There is a great deal of debate today on how the Christian should live, dissecting the New Testament, separating the words of Jesus from other New Testament writers, and assigning different values to different authors or passages. Rather arrogant of us, since the New Testament ascribes all of Scripture to the breath of God the Holy Spirit.
But, for the sake of argument, let’s just stick to the words of Jesus, for the purpose of this blog.
Let’s go to Jesus’ seven letters to seven churches.
Jesus found things to commend in all but one church.
Today, I’d like to zero in on what He said to the Christians in Thyatira. They had good works, faith, service, patient endurance, with all these qualities growing strongly.
But one thing was about to bring on them the immediate judgment of God… tolerance of sin. Not sin in the culture. Sin normalized and made trendy in the church.
Specifically, they were tolerant of a teacher in the church who was “seducing my servants to practice immorality” (Revelation 2:21). This teacher was saying, “It’s OK!”
The Greek word in the New Testament translated “sexual immorality” literally means “illicit sexual acts that are morally objectionable.” Covers everything outside of Biblical marriage.
The anger of Jesus is directed, in this letter, not at the sex acts, but at the teacher inside the church in Thyatira who was teaching that these sex acts were to be accepted inside the church as normative behavior for Christians. Jesus calls this teaching the “deep things of Satan,” and has very strong words for the person perpetrating the teaching. James cautions would-be teachers, writing that those that teach will be “judged with greater strictness.” (James 3:1)
Sobering for us all.
In a conversation with Dr. Steve Land, he said that the Christian life is one call to repentance, obedience and witness; it is not multiple choice. When we normalize any sin as acceptable behavior inside the church, we truncate the call. When the church ceases to issue that one call, it ceases to be the church, and loses its prophetic voice in a broken and dysfunctional world.