In Revelation 17 we find the collapse of the apostate world’s church. In the process, we see Satan’s harlot bride: the delusion of religion. From Eden onward, Satan has been building his church. Although Eve was tempted and fell into sin, she never joined the old serpent’s assembly. Cain was Satan’s first member (1 John 3:12), and that church has flourished ever since.
Today the church of Satan has many congregations. Whenever the God of Scripture is left out, there is only one other source of authority—Satan. Some followers meet in the ivory towers of academia where God is banished from education. Other congregations include those masses who ignore God altogether, and some even worship Satan directly. But the most insidious congregations meet in churches, synagogues, mosques, cathedrals, and temples where organized religion stresses the achievements of humans working their way to God. This “church of good works” promotes self-righteousness: “I will do it my way.” When you join such a church, you are required to “follow the rules”—and hope that the good outweighs the bad in the balance of religions. This religion deceives mankind into thinking that there are many ways to God, and many gods to seek. Refusing to acknowledge that they were created in God’s image, these followers create their god in their own image instead.
In the seventeenth chapter, we see Satan’s ongoing system of counterfeiting the true church, the true worship, and the true seeking of God. Revelation 17 can therefore be divided into these sections:
Satan’s plan exposed (vv.1-6);
Satan’s plan explained (vv. 7-15); and
Satan’s plan extinguished (vv. 16-18).