Be Repentant – The Corrupt Church in Thyatira 4
“18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, ‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: 19 “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. 20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.
24 “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. 25 But hold fast what you have till I come. 26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—
27 ‘ He shall rule them with a rod of iron;
They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’— as I also have received from My Father; 28 and I will give him the morning star.
29 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’ Revelation 2:18-29 NKJV
The church in Thyatira was known by Jesus for their works, their love for God and others, their service to their community, and their faith. When Jesus looks at my life, I sure wouldn’t mind Him recognizing those things in me. Not only that, but Jesus also mentioned, “and as for your works, the last are more than the first” which means that not only did they have these great works, but they also had these in an increasing measure!
Despite all of these good things, however, Jesus still recognizes some things that they needed to improve on. Here is what Jesus says, “20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.”
Jezebel, according to some commentaries, may not have been a person’s literal name, but a title that represents the Jezebel of the Old Testament. In John’s day and culture, to call someone a “Jezebel” had a very strong word association, like calling someone a “Hitler” or a “Judas” today. Jezebel was one of the most wicked characters of the Old Testament who tried to lead the people of Israel to the worship of Baal.
According to Jesus, while the church at Thyatira was doing good things, they allowed false teachers to infiltrate the church and to influence God’s people to seduce them toward sin.
Throughout church history, the church has had to endure two types of persecution. First was the type of persecution where people were physically threatened with harm unless they recanted of their faith in Christ. This is the type of persecution we still hear about in Third World countries and in places like China or the Middle East.
The second type of persecution comes when the culture around the church allows the church to remain, but tries to influence the church into becoming like the rest of the culture. This type of persecution is much more subtle, and is VERY much what the American church goes through. With this persecution comes the attitude, “It is ok for you to believe, but don’t try to convince others of what you believe.”
The church at Thyatira had become corrupted not because they lacked good works or ministry, but rather because they had let the ideas and philosophies of that day (rather than the word of God), influence their actions and attitudes. The church at Thyatira teaches us that our love can be increasing, yet we may still lack the discernment needed to keep the church pure.
What type of ideas and values does the world try to impose on the church today?
Tolerance – All religions are equally valid as long as the followers are sincere.
Freedom of choice – We kill our unborn children and call it a “freedom of choice.”
Ambition – We covet our neighbor’s possessions and we call it “ambition.”
Enlightenment – We change and tear apart the values of our American forefathers, and we say it is because we are “enlightened.”
Civil Rights – We dissect the institution of marriage to include homosexual relationships so that we can don’t violate “civil rights.”
Being Inclusive – We tolerate couples living together in the church without much accountability because we want to “be inclusive” for everyone.
The church at Thyatira looked great on the outside, but allowed too much from the world to influence them on the inside. It may not have been a large group from Thyatira that was influenced by Jezebel, but in the end, sin is sin and as a result, it corrupted and compromised the whole church.
When a great church is compromised, here is what Jesus gives some instruction.
What to do when compromise leaks into the church.
1 – Repent. First, to Jezebel Jesus says, “Repent.” Change your ways. To the one who has compromised the faith and the church, Jesus offers the chance to return and to change. Come back to the Word of God. Don’t continue to compromise or corrupt the church. Come back to Jesus and to what He says. Don’t justify your sin by renaming it. Repent and turn from it!
Next Jesus speaks to those who are growing weary from being faithful. “25 But hold fast what you have till I come.”
2 – Hold fast! “Hold fast,” Jesus says. There are believers in Thyatira that were faithful and uncompromising. To them, Jesus says don’t grow weary in doing what is good. Don’t become distracted or discouraged because what you do or say is against the culture. Hand in there. Keep on keeping on! Stand strong until I return. That is when the battle will be over. Until then, keep fighting! Keep going! Keep pressing on! Be steadfast and stay the course!
Jesus goes on to say, “. 26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations— 27 ‘ He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels” In other words, if we keep His words and remain faithful, without succumbing to immorality and adultery, Jesus offers a share of His kingdom and His influence. Godly perseverance in the face of corruption and compromise produces godly influence. “Be steadfast and be faithful. Overcome!” Jesus tells the church, “not just in good works and outreach, but remain steadfast in My Word.”
Lord Jesus there are many times that I am heavily influenced by my culture, and the society around me more than I am influenced by Your words. Open my heart and my eyes to know your word and to live out Your words. Let me be an over-comer. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Ty Tamasaka is an author who hold a Master of Arts Degree from Pacific Rim Christian University in Christian Ministry He is a Bible teacher who loves to encourage people to enjoy Jesus’ grace and extend His Kingdom. Ty just released his new book Starting Fresh: Following Jesus on the Adventure of a Lifetime in addition to More than a Conqueror: 5 Pathways to Personal Revival.