Holding Firm



Scripture

Rev. 2:19    “I know your works—your love, faith, service, and patient endurance. I know that your last works are greater than the first. 20 But I have this against you: you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet and is teaching and beguiling my servants to practice fornication and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her fornication. 22 Beware, I am throwing her on a bed, and those who commit adultery with her I am throwing into great distress, unless they repent of her doings; 23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve. 24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call ‘the deep things of Satan,’ to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden; 25 only hold fast to what you have until I come. 26 To everyone who conquers and continues to do my works to the end,

Observation

This church in Thyatira has been one in which God has been at work and the people have been faithful, but now, something has gone wrong. The church has allowed someone, whom the author has named “Jezebel” to influence them in the wrong direction. The name refers to the wicked queen of the Old Testament who encouraged her people to worship idols. In Thyatira there were many guilds of skilled laborers and each had their own god whom they worshipped and around whom their societal activities were formed. Evidently this Jezebel was encouraging the church members to keep one foot in the church and the other in their secular guild. This resulted in divided loyalties and infidelity when it came to God. Her fornication is spiritual because she gives herself to God, but then also gives herself in worship to the gods of the world. 

Jezebel’s activity was not just her own, but she led many down a path of destruction. These were her spiritual children, those whom she was leading astray, and the church was struggling. They were known for their “love, faith, service and patient endurance” and great works. In other words the church looked awesome from the outside, but on the inside she was being eaten away by keeping one foot in the church and the other in the world. Jezebel was temping the people away from sound doctrine and leading them to other voices, making them believe that they could have it both ways. 

The warning was for all followers of Jesus Christ. There can be no divided loyalties and any doctrine that waters down the gospel of Jesus Christ will be under threat of destruction for they will have been playing with the “deep things of Satan." Hold onto what you have learned and live in complete and total service to God.

Application

There continue to be Jezebels of our day, those voices telling us that it is okay to dip our toes into the pool of the world because we won’t drown. When we no longer take the time to study the scriptures and spend time in prayer we will be tempted by the words of others who will draw us away into a life of complacency and toying with the things of the world will be encouraged. Somehow we believe that we can get as close to the world, participating in as many worldly activities as possible, and not be hurt spiritually. We refuse to listen to sound doctrine and we explain away our actions. 

The call for God’s people is to a life of holiness; one that reflects Christ in all that we do. We know when we are trying to have it both ways because it’s reflected in all that we do.We may not be concerned about food offered to idols, but are we participating in practices that could be dangerous to ourselves and to others? What about drinking, smoking pot, pornography, premarital sex, co-habitation, etc. I see all of these in the church and often nothing is said because we have become comfortable with the guilds of the world. We want to fit in and be a part of what surrounds us — and yet, we still want to come to church a few Sundays a month, and assume we are regular attenders. 

The admonition to the church in Thyatira is to hold firm. We, too, are to hold firm to sound doctrine, to the things that we have been taught, and not be tempted by the words of Jezebel. The reality is that you can’t have it all. There is sacrifice when it comes to following Jesus Christ. Self-discipline is involved in living the holy life and these truths are not to be watered down. This is not to be seen in a legalistic sense, but in the sense that we must all continually seek the face of God, and take this Christian walk very seriously. Therefore, hold firm and keep straining forward, getting to know Christ in all things. 

Prayer


Lord, please close my ears to the words of temptation, and help me to keep following you. Amen. 

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