*This title, some phrases in quotes, and some of the content of my teaching are based on a CD series on the book of Revelation by Chip Ingram – Living on the Edge
"Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you." (Rev. 3:3) We see Jesus warning us and commending us so we will be ready for His return. Like a good teacher or professor He wants us to know what we need to learn so we will do well on the final exam (1 Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 5:9-11).
Pergamum (2:12-17). "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." 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 the laxity of sexual standards among Christians.
Thyatira (2:18-28) "To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children (followers) dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan's so-called deep secrets (secret knowledge is what Oprah is promoting today) (I will not impose any other burden on you): Only hold on to what you have until I come. To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations- 'He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery- just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
Once again 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 week. God created sexuality for our pleasure and procreation and the One who designed it knows how it works. We must believe what Scripture says in many places: 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). Since the Fall in Genesis three, the world is a dangerous place to live in and God gives us rules (His laws, His Word) to keep us safe. Sex is not safe (spiritually or emotionally as well as physically) and does not "work" outside marriage (between man and woman) and in fact harms us and others. "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." 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. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." (1 Cor. 6:15-20) Sexual sin destroys 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 material body for all eternity even as our Lord Jesus revealed 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. "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? (1 Cor. 12:27; Col. 1:18) (The One who creates something is the One who owns it.) 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 souls 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 and 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 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) So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children (followers) dead. (Rev. 2:22-23) 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." Next week we will see how Joseph did exactly that. "She (Potiphar's wife) caught him 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)
Discussion Questions FOR APPLICATION OF GOD'S WORD
What did the Lord say to you through this message?
"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…"(2:13) "I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first." (2:19) "If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan? (Jer. 12:5) We must begin to deepen our faith and resolve to never renounce our Lord regardless of the cost. It may be that in the future it could be a crime to proclaim Christ as the only way to salvation. How can you deepen your faith now? Heed Luke 6:47-48.
Later, in your quiet time evaluate your sexual purity on a scale of 1-5 with the Lord 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) At your table share with each other anything that has helped you grow in sexual purity. Be ready: What will you do to change if needed and when will you do it? Discuss this at your table.
Scripture memory verse: "Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you." (Rev. 3:3)