Summary: Jesus expects us to uphold the truth and refuse to compromise, no matter the pressure.
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TRUTH OR COMPROMISE?
“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write....” (v. 12a).
Jesus describes the city of Pergamum as “Satan’s throne” (v. 13). It was a city consumed with idolatry. Pergamum was home to a temple dedicated to “the divine Augustus and the goddess Roman,” another temple dedicated to Asclepius (the god of healing, who carried a serpent-entwined staff; cf. Revelation 12:9; 20:2), and a large altar dedicated to Zeus (ESV Study Bible).
The church in Pergamum faced both internal and external opposition.
Christ expects us to uphold the TRUTH and refuse to COMPROMISE, no matter the pressure.
Joel Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church, is an example of someone who has felt the pressure to compromise the truth.
On June 20, 2005, Joel Osteen appeared on CNN’s Larry King Live and was asked if faith in Jesus is the only way to heaven. Osteen’s reply: “I’m going to let God be the judge of who goes to heaven and hell.” Later, Osteen apologized for his disappointing answer. He returned to Larry King Live on December 22, 2006, and stated, “I believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven.”
On January 26, 2011, Osteen appeared on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight and was asked if he believes that homosexuality is a sin. Osteen’s answer: “I don’t believe homosexuality is God’s best for a person’s life.”
CHRIST’S MESSAGE TO A WAVERING CHURCH
In Christ’s message to the church in Pergamum, we find three reminders for those feeling the pressure to compromise.
When you feel pressured to compromise, remember…
1. Christ is the right one to PLEASE.
“The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells” (vv. 12b-13).
Pleasing both Christ and the world is not always possible. A man in Pergamum named Antipas was not able to please both. He was killed for his faithfulness to Christ (“martyr,” martoos, means “witness”). According to Christian tradition, Antipas was slowly roasted to death in a brazen bowl.
Paul wrote that government bears “the sword” (Romans 13:4). This was known as ius gladii (“the right of the sword”). The Roman government had the power to execute, but Christ, the One “who has the sharp two-edged sword,” is the ultimate authority. In John’s vision of the second coming, “from [Christ’s] mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations” (Revelation 19:15; cf. v. 21; Isaiah 11:4; 49:2). But Jesus is not only the judge of the world; He is also the judge of the compromising church.
2. Compromise never has a HAPPY ENDING.
“But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth” (vv. 14-16).