The Satanic Trinity
October 30th, 1983 @ 10:50 AM
Armageddon, Beast, Dragon, False Prophet, Satan, Great Doctrines of the Bible: Angelology, 1983, Revelation
THE SATANIC TRINITY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
10-30-83 10:50 a.m.
This is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas bringing the message entitled The Satanic Trinity. And you will read it in the sixteenth chapter of the Revelation, verses 13, 14, and 16; Revelation, the last book in the Bible, the Apocalypse. [The] first word in it starts off with apokalupsis, apokalupsis, “the unveiling” of Jesus Christ in His glorious coming at the consummation of the age. The apokalupsis, the Revelation, chapter 16, beginning at verse 13:
And I saw three unclean spirits…come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
They are the spirits of demons, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and unto the whole world, to gather them to the battle of the great day of God Almighty—
And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue, har megiddôn,
The mountain of Megiddo; in our English it comes to be “Armageddon” [Revelation 16:16].
The triumvirate of evil is made up of three distinct persons. Did you read the text? The dragon, the beast, the false prophet [Revelation 16:13]; in Revelation 20:10 it uses those same emphatic articles. The devil was cast into hell, “where the beast and the false prophet are, and they shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” That’s the end of all evil in the world and in God’s universe, when He purges it of all iniquity [Matthew 13:41]. And righteousness shall fill God’s creation like the waters fill and cover the sea [Isaiah 11:9].
Three distinct personalities, three of them: one is the dragon. And he is distinctly defined in Revelation 12:9, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, who deceiveth the whole world.” The dragon is Lucifer, Satan, diabolos; he’s the accuser and slanderer of God’s people.
The second person of this triumvirate of evil is the beast. In chapter 13 of the Revelation, “I stood upon the sand of the sea, and I saw a beast rise up out of the sea…” [Revelation 13:1]. Universally, in the Bible, the sea, the tumultuous sea, is a type and a picture of the Gentile nations of the world. And out of the Gentile nations of the world, arises this last, and ultimate, and final world dictator called “the beast,” out of the sea.
There is much, much, much about him in the Word of God. In 1 John 2:18-22 and in 1 John 4:3 and in 2 John 7, this beast is called the Antichrist, the ultimate and final dictator of the world. In Daniel 7:8, he is called “the little horn” that arises out of the ten and is the eleventh. In Daniel 8:23, he is called “a king of fierce countenance.” In Daniel 9:26, he is called “the prince that shall come.” In Matthew 24:15, the Lord Jesus calls him “the abomination of desolation” spoken of by Daniel the prophet. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, he is called “the man of sin”; and again,” the son of perdition.” He is the Antichrist, the ultimate and final world dictator. It is as though Hitler had won the war and the world. He is Satan’s final and ultimate masterpiece, the incarnation of evil.
Then it says, beside the dragon, who is Satan—diabolos, Lucifer—and beside the beast, who is the Antichrist, there is the false prophet [Revelation 16:13]. In Revelation 13:11, “I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth,” out of the land, the land of religion, the land of Israel, “and he had two horns like a lamb, but he spake like a dragon.” This is the false prophet, the tremendously effective religious leader of the final apostate church in the world. And he does great wonders like Elijah; he can command fire to come down from God out of heaven. And he magnifies the political dictator of the world; he glorifies him—the false prophet [Revelation 13:12].
Now this triumvirate of evil is the trinity of darkness. There is a trinity of God; a trinity of holiness, of godliness, of purity, of heaven; there is also a trinity of darkness and of evil. I have called it the satanic trinity. Satan is unable to create anything. He is not a creator but Satan is a distinguished and gifted counterfeiter, and he counterfeits the kingdom of God. Satan is anti-God; the beast, the Antichrist, is anti-Christ; and the false prophet is the anti-Holy Spirit.
First of that trinity of evil, the satanic trinity: Satan is anti-God. In the message last Sunday morning, we spoke of him from the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Isaiah. He exalts himself above the throne of God, saying, “I will be like the Most High God” [Isaiah 14:14]. Lucifer, Satan, aspires to be the God of all creation. He has an Antichrist, in whom he is incarnate, and this Antichrist is that “anti-Christ.” What Christ is, the beast also is, only in an opposite definition. Christ is the incarnation of God; Antichrist is the incarnation of Satan, Satan’s last and final masterpiece. Christ has a church; Antichrist also has a church. In Revelation 2:9 and Revelation 3:9 it is called “the synagogue of Satan.” Christ has a bride, “the bride of Christ,” spoken of in Ephesians 5:25; Satan also has a bride, the mystic harlot, whore church of Revelation 17. Christ has a table and a cup [1 Corinthians 11:25]; Satan also has a table and a cup described in 1 Corinthians 10:21—a cup and a table at which the dupes of the evil one and the demons share the hour together. He is a great counterfeiter, and the counterfeit of Christ is antichrist.
And the third person of that triumvirate is the anti-Holy Spirit. In this Revelation it says that this false religious leader, the false prophet, who heads the ultimate and final apostate church—he magnifies the beast; he magnifies the political leader of the world [Revelation 13:12].
I have written here the contrasts between the false prophet, the anti-Holy Spirit, and the true Spirit of Christ. Here they are:
 The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the divine Trinity [Matthew 28:19]; the false prophet is the third person of the diabolical trinity [Revelation 16:13].
 The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of holiness and purity [Romans 8:4]; the false prophet is the fountain source and incarnation of unclean spirit [Revelation 16:13].
 The Holy Spirit anointed Jesus at the beginning of His three and one-half year earthly ministry [Matthew 3:16]; the false prophet joins himself to the Antichrist at the beginning of the three and one-half years of the great tribulation [Revelation 13:11-12].
 The advent of the Holy Spirit was accompanied by fire [Acts 2:3-4]; fire authenticates the coming of the false prophet [Revelation 13:13].
 The Holy Spirit is the giver of life [Romans 8:6]; the false prophet is the giver of death [Revelation 13:15].
 The Holy Spirit seals [Ephesians 1:13]; the false prophet marks. You remember 13:16 in Revelation? The false prophet causes all to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads, and you cannot buy or sell—you cannot live without that mark [Revelation 13:16].
 The Holy Spirit empowered the Lord Jesus. God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power [Acts 10:38]; the false prophet empowers the Antichrist. Revelation 13:14, “He deceiveth them that dwell on the earth…And he hath power to give life unto … the beast that he should speak” [Revelation 13:15].
 The Holy Spirit does not speak of Himself, but He exalts the Lord Jesus. John 16:13: “For He shall not speak of Himself… but He shall glorify Me, saith the Lord” [John 16:14]. Now the false prophet speaks not of himself, but he glorifies the beast—Revelation 13:12: “He causeth the earth and them that dwell therein to worship the beast…”
 The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth [John 15:26]—the false prophet is the spirit of deception. Revelation 13:14: “He deceiveth them that dwell on the earth.”
 And the last, the tenth: the ultimate penalty for the rejection of the Holy Spirit is spiritual death, the unpardonable sin [Matthew 12:31-32]; the ultimate penalty for the rejection of the witness of the false prophet is physical death. Revelation 13:15: “He hath power to give life unto the image of the beast… and cause that as many who would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.”
This is the great triumvirate of evil. This is the tremendous satanic trinity presided over by fallen Lucifer, Satan, diabolos, the devil [Revelation 12:3]. Second: the beast, the Antichrist, the ultimate and final world dictator [Revelation 13:1-2]; and third, the false prophet, the prelate who heads the final and apostate church, and who gives glory to the world dictator, called the beast, the Antichrist [Revelation 13:11-15].
These are the things that we read in God’s Book regarding the final and great consummation of the age, the end time called the great tribulation. It is much spoken of, as I have said, in the Bible, this final tribulation and the great triumvirate of evil that shall preside over it; spoken of in Ezekiel 37 and 38; spoken of in Daniel chapters 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11; spoken of in Zechariah [Zechariah 13:8-9]; spoken of in the great apocalyptic discourses of our Lord in Matthew 24 and Luke 17; spoken of in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, and of course; spoken of in vast detail in the Revelation, particularly from chapter 5 through chapter 19. These are the triumvirates of evil that we find at the consummation of the world.
But the Bible plainly reveals to us that these same great principles of judgment that will find their ultimate consummation at the end of the age are the same principles of judgment that guide and judge the nations, and human life, and our life today in this present time, in this present moment, and particularly in the hours of crisis through which we now live.
It is the same thing as God’s universal laws of physics. They are unchangeable; they are identical in every area of God’s creation. That’s why the astronauts are able to do what they do in the limited area of our earth and its moon. The same physical laws that obtain in the earth, obtain on the moon, obtain on Saturn, obtain on Jupiter, obtain in our universe with its planets around the sun, obtains in our Milky Way, and obtains in all of the vast, infinitude of God’s creation beyond. The same laws we observe here, created by God, are the same laws that control the universe as far as God’s infinite creation shall reach.
Now it is the same regarding the laws and the judgments of God that are in the tribulation; they are also here with us today. God is not just a God out there in the tribulation; He is also the Lord God here and now. The Lord God’s laws that are seen in the tribulation are the same God’s laws that govern us today. The triumvirate of evil that we find in the tribulation is the same triumvirate of evil that we face today [Revelation 16:13]. And the same judgments that fall upon the nations of the world in the great tribulation are the same judgments of Almighty God that fall upon us, and the nations, and the institutions, and the churches, and the families, and the homes of the people today. It is the same now as there. God’s laws are unchanging and universal. Now, we’re going to look at that for a minute as the Bible reveals it to us. In 1 John 2:18, “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby you know it is the last time.”
Now we’re going to look at that as John wrote it. “Little children, it is eschatē hōra. Eschatē—eschatos, is the Greek word for “last,” so “eschatology” would be the study of last things. Eschatē hōra: hōra is the word for “hour.” Do you notice it has no article? “Little children, it is a last hour: and as you have heard the Antichrist shall come” [1 John 2:18], that’s the ultimate and final Antichrist; the ultimate and final world dictator in the great tribulation. As you have heard that, we have heard it from the lips of our Lord Jesus; we’ve heard it from Daniel; we’ve heard it from Ezekiel; we’ve heard it from Paul. We speak of it now in John, the beloved apostle, “As you have heard that Antichrist shall come.” Now he says, “Even now there are—even now there are—many antichrists; whereby you know that it is,” and there’s the eschatē hōra again, “a last time” [1 John 2:18].
Not the last hour, but a last hour: that is, the Antichrist who will ultimately be revealed in the great tribulation, the ultimate and final world dictator. We have now, he says, the same providences, the same background, the same evil, the same anti-God and anti-Christ. We have it now, as we shall ultimately have it in its final, vast, great form in the tribulation [1 John 2:18].
Let me illustrate that if I can: John is saying that what we have now, a last hour, the hour in which he lived, the crisis of the day in which he lived, these are just a part of what will be the final great, last hour in the tribulation. “What you find then, you find now,” John is saying, “and it is in my day, these antichrists that appear from time to time, from generation to generation, and throughout history” [1 John 2:18].
Now that Antichrist is the incarnation of evil, and if God will help me, I want to illustrate that theme throughout all history. The incarnation of evil in human personality—in the prime ministers, and the kings, and the generals, and the leaders of the world—the incarnation of evil: I’d like to illustrate it out of literature, music, and drama. Way back yonder, centuries and centuries ago, there came to be a person known in Germany as Faust, Dr. Faustus. And the theme of the story of his tragic life was repeated throughout centuries: that is, a human being who sells himself to Satan in return for supernatural powers and supernatural knowledge.
You pick that theme up throughout the centuries of literature. For example, in 1588, Sir Christopher Marlow in England wrote his great dramatic poem entitled: “The Tragical Story of Dr. Faustus.” And in all of those years, there were strolling, rolling, roving actors in Germany and England who presented that theme of someone who made a bargain with Satan and signed it with his own blood; and was assigned a demon, Mephistopheles, to serve him. Then at the end of the period of time, in this instance twenty-four years, he has to pay the debt and Satan takes him away, a captive. That is the theme of the greatest drama written in the German language by the greatest poet the Teutonic race has ever produced, Goethe, in his Faust. It is repeated again in Charles Gounod, the great French operatic writer in his opera, “Faust,” first presented in Paris in 1859. You find it in art such as in Rembrandt. What I’m trying to illustrate is that the principle of possession in evil in the tribulation is not just there, but it is throughout all history, repeated again and again and again. That’s what John is saying, “You have heard that in the last time, there is an Antichrist who is coming. But, little children, I am telling you that this is a last time. And there are many, many antichrists” [1 John 2:18]. The evil incarnate in men; leaders in the church, leaders in the political world, leaders in the nations of the earth—it is repeated again, and again, and again, and again.
Could I turn aside from the sermon and just make an observation that comes out of my mind? I think Satan has his masterpiece in every generation. He doesn’t know when the last one will appear; he is not omniscient. And in every generation, he has his antichrist, his masterpiece; the last one that I could identify is Adolf Hitler. He had him prepared, he had him ready. The only thing is, he doesn’t have the omniscient knowledge of the future. But in every generation, there is that incarnate evil ready to be exalted as the dictator of the world.
The principles that lie back of the Revelation are not just in the tribulation, but they work every day in human history, in every nation, in our nation, in our lives, in all lives; we face the triumvirate of evil, the trinity of Satan, forever.
Now let’s go one other: John says that in this “a last hour,” we have an antichrist, and there are many antichrists that come [1 John 2:18]. Now let’s listen to the Lord Jesus. In the apocalyptic discourse of our Savior, in the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Luke, when the Lord had finished His prophecy of the end-time and the great tribulation, He was speaking of the falling upon the nations of the judgments of God [Luke 17:20-36]. And the apostles asked Him, and this is the way that the apocalyptic discourse closes in Luke 17:37; “And the apostles answered and said unto Him, “Lord, where? Where are these judgments to fall? And Jesus said unto them, Wheresoever the carcass [is], thither will the vultures be gathered together” [Luke 17:37].
Wherever the putrescent, corrupt nation is, church is, institution is, family is, art is; wherever the thing decays, there will the ministers of vengeance and destruction do their work. It is an universal law the Lord is announcing here. The vengeance and the judgment and the vultures fall not only at the end time in the great tribulation, but those same ministers of judgment fall upon the earth and upon the nations in every generation throughout history! Where there is putrescence, and apostasy, and corruption, and decay, and blood, and violence, there do the carrion eating prey—the vultures gather and fall down in destruction and judgment upon the people. And that makes me tremble as I live in this day, and in this time, and in this generation, and in this nation, and in the nations of the world! Lord God, is this another day of awesome, and tragic, and incomparable, unspeakable judgment? Is it, Lord?
We tremble, the whole world trembles on the very verge, on the very brink of a warfare, called in the Bible an Armageddon [Revelation 16:16], that shall destroy civilization and destroy the human race. And nobody knows what moment it may be triggered or what day it may ultimately arrive. We live, literally, in the imponderables of Almighty God. Whether we live or whether we die lies in His ultimate purview and sovereign choice, the judgments of Almighty God. That is why a call to confession, and a call to prayer, and a call to intercession, and a call to importunity; God bless and have mercy upon His people.
On the twenty-second day of June in 1897, there came to pass in the world the greatest pageant, the most marvelous spectacle that the world had ever seen or has ever seen. Not before and not since has there ever been anything like it in grandeur and in glory in the history of the empires and nations of the world. In that time, the British Empire circled the globe. The sun never set on the Union Jack, the flag of England. And on that day in June, in 1897, the British Empire—and with that empire, the whole world—celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. She had finished her full sixty years as queen of the greatest empire the world had ever known. There was glory there from every part of every nation of the earth; the kings, the princes, the queens, the ambassadors, the troops; the glory of the pageant was beyond description. The world had never seen, nor has seen since, anything like the pageantry and the glory of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.
Then the recessional, when the great display was over—and the ambassadors, and the kings, and the princes returned to their places of responsibility in the nations of the earth—the recessional after it was over; Rudyard Kipling at that moment wrote a poem that he entitled: the “Recessional.” It was the greatest poem that Rudyard Kipling had ever wrote. It is the poem by which he is mostly known, and it was one of the greatest poems in the English language. The “Recessional,” after the glory and grandeur of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee:
God of our fathers known of old,
Lord of our far-flung battle line
Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
The tumult and the shouting dies;
The Captains and the Kings depart,
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
. . .
Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that hold not Thee in awe,
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
[from “Recessional,” Rudyard Kipling]
Whether we live or whether we die lies in the omnipotence of Almighty God. Whether we face Armageddon today or we rise to face it tomorrow, lies in the imponderables of Almighty God. Whether our nation is delivered in strength and in mercy or whether we go down in blood and in carnage, lies in the mercies of Almighty God. And the same great principles that govern the nations of the world, govern our churches, and our institutions, and our homes, and our hearts, and our lives. It is a call to confession, and to intercession, and to prayer, and to committal. May God have mercy upon His people!
We’re going to stand now and sing our hymn of appeal. And while we sing it, opening the doors of the church, opening the doors of the kingdom of our Savior, inviting you to walk in; this is the road to heaven, this is the highway to glory. Come and join with the pilgrims of God to sing His praises, to witness to His name, to trust in His grace and mercy. A family you, “This is God’s time for us and we are coming.” A couple you, just one somebody you, “The Lord has spoken to my heart, and I am answering with my life.” Down one of these stairways, down one of these aisles, “Here I am, pastor, God help me and receive me and stand by me. A thousand times welcome as you come, while we stand and while we sing.