This will be a real, future event that individuals living at this time will have to face—it could be this generation. If you take the mark of the beast, your fate will be sealed. If you refuse the mark you will face martyrdom. But the glories that lie beyond death is so much greater than extending your life a few more years.
I also related the mark to the apostasy mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2 where false believers will capitulate to the temptation to follow Antichrist. The time to prepare for Antichrist’s great tribulation is on now—not later.
To be an overcomer, as the book of Revelation teaches, is to overcome the Antichrist, overcome his system, his mark, his allegiance. You must follow Jesus.