Summary: How believers can resist pressure from the outside and from within to compromise our theology and morals.
Intro-comparing the Ephesus church, orthodox but with out love, vs. Pergamum and Thyatira, compromise and tolerance.
How do we feel when we Jesus described as “He who has the sharp, double-edged sword”? It’s a nice feeling if we know that Jesus is fighting for us against our enemies. And that he does. But what about if that sword is turned in our direction? To the church? To us personally?
Let’s review quickly what Jesus looks like in His glory from 1:12-16.
Read 1:12-16 This is Jesus Christ exalted. The imagery is first century- all of John’s readers would very quickly realize that this Jesus isn’t someone you can mess with. Explain each aspect very quickly.
Hebrews 4:12 also tells us this:
12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
A major theme of the Book of Revelation is how do we stand up under pressure? Are we going to hold on or are we going to capitulate and engage in the same lifestyle and sin as al the rest of the people around us.
What kind of pressure are you under? I don’t mean pressure to perform well or to get everything done that needs to get done. I mean pressure to do something that you know is sin. This pressure could be coming from the outside, from someone who holds an unfair advantage over you. It could be coming from a dating relationship. You don’t want to do what that person is wanting you to do but you find it very hard to hold up. You may be suffering because of your resisting.
Another kind of pressure could be coming from the inside, from yourself. You are fighting that urge, that drive to do something you know does not please God. And you know that if you give in, you are going to feel really bad about yourself.
My hope is that today we will begin see Jesus not just as our Savior and Friend, which He is, but also as our Judge who has the right to say to us “But I hold this against you.” While today it may be popular to be “tolerant” and understanding of people engaging in various lifestyles, clearly Jesus is not tolerant of our engaging in sinful lifestyles.
Today I want us to do three things:
1. Examine our own lives for areas we have compromised in either our belief or our personal morals and
2. to seriously come to realize Jesus does not tolerate our sin
3. to look at the promises Jesus offers us if we will overcome.
The churches in Pergamum and Thyatira had a problem with tolerance. While they had some good things going for them, they had seriously compromised in their both their theological beliefs and their personal morals. Jesus sternly warns them to repent.
Let’s look first at Pergamum. Pergamum was the capital city of Asia and housed the world’s second largest library in Roman Empire with 200,000 volumes, second to Alexandria. The word parchment comes from the city’s name.
Where Satan has his throne. A number of very difficult things were going on for Christians here.
1. There was the great altar of Zeus there where animal sacrifices were made 24 hours a day. Meet in marketplace sold from there.
2. The city was also the center for the worship of a god called Asclepius, the god of healing. At this god’s altar hospitals were built where sick people would come and stay in hopes that the sacred snakes would come out of the temple and heal them. Today our medical profession uses the symbol of this religion, the two intertwined snakes climbing a staff with wings on it.
3. Perhaps worst of all for the Christians was that Pergamum was the center for the imperial cult for all Asia. Caesar Augustus had huge altar built to himself there in 29BC. If a person did not bow down and worship his image she or he could be put to death. It seems that this had already happened to Antipas.
So Pergamum was a city very hostile to Christians who worshipped Jesus alone and who would not take part cultic rituals or any of the sexual immorality that was often part of these rituals.
Maybe where you live Satan has a throne… (personalize this)
People who hold to the teaching of Balaam. – these were people in the church who seduced people with a theology of moral compromise.
Numbers 25:1 While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, 2 who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate and bowed down before these gods. 3 So Israel joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor. And the LORD’s anger burned against them.