“Then I saw another beast come up out of the earth. He had two horns like those of a lamb, but he spoke with the voice of a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast. And he required all the earth and its people to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. He did astounding miracles, even making fire flash down to earth from the sky while everyone was watching.”
Revelation 13:11-13 NLT
As if one beast wasn’t enough, another one pops up. This one is perhaps the devil himself, because “he spoke with the voice of a dragon“, but what can we glean from these verses?
Firstly, the new beast came “up out of the earth”. Now we know that after the war in Heaven, the devil was cast out down to the earth. So that would be where he would be expected to appear from. And now we have an interesting few words – “He had two horns like those of a lamb”. One thing the devil is good at is how he counterfeits the things of God. There is a good chance he appeared as a lamb, mimicking the Lamb of God. And by so doing he would deceive many people, even Christians, in the process committing one of the biggest scams this earth has ever seen. As Christians we must be very, very careful and discerning. The Apostle Peter warned us. He wrote in 1 Peter 5:8, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” Watch out we must.
In my pilgrimage, I have encountered some Christians who talk a good story but, on closer examination, what they say or do troubles me. They sound very plausible and spiritual but issues start to emerge that undermine them. There’s not so much a problem with what some Christians say, if it can be checked out against the Bible. The Bible is the final arbiter of what we say, what we believe. One danger that can trap Christians is when someone builds a doctrine around a Bible verse taken out of context. As an example, I can remember some years ago that a church was established around Mark 16:18, “they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on people who are ill, and they will get well.” So they started to bring poisonous snakes to their meetings. However, it is the marginal sayings and actions that don’t have a direct Biblical parallel that can be a problem. I have met people who start a conversation with “I believe God has told me to …” and they then launch into how they are undertaking a set of actions in accordance with what they believe God has said to them. They might be perfectly correct in what they have heard and are now doing, but the danger is that the devil has planted an evil thought in their minds. Remember the devil’s conversation with Eve in Genesis 3:1? “The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”” Often the enemy will try and plant doubts about God in our minds and in the process sound very plausible and logical.
It is sometimes very difficult to discern if the still small voice we are hearing is God or someone else. The old Apostle John wrote some words of wisdom in his first epistle, “Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world“. (1 John 4:1).
Often what we are hearing can be our sinful natures trying to reassert themselves. There are some checks and balances that need to be followed to avoid us falling into a trap set by the forces of evil, whatever their source.
Firstly, is there Scriptural support for what “I believe God has told me to …”. If what we think God is asking us to do is at variance with what it says in Scripture then it is probably not Him speaking.
Secondly, if necessary, it is worth checking out what we think God is saying with a trusted Christian friend or our pastor. Their counsel will be priceless. I like what Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.”
Thirdly, and particularly if what we believe God has said may lead to a decision that is life changing, we pray and ask God for confirmation. He is our loving Heavenly Father and He won’t want us to succumb to the devil’s ways. And if we don’t get an answer straight away, leave what we think God said on the “back-burner” until confirmation arrives.
Dear Heavenly Father, we know the devil wants to lead us into paths that aren’t right. Please help us and protect us in our pilgrimage through life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.