• Tony Birkhead

What’s Wrong with the Church?



Tolerating Sin Can Lead Others to Sin!

INTRODUCTION

We all sin! We are going to sin. How do we deal with sin when it continues to show up in our lives? If the same sin continues consistently it can only be removed when we develop a plan to remove it and no longer tolerate that sin ruling in our lives.

KEY SCRIPTURE

Revelation 2:18-29

“To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. 20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. 24 Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, 25 except to hold on to what you have until I come.’ 26 To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— 27 that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give that one the morning star. 29 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

What are some of the easiest sins to tolerate in our culture today?

From this passage, what do we learn about the strengths of the church at Thyatira? What are its weaknesses?

Verses 21-23 include Jesus’ harsh word of warning to the guilty in Thyatira. Why is sexual immorality so serious in God’s eyes?

As western culture continues to move away from its Christian roots, our Christian lifestyles will seem increasingly odd and old-fashioned. This is especially true when it comes to our beliefs about sex and sexuality. Looking back at Revelation 2:18-29, what do you think Jesus’ promise in verses 26-27 means? What do you appreciate most about His promise to those who overcome temptation in this section?

PRAY TOGETHER

God, help our church to be a church that does not tolerate sin. Help us to be a family of believers who pursue holiness in our marriages and relationships. Amen.

MOVING FORWARD

  • What characteristics of your life consistently show others that you are a different and changed person, focused on the cause of Christ above your personal desires? In what areas of your life do you need to work on this?

COMMENTARY

Revelation 2:18-29

2:18. Thyatira was 30 miles southeast of Pergamum on the Lycus River. Each of its trade guilds was devoted to a patron god or goddess, and social events centered on their worship. The pressure for Christians to participate in this idolatrous lifestyle, both for economic and social reasons, was great. The letter to Thyatira is the longest of the seven messages and the centerpiece of all seven. This is odd, considering that Thyatira was the smallest and least consequential city of the group. Also, closer study shows that the spiritual battle being waged at Thyatira is parallel to the battle to be waged in the end times (Rev. 14-18). Christ, for the only time in Revelation, is called the Son of God.

2:19. Unlike the church at Ephesus, the church at Thyatira was not guilty of a lack of love. Significant spiritual growth was taking place.

2:20. Jezebel involved her followers in the same sins as those that infected the church at Pergamum—sexual immorality and eating meat sacrificed to idols. These sins are mentioned in reverse order from the letter to the church at Pergamum (v. 14). This reversal is a literary device that calls even more attention to the connection between the two. “Jezebel” was likely a nickname recalling the idolatrous queen of the northern king of Israel in 1 and 2 Kings.

2:21-23. “Great tribulation” is used here not for the time of unparalleled suffering just before Christ’s second coming, as in Rev 7:14 (Dan. 12:1; Mat. 24:21), but for a time of intense affliction of an unknown nature. Its use foreshadows the time of great affliction to come upon the entire earth (Rev. 3:10; 7:14). The children of Jezebel are not her literal children, but spiritual “children” who have committed themselves to her false teaching. This group will be killed with the plague, a foreshadowing of widespread death by plague later in the book (e.g., 6:8). The strong parallels between Jezebel and Babylon, the great harlot of the latter part of the book (16:17-19:5), as well as the startling usage of “great tribulation,” suggests Jezebel was a first-century preview of Babylon the Great.

2:24-25. The viewpoint and lifestyle associated with Jezebel (v. 20) are now unmasked as the deep things of Satan, meaning that this false belief and behavior originated with the Devil. The other members of the church at Thyatira not in league with Jezebel were asked to hold on to the faithful acts Christ had commended in verse 19.

2:26-29. Christ includes a special word to the one who does my will to the end, another reference to the need to persevere in Christian morals until he comes. In Revelation 1:6 believers had been called a “kingdom and priests” Now this is expanded by the quotation from Psalm 2:9. They will share in Christ’s authority over the nations. Christ will rule with an iron scepter (to maintain control, as a shepherd keeps control over his flock). Believers will share this rule, even going so far as to dash them in pieces like pottery. The full establishment of the kingdom of God, after Christ returns to earth, will require all forces of evil, all hostile powers to be completely subdued. The Father granted Christ the authority to rule the nations because of his willing death (Phil. 2:6-11). Christ, in turn, wills to share that ruling authority with those who overcome. (Matt. 19:28 and 1 Cor. 6:2 also teach the role of saints as judges.) A further reward of the overcomer is to receive the morning star. Morning stars appear only when night is over and a new day is at hand. The key for interpreting this is Revelation 22:16, where Christ is called the bright Morning Star. The reward is Christ himself, who will end the long night of sin’s rule in the universe. Verse 29 repeats the regular invitation to hear and heed the message.

#revelation #Pergamum #Compromise

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