Spiritual Self Evaluation – part 4
In many ways the church at Thyatira was a model church. They had 5 great essential qualities that Jesus, felt were worthy of mention: 1- works; 2- agape love (for both the Lord & each other); 3- service (toward other believers); 4- faith & 5-patience
“thy works…the last are more than the first”: another compliment to them. The Greek means that their last works were greater in both number & quality than their first works. Their good traits were increasing measure – growing in love, service, faith & patience.
So Jesus commends this church. Unlike Ephesus which had left its first love & had ceased its first works, the later works of Thyatira were more impressive than those at its beginning. This church had some really good things.
“Notwithstanding I have a few things against you…”
In Thyatira, we see a downward progression. What began in Pergamos simply as fellowship with those who held to false doctrine had degenerated into permitting a woman the freedom to teach heresy to the congregation in Thyatira.
This wasn’t simply ‘open mic night’ where people got to share what they believe in small groups. Nor was it a discussion with the pastor where unbiblical beliefs could be corrected. The problem was permitting her to teach heresy to the believers, allowing the blood-bought saints of God to fall for & embrace that heresy. They were being seduced.
We see by Jesus’ rebuke that good works are no substitute for sound doctrine.
Jesus is saying, “I know that you are doing good works. I know that you have set up charities for the poor, have taken care of lepers, have taken in prostitutes who are pregnant. I know…and the last works are greater than the first. But despite all of those good things you are permitting My Bride to be seduced by false doctrine.”
The church in Ephesus had not been fooled by those who falsely called themselves apostles. But Thyatira had entrusted a position of leadership & teaching to an immoral woman who was a self-proclaimed prophetess.
Being a prophetess is OK. Phillip the Evangelist had 4 daughters who were all prophetesses. But this gal, this Jezebel, was a fake. She taught things that were in direct opposition to the clear teaching of the God’s Word.
Her name gives us a clue about her heresy. Jezebel of the Old Testament led people into fornication & spiritual adultery – idolatry.
To teach people to love someone as equal with Jesus, is to teach & encourage spiritual adultery – idolatry. Everywhere the Church exists, regardless of culture, customs or language, is supposed to be the Bride of Christ & in love with the Son of God, not with any other being. Jesus is saying, “You have allowed my Bride to be seduced. Repent.”
Though Jezebel had been given permission by church leadership to teach heresy, there is also a responsibility for individual believers to know the truth of Christ & to reject heresy. Why were the believers of Thyatira choosing to accept the heresy of Jezebel?
Due to the importance of Thyatira in commerce in that part of the world, many trade unions had settled there making use of the natural resources of the area. These unions constituted the entire business of the city. In order to work in Thyatira, everyone had to join a trade union or guild, including Christians. The meetings of those unions were devoted to the sinful practices which were connected with the worship of erotic idols of the Greek world. They held periodic feasts at which the members ate meat offered to idols & participated in sexual orgies.
This was the problem faced by Christians in Thyatira. In order to make a living they had to belong to a union. But to attend the union meeting meant to become involved in, or to be sorely pressured to get involved in sexual immorality & idol worship. So believers had to make a choice. Sadly, many believers in Thyatira compromised in order to make a living.
In this letter, Jesus, promises judgment for those who choose not to repent. We must remember that the purpose of God’s judgment & discipline is to purify His church. A pure church is a strong church, and the Lord will make sure that His bride is a chaste virgin when she finally meets Him.
Time for our self-evaluation
Do you attend a fellowship that does not faithfully adhere to God’s Word in all matters of doctrine? Maybe you should find a new fellowship.
Have you been felt pressure from the pressures of life to compromise your faith? Have you given in & compromised? Have you permitted your love for some earthly treasure to supplant ‘first place’ in your heart, which should be for Jesus’ alone?
Once again we see that the Lord’s prescription for our circumstance.
If you have compromised, “repent” – turn away from your compromise & back to the Lord.
If you have not compromised, “hold fast” until Jesus returns – no matter how difficult it might be to do so.
If you have ears & they are meant for hearing, hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
In His Hands, Pastor Fran