Summary: What happens when a church becomes tolerant of worldly influence and sin? Jesus message to the Thyatira tells us clearly
May 31, 2020
Pastor Brad Reaves
(c) 2020 Grace Community Church, Winchester, VA
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I recently read in a book the following, “It would be unsavory to describe how far the worship of indecency was carried; how public morals were corrupted by the mimic representations of everything that was vile, and even by the pandering of a corrupt art... The social relations exhibited, if possible, even deeper corruption. The sanctity of marriage had ceased. Female dissipation and the general dissoluteness led at least to an almost entire cessation of the marriage. Abortion and the exposure of newly-born children were common and tolerated; unnatural vices, which even the greatest philosophers practiced, if not advocated, attained proportions which defy description.”
This described the Roman world shortly before the fall of Rome, but perhaps you are like me and can see that this aptly describes the climate in America today. What happens when you love the world more than God? When we become tolerant of sin and immorality. We become known to Christ Jesus as a place of the “deep things of Satan.” When the Church becomes more tolerant of the world and less tolerant of God’s holiness, we’re in trouble. Thus was the case in Asia Minor.
We come to the fourth church in Revelation: Thyatira. It should be understood that Thyatira is a pivotal letter in the 7 churches. There is a progression that you should be seeing in these churches that compromise. We start with Ephesus, a church that was testing teachers, keeping doctrinally pure, but lost its love for Jesus. When you lose your love for Jesus, you begin to love the world. If you love Jesus, you will not love the world. From there we saw Smyrna. Holding fast and enduring great suffering for the sake of the Lord. No compromise there. Next, we find Pergamum. Even though they’re dwelling on Satan’s throne, they’re holding fast to the faith, but they are compromised in their morals. Now we come to Thyatira, and we see the result of what happens with continued compromise. If Pergamum is flirting with idolatry, Thyatira is adulterous. All the way onto Laodicea. Compromise with the world leads to tolerance of sin and Jesus has called his Church to be a holy and pure institution, intolerant of sin. The same is true for your life. When you love the Lord less, you begin to love the world more and it infiltrates your life.
18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 “ ‘I know your works, your love and faith, and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation unless they repent of her works, 23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. 24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. 25 Only hold fast what you have until I come. 26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Rev 2:18-29)
The City of Thyatira
The City of Thyatira was the smallest of the cities that received messages from Jesus but the letter from Jesus to the Church of Thyatira is the longest. Little is know about Thyatira. Even though it was not a great city, it was important because of its commerce in wool, linen, apparel, dyes, leatherwork, tanning, and excellent bronze work. A fabric dye was developed there mixing a root and a small shellfish that created a purple dye. It was highly sought after. The most famous early Christian of Thyatira was Lydia, a seller of purple fabric converted to Christ during Paul’s ministry in Philippi (Acts 16). She was the first Christian convert in Europe.