Thursday, November 17, 2016

To Pergamum: Don’t Compromise with the World

Note from Jesus

Dear Servant of God,

Tolerance and compromise can be a way to prevent conflict. Tolerance and compromise can be a politician’s tool to bridge differences between political rivals. Tolerance and compromise are often seen as rational solutions to allow multicultural differences to coexist in a diverse culture. Tolerance and compromise can become a way My people try to hold onto their faith in Me without offending those around them. While there is a time and there is a place for tolerance and compromise in general society, you must know that there is never a time or a place for them concerning your faith.

My disciples in Pergamum faced a horrible choice: renounce me and embrace the idolatrous practices of their culture or face ostracism, prejudice, persecution, and possibly even martyrdom. What was the cost of their loyalty to Me? Antipas lost his life because he would not renounce his faith in Me.

My followers in Pergamum knew the consequences of their faith. They lived in the provincial capital. They were surrounded by all sorts of idol worship. The massive altar of Zeus, in a temple precinct high on a neighboring hill, was filled with idols to the pantheon of Roman gods. In addition, the temple of Asclepios, the god of healing, was well known throughout Asia Minor and much of the rest of the Mediterranean world. As the seat of the Roman provincial government, the emperor cult was strong, and loyalty to Emperor Domitian was enforced at many public activities. My followers lived in a place where “Satan, the adversary, has established his throne.”

The believers refused to renounce their faith in Me. I applaud them for their courage and steadfastness. They “stayed true to My name” and “did not deny” their “trust in Me”! Living as My disciples in Pergamum was extremely dangerous. How would they navigate life and faith when nearly all they did would normally be connected in some way with idolatry, false gods, and immorality?

Unfortunately, some disciples found their solution by practicing tolerance and compromise. They succumbed to the sin of Balaam and Balak (Numbers 22:1-38). Some entered into sexual relations with cult prostitutes and celebrated idolatrous feasts, as had been done on occasion by the Israelites (Numbers 25:1-4). The Nicolaitans offered a creative solution. As “spiritual people,” they claimed to know that idols aren’t real gods. They decided that the food, the festivities, and the sexual immorality of idol worship really don’t pollute their spirits. So they claimed Me as their Savior, but they took part in the idolatrous feasts and the temple sex. In actuality, however, by taking part in those pagan and idolatrous practices they were corrupting themselves and tainting My Body, the church (1 Corinthians 6:12-20; 1 Corinthians 10:18-21).

The Pergamum believers’ compromise with the world contaminated My truth and falsified their discipleship. If they refused to repent — to “change your ways and turn to Me” — then I had no choice. If they were going to fear the sword of Rome and trust the wisdom of their great works of philosophy urging moderation and compromise, then I would come and “battle them with the sword of My mouth”! I would “quickly come” and battle them with My “sharp double-edged sword” bringing truth and judgment (Revelation 1:16; Revelation 19:15). Such tolerance of immorality and compromise with it corrupted My grace (Galatians 1:6-10; Romans 6:1-17). Such tolerance and compromise resulted in “a mockery of the grace” that I paid such a high cost to give to you. The disciples’ perversion of grace focused on turning Our grace into “a pretext for a life of excess, lived without any thought of God” (Jude 1:4).

Persecution and martyrdom can be awful consequences of your faith in Me. I do not want My people to suffer. However, tolerance of the world and compromise with the world have far worse consequences. I want you to hear clearly the message I shared with My followers in Pergamum. I want you to examine your life and the way so many claiming to be My followers have compromised with the world chasing false gods, participating in immoral parties, and readily accepting sexual immorality as a way of life. You cannot claim My name and share in these compromises to fit into your culture. I know it is hard to be faithful in such difficult circumstances, but I am calling you to this kind of faithfulness.

Remember, however, that faithfulness to Me brings great blessing. You will be given an invitation (“white stone”) to the greatest party of all time, My messianic wedding banquet (Revelation 19:1-9). Your invitation will have the special name of one chosen to come to My great feast (“hidden manna”). You will share in My joy, healing, and victory with Me forever!

Verses to Live

Faithfulness is more than confessing My name; you must put your life where your mouth is without compromise (Matthew 7:21-23). When you do, beloved, your future and your eternal joy are safeguarded with Me and the Father in heaven (Colossians 3:1-4).

The One [Jesus]:
Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Pergamum.

“These are the words of the One with the sharp double-edged sword:

“I know your deeds and where you live. It is where Satan, the adversary, has established his throne. You have stayed true to My name, and you did not deny your trust in Me even in the eventful days of My faithful witness, Antipas. He was killed among you in that place where Satan dwells.

“However, I have a few matters against you: some who live among you hold to the teaching of Balaam, who instructed Balak to set up a stumbling block before the people of Israel. As a result, some among you are eating food prepared for idol worship and committing immoral sexual acts. You have others who are holding firm to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore, change your ways and turn to Me. If you do not, I will quickly come to where you live and will battle them with the sword of My mouth.

“Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches. To the one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death, I will feed you with hidden manna and give you a white stone. Upon this stone, a new name is engraved. No one knows this name except for its recipient.”

(Revelation 2:12-17)

Response in Prayer

O Father, I recognize how the world around me is growing more hostile to faith in Jesus. I recognize the devil’s temptations are sometimes disguised as simple little lies. Please empower Me with your Spirit as I give my heart to be faithful to You. I trust in Your power to save. Please help me see the areas where I am compromising Your purposes for Your Church. Amen.

‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.

© 1998-2016, Heartlight, Inc. ‘A Year with Jesus‘ is part of the Heartlight Network.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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