September 26, 2010 – October 2, 2010
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” II Thessalonians 2:3, 4.
Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 33–43. The Great Controversy, 49–54.
“The special characteristic of the beast, and therefore of his image, is the breaking of God’s commandments.” The Great Controversy, 446.
1 Next to Christ, who was the most exalted among the angels and what do we know of his position? Ezekiel 28:12–14.
Note: “Sin originated with him who, next to Christ, had been most honored of God and who stood highest in power and glory among the inhabitants of heaven. Before his fall, Lucifer was first of the covering cherubs, holy and undefiled.” The Great Controversy, 493, 494.
2 What led this anointed cherub on the course that separated him from the privileges of heaven? Ezekiel 28:6, 15–17.
Note: “Lucifer might have remained in favor with God, beloved and honored by all the angelic host, exercising his noble powers to bless others and to glorify his Maker. … Instead of seeking to make God supreme in the affections and allegiance of His creatures, it was Lucifer’s endeavor to win their service and homage to himself. And coveting the honor which the infinite Father had bestowed upon His Son, this prince of angels aspired to power which it was the prerogative of Christ alone to wield.” The Great Controversy, 494.
3 How does the prophet Isaiah contrast the original position of Lucifer with his later condition perpetuated throughout history? Isaiah 14:12–14.
Note: “Little by little Lucifer came to indulge the desire for self-exaltation. … Though all his glory was from God, this mighty angel came to regard it as pertaining to himself. Not content with his position, though honored above the heavenly host, he ventured to covet homage due alone to the Creator.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 35.
“The desire for self-exaltation had brought strife into the heavenly courts, and had banished a multitude of the hosts of God. Had Lucifer really desired to be like the Most High, he would never have deserted his appointed place in heaven; for the spirit of the Most High is manifested in unselfish ministry. Lucifer desired God’s power, but not His character. He sought for himself the highest place, and every being who is actuated by his spirit will do the same. Thus alienation, discord, and strife will be inevitable. Dominion becomes the prize of the strongest. The kingdom of Satan is a kingdom of force; every individual regards every other as an obstacle in the way of his own advancement, or a steppingstone on which he himself may climb to a higher place.” The Desire of Ages, 435, 436.
4 On what were Lucifer’s ambitions focused?
Note: “Pride in his own glory nourished the desire for supremacy. The high honors conferred upon Lucifer were not appreciated as the gift of God and called forth no gratitude to the Creator. He gloried in his brightness and exaltation, and aspired to be equal with God.” The Great Controversy, 495.
5 Where was Lucifer cast when his rebellion was overcome, and how many angels joined him in rebellion? Isaiah 14:15; Revelation 12:4, 7–9.
Note: “When through his rebellion he [Lucifer] was cast out of heaven, he determined to make man his victim, and the earth his kingdom. He cast the blame of his rebellion upon Christ, and in determined hatred of God, sought to wound Him through the fall of man.” The Bible Echo, November 1, 1892.
6 Having been cast out of heaven, how has Lucifer continued his destructive work? Revelation 12:12; I Peter 5:8, 9.
Note: “From the very beginning of the great controversy in heaven it has been Satan’s purpose to overthrow the law of God. It was to accomplish this that he entered upon his rebellion against the Creator, and though he was cast out of heaven he has continued the same warfare upon the earth. To deceive men, and thus lead them to transgress God’s law, is the object which he has steadfastly pursued. Whether this be accomplished by casting aside the law altogether, or by rejecting one of its precepts, the result will be ultimately the same.” The Great Controversy, 582.
7 How may the particular representative of Satan in this world be positively identified, and what sign will identify the national pawn he will use? Revelation 13:1, 2, 17, 18.
Note: “In [Revelation] chapter 13 (verses 1–10) is described another beast, ‘like unto a leopard,’ to which the dragon gave ‘his power, and his seat, and great authority’ [verse 2]. This symbol, as most Protestants have believed, represents the papacy, which succeeded to the power and seat and authority once held by the ancient Roman empire. Of the leopardlike beast it is declared: ‘There was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies. … And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations’ [verses 5–7]. This prophecy, which is nearly identical with the description of the little horn of Daniel 7, unquestionably points to the papacy.” The Great Controversy, 439.
“The prophecy of Revelation 13 declares that the power represented by the beast with lamblike horns shall cause ‘the earth and them which dwell therein’ [verse 12] to worship the papacy—there symbolized by the beast ‘like unto a leopard.’ The beast with two horns is also to say ‘to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast;’ and, furthermore, it is to command all, ‘both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond,’ to receive the mark of the beast [verses 14, 16].” Ibid., 578, 579.
8 What do the Scriptures say of the ambitions of the antichrist? Daniel 7:25.
Note: “The special characteristic of the beast, and therefore of his image, is the breaking of God’s commandments. Says Daniel, of the little horn, the papacy: ‘He shall think to change times and the law.’ Daniel 7:25, R.V. And Paul styled the same power the ‘man of sin’ [II Thessalonians 2:3], who was to exalt himself above God. One prophecy is a complement of the other. Only by changing God’s law could the papacy exalt itself above God; whoever should understandingly keep the law as thus changed would be giving supreme honor to that power by which the change was made. Such an act of obedience to papal laws would be a mark of allegiance to the pope in the place of God.” The Great Controversy, 446.
“Those who become confused in their understanding of the Word, who fail to see the meaning of antichrist, will surely place themselves on the side of antichrist. There is no time now for us to assimilate with the world. Daniel is standing in his lot and in his place. The prophecies of Daniel and of John are to be understood. They interpret each other. They give to the world truths which every one should understand. These prophecies are to be witnesses in the world. By their fulfillment in these last days they will explain themselves.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 949.
9 What did Paul reveal concerning the “mystery of iniquity,” and what Old Testament prophecy foreshadowed this? II Thessalonians 2:3–5; Ezekiel 28:1, 2.
Note: “Little by little, at first in stealth and silence, and then more openly as it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, ‘the mystery of iniquity’ [II Thessalonians 2:7] carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work. Almost imperceptibly the customs of heathenism found their way into the Christian church. The spirit of compromise and conformity was restrained for a time by the fierce persecutions which the church endured under paganism. But as persecution ceased, and Christianity entered the courts and palaces of kings, she laid aside the humble simplicity of Christ and His apostles for the pomp and pride of pagan priests and rulers; and in place of the requirements of God, she substituted human theories and traditions.” The Great Controversy, 49.
10 What special warning did Paul give to the Ephesian church in his farewell to them? Acts 20:28–30.
Note: “The dangers that would assail the church at Ephesus were revealed to the apostle. [Acts 20:29, 30 quoted.] Paul trembled for the church as, looking into the future, he saw the attacks which she must suffer from both external and internal foes.” The Acts of the Apostles, 395.
11 When did the attempt to change God’s law (Daniel 7:25)—particularly the Sabbath—begin to take place? II Thessalonians 2:7.
Note: “Protestants now urge that the resurrection of Christ on Sunday made it the Christian Sabbath. But Scripture evidence is lacking. No such honor was given to the day by Christ or His apostles. The observance of Sunday as a Christian institution had its origin in that ‘mystery of lawlessness’ (II Thessalonians 2:7, R.V.) which, even in Paul’s day, had begun its work. Where and when did the Lord adopt this child of the papacy? What valid reason can be given for a change which the Scriptures do not sanction?” The Great Controversy, 54.
“Even at that early date he saw, creeping into the church, errors that would prepare the way for the development of the papacy.
“Little by little, at first in stealth and silence, and then more openly as it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, ‘the mystery of iniquity’ carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work. Almost imperceptibly the customs of heathenism found their way into the Christian church. The spirit of compromise and conformity was restrained for a time by the fierce persecutions which the church endured under paganism. But as persecution ceased, and Christianity entered the courts and palaces of kings, she laid aside the humble simplicity of Christ and His apostles for the pomp and pride of pagan priests and rulers; and in place of the requirements of God, she substituted human theories and traditions. The nominal conversion of Constantine, in the early part of the fourth century, caused great rejoicing; and the world, cloaked with a form of righteousness, walked into the church. Now the work of corruption rapidly progressed. Paganism, while appearing to be vanquished, became the conqueror. Her spirit controlled the church. Her doctrines, ceremonies, and superstitions were incorporated into the faith and worship of the professed followers of Christ.
“This compromise between paganism and Christianity resulted in the development of ‘the man of sin’ foretold in prophecy as opposing and exalting himself above God. That gigantic system of false religion is a masterpiece of Satan’s power—a monument of his efforts to seat himself upon the throne to rule the earth according to his will.
“Satan once endeavored to form a compromise with Christ. He came to the Son of God in the wilderness of temptation, and showing Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, offered to give all into His hands if He would but acknowledge the supremacy of the prince of darkness. Christ rebuked the presumptuous tempter and forced him to depart. But Satan meets with greater success in presenting the same temptations to man. To secure worldly gains and honors, the church was led to seek the favor and support of the great men of earth; and having thus rejected Christ, she was induced to yield allegiance to the representative of Satan—the bishop of Rome.
“It is one of the leading doctrines of Romanism that the pope is the visible head of the universal church of Christ, invested with supreme authority over bishops and pastors in all parts of the world. More than this, the pope has been given the very titles of Deity. He has been styled ‘Lord God the Pope’*, and has been declared infallible. He demands the homage of all men. The same claim urged by Satan in the wilderness of temptation is still urged by him through the Church of Rome, and vast numbers are ready to yield him homage. …
“God has never given a hint in His word that He has appointed any man to be the head of the church. The doctrine of papal supremacy is directly opposed to the teachings of the Scriptures. The pope can have no power over Christ’s church except by usurpation.” The Great Controversy, 49–51.
* For the title “Lord God the Pope” see a gloss on the Extravagantes of Pope John XXII, title 14, ch. 4, Declaramun. In an Antwerp edition of the Extravangantes, dated 1584, the words “Dominum deum Nostrum Papam” (“Our Lord God the pope”) occur in column 153. In a Paris edition, dated 1612, they occur in column 140. In several editions published since 1612 the word “Deum” (“God”) has been omitted.
©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.