The first beast of Revelation 13 represents an earthly power that is motivated, controlled, and directed by Satan, the dragon. "And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority" (Rev. 13:2, RSV).
What is involved in the sin of blasphemy of which this power is guilty? Rev. 13:1, 5, 6; John 10:33; Luke 5:21.
Jesus was accused of blasphemy because He claimed to be Deity (John 10:33). Paul spoke of the rise of a "man of sin" some time after Christ's death (2 Thess. 2:3, 4). This blasphemous power would oppose and exalt itself "above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God" (verse 4). This power will not be destroyed until the coming of Jesus (verse 8).
The first beast of' Revelation 13 represents the same power of which Paul wrote. It "was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months" (Rev. 13:5, RSV), 1260 days, or years (A.D. 538-1798)--the same period during which the little horn of Daniel 7 would rule (Dan. 7:25).
The medieval state church claimed for its human head the position and prerogatives of Christ. These claims have been promoted in modern times, Pope Leo XIII wrote: "But the supreme teacher in the Church is the Roman Pontiff. Union of minds, therefore, requires, together with a perfect accord in the one faith, complete submission and obedience of will to the Church and to the Roman Pontiff, as to God Himself."--Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter, "On the Chief Duties of Christians as Citizens," Jan. 10, 1890, quoted in SDA Bible Students' Source Book, 1962, pp. 683, 684, Leo also wrote: "We [the pope] hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty."-Encyclical Letter, "The Reunion of Christendom," June 20, 1894, quoted in SDA Bible Students' Source Book, p. 684.
The beast offers false gods. (See Matt. 24:26, 27; 2 Cor. 11:14, 15.) Christ, the Lamb, offers the one true God. (See Mark 12:28-34.)
Jesus was accused of blasphemy because He forgave sins. (See Luke 5:18-21.) The beast power (Rev. 13:1-10) claims the right to forgive sins, Canon IX of the Council of Trent (1545-1563) ruled that the sacramental absolution by the priest is a judicial statement of forgiveness. (See SDA Bible Students' Source Book, 1962, p. 214.)
The beast cannot forgive. Christ offers true forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9; Ps. 103:3, 12; Eph. 1:7).