Are You Bearing the Marks of Jesus or the Mark of the Beast?

by Mike Ratliff

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. (Galatians 6:14-17 ESV)

The Apostle Paul did indeed bear the marks of persecution on his body. He had been found to be worthy to suffer shame for the name as had Peter and John (Acts 5:17-42). Paul had been stoned, beaten, imprisoned, run out of town, and would die as a martyr. Why were they persecuted so? They preached the truth. They preached against sin and works theology. They preached the Cross. They preached the exclusivity of the Gospel and against pluralism. They held that God’s truth was absolute. This is the message the natural, unregenerate person hates. This is the message the pseudo-Christians hate as well because the clear bright light of God’s truth reveals their compromises and false doctrines.

This always results is some level of persecution. All Christians should bear some marks of some kind that testifies to their faithfulness to the Lord. These marks could be physical or they could take the form of insults from coworkers, professors, or the defenders of those forms of Christianity that are heretical. These marks could take the form of the loss of a job, the sacrifice of worldly goods for the sake of gospel ministry or other such things. The marks of Jesus do not have to be from physical abuse, but all of them, no matter in what form, give evidence of the believer’s love for our Lord in his or her willingness to suffer all manner of hardships for the truth of the gospel (2 Corinthians 11:16-12:10). These believers do not attempt to substitute their own efforts for God’s grace and then claim to be Christians while following a false gospel. This is bearing the marks of Jesus.

I heard a sermon by R.C. Sproul today about suffering. In that sermon, he referred to an incident in our Lord’s ministry in which a man born blind was brought to Him (John 9). They asked the Lord Jesus who had sinned, the man himself, or his parents that he had been born blind. This is the either/or fallacy. It assumes that the reason is one of only two options. Our Lord told them that this man was born blind for neither of those reasons, but that the works of God might be manifest in him (John 9:3). In this, we must understand that Christian suffering may indeed come upon believers for the very fact that they are faithful. They may indeed refuse to compromise and may indeed preach and teach things that cause offense to some. However, we must never forget that God is allowing these things that the works of God might be manifest in them. This is all part of being found worthy to suffer shame for the name in partaking of the sufferings of Christ on the Cross.

While all believers should bear some evidence of their faithfulness to Christ Jesus as marks, not all do. The contrast to this is bearing the mark of the beast. I am sure all of you have read of the number 666 being that mark.

He also caused everyone (small and great, rich and poor, free and slave) to obtain a mark on their right hand or on their forehead. Thus no one was allowed to buy or sell things unless he bore the mark of the beast – that is, his name or his number. This calls for wisdom: Let the one who has insight calculate the beast’s number, for it is man’s number, and his number is 666. (Revelation 13:16-18 NET)

I used the NET version here because I prefer how it renders v18. In any case:

“what the number 666 represents is at least as significant as the beast’s human identity. When John tells us that this is “man’s number,” he may even mean that this number does not refer to a specific individual, such as Nero, but to a series of individuals who behave as Nero did. As Beale points out, “The omission of the article in 13:18 indicates the general idea of humanity, not some special individual who can be discerned only through an esoteric method of calculation. Therefore, in both verses ἄνθρωπος [man] is a descriptive or qualitative genitive, so that the phrase here should be rendered ‘a human number’ (so RSV) or ‘a number of humanity.’ It is a number common to fallen humanity.”

“In light of the beast’s attempt to parody the redemptive work of Christ so as to receive the worship of the nations, the idea that this number is to be understood as the number of fallen humanity makes a great deal of sense. If seven is the number of perfection, the number six comes close, but never reaches the goal.”1


“What, then is the mark of the beast? It may indeed be directly tied to Nero as indicative of his personal wickedness and hatred for God’s people, but Nero does not exhaust what is implied by taking the number-worshipping the state or its leader in order to avoid persecution for confessing that Christ is Lord. The beast is manifest to some degree throughout the inter-advental period but is restrained until the time of the end through the preaching of the gospel or the providence of God (see 2 Thess. 2:1-12; Rev. 20:1-10).

The meaning of the number is at least as significant as identifying to whom it applies. The number of man, 666, is “perfectly imperfect” in contrast to the number of perfection-seven. The thrice repeated number “6” implies endless work without rest. The creational pattern was for humans to work for six days and then rest on the seventh as did the Creator. But in this case, those who take the mark of the beast work endlessly and never do enter the hoped-for- Sabbath rest.

When placed in the larger context of the New Testament, Christians are said to be “sealed” unto Christ in their baptism (Rom. 4:11; see also Rom. 6:1-11). The mark of the beast may be the theological equivalent of the rejection of baptism (in the case of apostasy) or the rejection of Christ’s lordship through the confession that Caesar (or any other political figure) is Lord. This comports with the New Testament’s repeated warnings about apostasy being connected to the final manifestation of the beast (see Thess. 2:1-12; Rev. 20:7-10).” 2

With that in mind my brethren, here is a post by Kim Riddlebarger relating this excerpt from his book, The Man of Sin, with some very recent events in the visible Church. We do not know, yet, who the Man of Sin is. We do not know when our Lord will return. However, we know that the Word of God does tell us that there have been and will be many “Antichrists.” The mark of the beast is apostasy, which is what happens when professing Christians reject God’s truth and in one form or another fall into a state of unbelief. These pseudo-Christians may claim atheism or they may become part of the apostate, compromised, visible Church that is spiritually dead. This would also include all those forms of “doing church” that are unbiblical in nature. These are inclusive in the term “mark of the beast” because they are all part of unredeemed fallen humanity instead of according to the Grace of God.

Therefore, we must all examine ourselves. Are we bearing the marks of Christ or are we bearing the mark of the beast? I pray that each one reading this will be convicted by the Holy Spirit to repent and strive to be the faithful, holy, disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ that we are called to be.

Soli Deo Gloria!

1Riddlebarger, Kim The Man of Sin. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 112.

2Ibid, 113-114.

9 thoughts on “Are You Bearing the Marks of Jesus or the Mark of the Beast?

  1. Gee, when I look at the “persecution” I have faced, it’s kind of embarrassing. Yes, I have lost some friends and a few family members don’t want to be around us anymore after just KINDLY bringing up Bible verses with them, but compaired with what people in other countries go through, I don’t have many marks to speak of you know??

  2. Those are the marks of Christ Jennifer because of your faithfulness in spite of the pressure to “shut up’ or “go away.” Be encouraged my sister!

  3. During the three days I spent closed in my ‘upper room’…I had come as a child to the feet of the Father. On that last night, I asked, “show me something of Your choosing.’ He showed me 666. It was profound. It was beyond any thing I could have imagined. It opened up my understanding on an immense amount of scripture. It gave me KNOWLEDGE to see today’s events in perspective. He showed me the depths of Satan’s hatred which is as deep in darkness as God’s love is deep in Light. It is Satan’s work we see and hear on the news each day…but we don’t even give him the credit. We use terms like ‘criminally insane, serial killer, predator, addicted, incest, rapist, murderer, and athiest. He showed me the Father, Son, and Unholy Spirit. I saw them. I saw where they dwell. He showed me the Antichrist will do as Christ did…he will become flesh and blood to give Death…as Christ became flesh and blood to give Life. Satan attempts to replicate all things of God. His attempt at replicating the Holy Trinity, by the permission of God, is 666…the Unholy Trinity. But he is the fulness of earthy death. His end-time rule is the miry clay at the end of the ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream…the ‘image of a man.’ The mark of the beast is at you described, it’s Satan’s ‘sealing’ of his sanctified evil followers. Sancitification runs both a negative and positive continuum. We don’t even give him the credit. We use terms like ‘criminally insane, serial killer, predator, addicted, incest, rapist, murderer, and athiest. But, as satanic as it sounds……the battle is over. God won! We just still have to ‘play it out.’ Wucifer=Woser :smile:. For the true Body of Christ…there is NO FEAR! There is only victory. The time is not yet. But the day will come when all the knowledge God has prepared me with…will be used to bring GREAT COMFORT to the poeple of God. Oh, wow, so much to be said on the subject. And, you are right, the true faithful of God expect to be ‘outcasts.’ We just ‘rub the world the wrong way.’

  4. We can’t believe that people are actually un-baptizing themselves! Talk about haters of Christ. Kim and G.K. had it down for sure. Wow.

  5. What was the name of the article you wrote about those who follow Christ only because of the 5,000 loaves? Isn’t it true that the crucible proves the authenticity of men’s conversion?
    I personally believe that obedience is a great litmus test. When the regenerate are hard-pressed or tempted, he/she will not see obedience to the Word of God as foolishness. The regenerate will have peace in the midst of adversity, even though there is some sorrow and displeasure. The regenerate will still feel the sting in the midst of the trial, but their allegiance, loyalty, and submission is pointed in the direction of the Lord instead of the world. The cost of our loyalty is great and costly, but it certainly is not in vain.
    God can harden a man’s heart against ungodliness. He has not changed.

  6. Mike Ratliff:

    I would like to see you take this topic and reorient your treatment of it from the more theological one above to a more applied one … orthopraxy that comes from the orthodoxy. In other words, what can the average Christian living within the cultural context with which you are most familiar do in his daily life to bear the marks of Jesus Christ? And how many Christians actually perform these activities, thereby proving with their works that their faith is not dead but living (i.e. the book of James, John 13-17, the “fruitful vines” parables in the Synoptics, etc.)?

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