They Worshiped the Dragon
People have a strong urge to worship. When they do not worship God, they worship someone or something else.
The Scriptures teach that only God may be worshiped. We are also warned about false forms of worship.
We may not worship money.
“You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). Mammon is the god of money. Many years ago, when a sister in Brussels tried to give a man a tract, he patted his wallet and said, “This is my god.” There are many more who worship money than are so readily willing to admit it. Mammon is a popular god in our society. We may not worship wealth.
We may not worship images or icons.
“Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man _ and birds and four- footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever” (Romans 1:22- 25).
To worship a statue is to worship evil spirits. “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. ... What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons” (1 Corinthians 10:14, 19, 20). “But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk” (Revelation 9:20).
When heathen, Catholics, or members of Orthodox or Coptic churches venerate statues or icons, according to the word of God they are in fact worshiping demons.
We may not worship people.
“As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, 'Stand up; I myself am also a man'” (Acts 10:25, 26). This proves that the Pope is not a successor of Peter. Peter did not allow people to bow down before him. Peter did not exalt himself; he did not sit on an exalted throne as a substitute for Christ to receive honor that belongs to God alone.
The throne of the Pope
The veneration of 'saints' is a form of worshiping people. Religious leaders, political leaders, sportsmen and popstars are also worshiped by some. We may not worship people.
We may not worship angels.
“Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, 'See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God'” (Revelation 22:8, 9 see also 19:10). “Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels” (Colossians 2:18).
We may not worship Satan.
“Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, 'All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.' Then Jesus said to him, 'Away with you, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve”'” (Matthew 4:8-10).
Satan tried to get Jesus to worship him. Satan also tempts us to worship him.
Some people worship Satan directly. Their rituals usually include immoral acts, they often mock Christ openly, and sometimes children are mutilated and murdered in satanic rituals.
Although few people worship Satan directly, millions worship Satan indirectly. “The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). John speaks of this in Revelation. By way of explanation, the dragon represents the devil (Revelation 12:9). And beasts represent rulers of the world (Daniel 7:23).
“Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, 'Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?'” (Revelation 13:1-4).
Satan gets people to worship him indirectly through leaders, rulers, governments and organizations. Of this beast, John goes on to say: “And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:5- 8).
Notice that everyone on earth worships either God or Satan (via the beast). There is no middle course.
The first beast has a companion: “Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed” (Revelation 13:11, 12).
This is a religious beast. He resembles Christ, but he speaks like the devil. Later he is called 'the false prophet' (Revelation 16:13; 19:20; 20:10).
“He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth _ by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed” (Revelation 13:13- 15).
We have read that everyone on earth worships either God or the first beast that represents worldly rulership. This second, religious beast deceives people into worshiping the first beast. He makes a talking image of the first beast. Many people worship stone images. But here is a talking idol. This beast uses political power in the religious realm to deceive the people.
What does this mean? When two of Jesus' disciples were wanting political power in the kingdom of God, Jesus told them: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you” (Matthew 20:25, 26). Thus, in the church of Christ no one lords it over his fellow believers.
We may only worship God. Although we show due respect to those in authority (Romans 13:1), but we may not glorify political systems, whether they be secular or religious institutions, for it is through such organizations that Satan gets everyone to worship him except for those who are in the book of life.
Some are of the opinion that this second beast, the false prophet, represents the Roman Catholic Church. And there are indeed many similarities. Yet, the false prophet must include more than the Roman Catholic Church, because this beast gets everyone except the saved to worship the first beast.
Thus, the false prophet must somehow represent all forms of false religion on earth. Since false religions do not submit to the authority of God and are not led by the Holy Spirit, they must set up worldly forms of leadership. All people whose names are not written in the book of life are following some leadership other than Christ and are thus indirectly following Satan.
Remember that Jesus said: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you” (Matthew 20:25, 26).
Followers of Christ do not exercise authority over one another.
We must worship God in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24); we must be members of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27), we must belong to the church that Jesus built, which has nothing to fear even from the gates of Death's realm (Matthew 16:18).
If we become members of some denomination or religious institution other than the church that Jesus built, we are worshiping Satan. If we as a congregation join some centralized organization, which is found no where in the New Covenant, we are worshiping Satan. If we give any leader or organization the honor that belongs only to God, we are worshiping Satan.
Let us worship God!
We may worship no thing and no one except God. Either we worship God according to His word, or we worship Satan. There is no middle course.
If we give leaders, rulers or organizations honor that God deserves, we are worshiping Satan. If we worship money, if we bow down before images or icons, if we worship people, if we pray to 'saints', if we worship angels, if we put anything whatever in the place of God, we are worshiping the devil.
“Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve'” (Matthew 4:10).
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive