Recall that Jesus has warned His disciples about being misled by false Christs and false prophets who would arise and give “great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Mat 24:24). We have also seen that such signs are a manifestation of the power of the unholy trinity of the false and worldly god of this age even as true signs and wonders are a manifestation of the true and holy God of heaven; see Rev 16:13-14. The false head of this unholy trinity is the dragon that is the serpent of old who is also called the devil and Satan; the false christ is the beast out of the sea that is the kingdoms of the world and their rulers that are a false messiah to men; and the false spirit is the beast out of the earth that is the spirit of this age who is also called the false prophet. This false spirit tells those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast; this is the social, cultural, religious, political and economic organizations of the world through which the unholy spirit of this age exercises all the authority of the first beast on his behalf and makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast. This image of the beast reflects the nature of the kingdoms and powers of this darkened world, who, like Satan, appear under the guise of doing good but actually enslave those they purport to help. How does this help us to understand why it is that even when men build such organizations with seemingly good intentions to address some form of evil or corruption, that which they make always seems to eventually take on a life of its own and comes to corrupt them as well? Cf. Luk 4:5-6, 1Jo 5:19. What exactly is it that gives Satan his power as the god of this age to enslave people even through that which is built with good intentions to address evil? See Romans 7:10-11,14-20; cf. 1Sa 8:4-18. What does man’s bondage to sin teach us about his need for a real Savior who is able to provide a real salvation by delivering from sin? What does this remind us about the nature of true salvation? If one is not saved from the slavery of sin, is he really saved? Cf. Rom 6:15-23.
With what does John say the spirit of this world deceives those who dwell on the earth that causes them to make an image to the beast through which his rule is made manifest and that actually enslaves them? See Rev 13:14. Although the signs performed by the god of this age are great to those whom he deceives, because he is only a part of creation and not the Creator, is the nature of those signs truly miraculous in the same way that the true God is able to intervene from outside of His creation and “make all things new”? I.e., as marvelous as his signs are, is he able like the true Savior to make man a new creation by delivering him from his bondage to sin that alone is able to provide true salvation and eternal life in a kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy, free from the tyranny of men, the evils of the world, sickness, suffering and death? Considering the nature of the salvation promised by the kingdoms of the world that are a false messiah to men, what is the nature of the false signs that deceive them? See Rev 13:4,13; cf. Num 16:35, 1Ki 18:38, 2Ki 1:9-14, Mat 16:1 and consider the modern “fire-power” of missiles and even atomic bombs that people look to governments for to save them from their enemies.
Consider that in addition to the secular organizations of the world that people look to for salvation, the image to the beast inspired by the spirit of the world also includes all the false religion in the world, and especially a false church with its false Christ and false promise of salvation apart from the deliverance from sin. For just as the followers of true religion come to reflect the image of the true Christ as they are filled with His Spirit of holiness (see Rom 8:29, 2Co 3:18), so do those followers of false religion come to reflect the nature and character of their false messiah—the man of lawlessness (2Th 2:3-4)—as they are filled with the spirit of the world. And just as the true Spirit inspires the true Church that is the image of the true Christ to speak words that reflect His nature, so does the false spirit give breath to the false church set up as an image for the beast to speak words that reflect its nature. How did the true Holy Spirit of God come upon people on the day of Pentecost? See Act 2:3-4. How is the fire of Christ’s true Spirit very different from the fire of the spirit of the world? Cf. Luk 9:54-55. In addition to the fire of worldly power (manifested especially in the fire-power of weapons of war that deceive the whole earth to follow after the beast, Rev 13:3-4), should we be surprised that in a delusion so great as to deceive if possible even God’s elect that the false spirit of antichrist would also come like fire from heaven upon a worldly church? Cf. Rev 13:13. Just because a person has a religious experience or speaks in tongues, does that necessarily mean that the true Spirit of God has been poured out upon him? Cf. 1Co 13:1. Just because one prophesies in the name of Jesus, casts out demons, and performs many miracles, does that necessarily mean that he is being led by the true Spirit of God and operating in His power? See Mat 7:21-23. Are the true sons of God those who have been touched by a counterfeit fire from heaven to be led by the spirit of the world that has donned a religious garb, or are they those who have been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection to become partakers of that same Spirit of God, which is the Holy Spirit? See Mat 16:24-25, Rom 6:1-4, 8:11-14. If one is not being led into holiness and delivered from the spirit of the world by putting to death the deeds of the flesh and being raised to newness of life, is he being led by the Holy Spirit? Cf. Heb 12:14.