“And another angel followed, saying, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’” Revelation 14:8
“It was by departure from the Lord, and alliance with the heathen, that the Jewish church became a harlot; and Rome, corrupting herself in like manner by seeking the support of worldly powers, receives a like condemnation.” The Great Controversy, 382. If you do not understand that truth, you cannot understand what Babylon is. Let me explain that. The true church is a spiritual thing. Some people think that if you are in this organization, you are in Zion, and if you are in that organization, you are in Babylon. We must get over childish ways of thinking. Both Babylon and the true church are spiritual entities.
You see, the true church has to do with the mystery of godliness. Babylon has to do with the mystery of iniquity, or mystery of lawlessness, as Paul calls it in 2 Thessalonians 2. In Revelation 17, Babylon is referred to as a woman who is a great harlot. As a woman represents a church, and a harlot represents a church that is unfaithful, any church that becomes a harlot is part of Babylon. More than one church forms a part of Babylon because in Revelation 17:5 it says: “on her forehead a name was written: Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and of the abominations of the earth.” As she is the mother and she has daughters, clearly there are other churches that belong to this great system.
Notice some identifying marks about Babylon in Revelation 14:8.
- It says that Babylon has fallen. If you are already lying on the floor, you cannot fall. To fall, at some time in the past you have to have been up in an elevated position so that you could fall. In other words Babylon is a church that at one time was in a pure and elevated, spiritual condition.
- We see that Babylon uses force or coercion. It says, “She has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” So, she uses some kind of trickery, deceit, insinuation, force, or coercion to cause all of the people of the earth to drink this wine.
- Babylon is a church or a spiritual organization that has world-wide influence. All of the nations in the world have been influenced by her.
- As we saw in Revelation 17:5, Babylon is more than one church organization or group.
- Babylon has to be a religious organization because it is a woman. (See 2 Corinthians 11:2; Jeremiah 6:2)
How does a church become a spiritual harlot? Let us go back to the Old Testament. We find in both the Old and New Testaments that those organizations that are referred to as Babylon were formerly in an elevated position. In fact, the prophets tell us that the nation of Israel became what you would call the equivalent of Babylon. In Isaiah 1, the prophet talked to Jerusalem, and he called her a harlot. That is the same as calling her Babylon, though she was still called Jerusalem. Obviously, you can call yourself Jerusalem and yet spiritually be a part of Babylon. When your spiritual condition indicates that you have fallen, the prophet says you are spiritually a harlot. (See The Great Controversy, 382.)
In Ezekiel 23, there is a whole chapter about two sisters. These two sistesr have become harlots. Who are these two harlots? It says in verse 4 that one is Samaria and the other is Jerusalem. I want you to see how a church becomes spiritually a harlot and becomes part of Babylon.
“The Lord also said to me: ‘Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Then declare to them their abominations. For they have committed adultery [they are harlots], and blood is on their hands.’” They worshiped idols, and worshiping idols constituted spiritual adultery. But that is not all. “‘And even sacrificed their sons whom they bore to me, passing them through the fire, to devour them. Moreover they have done this to Me: They have defiled My sanctuary on the same day and profaned My Sabbaths.’” How did they become spiritual harlots? They defiled God’s sanctuary and profaned His Sabbaths. When you break God’s law and teach others to break God’s law, you are committing spiritual adultery against Him. A person or group who claims to be the church of God and teaches others that they cannot keep the law of God is in a spiritual, adulterous situation as Ezekiel says very plainly here in Ezekiel 23:36-38.
Is it possible for a church, in the most literal sense, to become a harlot and still think they are keeping God’s law? Turn in your Bible to Ephesians 5, where Paul is talking about the church. In verse 30 it says, “For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’” Now let me ask you, friends, when Paul says here, and he is quoting from Genesis 2:23, 24, that a man shall leave his father and mother and should be joined to his wife and they two shall be one flesh, what is he talking about? He is talking about the sexual relationship of marriage. Let us read that right in the Bible. Turn back to 1 Corinthians 6:15-17. “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? [He is talking to the church.] Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For ‘the two,’ He says, ‘shall become one flesh.’” If you are an adult, you cannot misunderstand what Paul is talking about. When the Bible says the two shall become one flesh, what it is talking about? It is talking about the sexual relationship of marriage.
Just as a man is physically joined to his wife in marriage, in the same way the Christian is spiritually united to the Lord Jesus Christ, one body, one bone, and one flesh with Him. (See 1 Corinthians 6:16.) “We are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:30-32. Now, if you cannot understand it, you will be excused, because when the apostle Paul says something is a great mystery it is, but it remains that, he says, he is talking about the sexual relationship of marriage. Then he explains that he is really talking about Christ and the church. You are members of the body of Christ. He says, in 1 Corinthians 6:16, “The one who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.”
I have a question for you. Is marriage holy? Yes, the Bible teaches that marriage is holy, but it has some stipulations. Notice what it says in Ephesians 5:31. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Now, this should not be difficult to understand. If you have two, it is holy; but if you have three it is wicked. Is that understandable?
The church is to be one spirit with Christ, but when she unites herself with the governments of this world, with the kings of this world, what do you have? You have the church, the Lord, and the governments of the world. It is no longer two, but three; and that is wicked. That church has become a harlot, and, therefore, a part of Babylon. It does not matter whether it is done through the executive, the judicial, or the legislative branch. If she unites herself with the governments of this world, she becomes a part of Babylon. For a hundred and fifty years, Historic Seventh-day Adventists have preached the separation of church and state and that the church could not be united with the state without becoming part of Babylon. What have we forgotten!
“The world must not be introduced into the church, and married to the church, forming a bond of unity. Through this means the church will become indeed corrupt, and as stated in Revelation, ‘a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.’” Testimonies to Ministers, 265. How does the church become converted to Babylon? When she becomes united to the world; when she goes and unites herself with the world, with the governments of this world.
It says in Revelation 14 that this Babylon has made all of the nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. The Bible speaks here about intoxicating wine, and intoxicating wine makes you drunk so that you cannot think. You become all confused, and, for the time, you are insane—gone mad—because you have drunk all of this wine.
“They also have erred through wine, and through intoxicating drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through intoxicating drink, they are swallowed up by the wine, they are out of the way through intoxicating drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment. For all tables are full of vomit and filth; no place is clean.” Isaiah 28:7, 8. What happens when people drink wine? They are intoxicated and they err in vision and stumble in judgment.
In Revelation 14 it is not talking so much about physical wine as about spiritual wine. We find out what this spiritual wine is in Isaiah 29. “Pause and wonder! Blind yourselves and be blind! They are drunk, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with intoxicating drink. For the Lord has poured out on you the spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes, namely the prophets; and He has covered your heads, namely, the seers. The whole vision has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one who is literate, saying, ‘Read this, please.’ And he says, ‘I cannot, for it is sealed.’ Then the book is delivered to one who is illiterate, saying, ‘Read this, please.’ And he says, ‘I am not literate.’ Therefore the Lord said: ‘Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandments of men.” Isaiah 29:9-13. These people are drunk with spiritual, not physical wine. They are drunk because they are teaching for doctrines the commandments of men, and as a result, the people are deceived and confused!
It is time for Seventh-day Adventists to recognize that when they see that it is the commandments of men being taught that contradict the Word of God, it is the wine of Babylon. It does not matter what publishing house published it or what the name of the person is who wrote it; if it is the commandments of men and it contradicts the Word of God, it is the wine of Babylon. If you listen to it, you are going to become confused—drunk.
“And another angel followed, saying, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’” Revelation 14:8. If you drink of this wine, you are also going to drink of the wrath of God.
Who is it that is going to receive the wrath of God?
Concerning God, He “will render to each one according to his deeds,” “there is no partiality with God,” “eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek.” Romans 2:6, 11, 7-10.
Notice that it is the people who obey unrighteousness who drink of the wrath of God. The third angel’s message teaches that if you receive the mark of the beast, you are going to receive the wrath of God. The only people who receive the wrath of God, according to Paul in Romans 2:8, are those who obey unrighteousness. So, there is something about the wine of Babylon and the mark of the beast that is unrighteous.
Well, what is unrighteousness? “All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.” 1 John 5:17. The sin that does not lead to death is the sin that is repented, forsaken, and confessed. That sin does not lead to death because the cross of Jesus Christ will save you from the consequences. The only people, according to Romans 2:8, who are going to receive the wrath of God are those who obey unrighteousness; but unrighteousness is sin. What is sin? Sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). All right, is there something in the wine of Babylon that teaches people to break God’s law? Yes, there is.
Have you ever heard the idea that you really cannot overcome sin, that you really cannot keep God’s law perfectly, that you are going to go on sinning some and confessing? Oh, you will not sin great big, but you are going to go on sinning and confessing until Jesus comes.
“Success in any line demands a definite aim.” Education, 262. I want to ask you this question, Will a person overcome sin who is not aiming to do so? Obviously, the person who is led to believe that you cannot overcome your sins perfectly, that you are going to go sinning and confessing, sinning and confessing, is never going to overcome the sin in his own life. The name of the church where this is taught is not important; it comes from Babylon and it will lead you to the seven last plagues.
“He who sins is of the devil.” 1 John 3:8. Let me tell you, friend, if your pastor is teaching you that you can sin, you had better got our of that church and go to a church where they do not teach that sort of thing, because he who sins is of the devil.
“Will the churches heed the Laodicean message? Will they repent, or will they, notwithstanding that the message—is proclaimed to the world, go on in sin? This is the last message of mercy, the last warning to a fallen world. If the church of God becomes lukewarm, it does not stand in favor with God any more than do the churches that are represented as having fallen and become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird. Those who have had opportunities to hear and receive the truth and who have united with the Seventh-day Adventist church, calling themselves the commandment-keeping people of God, and yet possess no more vitality and consecration of the plagues of God just as verily as the churches who oppose the law of God. Only those that are sanctified through the truth will compose the royal family in the heavenly mansions Christ has gone to prepare for those that love Him and keep His commandments.” [All emphasis supplied] Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, 176
Some people say, “Oh, we are Zion. Don’t ever talk to us about Babylon. We are out of that organization.” Listen friends, you may be baptized and call yourself a Seventh-day Adventist but be just as bad off as the fallen churches that oppose the law of God and receive the plagues just the same.
“It is now the duty of God’s commandment-keeping people to watch and pray, to search the Scriptures diligently, to hide the Word of God in the heart, lest they sin against Him in idolatrous thoughts and debasing practices, and thus the church of God become demoralized like the fallen churches whom prophecy represents as being filled with every unclean and hateful bird.” Review and Herald, May 17, 1887
“We must as a people arouse and cleanse the camp of Israel. Licentiousness, unlawful intimacy, and unholy practices are coming in among us in a large degree; and ministers who are handling sacred things are guilty of sin in this respect. They are coveting their neighbors’ wives, and the seventh commandment is broken. We are in danger of becoming a sister to fallen Babylon, of allowing our churches to become corrupted, and filled with every foul spirit, a cage for every unclean and hateful bird; and will we be clear unless we make decided movements to cure the existing evil?” Manuscript Release, no. 449, 17. Just try to make movements to cure the existing evil and see what happens. Friend, it is time to read the Spirit of Prophecy and read all of the statements.
“When Jerusalem was divorced from God it was because of her sins. She fell from an exalted height that Tyre and Sidon had never reached. And when an angel falls he becomes a fiend. The depth of our ruin is measured by the exalted light to which God has raised us in His great goodness and unspeakable mercy. Oh, what privileges are granted to us a people! And if God spared not His people that he loved, because they refused to walk in the light, how can He spare the people whom He has blessed with the light of heaven in having opened to them the most exalted truth ever entrusted to mortal man to give to the world?” Manuscript Releases, vol. 12, 319
If we fall and become spiritually like Babylon, it is going to become worse for us because we had more light.