Most Christians are familiar with the number 666 which is symbolic of the Antichrist, the one who will emerge at the end of the end times, deceive people into submission and finally exalt himself as god. God has told us that a time will come when it will be impossible to buy or sell anything unless one has the mark of the Antichrist on one’s forehead or the right hand (Rev.13:16,17). Many Christians have been misled into considering whether this mark could be the credit card, the aadhaar card, a body implanted chip, etc. But that is to miss the point altogether. Even if we assume that the Antichrist will control the right to buy or sell through the use of a bio-chip, for example, the real issue is what makes one eligible to get that mark of approval from him. To get that mark from the Antichrist one will have to bow down to him in some way. In other words, one has to succumb to the pressure and compromise on crucial values and principles of Christ. It is to those people who are willing to do this, for the sake of survival, that the Antichrist will grant the use of his mark. Even now we can see that it has become very difficult to buy or sell real estate property in India without getting involved in black money transactions. We can only imagine, at this point, what all the tests of allegiance will be that the Antichrist will demand when he comes into power.
The apostle John said in his days that there were many antichrists even then (1Jn.2:18). These were not the Antichrist but those who were living with the same spirit as that of the Antichrist. The spirit, or the mindset, of the Antichrist is to oppose Christ and all that He stands for. We can easily see that this spirit is becoming more and more powerful and active. Abortions are being done in millions every year. Sexual immorality (premarital, extramarital, homosexual) has become extremely rampant. Insubordination to authority and self-oriented lifestyles are increasingly prevalent. Truths and moral values are no longer absolute as thought of till recently but have been redefined to make them dependent on individual opinion. There is extreme opposition to the uniqueness of Jesus as Saviour, and society frowns at the mention of His name except in the form of curse words and expletives (where it is very popular).
The password for survival these days is ‘tolerance’. Actually it is a curious situation where people want others to be tolerant towards their views, but they themselves are very intolerant of others’ views! Everybody has the right to have his or her own opinion about anything, but nobody seems to have the right to disagree with anyone else! Especially when it comes to issues related to religion or morals, anyone who takes a stand by which other people are depicted to be in error will be immediately called narrow-minded and a bigot. “Judge not!” is a favourite retort that comes from those who are questioned, corrected and who feel convicted. Tolerance is a password that is very dear to the Antichrist.
Unfortunately, this attitude percolates even into Christian circles. We are quick to say, “We are not perfect!”, but more quick to get all worked up when someone points out some imperfection. We proclaim as a doctrine that we want to become more like Jesus, but we resist every opportunity for that which people provide us with when they show us where we need to change! Growing up in the culture around us, we quickly learn that it is expedient for us to keep quiet when someone in authority is doing wrong, but we also vent our displeasure by talking about them behind their back. We learn not to offend anyone by talking about sin, judgment or hell from the pulpit, and we develop the skills to ‘encourage’ our listeners by talking about a rosy future and the mighty move of God that is coming in the future. Even when things are actually going from bad to worse, we dangle a false hope in front of the listeners instead of helping them to face the reality. Our preaching and writing are directed at what people would like to hear, rather than what they need to hear and what God wants to tell them.
Even Christians are calling out for tolerance. Blatant forms of sin that would not have been even mentioned in earlier times must now be tolerated, because they are so common! Churches, denominations and para church organisations are taking the side of tolerance rather than be seen as narrow minded or anachronistic. The message that becomes popular is one that is soothing and comforting, without any offence that comes from the truth.
Dorothy L. Sayers said, “In the world it is called tolerance, but in hell it is called despair... the sin that believes in nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.” In the earlier days Christians were willing to die for the truth, but now they are not even willing to be inconvenienced because of any truth. The fashionable viewpoint is not to have any specific viewpoint for oneself, but to keep options open for other viewpoints that other people choose to have. I remember, once after I spoke to a group of Christians about some truth from the Bible, a Bible college graduate took me aside to tell me I should not be so emphatic about what he called my ‘opinion’ but only quote what various scholars said.
At a deeper level, the root of the problem is that the Bible is no longer being considered by many Christians as the final authority on life. Many ‘Bible scholars’ have so cleverly relegated many portions of the Bible to bygone eras or erstwhile cultures that a general understanding seems to have descended on people that nobody can really know what God wants us to do! This is not what those who know God say. Those who have a genuine relationship with God know from experience how dangerous this view is, because for them the Bible is the word of life. If God has revealed some truth to us in His word, and our understanding of it is clear, that is true, and we can take a stand for it irrespective of whatever consequences the world may threaten us with.
The master password in the kingdom of God is ‘faith’. A true experience of faith in God also includes repentance from sin which God hates. But after we enter into the kingdom another password that operates there is ‘faithfulness’. If we really have faith in God and believe what He has done for us, the practical result in our life will be faithfulness towards Him in every area of our life. Many times we memorise the master password ‘faith’, but forget this password of ‘faithfulness’ that is needed in many practical situations of life. That is when we begin to compromise and use the ‘cheat’ password called ‘tolerance’.
Faithfulness to God is connected very strongly to the integrity of our life. When we move away from integrity, starting with our mind and going on to our deeds, we move away from the kingdom of God. Then it will only be a matter of time when we find it OK to accept falsehood as ‘another viewpoint’ and sin as ‘a personal choice’. Then we will have less ability to see things clearly, and we will find nothing wrong in the tolerance of wrong.
Martin Luther said, “If we are correct and right in our Christian life at every point, but refuse to stand for the truth at a particular point where the battle rages—then we are traitors to Christ.” As time goes on, the number of Christians who would be willing to be faithful to the truth will become smaller and smaller. And it will be by choosing the way of compromise and tolerance that we will qualify for receiving the mark of the Antichrist.
“He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God… and I will write on him the name of My God… and My new name” (Rev.3:12).