their scriptures, the assemblies of the Seven Churches of Asia would have understood things differently from us regarding ornaments of the right hand and the forehead.
What’s Special about the Right Hand and the Forehead?
What’s notable is that God commanded a particular behavior of Israel.
Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.
You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
If we break it down a little further, we see that the ideas of God are to be in our hearts. We must teach them to our sons and daughters. We talk about His ideas when we are at rest, traveling, and throughout the day.
If His ideas are so often on our minds and part of our everyday conversation, then it quickly follows that we’re using God’s ideas as a foundation for our lives to varying degrees. As such, we have His word on our minds; we have His word as a guide to the works of our hands. His word begins to develop our worldview; it affects how we think, act, and converse.
We see this example in James:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
An Outward Representation, A Reminder of Inward Position
God said His word was to be bound to our hand and our foreheads “as a sign.” The literal act of binding these scriptures to our bodies is not what affects change. The change has already been effected in our hearts, so the visible bindings are outward representations of who we are, what we are made of internally.
In today’s vernacular, it is similar to inviting all of your unchurched friends to your baptism. It’s like inviting those same people to your house for Bible Study. It’s the explanation why we’re no longer interested in participating in the self-destructive behaviors we once indulged in.
A Bit About the Beast
When the Seven Churches read about the Beast of the Revelation, they were not confused about who or what it was. They simply looked to their scriptures and found where God had spoken of such a creature before. But specifically, they would have looked for a similar context. In this letter, John repeats what Daniel said…
The Beast as a Kingdom
Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it.
Let’s just call out the elephant in the room: the act of simply going to church, singing songs, and listening to someone babble about this or that once a week is not worship. That is not to say some cannot find such an environment, a place where they can worship God to a limited extent.
Worship is so much more.
Worship encompasses the entirety of one’s life. It is the daily, continuing result of a surrendered soul, and our hearts disclosed to Him, declaring that God is among us.
… but if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.
Entire books have been written on worship. I’m certain that a few paragraphs cannot do it justice. Nevertheless, we have in error redefined worship, and that error needs to be corrected.
Worship of the State
In his 1944 work Omnipotent Government, Ludwig von Mises defined Statolatry as being literally the worship of the State and analogous to idolatry.
Statolatry asserts the glorification and aggrandizement of ‘State’ or ‘Nation’ is the object of all legitimate human aspiration at the expense of all else, including personal welfare and independent thought. Thus, Statolarty can be observed to exceed simple patriotism, and it might best be described as super-patriotism or chauvinism.
People who worship their political party or State put their faith in an idea – or philosophy – that adherence to a given system of beliefs will solve society’s ills. When we do such a thing, when we trust the party’s philosophies or the State to care for us and solve our problems, we are practicing Statolatry – we are worshiping The Beast.
A Forerunner to the Mark of the Beast
In late 2020 and early 2021, the world’s nations began mass manipulation, which was the idea that all people should be vaccinated and carry a card of such proof. People without evidence – the mark of obedience to a philosophy – would be denied certain services and privileges, such as shopping at the local grocery store or access to places of business and employment. This is precisely the idea and system that will be enacted during the tribulation:
… and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.
Revelation 13:17 NASB
The mark of The Beast is not as simple as a physical mark that will be forced upon people. It’s not simple as being injected with an RFID tag that links people to bank accounts and medical records. Instead, it’s about something seemingly more benign, something many people are unaware of.
It’s about the system that can manipulate the narrative, manipulate the thought.
The Mark of the Beast begins with mental slavery and bondage. After that, it is all about controlling the prevailing narrative. It’s not about the facts; it’s about what you’re being told to feel, what you’re being told to believe, how you’re being instructed to behave.