Summary: This sermon examines a series of questions that will strengthen your resolve when faced with pressure to compromise your faith.
Have you ever felt pressured to go along with the crowd? All of us have felt such pressure! It starts early and continues through life. I remember feeling such pressure, even in the first grade. I remember one episode in particular. This is what happened. Our teacher required that we eat a portion of every item on our plates. On this particular day we had greens, peas and corn bread along with other items. A couple of my buddies and I decided we would outsmart our teacher. We quickly drank our milk and stuffed that "gross food" into our empty milk cartoons. We thought we would out smart our teacher. The pressure was intense to go along with that scheme. Everything went well until our teacher discovered the scheme. Do you know what she did? She made us eat that conglomeration from our milk boxes. Can you imagine how gross that must have been? A mixture of greens, peas, corn bread, milk, ketchup and mashed potatoes was not a pretty sight. I learned a valuable lesson from that event. Peer pressure can get you into a lot of trouble.
Every day we face pressure. The pressure can be intense.
• Businessmen face pressure to produce.
• Coaches face pressure to win.
• Students face pressure to make good grades.
• Pastors face pressure to be politically correct.
Illustration: The Leo Burnett advertising agency did a nationwide telephone survey a few years ago on lying, cataloging when we lie, how we lie and why we lie.
The results were interesting. Ninety-one percent of all Americans confessed that they regularly lied… One out of every five admitted that they couldn’t get through even one day without going along with a previously manufactured lie. Guess what the survey revealed that we lie about the most: our income, our weight, or our age? This is kind of funny, since you cannot conceal a weight problem. In second place was money, and third was our age. There was also a contender that came in fourth: our true hair color.
Now here’s what I found most intriguing about the study: People no longer seem to care about lying. We accept it. It doesn’t bother us. We don’t get upset when someone exaggerates, falsifies, fabricates, or misrepresents the truth…The study found that in the past, people thought lying was wrong. Now, almost half of all Americans say it isn’t.
(James Emery White, You Can Experience an Authentic Life (Nashville: Word Publishing, 2000), 121-122.)
So, what do we do about this pressure? How do we overcome the temptation? Good question. We have been studying the seven churches of Revelation. The church we study today, Thyatira, struggled with the pressure to go along. Look at the text. I want to handle this text in a unique manner. I want to ask some questions that grow out of the text in order to help us handle the pressure to go along. Consider the questions.
1. When facing the pressure to go along you should ask the question: who is going to rule my life? The believers in Thyatira were committed followers of Jesus Christ. However, they felt pressure from a lady who was given the name Jezebel. Whether this was a nickname or her actual name, we do not know. What we do know is that she was teaching false doctrines and that was okay to commit idolatry and sexual fornication. The believers in Thyatira had to decide, was Jesus going to rule or Jezebel. The same things happens with us.
• Is the boss going to rule or our conscience?
• Is the boy/girl friend going to rule or our personal convictions?
• Are our friends going to rule or will we take a stand?
Before Jesus started His ministry he faced the question of who would rule His spirit. He was tempted by Satan. Satan tempted Jesus with three tests. He challenged Him to turn stones into bread. He challenged Him to throw himself from the pinnacle of the temple. And, he challenged Him to accept the kingdoms of this world as His own. Those three temptations struck at three temptations we face today. The temptation was to acquire power, prestige and possessions for personal benefit. Had he submitted to these temptations he would have allowed Satan to rule His spirit. He would have allowed Satan to be in control. This raises the question, who is going to rule your spirit?
The Bible says “No man can serve two masters.” Mt. 6:24
The New Testament uses the term “Lord” to describe God’s desire. God desires that Jesus have authority over our lives. He is to rule our lives. In our text Jesus is portrayed as having “eyes…like blazing fire” and “feet like burnished bronze.” vs. 18 This is not a literal description of Jesus. These are symbolic terms that describe His authority, power and position. The Bible says, "at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord."