“LIVE IN PURITY” Rev. 2:18-29
INTRO – Running a special out at the coffee bar. Gunner has come up w/ a fancy new espresso drink that I think you’ll really enjoy. Uses great, high quality coffee. Delicious flavorings. And the special gourmet touch is when he drops a couple of rat droppings into the cup right at the end for that extra special flavor.
How many of us are like that when it comes to sin & impurity of any kind in our lives? As long as it’s not a LOT of sin or impurity, we feel like we are OK.
Jesus has some intense words for the church at Thyatira in the area of purity.
The city of Thyatira was the smallest of the cities where these 7 churches were located. It wasn’t a center of emperor worship like Smyrna & Pergamum, but there was pagan idol worship in the city, mainly to the Greek sun god, Apollo. The Christians here faced financial & economic hardships b/c to hold a job or operate a business; they had to join one of the powerful trade unions or guilds in the city. Each of these unions had a pagan deity that they worshiped, & member of the union would be expected to participate in feasts that honor that false god. For the Christians who refused, it meant job loss & severe financial struggles. Jesus said in Matt. 6:24, “You cannot serve both God & money.” The Christians here in Thyatira were finding that out in a real way.
QUICK OUTLINE OF THIS LETTER:
Jesus delights – v. 18-19 – As w/ the other letters, Jesus began by commending the believers here & letting them know how He delighted in them for their:
- “deeds” – their actions & behavior that honored & glorified God
- “love” – This was the 1st church that was commended for their love. Ephesus was suffering in this area – “You have left your 1st love”; Thyatira was strong in this area.
- “faith” – Better translated “faithfulness.” The true believers in Thyatia were committed, consistent, & courageous.
- “service & perseverance” – Gk word for “service” – diakonia – They were humble servants, taking care of each other, & not giving up.
- “you are not doing more than you did at first” – They weren’t stagnant in their love for God & for each other. They were growing & maturing. What an example for us!
Jezebel despises – v. 20 – The name “Jezebel” in the Bible is synonymous w/ evil & immorality. The false prophetess that Jesus is addressing here most likely was not literally named Jezebel. He called her that due to the likeness to the OT woman named Jezebel who infiltrated God’s people to influence them & lead them into all sorts of immoral activities.
Satan uses people like this in the church to lead others to give in to false teachings & sin. Sometimes it’s said that a person like this has a “Jezebel spirit” – someone who engages in immorality, idolatry, false teaching, & unrepentant sin. Someone w/ a Jezebel spirit despises the things of God, the Word of God, & the people of God.
Jesus disciplines – v. 21-23 – I think it’s pretty obvious from Jesus’ strong words here that this kind of sinful behavior is not going to be tolerated or ignored. “Whoever this woman was, like Jezebel, she refused to repent of her immorality and her false teaching, and her fate was sealed. The Lord Jesus cast her onto a sick bed, along with those who committed idolatry with her. The end for those who succumb to a Jezebel spirit is always death and destruction, both in the physical and the spiritual sense.” (gotquestions.org)
Jesus distinguishes – v. 24-25 – Jesus makes it clear that the discipline & judgment that will come upon this Jezebel & her followers will not impact those who are still walking faithfully w/ Him. He knew that they were bearing the burden of battling against this temptation & problem in the church. His encouragement to them was to “hold fast” to the truth. Wouldn’t be easy – never is. But, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the true Christ-followers could hold on.
Jesus delivers – v. 26-29 – In His final words in this letter, Jesus encourages the true believers to look forward to His deliverance in their lives. They will get to rule over nations in the millennium w/ His authority, & will receive all of His fullness.
Let’s get back to one of the main issues in this church – impurity. Some of the people had gotten caught up in the false teachings & had given into impurity & immorality. HERE ARE THE DANGERS OF IMPURITY:
- Puts you in opposition to Jesus
- Puts you in agreement w/ false teachers
- Puts you in danger of the discipline of God
- Puts you in a place of guaranteed suffering – Heb. 11:25 says you can “enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” But that season WILL come to an end!
We need to get a PURITY PLAN in place. Components of a PURITY PLAN:
Focus constantly on Jesus – Distractions are deadly. On the way home from State game last night, heard commercial w/ Dan Mullen encouraging folks to not text & drive. Heb. 12:1-2.
Fill your mind w/ the Word of God – Ps. 119 filled w/ teaching about the importance of the Word. Took us 3 wks to read through it in DailyWay reading plan.
- v. 9 – “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.”
- v. 11 – “I have hidden your word in my heart…”
- v. 23 – “Your servant will meditate on your decrees.”
- v. 37 – “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.”
- v. 81 – “…I have put my hope in your word.”
- v. 97 – “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.”
- v. 104 – “I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.”
- v. 105 – “…a lamp to my feet & a light for my path.”
Fix your thoughts on the things of God – Phil. 4:8 – “Finally, brothers, whatever is true…noble…right…pure…lovely…admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Col. 3:2 – “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.”
Flee from all temptation – Hwy 27 in Lawrence County – designated hurricane evacuation route. People used it to flee from New Orleans when Katrina was coming in. Why did they flee? B/c of the danger. Potential disaster. Potential death. 1 Cor. 6:18 – “Flee from sexual immorality!” 1 Cor. 10:14 – “Flee from idolatry.”
Fly immediately to Jesus when temptation hits – People who were fleeing from Katrina didn’t just drive & drive & drive. They fled from the danger & fled to a safe place, a place where people would care for them, a place where they would be provided what they needed, a place that had the resources to care for them, a place where people loved them no matter what. That’s what Jesus does for us! Fly to Him immediately!
Friends who will encourage & hold accountable – I guarantee you that those in Thyatira who were not giving into Jezebel’s teaching & temptations had others around them who were encouraging them & holding them accountable. WE NEED EACH OTHER! No one can live your Christian life for you. But we all need others in our lives who are coming alongside us in the battles & struggles we face. Prov. 27:17 – “As iron…” Ecc. 4:9-12 – Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Find your strength & identity in who are in Christ – One of Satan’s main strategies against us is to constantly remind of us of our past failures. When he begins to do that, you need to take a stand against him, resist him, & remind him who you are in Christ.
- “My Identity in Christ” tract.