Have you ever considered the life of an individual – a Christian – who you once knew to be “on fire for God” but who now very seldom even darkens the door of church? Have you ever wondered how that happened? Maybe you are that Christian who finds themselves in just such a condition. How did you get there? What can be done about it? We can find some of the answer as we consider the church in Thyatira.
The Condition of the Church
As you read through these seven letters and become familiar with the condition of each of these churches, I believe that you can see a dangerous, downward trend.
- The Church of Ephesus had left its first love. (2:4)
- The Church in Smyrna – while never chastised by God – did face tribulation. They were faced with the blasphemy of those who were of the synagogue of Satan. (2:9)
- The Church in Pergamos had begun to compromise. The wall of separation had begun to come down and worldliness was slowly creeping in. (2:2:14-15)
- The Church in Thyatira takes things a step further.
While vs. 19 tells us that there were those within this church who had some wonderful qualities…
“I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.”
“Notwithstanding” They were not only allowing worldliness in the church, they were now allowing worldliness to take control of the church. (2:20)
“Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.”
I don’t believe that it’s a stretch to say that this same downward progression can happen in the life of a Christian.
- The Christian leaves their first love.
- Tribulation comes. It always comes. Yet, without that steadfast love for their Savior, that tribulation begins to wear them down.
- The next step leads this Christian to begin to compromise. They begin to “dabble” in things they never would have dreamed of before.
- Next, this Christian begins to tolerate sin in their life while at the same time trying to maintain some veneer of a Christian testimony.
This progression takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. Often it happens so gradually that the Christian is completely unaware of the changes taking place within their heart and within their lives until it is too late.
Where did it all begin? When they left their first love! Can the trend be reversed? I believe we find the answer in the character of Christ.
The Character of Christ
There is so much within this passage of Scripture that tells us of Christ’s character but we will simply focus on vs. 18…
“And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;” (2:18)
The description of Christ gradually has become more antagonistic toward each church.
As you were growing up, did you ever find yourself a little fearful to stand before your father because of something that you had done. No longer was it your “loving father.” It was now Dad, the disciplinarian! As you stood before him with your head down, afraid to look at him, you could feel his eyes going right through you. You knew what was coming – punishment – and you knew that you had no one to blame but yourself!
That’s exactly how Christ describes himself to the church in Thyatira.
Remember Who He is! He is the Son of God.
This is the only church to whom Christ explicitly identifies Himself in this way – the Son of God.
“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” John 20:31
Thyatira was known for its indigo trade – their ability to dye cloth purple. Purple was associated with royalty!
“No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Luke 16:13
When you begin to tolerate sin in your life it means that you have removed God from the throne of your heart! Jesus Christ is Lord and He deserves to be Lord of your life. He will not share His glory with anyone or anything!
“I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.” Isaiah 42:8
Remember what He knows – Everything!
He has eyes like unto a flame of fire.
“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” Hebrews 4:13
We stand completely exposed and vulnerable before the sight of an all-knowing God.
Christian, you may tolerate sin in your life and be able to hide it from others but you can never hide it from God. He knows. He always knows!
Remember what He must do – Judge sin!
He has feet like fine brass.
Brass, in God’s Word, is always associated with judgment. God is holy. God is righteous. God must judge sin! God will judge sin!
The Challenge to the Church
We must remember who He is – He is God? We must remember what He knows – He knows everything. We must remember what He must do – He must judge sin. So, what must we do? Well, A church that finds itself in this condition – a Christian that finds themselves in this condition – has but one option – REPENT!
And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. Revelation 2:21-23
Christ gave these in the church in Thyatira the opportunity to repent and the time to repent but they did not repent!
- Repentance is not only “feeling sorry” for what one has done or is doing.
- Repentance is a “change of mind” coupled with a “change in direction.”
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief. Proverbs 28:13-14
Christ’s only option – if they did not repent – was judgement! Ladies and gentlemen, we must either love the Lord so much that we “fear” to displease Him and thus will not tolerate any sin in our lives or we will tolerate sin and then one day “fear” Him when judgement comes.
After several years, he wanted the house back, but the new owner was unwilling to sell it. So the first owner went out, found the carcass of a dead dog, and hung it from the single nail he still owned. Soon the house became unlivable and the family was forced to sell the house to the owner of the nail.
If we leave even one small sin in our life Satan will hang his rotting garbage on it. Christian, don’t tolerate even the smallest of sins in your life. Remember who He is – He is the Son of God. Remember what He knows – everything! Remember what He must do – judge sin. Repent and turn from your sin today!