But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
–2 Corinthians 11:12-15
There is a false church in the world.
It has a false spirit guiding it, counterfeit apostles, and offers a false hope and comfort.
Those who continually receive this false comfort are in bondage to Satan.
For some, this means that they are false converts.
For others, it means that they have ceded much of their liberty and power [in Christ] to Satan in exchange for what the wicked one has offered [the bondage of self-righteousness].
Even in John’s day, this false church was emerging as a world power after the fashion of the god of this world:
I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.
–3 John 1:9-11
Notice, in the false church, there is always a confluence [coming together] of these things:
Witchcraft [a pretense of faith as a means of cloaking sin and controlling people]
An intentional slandering and rejection of any who teach according to the apostolic example [which is a rejection of the Lord Jesus]
A rejection of any who refuse to accept the preeminence of the false teachers above Christ
There is a day coming when the false church will be made perfect in power for a short time, as a precursor to its judgment (Revelation 17):
And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
Notice, only those carried away by the Spirit into the wilderness [symbolic of a season of solitude with God] can discern the true nature of the harlot: at some point prior to Christ’s return, all who abide in the false church will be overcome by the wicked one, as the faithful will be called out by God; this indicates that many believers will deceived by the natural beauty of the false church and the pleasant words of her teachers.
And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
Those who align themselves with this false church are aligning themselves with the anti-christ. Consider the end of Revelation 17, verse 3: “… and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.”
The real church is a fellowship, a spiritual house built by the Holy Spirit. The great whore is an influential system, founded after the political and economic systems of this world [for she has intercourse with the kings of the earth]. The fact that the false church rides upon a crimson-colored beast indicates that the counterfeit church system will draw its power from the counterfeit beast [anti-christ].
It is full of names of blasphemy, indicating that it will do evil in the name of God, as confirmed by Christ in John 16, verse 2: “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.”
It has seven heads or mountains: the seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth (Revelation 17:9). In the Old Testament, pagans worshiped in high places [mountains], and seven is a number symbolizing completeness or maturity in the word of God. The harlot church system will unite the pagan religions of the world as one voice, even as Christ unites His church.
Ten is a number symbolizing authority in the bible; a horn is symbolic of power (Dan 7:24, Rev 12:3, 13:1, 17:3,12,16). The harlot church will be given perfect power for one hour [a short season], even as Christ said to those who came to capture Him in Gethsemene, “This is your hour and the power of darkness,” (Luke 22:53).
The revelation of the mature harlot church is a perfect merging of man and the anti-christ spirit, a political system based upon occultic beliefs and practices.