Summary: Change is the essence of repentance. It is to stop doing what you are doing that is not making you an effective Christ-pleasing Christian, and to start doing what does make you that kind of Christian.
For decades the American people have been lulled into complacency by hearing the Gallop Pole say
that over 90% of Americans believe in God. This led to a false security that we were a godly nation.
But now Gallop decided to get more specific, and he discovered that only 10% of Americans are
really committed Christians who take Jesus seriously, pray, and live the Christian life. The vast
majority of Christians in America are indistinguishable from the non-Christians in their life-style and
The church has contributed to this by a non-virtous toleration, and permissiveness that says as
long as you help us meet the budget, do as you please, but if you get caught, don't say where you
attend church. Now I must confess that I am by nature a permissive person. I was raised by
permissive parents and I loved it. I was free as the breeze, and did as I pleased from kindergarten
on. I was downtown in Sioux Falls, the largest city in South Dakota, as a mere kid from 6 to 9. I
was shining shoes and going to shows until dark. I played on railroad tressels, and by the dangerous
falls. I went skinny dipping with the older boys and loved my childhood years. Because of that I
became a permissive person. I loved the freedom and I survived, and so I just follow the golden rule
and give others the same freedom.
I have to remind myself that how I turned out had nothing to do with the permissive life-style I
had, but with the grace of God. All three of my closest friends in those permissive years ended up in
the state penitentiary. I escaped that destiny only by the grace of God. I found Christ as my Savior
at age 9, and this made a radical difference in the way I used my freedom. I choose not to steal with
my friends. So what I know from my own experience is that freedom is great, and if you use
freedom to choose good rather than evil, then permissiveness is a virtue. But if you use freedom to
do evil it is a vice. So what you have is some people who will use their freedom for folly, and you
become foolish for allowing them so much freedom. But others will use it for positive and healthy
adventure, and you will get credit for being so bold as to allow such freedom.
What is needed then is discernment as to how individuals will use their freedom. If you have a
child who will use every opportunity to do something dangerous and stupid you need to be more
intolerant of their freedom. If they are responsible and can make wise use of freedom, then you can
take more risk. Risk is what it is all about. God took a risk in letting Adam and Eve have access to
the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and it was a high risk. They failed the test and fell. You can
argue that God was too permissive, but that is the only way to find out how people will use their
freedom. If you allow your child to go off to college, you are taking a high risk. They can use that
new found freedom to become irresponsible and damage their lives. But if you don't take the risk,
you can never know what their potential could be. Freedom is scary, and it is a gamble, yet there is
no choice if you want the best.
So what does this have to do with the letter to the church in Thyatira? Everything! The main
vice in this church is their permissiveness and the damage it is doing to the church. The other
churches have had external problems and pressure from the community, but this church has an
internal problem, and their corruption is an inside job.
The problem was a woman named Jezebel. It is symbolic name, of course, for nobody names
their little girl Jezebel. The Jezebel of the Old Testament was a pagan who became the Queen of
Israel by marriage to Ahab in about 884 B.C. She killed the prophets of God and brought idolatry
and immorality into Israel. She was one of the most wicked women in history. She is the only
woman I know of in history who was so evil that she became dog food after her violent death, and
dogs ate her body. It was a gruesome judgment and ever since her name has never been found in
those books of names for your baby. That name really went to the dogs, and so the only time you
use this name is when you want to express contempt.
The orginial Jezebel was not a believer in the God of Israel. She was said to worship Baal, and