Dear Friends,

"I know where you live-where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city-where Satan lives." These believers were faithful even when it might have cost them their lives and we are called to do the same. (Rev. 12:11) But sometimes it may feel harder to live for Jesus than to die for him. Death to self (flesh) is the daily call to all believers (Gal. 5:24) and can only be done by the Spirit. (Rom. 8:13)    "Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth."  {"Pergamum (or Pergamos) means high tower or thoroughly married. Historically this church probably represents the time soon after Constantine, when the church was "thoroughly married" to the state. Thousands became nominal Christians, and the church tolerated pagan practices in its midst."  MacDonald, William ; Farstad, Arthur: Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995, S. Re 2:12}  These believers were too tolerant of false doctrine, compromise with the world and sexual immorality. An old country preacher once explained the danger of compromising our faith by saying: "Remember, rat poison is 90% good corn." Even a "little sin" hurts our fellowship with God and others. "Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?" (1 Corinthians 5:6) Balaam, a Gentile hireling prophet, (really a soothsayer/magician) had tried to defeat Israel by cursing them. But God caused him to bless them instead. Since he couldn't conquer them through cursing he conquered them through compromise and corruption by seducing the Israelite men to fornication and intermarriage with pagan Moabite women which led to worshiping their gods. (See Numbers 22-25; 31:16) If Satan can't conquer us as a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8) he will disguise himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:3) and deceive us into sin with a "good thing" that compromises our walk with God. The most obvious application for us in this is that Christians are not to marry non-Christians (including nominal Christians – 2 Corinthians 6:14,15b, 17). Another application from this is to call Christians to live out God's standards for sexuality.                                          

Both at Pergamum and at Thyatira we see the sin of sexual immorality along with false teaching – the teaching of Balaam, the teaching of the Nicolaitans, and the teaching of Jezebel.  I will focus on the issue of sexual sin this month and false teaching next month.  God created sexuality for our pleasure and procreation and the One who designed it knows how it works.  Since the Fall the world is a very dangerous place to live in and God gives us rules (His laws, His Word) to keep us safe. Our highest good and pleasure is to bring God pleasure and glory by living life His way. (Rom. 7:22; Psalm 37:4; Psalm 40:8 – referring to Jesus as a Man). Outside of marriage (between man and woman), sex is not safe spiritually, emotionally or physically, and in fact, harms us and others. Sexual sin affects our capacity for intimacy both with God and people and intimacy with the Lord and others is our deepest desire and longing.  Our bodies house the Holy Spirit (God Himself) and contrary to the belief of some people in Paul's day, material things are not inherently evil. In fact we will have a physical body for all eternity even as our Lord Jesus did after His resurrection and now has in heaven. Every "member" of our physical body is to be "holy" – meaning, "set apart" – for God's purposes only.  The One who creates something is the One who owns it.                                                           

In 1 Corinthians 6:15-20 we see how God's word speaks to sexuality. "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh."  We are more than physical bodies. We have a soul and a spirit which is immaterial and if we commit sexual sin we are joining our soul and spirit with that person even as the next verse says about our spiritual union with the Lord. "But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body."  There are hurtful consequences to sexual sin: for our bodies (Rom 1:27; STD), for our souls, for the souls of others (1 Cor. 6:15-20); and for the gospel. It makes our witness powerless. "Therefore honor God with your body."  (1 Cor. 6:20) In other words, use your bodies in order that others may see that you belong to God.                                                            

"It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God. The Lord will punish men for all such sins as we have already told you and warned you." (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5; 6b) The words "sanctified" and "holy" both mean "separated from."  The description of Jesus here in the church at Pergamum is "The One who has the sharp two-edged sword." (v.12) This is a picture of the separating and dividing power of the gospel and of God's Word. (Hebrews 4:12-13)  We as Christians are to be separated from sexual sin and set apart for God's purposes in our lives. "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, (dirty jokes) which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving." (Eph. 5:3-4)                                                                          

"Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth." (Rev. 2:16)  Jesus warns us to deal radically with sexual sin even in our thought life. "If you lust in your heart – gouge out your eye and cut off your hand." (Matt. 5:28-30) This is hyperbole to get us to deal drastically with this sin. Rip out your computer; throw out your TV; do whatever you have to do to not let the devil entice you into sexual sin. "Flee from sexual immorality." "She (Potiphar's wife) caught him (Joseph) by his cloak and said, "Come to bed with me!" But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house." (Gen. 39:12)


1. Evaluate your sexual purity on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being in line with the standards of the world (everybody's doing it so God understands and approves) or 5 being in line with God's Word. (1 Cor. 6:15-20; 1 Thess. 4:3-5, 6b; Eph. 5:3-4)

2. What has helped you grow in sexual purity and how can you encourage others in this area?

Be ready to meet the Lord:  What will you do to change if needed and when will you do it?

Until He comes,                             

Len and Kristen                                                         

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