There are certain sins that we have the tendency to overlook.
Jesus Knows (2:18-19)
Jesus describes himself with words of fearful judgment. He has eyes like a flame of fire and feet like burnished bronze. Jesus is shown with penetrating discernment as he judges his people. Jesus knows the works of the church in Thyatira. The works of these Christians are extensive. Their works are full of love, faith, service, and patient endurance. Another terrific statement made about them is that their works now are better than at the first. Remember the condemnation against Ephesus was that those Christians had abandoned the love they had at the first. The Christians in Thyatira are the opposite. Their works of love, faith, service, and patient endurance have exceeded their works at the first.
IGNITE: This leads to our first point where we can ignite our lives. Sometimes we get off to a slow start in our relationship with God. We are not as zealous as we know we should be. We are not living like we should. But it is not too late to grow in our love, faith, service, and patient endurance. These Christians improved in those areas and you can also. To improve in our relationship with God requires effort. We will not be able to keep doing what we are doing now and somehow magically have works pleasing to God. It is not too late to do what God asks, but we must focus on growing our faith, love, and service.
Tolerating Sin (2:20-21)
What could possibly be wrong with this church? It seems the church is doing well and is improving. However, the problem is that they are tolerating sin. There are some who claim to be prophets but what they are teaching is causing Christians in practice sexual immorality and eat meat sacrificed to idols. To call this person Jezebel is a statement of great wickedness. Ahab was the most wicked king that ever reigned over Israel or Judah. However, Ahab’s wife was Jezebel and she incited him to do evil. The picture is that Jezebel was even worse than Ahab. No one names their girl Jezebel because the name stands for extreme wickedness. What we see is that the church in Thyatira has the same problem as the church in Pergamum. Both churches were tolerating false teaching. However, the false teaching in Thyatira was causing Christians to engage in sin. Not only are the Christians tolerating the false teachings, they are also accepting these sinful activities.
There are so many sins that for some reason we deem as “acceptable sins.” For some sins, we think they are acceptable simple because they seem like “small” sins. Other sins are acceptable because the world has accepted these sins. Sexual immorality has also become an acceptable sin. Living together, sex before marriage, sex outside of marriage, affairs, separations, divorce, and remarriage have all become sexual sins that are often tolerated. Pornography and lust are acceptable sins. Immodesty is a growing problem among Christians as the world continues to push the envelope on defining what is modest and proper. Let me just give a quick thought about modesty. If you would not go outside in your underwear, then just because the name is changed to a “swimsuit” does not suddenly make the clothing modest. If men would not go outside in their underwear, then you should not wear swimsuits that cover just as little. If women would not go outside in their bra and underwear, then you should not wear swimsuits that cover just as little. But these become acceptable sins because the world wears this kind of apparel.
There are many social sins that we accept from one another. Malicious talk, backbiting, gossiping, speaking evil, and the like are sins that we not only participate in but enjoy. We have to be so careful about many of these sins because the underlying sin is pride. We must be so careful that often we are gossiping under the guise of prayer requests. We will say that a person needs prayers and it opens the door to talk about them in a way that is not beneficial or godly. We must take care that we do our good works not letting our left hand know what our right hand is doing. We do not need to tell each other the good works we are doing. We should not tell each other about the acts of service we are doing because it is an open door to pride. We want others to know what we are doing. We are all aware of the danger because we want people to know that we are not being lazy with our Christianity. I know I don’t want you to think that I am not calling on people or helping people or studying with people. It becomes a point of pride to tell others that I am doing these things. Quietly do your works knowing that God knows and sees what you are doing. Others do not need to know. Do your acts of service and love when you see opportunity. Do not tell others to do it or tell others that you did it.
One of the reasons it is so important to not to accept sins is not only because God condemns these activities, but also because we will become callous toward these sins. One of the dangers of repeated sin is that we commit those sinful acts without any guilt or remorse. We no longer care. Throughout the Old Testament Israel was condemned for this problem of not caring about the sins they were committing. Engage in pornography and you will be callous toward it and will not stop. Wear immodest clothing and you will be callous toward the act and will not stop. Commit sexual sins and you will become callous toward those sins. This is the point of this IGNITE series. We lose our fire for God and his commands because we have allowed our hearts to become callous toward sin and we refuse to repent. Notice that this is the problem Jesus points out in verse 21. Jesus gave them time for repentance, but these Christians refused. They would not stop their sins. These acts had become ingrained in their lives and they would not stop.
IGNITE: Practicing sin extinguishes the flame. Our entanglement in sin causes us not to care about God and lose our zeal for his will and his word. Stop sinning if we are going to ignite our lives for Jesus.
Jesus’ Warning (2:22-25)
Unless they repent of their sinful works, Jesus says he will come against them in judgment. This false prophet called Jezebel will be thrown into a bed of suffering and those who follow her teachings will be thrown into the great tribulation. The summary of this judgment is stated at the end of verse 23. “I will give to each of you according to your works.” We will receiving judgment to participating in these sins, whether we think they are acceptable or not. Our judgment does not determine whether something is a sin or not. God determines and defines what is sin. We will be repaid for the sins we commit. A regular reminder from the scriptures is that we must not think that we will get away with our sins. These “acceptable” sins are not acceptable to our Lord.
There is some good news in this condemnation. There are Christians in Thyatira who have not been deceived into participating in sins. They have not gone the way of Satan by accepting these false teachings from this false prophetess. Look at what Jesus commands them to do. Jesus tells them that they have no other burden. They just need to hold fast to have they have. Keep fighting sin. Keep fighting false teaching. Do not be deceived into accepting the sins of the world. Do not accept the lies and do not fall into the trap of sinning.
To The Conquerors (2:26-29)
Two things are given to those who conquer. First, the conquerors will receive authority to rule. This image does not make much sense at this point in the book of Revelation. But the book is going to conclude with the picture of Christians reigning with Christ for 1000 years. When we get to chapter 20 we will fully explain that image. Paul describes the same promise in his letter to Timothy.
Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; (2 Timothy 2:10–12 ESV). It is a beautiful picture that we will reign with our Lord.
The second promise is that Christians will be given the morning star. The morning star is defined for us at the end of the book of Revelation. Jesus says of himself, “I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star” (Revelation 22:16). The picture is similar to the first image. You are in a relationship with the morning star and you will reign with the morning star. Those who hold fast will experience victory as Christ experiences victory.
- Improve on your works. Dedicate yourself to be on fire for God.
- Practicing sin extinguishes the flame for God.
- Tolerating sin will bring certain judgment against us.