Summary: 4th in a series on the seven churches mentioned in Revelation 2-3
God’s Word for us this morning, in one sentence, is this:
“Instead of tolerating sin, hold on to Christ,
because those who are faithful to Christ will reign with Him.”
I saw a sign this last week that has intrigued me from the moment I saw it. You can see this sign as you enter the city of Middleton. It says this: “Are citizens practice tolerance and welcome diversity.”
When I first saw that I thought, “That’s nice. What a great thing to say.” But the more I thought about it, the more questions I had, especially in light of the message of God’s Word this morning.
Is Middleton tolerant of sex offenders? Does it practice tolerance with those convicted of DUI? Do the citizens of Middleton practice tolerance with drug dealers, robbers, and rapists?
I don’t mean to pick on Middleton, it’s a great place. But think about what it means to be tolerant. Are we, as Christians, to be tolerant? God’s Word tells us to not tolerate sin of any kind!
Is it intolerant to not tolerate sin? I can just hear it now: “You’re being intolerant. You’re preaching hatred. You are judgmental.”
Intolerance of sin is not hatred. Not tolerating sin is really a great expression of love. Do you tolerate your child running across a busy street? Do you tolerate your children playing with poison? No! Why? Because you love your children, right? You are intolerant when it comes to certain things you know are harmful to them. In the same way, God is intolerant of sin. And He expects His church to not tolerate sin either.
I hesitate to even mention this, based on what we’ve gone through as a church this last year, but when God’s Word draws the line on a sin and says it is wrong, that must be the same line we believers hold to as well.
God’s Word says that tolerating sin of any kind is wrong. But if you dare speak out against a sin, you are accused of being intolerant. You are accused of being “homophobic” for example. Listen, I am not homophobic. I’m hamartiaphobic. What’s that?
Well, it’s a word I made up. Hamartia is the Greek word for sin.
I am afraid of what sin can do.
I’m afraid of what sin can do in the life of an individual.
I’m afraid of what sin can do in the life of a church body.
Sin acts a lot like weeds in a garden. If they go unattended, they can overtake the entire garden and kill every plant in it.
Sin has the same affect on our lives.
We must take aggressive measures to remove the sin in our lives... ...so that we can be clean vessels,
...so that we can be used by God to accomplish His business.
But it is more than running from sin.
It is more than just not tolerating sin.
We are to passionately pursue the righteousness that God requires.
“There is a sense in which, as long as we are in the body, we can never stop running. If we stop running from what is evil, it will catch us. If we stop pursuing what is righteous, it will elude us.”
We are to passionately pursue God.
We are to passionately hold on to Christ.
I am afraid, yes. I am afraid of what sin can do in our lives and in our church today. I am also afraid of what Christ will do.
We all like to see Christ presented in the Gospels as a very loving, kind and caring Savior. He healed the sick, made the lame to walk and the blind to see. He’s a loving God. What would He do to us? That perspective of Christ does describe a true aspect of His character, but if that is the only view you have of Christ you are in for a big surprise. Look at how Christ is described in Revelation. Look at what Christ has to say about Himself as He views His church, the church in Thyatira in Revelation 2:18...
Turn in your Bibles and listen as I read Revelation 2:18.
This verse shows another side of Christ, doesn’t it? It shows Christ as a judge. We see from v. 18...
1. THE JUDGE DESCRIBED (v. 18)
This is not a very comforting picture is it?
Christ is not giving any words of comfort here.
When a church or an individual reaches such a high level of sinfulness that it tolerates sin in its life, Christ comes as judge, not comforter.
Notice that Jesus uses the title “Son of God” to describe Himself.
This means He is emphasizing His deity to the church.
Christ presents Himself as the Son of God, coming in judgment because of sin.