“Despite the clear biblical teaching to the contrary, churches throughout history have tolerated sin, following a pattern like the Thyatiran congregation, whose members were engaged in both spiritual and physical adultery. ~ John MacArthur

And it is from that quote that we will resume our visit with the church at Thyatira. If you missed part one of our visit, please go HERE to read it. Doing so will enable you to better understand the lesson today.

Thyatira ~ The Church of Tolerance and Sleaze

Jesus gave this church a shout out because they worked hard; they sacrificed for the sake of others and were known for their faith, love, and patience. This was the first of the seven churches to be commended for their love. They were gracious in their service and hospitality. Sounds pretty good, huh? Hold on! The wheels are coming off the wagon in just a moment.

There was a woman in the church…a woman that Jesus called ‘Jezebel’. Whether this was her real name, or the name that Jesus gave her to signify her character, we do not know. What we do know is that she was teaching some pretty bad stuff, and people were following her. John MacArthur suggests that she might have been teaching philosophical dualism. This philosophy says that the spirit is good, the flesh is evil and since God is only interested in the spirit it doesn’t matter what one does with the body. Girlfriend Jezebel might also have taken an antinomian approach and taught that since the Christians in Thyatira live under grace it didn’t matter how much they sinned. God would still forgive them.

I hope you can immediately see the problems with both philosophies. God cares what we do with our bodies for they are the temples of His Spirit. He cares about every part of our body, from the top of our head to the tips of our toes. He also will hold us accountable for every decision, every act, every word.

If you recall the Old Testament story of Jezebel, she was all about Baal worship, so perhaps this woman in the church at Thyatira was enticing the Christians to worship Baal. This type of worship involved male and female temple prostitutes and obscene sex acts. In Revelation 2:20 Jesus says that this woman entices His people into sexual immorality. The Greek word used for sexual immorality is porneuo. See anything familiar there? Porn. Pornography. Sounds like some of the folks in this church were involved in things they had no business being involved in, doesn’t it?

Jezebel and her followers apparently had been given fair warning that judgment was coming according to Revelation 2:21-23. Jesus is now says that the ‘gig’ is up and judgment is getting ready to fall. He is warning those who are the faithful that when judgment falls, it will involve suffering and death. Interesting to note is that Revelation 2:23 says that Jezebel’s ‘children’ will suffer, so apparently the church had allowed this woman free reign for quite a while…long enough for her to have ‘spiritual’ children who followed her.

You will recall that last week I taught you about the guilds that were prevalent in Thyatira. It was impossible to hold a job if you did not belong to a guild, and belonging to a guild required that you worship the deity with which the guild affiliated. It is quite likely that some of the people in the church at Thyatira had embraced Jezebel and her false gospel and ways in order to simple make a living. They had fallen victim to the false gospel of tolerance and unity at all costs.

Some of the harshest punishment a person can face is for leading others into sin according to Matthew 18:6-10. Don’t do it, friends. Just don’t.

Jesus offers words of encouragement for those who overcome or hold fast. They are promised a position of power and ruling authority. This promise is likely referencing the coming heavenly kingdom. Jesus also tells them that they will receive the morning star. In Revelation 22:16 Jesus is referred to as ‘the morning star’ and He may be telling the overcomers that they will have a close, intimate, abiding, and eternal relationship with Him as the reward for their faithfulness.

I would like to close today with a quote from John MacArthur that sums up our visit with the church at Thyatira, and hopefully serves as a clear warning to the church in 2016.

The Thyatiran church has an important message to the church in 2013 {date of the MacArthur book} – false doctrine and sin are not to be allowed – even under the banner of love, toleration, and unity.

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