By Pastor Ay Nee Ng
Many of us bear the scars of our past that weigh us down. But the marks of Christ are the marks of the disciples of Jesus Christ. We are identified with Christ. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet. 2:9).
We are all a marked person. What we do, how we dress, our famous phrases, and certain habits or behavioural patterns define who we are. Last week, we read Galatians 6:17, where the Apostle Paul speaks of branding or marks. “I bear branded on my body the marks of the Lord Jesus” (ASV).
Paul was vindicating his ministry as many of the Jewish teachers had subverted and destabilized these Galatian Christians into believing that he was not truly an apostle. He challenged the religious authorities that being a Jew or a disciple of Jesus is not only having the mark of circumcision, fasting, and praying, but also having other marks.
Bearing the marks of Jesus Christ takes on different shapes and sizes as we journey in life with different experiences. Some are physical or emotional like rejection, ridicule, critique, dying to self and living fully for Christ. Whatever the circumstances we go through, as we trust in our Lord Jesus Christ, we will receive a deeper understanding of His love and the realisation that that we bear the marks of whatever enslaves us.
Today we turn our attention to the spiritual marks of Jesus Christ. If we do not bear His mark, then what mark are you carrying? We go on with life, and for some of us, having more questions about life then answers. These questions are there to help us think and process our thoughts. We many never find a completely satisfactory answer to all those questions, but in the end, they will help us to turn from our sinful and independent ways to focusing on and growing our love for God Almighty, our loving Saviour Jesus Christ.
The Marks of Christ upon Us Are Spiritual
While it is true that the primary reference of the text is likely to be the physical marks (or scars) of old and recent wounds which Paul had endured in the service of Christ, these were not the only marks of Jesus that he bore.
The true mark of Jesus are not outward, but inward; not physical, but spiritual. We may think that the true marks of a Christian are such things as observing the Lord’s Supper, tithing and giving, or attending church. These things are important but are not the real marks of a Christian. The marks of Jesus are not evident by a crucifix or a cross around the neck or by having one’s name on a church roll.
Many of us will not be able to apply the description of Paul’s suffering, but there is a spiritual application which applies to all who name the name of Christ. Just as those physical marks branded Paul as one of Christ’s slaves, property, soldier, and follower, so there should be upon us spiritual marks that brand us as belonging to Jesus Christ. The true marks of Jesus are certain features of character such as:
1. Obedience and devotion. I find this the hardest because it deals with my heart and mind. “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’” (John 8:31-32). Read Luke 14:25-33. Christian discipleship depends on heeding and obeying completely and allowing God’s Word to guide you always. It is to have absolute sway regarding the decisions you make, the lifestyle you live, the companion you choose, the attitude you maintain, the relationships you have, and the standards by which you abide.
2. Love is another mark of Jesus. How many find that it is easier to give funds and resources than support and time? When we make ourselves available for a cause, our emotions and senses are stirred to function, not mechanically but spontaneously; that is what God wants in you. “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other” (John 13:34-35; MSG).
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love” (John 15:9; NIV).
It makes no difference how long you may have been a member of the church, how faithful you may have been to attend on a regular basis, how much you give every Sunday, how great voice you may have for singing, or how dedicated you may be in teaching the lost. If you don’t have real, genuine, Christ-like love in your heart for others, then you are not one of His disciples.
A person who has the love of Christ within their heart will not be difficult to get along with, critical of everything that happens, judgmental of everybody, rude in their disposition, instigators of trouble, deceitful in their methods or easily offended by others. If you love, you won’t make false accusations, speak corrupt communication, be ungodly and hypocrite, hold bitterness, pursue a position out of selfishness and participate in immoral behaviour.
3. Bearing fruit. There must be fruit if the tree is to be productive and beneficial. It’s so lovely to see the four first fruits from our pomegranate tree. Sadly, the fruit dropped before the harvest because of the rain. Likewise, elements in our lives can curtail our fruit, but don’t give up! There is always the next season, and remember, God is on our side.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:5-8).
“And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward” (2 Kgs. 19:30). Second Kings 19:30 is considered the key to a successful Christian life: a tree that does not bear fruit for its own purpose but for others. In order to be one of Christ’s disciples, you must be a godly influence in the lives of others. “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).
These characteristics will be revealed in the manner in which you comfort those who are lonely, inspire those who are discouraged, help those who are helpless, cheer those who are sad, lift those who have fallen, and calm those who are frustrated. These are the marks of the Lord Jesus, for He personified them all, and as we are united with Him by faith, these marks will characterise our life too.
4. A spirit of meekness. Meekness is one of the fruits of the Spirit, but it is such an important characteristic of the real Christian that we give it special and separate emphasis (See Gal. 6:1). The opposite of this spirit of meekness is mentioned in Galatians 5:26, “Let us not become conceited”. The apostle says, “Don’t be proud!” and Jesus says: “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matt. 11:28-30).
5. Willingness to share the burdens of others (Gal. 6:2). If we truly follow in His steps we shall do likewise.
6. Willingness to help those who minister. Read Galatians 6:6, 1 Corinthians 9:7-15 and 1 Timothy 5:18.
7. Good deeds. Read Galatians 6:9-10 and Acts 10:38. Do we go about with the same object in view?
8. Complete separation from the world. If the marks of the Lord Jesus are upon us we shall recognise that while we are in the world we are not of it, and we shall see to it that His prayer for us is fulfilled (Gal. 6:14; John 17:15-16).
9. Glorying in the cross. What does this mean? We shall glory in the preaching of the cross (Gal. 6:14), the story of the cross, and above all, in the victory and the virtue of the cross, for it is through the cross of Jesus that we are saved and sanctified. Think what the cross meant to Him. In what sense did He glory in it? The cross to Him was the token of God’s will for Him, and He gloried in doing the will of His Father.
That, supremely, is the mark of the Lord Jesus which should be upon all His followers. The will of God was the consuming passion of His life (Luke 22:42), and it should be the consuming passion of our lives.
Let us ask the Lord that He will honour us by placing upon us the marks of the Lord Jesus, so that others may more readily see who we are and serve until the time comes when we are able to say with the Apostle what he spoke in 2 Timothy 4: 6-8. “You take over. I’m about to die, my life an offering on God’s altar. This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting—God’s applause! Depend on it, he’s an honest judge. He’ll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for his coming” (MSG).
The Mark of the Beast
If you don’t have the mark of Jesus Christ on you, beware! There will come a time when we are all forced to have the mark of the beast. The Bible contains the prophecy about the mark of the beast. This mark will be forced on everyone. You either have it or face the consequences of persecution. The main passage in the Bible that mentions the mark of the beast is Revelation 13:15-18. Other references can be found in Revelation 14:9, 11, 15:2, 16:2, 19:20, and 20:4.
Let us read Revelation 13:15-18.
15-17 The second beast [the false prophet] was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.
18 This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man [Or is humanity’s number], that number is 666.
This mark acts as a seal for all who oppose Jesus Christ as their Saviour are called the followers of Antichrist and the false prophet (the spokesperson for the Antichrist). The false prophet (the second beast) is the one who causes people to take this mark. The mark is literally placed in the hand or forehead and is not simply a card someone carries. It is a permanent mark and can’t be easily rubbed off. The Mondex microchip created can be placed under the skin and this has been done on dogs and cats in order that the owners could track down their pets. Church be forewarned!
These recent breakthroughs in medical implant chip and RFID technologies have increased interest in the mark of the beast spoken of in Revelation chapter 13. It is possible that the technology we are seeing today represents the beginning stages of what may eventually be used as the mark of the beast. It is important to realize that a medical implant chip is not the mark of the beast.
The mark of the beast will be something given only to those who worship the Antichrist. Having a medical or financial microchip inserted into your right hand or forehead is not the mark of the beast. The mark of the beast will be an end-times identification system like an ID card. It may be a microchip or a barcode tattooed into the skin or just simply a mark required by the Antichrist in order to buy or sell. It will be given only to those who worship and follow the Antichrist and identify someone as being faithful to the Antichrist’s kingdom.
Somehow, the number 666 will identify the Antichrist. Revelation 13:18 tells us: “This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666.”
When the Antichrist is revealed, it will be clear who he is and how the number 666 identifies him. “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness [sin] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thess. 2:3-4).
As this is only a fringe to knowing the mark of the beast, please read further Revelation 13:1-8, 14:9-12, and 16-18, and pray for the Holy Spirit to grant you an honest and a fresh understanding.
Consequences of Having the Mark of the Beast and Victory in Not Having It
- Consequences. “A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name” (Rev. 14:9-11).
“The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly, festering sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped its image” (Rev. 16:2).
- Victory. “And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They held harps given them by God” (Rev. 15:2).
“But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulphur” (Rev. 19:20).
Do you bear the marks of Christ?
Today, many want to make Christianity popular, agreeable and convenient. The Lord said the world hated Him and that it would hate us also (John 15:18). Jesus invited us, not to a picnic, but to a pilgrimage; not to a frolic, but to a fight. He offered us, not an excursion, but an execution—a death to self, sin, and the world. Jesus wanted people to count the cost and expect persecution (2 Tim 3:12).
Today, we have geared our program too much to entertain and gain the favour of the world and be politically right. We seem to try to see how much like this world we can become instead of how little and stand for our principles. We try to argue that times are different and that the church is in better standing, so that we do not suffer as much reproach as our fathers did. But the times were never darker, and never has the devil been in fuller control.
Christians are a foreign influence and a minority group in a heathen world. If the Church is not stirring up Godly principles with the world and suffering reproach, then it needs to make a close examination of its very life and teaching. We are good Christians only in proportion that we are bringing upon our heads the hatred, scorn and hostility of our present age. We are “the salt of the earth.” Salt not only preserves; it also irritates. We are the light of the world, and light exposes things. We can never expect to be acceptable to a generation of darkness. If we are at peace with the world, it is likely because we have sold out to it or compromised with it. Do we, by our life, ever make anyone think of Jesus?
I wonder if we ever make anyone think of Jesus. What do we suffer for Christ’s sake? What marks and scars do we carry to witness that we have fought battles for Him who died for us?
“I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together: That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it” (Isa. 41:19-20).
Let us pray and give thanks that we bear His mark.