Dear Friends,

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) The church in Pergamum was compromising by adopting worldly practices and
wrong doctrine.

Balaam, a Gentile hireling prophet, 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)
as we see in 2 Corinthians 6: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.
For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship
can light have with darkness? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.” (2 Corinthians
6: 14,15b,17) Another application from this is the laxity of sexual standards
among Christians. God’s Word gives clear instructions regarding sexual
purity. “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” or “set apart”. We as Christians are to be separated
from sin and set apart for God’s purposes in our life. Even “good
things” like dating and romance and marriage can lead us away from God
and bring trials and sorrow if we compromise God’s truth. The description
of Jesus 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. (Matthew 10:34-36; Hebrews 4:12-13)

The teaching of the Nicolaitans has been interpreted differently by various
commentators. One possible meaning comes from the meaning of the two words nika,
“to conquer” and laos “the people” or “the laity”.
This may refer to the unbiblical distinction between the clergy and lay people
that has greatly diminished the effectiveness of the church in evangelism and
discipleship. The priesthood of believers (1 Peter 2:9) means that all Christians
are ministers and are called and gifted by God “for the work of the ministry”
(Ephesians 4: 12; 1 Peter 4:10) Many Christians abdicate this responsibility
to the professional clergy and thus Christianity becomes a “spectator
sport”. Vocational Christian workers, missionaries, pastors, etc., are
like player coaches called to both train and equip the laity and minister in
their own sphere of influence. Yet all of us are called to carry out the Great
Commission (evangelism and discipleship) in our network of relationships. “Be
wise in the way you act toward outsiders (unbelievers); make the most of every
opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt
(appropriate truths from God’s word) so that you may know how to answer
everyone.” (Colossians 4:6)

Jesus encourages the faithful believers who remain “true to His name”
and calls the unfaithful to “repent”. (vv. 13; 16) In our churches
and our own lives where there is compromise with the world and neglect of the
work of the ministry we need to repent and not be “ashamed of the gospel”
(Romans 1:16) and our identity as followers of Jesus Christ. We need to lovingly
and humbly share His grace and truth within our arenas of relationships. Jesus
says we are salt and light. (Matthew 5: 13-14) Salt pictures the preserving
power of God’s truth to stop moral decay in a society. Light is a picture
of leading people out of the darkness of sin and unbelief in Jesus Christ (John
16: 9) the “light of men” (John 1:4).

Jesus prayed to His Father: “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is
truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified
in truth.” (John 17:17-19) Jesus emptied Himself of His glory and came
to dwell among us as a man and completely set Himself apart for our sake and
the will of His Father. May we respond to His sacrificial, dedicated love by
setting ourselves apart for Him and for His purposes in and through our lives.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing
of your mind, so that you may prove (demonstrate) what the will of God is, that
which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2) Let it be Lord.

Len and Kristen

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