Summary: Sometimes toleration is good and sometimes it's bad. One thing Jesus will not tolerate: Toleration of sin in the life of the believer.

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Tolerating Sin

Sermon 3 in the Series “You’ve God Mail”

Chuck Sligh

July 17, 2011

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TEXT: Revelation 2:12-17


Illus. – Sometimes toleration is a good thing.

* There are habits or quirks your spouse has that you don’t particularly like, but you can tolerate them because, after all, he or she is a good person who loves you and tolerates your own little list of annoying habits.

* At work, you can tolerate the guy who comes in and kills an hour of your time every week or two because he’s the nerd who can fix any computer problem you have.

Illus. – But some kinds of toleration are bad.

* For instance, I know a boy with an extreme allergy to peanuts and any peanut products or even peanut residue. – It would be dangerous, and in fact life-threatening if he tolerates ANYTHING with peanuts or peanut oil in it.

* Another illustration of bad tolerance would be if a doctor discovered you had an aggressive, life threatening cancerous tumor. – You wouldn’t think too highly of him if he said, “Well, you should be able to tolerate it for awhile…until it kills you.”

Illus. – There’s good and bad tolerance in the Christian life as well.

* Paul tells us to “bear with” one another, which means to tolerate one another’s foibles and personality quirks and differences in opinion about disputable matters.

* But there’s something that we should never, under any circumstances tolerate—in the church or in our lives—and that is SIN.

In our series on Jesus’s messages to the seven churches in Asia in Revelation 2-3, we come now to the third message, the one to the church in Pergamum in chapter 2, verses 12-17. The first thing you notice is Jesus in a rather threatening pose – Revelation 2:12 says, “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges.” A two-edged sword in the scriptures is a symbol of judgment. We like knowing that Jesus will judge those who oppose Christ, but what about when that sword is turned in our direction?—To the church?—To us personally?

This is a fitting picture of Jesus’s attitude towards tolerance of sin, which is the theme of this message to the church in Pergamum. This is serious business, so we’d better sit up and listen carefully as we look at this passage.

You can outline this passage by three words: appraisal, admonition and assurance.


By the time John penned Revelation, Pergamum had been the capital city of Asia for 250 years and was considered Asia’s greatest city. Its library of 200,000 handwritten volumes was second only to that of Alexandria, Egypt. It was a magnificent city, but Jesus is not impressed by such earthly accomplishments. His interest is the church of Pergamum, and it had both good and bad things going on.

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