Sermon:  Branded by whom?

Summary:  Each of us has an ID.  No one is without one.  We either have a mark
or a seal.  Those who have the mark have made what appear to be reasonable
compromises in the interest of happiness, prosperity, and blessing.  In the end,
those who have this mark are marked for destruction.  Those who refuse to
receive this mark because they are faithful to only one master, Jesus, have his
seal identifying them as belonging to Christ and are therefore spared from
destruction when God executes his final judgment.  We need to be discerning
and ensure that we have truly accepted the Lordship of Christ, and have
therefore received his seal without compromise.

Know:  There can be no divided allegiance in our walk with God.  We need to be
wholly devoted to God without compromise.  Temptations to compromise are
often very subtle.

Feel:  A sense of emptiness in worldly comforts since they will be destroyed
along with those who obsess over them.  A level of anger at how Satan uses
deceit to lure people slowly away from God.

Do:  Identify areas of your life where you are subtlety tempted to hide or to
compromise some aspect of your faith.  Devise a plan to help you see past the
subtleness of Satan's tactics and overcome the temptation to compromise.

Text:  Rev 13:11-18

Scripture Reading:  James 4:4

Meditation Scripture:  Matt 10:37-39

1.  Do you have an I.D.?  Identification
	a.  ID tag around the neck at school, military I.D., rank insignia,
	b.  Driver's License, Social Security Number, labels on canned goods
	c.  On animals, use a branding iron, know which belongs to who
2.  We also have a spiritual identification mark
3.  There are basically only two kinds

I.  If you are God's slave, you have a seal
	A.  (Rev 7:1-4) Sealing of the bond-servants of God on their foreheads
		1.  Purpose of a seal - Imprint from a signet ring
			a.  To verify ownership
			b.  To assure genuineness 
			c.  Protect the contents
		2.  This passage emphasizes protection
			a.  6:17 - Ends with a question
			b.  Who is able to withstand God's wrath?
			c.  Answer comes in next paragraph - Those sealed of God
			d.  Rev 9:4 - Protection from supernatural locusts
	B.  Who are those who are sealed in Revelation?
		1.  144,000 of them - This is a symbolic number
			a.  12,000 from each of the 12 tribes
			b.  12 symbolic for God's people
			c.  1,000 symbolized completeness intensified
			d.  In other words, ALL the faithful bond servants
		2.  They are called "bond-servants" or "slaves" of God
			a.  God "owns" them
			b.  They do God's bidding, they exist to serve God
	C.  ILL:  I received the seal 25 years ago
		1.  I became a bondservant of God, a slave
		2.  Rom 6 describes what happened
			a.  I was baptized into death
			b.  My old self was put to death and a new person came up
			c.  Freed from sin, I became a slave of righteousness
			d.  I was born again
		3.  Eph 1:13 - Sealed by the Spirit, who is a pledge of inheritance
			a.  Rom 8:9 - Not have the Spirit, do not belong to him
			b.  Rom 8:15 - Received a Spirit of adoption as sons
			c.  Rom 8:16 - Spirit testifies we are children of God
			d.  Rom 8:17 - As children we are heirs
		4.  In other words, the seal is a guarantee of Heaven for us
	D.  In order to be sealed, you must be born again
		1.  Put to death the old self
		2.  Become a new person, washed by his blood
		3.  Will receive the seal
			a.  Will identify you as his
			b.  Will be a pledge of Heaven
		4.  But what if you haven't done this?

II.  If you are not God's slave, then you have a mark
	A.  (Rev 13:11-18) - What is the mark of the beast?
		1.  It is NOT - Social Security Numbers, UPC codes, brain implants
			a.  Been a lot of wild speculation on what this is
			b.  The mark is much more subtle
		2.  Historical background - Emperor Worship
			a.  Rome's religious policy was very tolerant
			b.  One religious duty everyone had to perform
				- Once a year, at a temple of Caesar
				- Burn incense and declare, "Caesar is Lord"
				- Then could worship any God you wanted
				- This was considered a patriotic duty
			c.  Received a certificate
				- Showed you performed your patriotic duty
				- With certificate, could be member of trade guild
				- Could function in everyday civic life
				- Without it, you an outcast, maybe killed, torture
		3.  Against this background, this passage becomes clear
			a.  The second beast were those charged with overseeing 
			     Caesar worship
			b.  Perform your duty, get a mark (certificate)
			c.  With the mark, able to live peacefully in society
		4.  Many Christians would not "take the mark"
			a. Were seen as stubborn, obstinate, unpatriotic
			b. Were shunned, persecuted, and even killed
			c. (Rev 14:9-11) - Those with mark receive eternal torment
	B.  What is the timeless truths from this passage?
		1.  Beast makes promises 
			a.  Gives a mark denoting ownership
			b.  You NEED the mark to buy and sell
			c.  You NEED the mark in order to get along in life
			d.  You NEED the mark in order to live, will die without it
		2.  Beast seems innocent enough - Horns like a lamb
			a.  He is a deceiver
			b.  Wants you to think he truly cares for you
			c.  What's the big deal if I take the mark?  Will fit in!
		3.  The beast is only human(s) - man's number - 666
			a.  No more mystery to this number than any other in Rev.
			b.  6 is incomplete, one short of seven
				- It is almost 7, but not quite
				- As much as it wants to be a 7 it is not
				- Can triple it, raise it to 666, and it is still not 7
			c.  666 is failure!  Beast cannot deliver on any promises
				- He is not a "seven" but a "6" will always be "almost"
				- May "seem" to at first, with buying and selling
				- But in the end, those with mark are destroyed v.9ff
	C.  Is there still a beast active today?  YES.  But not how you may think
		1.  Start talking about the mark of the beast, what do you think of?
		2.  The beast is deceitful 
			a.  Look at micro-chips, upc codes, social security numbers
			b.  Mark has surely got to be something like this
			c.  If think this is mark, take your attention from the real mark
		3.  ILL:  Let me tell you about Shawn
			a.  Came to church, participated in class, etc.
				- Came regularly
				- Even participated in Youth Group activities
			b.  At school, he laughed at and told crude jokes
				- Joined in the cussing, went to parties
				- Whistled at girls, crude remarks, laugh with guys
				- Made fun of the geeks and nerds
				- Listened to questionable music with his friends
			c.  Someone once asked, "hey don't you go to church?"
				- Didn't want anyone to think he wasn't cool
				- Answer, "not really, sometimes parents take me."
				- Quickly changed the subject
				- Never share his faith - he wouldn't look too cool
			d.  Shawn would NEVER take a UPC code, the "mark"
				- Little did he know, he had already been taking it
	D.  The mark represents what you gain from divided allegiance
		1.  If you think Christianity is just what do on Sunday
			a. If you live differently today than you do on Monday
			b.  If you join in questionable activities with friends, to fit in
			c.  If you hide your faith so no one looks down on you
			d.  That is how the beast gets you to take the mark
		2.  The Mark could be many things
			a.  If cool because hide faith, coolness may be your mark
			b.  Wealth, if gained at expense of faith, is a mark
			c.  Your job promotion, if gained at expense of faith
			d.  Sports, clothes, hobby, job, school, grades, comfort, 
			      happiness, material blessings, etc.
		3.  (Matt 6:33) - Seek first his kingdom.  -  Look at context
			a.  Matt 6:24 - No one can serve two masters; for either he 
			      will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted 
			      to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and 
			b.  Matt 6:25 - For this reason I say to you, do not be 
			     worried about your life...what to eat, drink, clothing...
				- Don't put your job before God, don't worry
				- Don't worry about being popular
				- Don't worry about fitting in
				- Seek first his kingdom...God will take care of you
		4.  If trying to serve 2 masters, you are taking the mark!
			a.  James 4:4 - You adulteresses, do you not know that 
			     friendship with the world is hostility toward God? 
			     Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world 
			      makes himself an enemy of God.
			b.  If try to be friends of world AND God, you have the mark
			c.  Mark represents those with a divided allegiance
			d.  No such thing as a Christian with a mark

III.  You need his seal
	A.  (Rev 21:1-8) - Two final pictures shows your need for the seal
		1.  The destiny of those with the seal
			a. 2 Pet 3:13 - They are looking for a new heaven and earth
			b. v.4 - God wipe away tears, no mourning, crying, pain
			c. (v.7) - If you "overcome" will inherit these things
			d. They are overcomes and do not take the mark at all cost
		2.  The destiny of those with the mark
			a. If they have the mark, they are marked for destruction
				- Like out at the Ross's for the tree cutting
				- Trees marked, cut down, and destined for the fire
			b. Will suffer the second death, lake of fire and brimstone
			c. (v.8) - At the head of the list is the "cowardly"
				- Succumb to the subtle pressure of the beast
				- Took the mark
		3.  Contrast is between the "overcomers"  and the  "cowardly"
			- Overcomers have the seal, cowardly have the mark
		4.  Seal protect from lake of fire and brimstone
	B.  But what kind protection now?
		1.  Christians still suffer
			a.  Have been persecuted and endure hardship
			b.  Get sick and die
		2.  Protection is not protection from persecution
			a.  (2 Cor 4:16-5:1)
				- There are things we can't see, they are eternal
				- The things we see are passing away
			b.  The beast wants you to obsess on what you can see
			c.  We need to concentrate on what we can't see
				- We need the seal on our forehead
				- God's word needs to be on our hearts, bound as a 
				   sign on our hand, and as frontals on our foreheads
			d.  Seal transforms our way of thinking and acting
		3.  Interesting that Paul calls our "seal" the Holy Spirit
			a.  Its fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, ...
			b.  Phil 4:7 - Peace of God "guards" our hearts and minds
			c.  That probably why angel puts seal on the "forehead" 
			     which is the seat of perception in Greek culture
			d.  Our way of thinking is transformed
	C.  ILL:  A preacher's wife died of cancer
		1.  On way to funeral, passed truck which cast shadow over them
		2.  Preacher asked daughter - Would you rather be run over by the 
		     truck or by its shadow?
		3.  Daughter answered - By its shadow
		4.  He said - You mother was not run over by death, only the 
		     shadow of death
			- Ps 23:4 - Even though I walk through the valley of the 
			  shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me
	D.  With his seal
		1.  We are identified as being one of his children
		2.  We are protected from his coming wrath
		3.  Our spirits, minds and hearts are protected
			- Satan may afflict our body, but not our minds

1.  If you haven't obeyed the Gospel, you do NOT have the seal (Invitation)
	a.  Buried and put to death - repentance
	b.  Rise up to walk a new life - His bond-servant, slave
	c.  You gain his seal, the Spirit
2.  If you have obeyed the Gospel, are you still totally committed to God?
	a.  Do you need to recommit to God and repent?
	b.  You can't straddle the fence; fence straddling gets you a mark, not seal
	c.  Which do you have?

Questions for Small Group Discussion