Summary: Safeguard Your Reign with Christ 1) Don’t compromise with sin 2) Don’t tolerate impenitent sinners
A multiple gold medal winner from the Summer Olympics was recently arrested for drunk driving. When I heard the news I wondered why someone with a stellar sports career and million dollar endorsements would jeopardize all that for a little late night partying? The answer is compromise. When that athlete compromised his strict training rules by drinking alcohol, one thing led to the next jeopardizing everything he had worked so hard to attain.
Although we may not have a stellar sports career that promises to bring millions into our bank accounts, we Christians do have an awesome future ahead of us. A couple of weeks ago we heard about the crown of life that awaits us in heaven. Jesus tells us more about this crown in his letter to the Christians in Thyatira. He says that this crown comes with real authority. “To him who overcomes and does my will to the end” Jesus said, “I will give authority over the nations— 27 ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery’— just as I have received authority from my Father” (Rev. 2:26, 27). Unfortunately the Christians in Thyatira had jeopardized their reign with Christ. Some had done this through compromise with sin, while others tolerated impenitent sinners. Since Jesus doesn’t want that to happen to us, he will teach us this morning how to safeguard our reign with him.
Thyatira, a city located a little inland from the Aegean Sea, was famous for its textile industry. It was here they extracted a famous purple dye from a plant that grew in the area and used it to make expensive clothing. You may remember that Lydia, one of the first converts at Philippi, was from Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The textile industry, like many other industries, was arranged into guilds. The purpose of these guilds was to provide mutual support for business owners. To build a common bond between its members, these guilds encouraged, even demanded participation in pagan worship rituals. These rituals were often nothing more than raucous sex-parties meant to honour local idols.
You would think it obvious to any Christian that to participate in such activities was sinful. But there was one member of the church in Thyatira that not only thought it was O.K., she encouraged participation. Jesus called that woman, Jezebel and said of her: “…she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols” (Rev. 2:20b). Jezebel probably wasn’t the woman’s real name. Jesus called her this because it would remind the members of the church of the Jezebel in the Old Testament. That Jezebel had married King Ahab of Israel and succeeded in turning most of the country against the worship of the true God.
How was it that a member of the church would think that engaging in worship of pagan idols through sexual immorality was O.K.? It probably all started with a compromise. If Jezebel herself was a textile owner or worker, she may have thought that she needed to participate in the guild’s activities to fit in. She may have thought that if she didn’t do this, she would lose all of her business contacts. She may have even made herself believe that once the guild members got to know her, she could tell them about the true God.